Monday, April 24, 2017

The Day of the Lord - Temple

Roy Horn of Siegfried and Roy was attacked by one of their white tigers in the middle of a performance in Las Vegas in 2003. Investigators found no reason the 7-year-old tiger grabbed him by the head and neck and drug him off stage. What made this so startling was the animal was nearly a pet but suddenly exhibited a wild streak they didn’t expect.

Since the beginning of time, people have tried to tame the wildness out of animals only to find without notice, they can act according to a nature that cannot be tamed. Roy’s tiger had been trained but not tamed.

The purpose of training an animal is to get some sense of control over what he does and doesn’t do. Trained, he’s manageable. Untrained, he’s unpredictable.

One of the reasons God was so disgusted with idol worship was how it often carried over into their worship of Him. They lumped all gods into one category and treated them the same.

What they were trying to do was take wild gods, tame them, then train them to work according to their benefit. How do you train a god? By giving that god what you suppose it wants in order to get what you want from that god.

·         We need rain. Appease the rain god.
·         We need sunshine. Appease the sun god.
·         We need our crops to grow. Appease the earth god.
·         We need our animals to reproduce. Appease the fertility god.
·         We need our sins forgiven. Appease Jehovah God.

Sometimes this appeasement was a dance or a festival. Other times is was a sacrifice. Sometimes is was throwing your child into the fire.

You can hear God’s frustration through Samuel: Samuel said, "Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams. "For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He has also rejected you from being king." (1 Sam 15:22-23)

You treat me like a god not like God!

Isaiah had a moment of discovery when he realized this. Then I said, "Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts." (Isa 6:5) Because of the influence of his godless society, he was suddenly aware he was treating God as an idol.

The land has also been filled with idols; they worship the work of their hands, that which their fingers have made. (Isa 2:8)

Why did they make them? The maker has some measure of control over what he has made. They fashioned a god like they wanted that god to be. They were doing the same with God.

Their idols are silver and gold, the work of man's hands. They have mouths, but they cannot speak; they have eyes, but they cannot see; they have ears, but they cannot hear; they have noses, but they cannot smell; they have hands, but they cannot feel; they have feet, but they cannot walk; they cannot make a sound with their throat. Those who make them will become like them, everyone who trusts in them. (Ps 115:4-8)

God knows we become like whatever we worship. Gospel According to Archie Bunker: in the beginning, Archie created God in his image.

This is who I want God to be. This is what I want God to do. This is how I want God to respond. If God doesn’t do these things, I reject Him. You’ll hear that in our society’s attitude toward God. If God is like that, I don’t want that kind of God. How could a loving God…That attitude fills the church.

Wanting also God to be like we want so we can have some measure of control over Him.

You’ll hear it in the prayers. 98% are telling God what He should do, how He should do it, what our expectations are. It’s as though we think we have tamed God to respond to our commands.

We’re still dealing with a wild God, who cannot be tamed, but this wild God is good. He is not a God you appease but a God you: love, trust and obey.

“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion." "Ooh" said Susan. "I'd thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion"..."Safe?" said Mr. Beaver ..."Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you.”

It is this wildness of God that should cause us fear in dealing with Him. Simply because we know He does what He chooses to do according to a wisdom and insight we cannot even imagine. Of course we should feel inferior, small and helpless. But when we get small, He gets enormous. When we see our weaknesses, He shows us His strength.

Read His prophets. They saw God as He was. They knew their own boundaries—He was God not them. They keyed in on His expectations, His objectives. They knew what He could do. And the more they learned of Him, the greater He became, His power became unlimited, His knowledge all-encompassing, His purposes permeated every aspect of life. Where could you go from His presence? How could you question His will? What plan of Yours, O God, can be thwarted?

So whenever God used one of His prophets to announce His intentions, they did so with such confidence that it wasn’t as though it was coming, but had already come in their minds. They would tell what was happening as though it had already happened.
So whenever a prophet announced something like the Day of the Lord, you can understand why the people were afraid. It reminded them, God is untamable.

The Day of the Lord was beyond their control or influence. Like a hurricane coming in, they’d just have to hunker down and ride it out. They couldn’t stop it or adjust it to suit them. They simply were to endure God’s Day of the Lord.

But the birth of Jesus was a Day of the Lord

Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming," says the LORD of hosts. (Mal 3:1)

…Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD. (Mal 4:1-5)

Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force. For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come. (Matt 11:11-14)

Malachi saw the appearance of an Elijah-like person coming 400 years in the future that would usher in a Day of the Lord event, which he called: the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord.

Why? If you collect all of Jesus’ life up to His death you have a Great and Terrible Day.

A Day of the Lord was a day of change or implementation or finality, ending one era and opening up another. It was a transition out of something old into something new. Things were not going to be the same after the Day of the Lord.

Remember: hidden within the Day of Lord with respect to Jesus, was the end of Sacrifice and beginning of a direct relationship with God. The symbol of that end was the tearing of the veil in the Temple. If the veil is torn, the use of the Temple is stopped.

But, if that way of doing worship was all you knew and all you wanted, you sewed it back up, you kept going. Right? No harm, no foul.

But if God was done with the use of the Temple, and still the people wouldn’t stop, it was going to have to come down. Jesus had already told them so, but just so they would understand, when you don’t listen to the messenger, God has to demonstrate His intentions in another way.

There is a Jewish document called the Jerusalem Talmud that says: Forty years before the destruction of the Temple the western light went out, the crimson thread remained crimson, and the lot for the Lord always came up in the left hand. They would close the gates of the Temple by night and get up in the morning and find them wide open.

Forty years before the siege against Jerusalem that ended with the Temple being destroyed was 67 – 70 A.D. Which bumps up against that Great and Terrible Day of the Lord when Jesus died and the Temple veil was torn. The day God was done with the old sacrificial system and moving on. Since they wouldn’t see it, God had to show them He was done?

According to the Jerusalem Talmud:
1.       The center lamp of the menorah in the Temple which represented the presence of God that never went out, according to Jewish teaching since the days of Aaron, was now going out. The priest would light the lamps each morning (they were not candles). He would find each day that the center lamp would still be burning. Now it was out. They noted that.
2.      A crimson thread woven into the veil itself had always turned white on the Day of Atonement. Representing that our sins though red like scarlet would be white as snow. It no longer changed. They noted that.
3.      When the priests would cast lots for the goat to carry off the sins of the people, the lot always came up in the right hand, now it came up in the left. They noted that.
4.      Then, on that day, it was documented that the gates of the Temple opened by themselves. Interesting. Perhaps God was leaving the building. They noted that as well.

When you want God to act a certain way, you treat Him like an idol. You serve Him in order to get what you want from Him. You narrow the scope of His influence. You place Him in a box and put boundaries around Him. He can only act according to your desire. But He is wild. He can tear down one system to raise up another without asking our permission or requesting our help.

The old system needed The Temple. The new system had a different temple in mind. From here on out, that new temple would be God’s connecting point with His people.

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? (1 Cor 6:19)

How was He going to do this? He had another day planned that would qualify as The Great and Awesome Day of the Lord. Next week we’ll see what that day was.

  1. The ways and thoughts of God are far beyond our ways and thoughts.
  2. Because He has the perspective of being God, superior in understanding, knowledge, insight, He always knows and does what is best.
  3. It is not in our best interest to think we can force God to fit into some manageable container we can control.
  4. He is not an idol that can be tamed; He is wild and unpredictable but good.

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