Saturday, August 24, 2013

Collapse Of The Temple (part 1)

Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!”  He pushed hard and the temple collapsed on the rulers and all the people in it.  He killed many more people in his death than he had killed during his life. – Judges 16:30  (NET)

Before famously bringing down the Philistine temple on top of him, Samson, who had been grinding in prison (Judges 16:21), was called out to entertain the assembled people.  It is said that when his enemies “really started celebrating, they said, ‘Call Samson so he can entertain us!’  So they summoned Samson from the prison and he entertained them.  They made him stand between the two pillars” (16:25).  These, presumably, were the two main pillars of the Philistine temple of their god, Dagon. 

While there, “Samson said to the young man who held his hand, ‘Position me so I can touch the pillars that support the temple.  Then I can lean on them’.” (16:26)  Standing before his enemies then, “Samson called to the Lord” and he said, “O Master, Lord, remember me!  Strengthen me just one more time, O God, so I can get swift revenge against the Philistines for my two eyes!” (16:28)  With that, it is reported that, “Samson said, ‘Let me die with the Philistines!’  He pushed hard and the temple collapsed on the rulers and all the people in it” (16:30a). 

Now, though all analogies eventually break down, one can here find an analogy between Samson and Jesus.  How so?  In His day, and though this should be taken as a loose analogy, Jesus, if He saw Himself in the role of Samson, could very well have considered the authorities that controlled the Jerusalem temple to be Philistines.  Though the temple was supposed to be the house of Israel’s God, the glory of the Creator God (the shekinah) was not recognized to be dwelling there. 

Ultimately then, it could have been appeared to be a temple that existed for the honor and power of the men who controlled it.  Sad stories such as that of the widow and her mite illustrate this quite well.  In this way, one could almost consider it to be the counterpart to the Philistine temple. 

It is well understood that part of Jesus’ message was that He was the actual Temple of Israel’s God---the place inhabited by the Spirit of the Creator God, and the place at which the realm of the Creator God overlapped with the realm of those that bore the image of the Creator God (where heaven and earth came together).  In this same vein, Jesus even spoke of Himself and His body as a Temple, saying “Destroy this Temple and in three days I will raise it up again” (John 2:19). 

Indeed, it is insisted that in Jesus dwelt the glory of the covenant God of Israel (the shekinah), as is stated in the first chapter of John (1:14).  Thus, the temple that then stood in Jerusalem, with its corrupted hierarchy under which the covenant people experienced a veritable grinding for the “entertainment” and enrichment of those that sought to maintain their place and prestige, could now be considered to be illegitimate and redundant. 

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