Sunday, May 18, 2014

No One Knows The Hour (part 33)

Yes, the early church clearly understood that Jesus was the true Temple.  He was the house of God.  He was the place where heaven and earth came together.  Naturally, if talk about the church as the Temple of the Holy Spirit is taken seriously (as Paul indicates), in both a communal sense and in accord with the responsibility of the individuals members that compose the body of Christ, this informs the Christian as to his or her responsibilities in association with a life lived in response to the Gospel claim that Jesus is Lord.  The Christian is to be the place where and heaven earth come together---bringing heaven to earth as a singular purpose. 

Getting back to the course of thought that Isaiah suggests, Jesus can be heard doing the same thing, though omitting the explicit reference to the earth and its foundations.  Naturally, given the nature of allusion, as Jesus intends to call to mind the broad picture being painted by Isaiah, a reference to the earth and dramatic happenings in relation to the earth to go along with the happenings with the sun, moon, stars, and the power of heaven, is implied.  Again, all of this is offered by Jesus in the context of His discourse about the Temple. 

Returning then to second Peter, one is able to read and hear him from a more enlightened perspective.  This can be done while keeping clearly in view Jesus prediction about the fall of the Temple, along with the need, amongst the followers of Jesus in the years after His death, Resurrection, and ascension, for this prediction to come true.  Having laid the groundwork the author writes “Now, dear friends, do not let this one thing escape your notice, that a single day is like a thousand years with the Lord and a thousand years are like a single day.  The Lord is not slow concerning His promise, as some regard slowness, but is being patient toward you, because He does not wish for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (3:8-9).  By way of reminder, this study is insisting that the promise is the judgment prophesied against the Temple, and that this will coincide with the coming of the Son of Man to the Ancient of Days, which will signal the fact of Christ’s reign. 

Continuing on then: “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief; when it comes, the heavens will disappear with a horrific noise, and the celestial bodies will melt away in a blaze, and the earth and every deed done on it will be laid bare” (3:10).  There’s that heaven and earth language again, and it leads into “Since all these things are to melt away in this manner, what sort of people must we be, conducting our lives in holiness and godliness, while waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God?”  (3:11-12a)  Does one not recognize the Daniel seven reference, which then also is a reference to the oral traditions (if indeed this is written in the sixties of the first century) concerning Jesus’ speech about the Temple, to the coming of the Son of Man?  The thought is rounded out with “Because of this day, the heavens will be burned up and dissolve, and the celestial bodies will melt away in a blaze!  But, according to His promise, we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness truly resides” (3:12b-13). 

Indeed, they were waiting for it to be made clear to all that Jesus was the true Temple, which would be demonstrated when the Temple in Jerusalem was taken out of the way just as Jesus had said would happen.  Jesus was to be recognized, by all, as the new heavens and the new earth---the place of the coming together of heaven and earth, which is part and parcel of the meaning behind His ascension.  When it comes to being the place where righteousness dwells, when righteousness is understood as the Creator God’s covenant faithfulness, which is that which was represented by the Temple, then when it is Jesus that is left standing, resurrected following His crucifixion by Rome, whereas the Temple was destroyed by Rome never to rise again, then yes, Jesus is that which represents the covenant God’s covenant faithfulness to His people and to His creation.

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