The world is in a dilemma: going to “church or not”, follow religious leaders to attend church mass/meeting or “stay-at-home” as mandated by “Caesar” to prevent transmission. Similarly this extends to decision-making about “life vs livelihood”
On this Holy Week 2020, church gathering has been advised against, due to “social-distancing” guideline to prevent transmission of SARS-CoV-2. On-line and other technological methods of providing church masses become a norm on this unprecedented time.
What Satan and atheists did not like to have and could not prevent, i.e., church gathering of believers, has been achieved by this “invisible enemy” through no fault of anybody. No more “social-bonding”, unlike before this global pandemic. Indeed, times have change.
Pre-2020 pandemic, many of us “go to church“. Some, 2-3 times a week while others attend once a week, consistently. Yet, for those who don’t go at all, many begin to wonder why others do and have made false assumptions in their thinking process, thus defaulting to “Hanlon’s razor”. Why, and is there anything wrong with continuing to meet fellow believers in a church? At least for social bonding, while following guidelines? What about the risk of virus transmission? Or, instead forgoing traditional church attendance and still “attend” mass or service through other technological means like FaceTime or zoom? Responses by church leaders and lay members can be varied and everyone exercises or not 1A right; the ubiquitous consonance and dissonance continue to exist. Similarly, this extends to dilemma in choosing “life vs livelihood”.
Whatever, there should be no fault-finding nor finger-pointing among fellow believers as all actions have consequences, good or bad; still, avoid “confirmation bias”. This gives us a reason to delve into this subject of “temple is the church“. What, why, where is it and how to build it…really?
Church History and what is it?
The earliest form of a “temple/church” is called a “tabernacle” found in Exodus 25:8-9 and commanded by God to be built precisely according to the pattern, also as in Acts 7:44, Exodus 25:1-27:21 and Exodus 40:17-33.
The word tabernacle is an English rendition of the Hebrew word miskan, or “dwelling place”; also comes from the Hebrew word “ohel moed” or Tent of the congregation. More than 50 Chapters in the Bible were solely devoted to the tabernacle.
But even before the tabernacle was constructed, there was “tent of meeting” where God met with Moses as recorded in Exodus 33:7-9. Many assumed that God actually dwelt in it. But, notice this, that as Moses went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance, while the Lord spoke with Moses. Notice that Moses was “into” the tent but the Lord “was not”; the “pillar of cloud was at the entrance.”
This “tent of meeting” could be taken up and moved each time they changed locations while wandering in the wilderness. Other names in the Bible for the tent of meeting are the tabernacle of the congregation, wilderness tabernacle, tabernacle of witness, tent of witness, the tabernacle of Moses.
After the tabernacle was built about one year after leaving Egypt’s slavery, Moses no longer needed his temporary tent, and the term tent of meeting began to be applied to the tabernacle. This was the “tabernacle in the wilderness” before Israelites went to Canaan 400 years later.
In Exodus 25:22, it says “There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from the two cherubim that are on the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you about all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel.” Here again, God was not “in” the temple but “from above the mercy seat”.
Numbers 9:15”Now on the day that the tabernacle was erected the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent of the testimony, and in the evening it was like the appearance of fire over the tabernacle, until morning.” Note: God was not “in” but “cloud covered the tabernacle” at daytime but at night it was “fire over the tabernacle”.
Moreover, the tabernacle was a temporary and portable dwelling place for the Ark of the Covenant and the other holy items that the Israelites were instructed to use in the worship of and sacrifice to Yahweh. It represents a portable earthly dwelling place of Yahweh (God) used by the children of Israel from the Exodus until the conquest of Canaan. This was then superseded by the Temple in Jerusalem when it was built by Solomon which was destroyed in 586 BCE by the Babylonians; was re-built in “stages” until destroyed by the Romans in 70 C.E. Currently, there is no 3rd Temple until prior to the 2nd return of Jesus Christ.
Noticeably, the “tent of meeting” and the “tabernacle” were representative of a mobile and temporary dwelling of God’s presence. And, while the original Jerusalem temple was stationary, it was destroyed as well as the 2nd Jerusalem temple, making them also temporary representation of God’s dwelling, although “not actual”. All of them were “types” until the “anti-type” is revealed.
What do they represent and why?
In the New Testament, Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:1–5 also mentioned the “tent of meeting” or the tabernacle, revealed the “anti-type” and compared it to the earthly human body:
“For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee”.
From the preceding verses, one can see that all of them, i.e., tent of meeting, tabernacle and Temple in Jerusalem, represented our mobile and living temporary earthly mortal body that must be replaced. The tent/tabernacle/Temple represents our “home”, our “clothing” and without it, we are “unclothed or naked”. The narrative in Genesis 3:1-13 explains why Adam and Eve found themselves “naked”. This, they found themselves “naked/without clothing” as a consequence, only after they sinned and not before. It dawned on them about death of their mortal body and their “real you” would be separated from that mortal body at death.
Again Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:2 referred to as “church”: To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be His holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ – their Lord and ours: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”.
But, notice that God was never actually in any of these representations. So, where will God in-dwell?
Where does God actually in-dwell?
It is without doubt as to where the “dwelling place” of God is, in heaven as stated in 2 Chronicles 6:21. But, he also promised to “in-dwell” in man.
We know this mortal body is temporary and must be replaced. This “mortal body” is a “tent/tabernacle/Temple”, our “clothing” and without which we are “unclothed” or “naked”. And, that God promised to in-dwell at “time appointed”. Is this “temporary mortal body” where God promised to in-dwell?
Here are the verse-requisites of where actually God will “in-dwell”:
1. Not made by human hands as in Acts 7:48-49 “However, the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands. As the prophet says: “ ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me? says the Lord. Or where will my resting place be?
Remember, the “tent of meeting,tabernacle/Jerusalem 2 temples” were made by human hands and therefore God will not dwell there. Also, among the 2 components of man, only one directly comes from God himself. Here is where actually He will in-dwell, the “breath-of-life” aka “spirit-of-man”; whereas, the other component came “from the ground, earthy”. And, this “in-dwelling” in man first happened at River Jordan to the “human trailblazer”, the “author/finisher”, man-Jesus Christ.
2. God has to “pitch it” himself as in Hebrews 8:2 “…true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man.” Clearly, He choses where and He pitched it himself.
How does God “pitched” his church?
Now that the “anti-type” (the spirit/of-man) has been revealed, where God will in-dwell through the Holy Spirit and He did into the “first chosen human Jesus”, now comes the process how his church is going to be built.
Remember that Jesus said to Peter that on that identified “rock” , he will build his church. And, this is through the Holy Spirit that Jesus got for us only after his death and resurrection. Indeed, after this, he then breathe the Holy Spirit into his disciples and later generally to others he chose at Pentecost.
We have a “stony heart” that was why the Ten Commandments were given in “tables of stones”. But, the “stone” will be removed from our heart and back to flesh as the Holy Spirit will open our eyes and ears by in-dwelling in the “spirit-of-man”(mind) to discern spiritual truths. Only with the guidance of the Holy Spirit will anyone “see, hear” spiritual truth. Then will be fulfilled on an individual basis as chosen by God, the prophesy in Ezekiel 36:26 “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”
And this process is an “ongoing creation” now underway since that time.
What the tent of meeting/tabernacle/temple represents is a mobile and living temporary mortal body. Why it must be replaced is because it was meant to be originally created perfectly but strictly temporal as a “template” to be changed in the future “time appointed”. Where the in-dwelling of God will be, is not in the “mortal component of man which was made by hands” but in the “spirit-of-man”(the mind) that was “breathed into man’s nostrils”, the “real you”. Here, in this “spirit-component” of man, the “kingdom of God” is and starts. And how this happened occurred first to the trailblazer/author man-Jesus and after his death/resurrection, he got directly from the Father, this Holy Spirit of power to be given thereafter to whoever he chose.
Church is composed of people, believers, who by being human have deficiencies. Indeed frustrating, as we are all flawed people to experience his work on earth, as alluded to in 1 Corinthians and 7 churches in Revelations. No one should dislike any church member so much as to diss church attendance.
Going into a building where fellow believers meet is not wrong, except in specific situations. Remember, Jesus went to the temple, too. To diminish its value is a dismissive line of thinking that leads nowhere constructive. Truly, “you’d have to get rid of the majority of the New Testament to argue that the church was a parenthetical, made-up organization.”
The early believers were essentially in-house churches, where immediate family, extended family and friends were already living in deep, meaningful community together. But with the reality of Covid-19 global pandemic, each one of us has to use the wisdom from God. And, decide the risks involved, modify and innovate as we can, using technological advances that we are all blessed to have. Currently, most of us are “attending” or participating in mass or church service by watching it in TV.
Hopefully and prayerfully, “normalcy” will return sooner than later. The bottom line is written in John 4:24 “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth”. And that means, wherever we are.
No need for second-guessing, finger-pointing, shaming nor blame-gaming. Let us all “be one” with the Father.
Hopefully, this post helps the world in a dilemma: going to “church or not” or choose “life vs livelihood”. Either choice taken, pro or con, has consequences that we will all experience. Risk vs rewards?
Original post: May 7, 2020
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Dedicated to everyone with dilemma on church attendance, life vs livelihood during this global pandemic.