Studying Acts (part 3)
This week the lecturer spent some time outlining the historical context of the temple, particularly outlining what the Jews believed about the temple in terms of the Messiah. I found this fascinating I love learning about how the Old Testament provides context for the New Testament. Long ago I had a pastor who would often quote these two statements: “The New Testament is in the Old concealed, and the Old is in the New revealed” (St. Augustine). “The New is in the Old contained, and the Old is in the New explained” (Graham Scroggie).
Solomon’s temple (the first temple) was destroyed by the Babylonians when the Jews were taken into exile. They built the second temple on their return from exile. Many wept (Ezra 3:12) when they saw it being built because it seemed so insignificant to those who remembered Solomon’s temple. Yet it was promised that, “‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the LORD Almighty” (Haggai 2:9).
When the Romans invaded Israel, Herod renovated this second temple and it was the temple of Jesus’ day. This second temple had no ark of the covenant, no cherubim’s wings and no mercy seat which is where the Jews believed God’s presence resided. In fact there is no mention of the ark once the Jews went into exile in Babylon and while there are many rumours as to its whereabouts it never came back to the temple. But when Jesus came to this temple the presence of the Lord came back to the temple. The prophesy that the glory of this temple is greater than Solomon’s is fulfilled because Jesus, the Lord of all glory, came to the temple.
Often we breeze past significant events in the Bible (and in our lives) with barely a second thought, but when we stop and consider what God has done, we stand and marvel.