In the Shadow of the Temple
This is Bible Study DU004 - In the Shadow of the Temple.
We often fail to get the full measure of a Scripture portion when we attempt to read back into the Scriptures the theology that we are accustomed to. It is a challenge to study the Scriptures in both their Hebraic thought form, but also within their historical and redemptive context. What I want to do in this study is bring us back to what John the Baptist, and the disciples, and the Lord Himself meant in saying that the kingdom of God was at hand.
So, let's begin with Jesus. Why is it when Jesus performed a miracle, you never hear Him say, 'In the name of the Lord God.' No true prophet of God ever spoke in his own name. The rabbis knew this. In fact when the rabbis taught, they always linked their teachings around something a noted rabbi had already said. This was to keep an upstart teacher from introducing a new or strange teaching. Everything had to fit into the rabbinical program. (Actually the rabbis considered themselves to be the final voice of God.)
This is what disturbed the Jewish leadership concerning Jesus. The rulers wanted to know where He got the authority to change the rules. Who was He to presume to speak in His own authority! It says, "The crowds were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes." (Mt 7:28,29)
The quick answer is that Jesus had no need to link His authority to a prophet. He was God incarnate. Of course this is the key to why Jesus kept startling the religious authorities and the peoples themselves. No one ever taught the way He taught. No one ever spoke the way He spoke. His very words had penetrating power.
In the Sermon on the Mount, we hear the Lord make this statement more than once, "You have heard that the ancients were told, 'You shall not commit murder' and 'Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.' Jesus then says, 'But I say to you.' Jesus uses, 'But I say to you' at least 139 times in the gospels. Most often He is countering something that the peoples had been taught.
What does this tell us? It tells us that all the Messianic prophetic flow of the Old Testament had reached its apex in Jesus. It tells us that the King of glory, the Lord Himself was walking in the shadow of the temple. This is so important to understand. The fullness of all that God is, was fully manifested in the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact Jesus is called 'the image of the invisible God.' (This takes us out of the Jewish court into the cosmos of eternity.)
When the chief priest accosted Jesus about His authority listen to how it goes: "By what authority are You doing these things, and who gave You this authority?" The Lord said, "The baptism of John was from what source, from heaven or from men?" If they said, 'From heaven,' Jesus would then say, "Why then did you not believe him?" If they said "From men", the crowd would turn on them. All they could say was, "We do not know." The Lord's response was, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things."
Jesus had no need to explain His authority to anyone. The very works that He did testified to who He really was. And His kingship did not begin with His birth. The Psalmist said, "Yet God is my king from of old; who works deliverance in the midst of the earth." And again, "But the Lord is the true God; He is the living God and the everlasting King. At His wrath the earth quakes, and the nations cannot endure His indignation." (Cf. Ps 74:12; Jer 10:10)
After the priests become quiet, the Lord begins speaking to them in parables. He nails the leadership up tightly when He said, "Did you never read in the Scriptures, 'The stone which the builders rejected, this became the chief corner stone; this came about from the Lord, and it is marvelous in our eyes?'" He continues, "Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it."
What did Jesus mean in saying that the kingdom would be removed from Israel? The answer is that when you reject the King, there is no kingdom to be had for the rejecter. To the Jewish people the term 'kingdom of God' spoke of the rule of the King, or, the direct rule of God. The Jewish leaders were forfeited any right to God's direct rule. They were also forfeiting their own right to represent Israel before God.
Israel of old had been set aside to be God's mediating kingdom in the earth. Even with all her swings into idolatry and all the evils that plagued her, Israel was still God's visible kingdom in the earth. All of God's redemptive program revolved on some level around Israel. Israel was to send prophets to the nations. Of course this all changed when the King Himself arrived on the scene.
Here is where we need to set aside terms like trinity or oneness. The Jews had been long taught that there is the Almighty God who cannot be seen, and there is God who reveals Himself. Thus you had the invisible God but also the image of the invisible God, that is, the Father and Son. (This thought reaches far back into the Hebrew Scriptures and into the writings of the sages.)
Let's come back to Jesus as the King of Israel. When John the Baptist began preaching, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand," he was announcing the King. This is where it helps to understand what the term repent actually meant to the Jews. To repent meant to turn away from all other authority practices, and in turn, to now let all eyes look to the King.
The Lamb-King was in place thus the kingdom of God was in place. Paul speaks of this kingdom phase as 'The kingdom of the beloved Son.' The One who had rule over all the earth and certainly over all Israel, was now among them. The is why it can be said that John the Baptist was the last of the Old Testament prophets. The Old Testament prophet role was complete. John could easily have said, 'Israel, here is your king.' What he said was, 'Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.'
The term repentance is often misunderstood. It still carries the same meaning today. Repentance is not an issue of wailing at an altar. To repent literally speaks of a change of mind that results in a change of direction. When a person truly confesses Jesus Christ and receives Him as their Lord and Savior, this is, in fact, the very essence of repentance. It is on the basis of repentance that we are given authority to become children of God.
May I press this home --- When we repent and turn to Jesus, this means everything and everyone with whom we have trusted as our authority can no longer hold that same place of absoluteness in our lives. We are presenting ourselves to the King. Think about it. How many times do we Christians place our allegiance in a denomination or even a church to the extent that the denomination or church becomes our security, our voice from heaven, and the absolute authority over our lives? What we should be saying is, 'Lord, You are the King of my life. I want to be what You want me to be. I want to be where You assign me to be. I want do what You want me to do.'
Listen to what Jesus said to the religious leaders: "How can you believe, when you seek glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?" And again, "For they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God." (John 5:44; 12:43)
Jesus said the true blessings of heaven revolved on His Lordship. He said, "If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him." (Jn 12:26) In another place He said, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me." (Jn 10:27)
None of this is to say that we should not flock ourselves in our respected gathering places. The Lord does place us in the flock of our belonging. Yet even at that, it is the King Himself who speaks to our hearts wherever we may be and in whatever flock we may attend. This is personal Lordship.
There is another element that needs to be understood with regard to Jesus being King. It is important to understand what the purpose of the Law of Moses was. The Law was a temporary measure, given to a particular people, under particular circumstances, to deal with the realities of the time, and to give some structure to this people-group so that they could representatively be God's kingdom in the earth. The Law was not a covenant of salvation but of priesthood. The Law could never save anyone. It pointed to a Savior.
Nor was the Law of Moses intended to be God's final design for His people. It was made for a carnal people. The Law was designed for an absentee King. Now that the King is present, the covenant of Moses could be set aside. Understand this and you are well on the way to understanding what a true new covenant walk with Jesus is all about. This is why you hear Jesus use terms like, "You have heard it said, but I say to you." He is speaking as the King in residence.
But this wasn't to be the final of things. The prophets had long written about the rejection of the suffering King, and that He would come a second time as the King of judgment and as the King of victory. Between these two events there would be an out gathering of peoples of all the nations whose hearts and souls would belong to the King. These are the ones whose allegiance would fully belong to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Thus we hear the Psalmist, "Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; take warning, O judges of the earth. Worship the Lord with reverence and rejoice with trembling. Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way; for His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all those to take refuge in Him! [the Church age]" (Ps 2:10-12)
This is an ancient Jewish proverb that speaks volumes. They taught than when Messiah comes, if Israel is worthy, He would come on the clouds. They called Him 'bar nifle' which means 'son of the clouds.' But if Israel was unworthy, He would come on a donkey. (Think about it.)
Back to the temple. Isn't it amazing how these confrontations with the chief priest took place in the shadow of the temple? The One who had formerly shown Himself as a brilliant light over the mercy seat, was now walking the temple complex in the person of Jesus Christ. The crowds gathered to hear God Himself teach. This is why the temple guards could say, "No man ever spoke like this man." (Don't you love the song that says, "As He speaks the birds hush their singing"?)
Isn't it also amazing that the God of Israel could be in the temple area itself and the chief priests want to do battle with Him? No wonder they were called a brood of vipers. Yet neither were they His sheep. Jesus said to them, "But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep." (Jn 10:26)
It all happened in the shadow of the temple. The King was crucified in the shadow of the temple. He resurrected from the dead in the shadow of the temple. The Spirit of the King was poured out into the hearts of His own people right there in the temple complex on the day of Pentecost. And at the second coming of Jesus Christ, He will return to the same temple mount.
Think about it. Aren't you glad that Jesus Christ is your own Lord and Savior?
"Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission."
This study was originally shared on January 27, 2006. It was written by Pastor Buddy Martin, a former United Pentecostal Church minister, who founded and pastors Christian Challenge International. Writings are the copyright of Buddy Martin and reprinted on this site by permission.
Page added February 5, 2006
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