The Old Testament is primarily the story of God’s relationship with His covenant people – the Israelites. In a culture of polytheism where nations worshipped many gods, the Lord chose the Israelites to be the first monotheistic nation – to have a relationship with the one true God. Most of Israel’s leaders were godly individuals committed to keeping God’s commandments and covenant. They led the Israelites to worship the Lord in their daily lives, but also in the Tabernacle and eventually in Solomon’s Temple.
Here was a people who had a special relationship with the one true God. They saw His presence manifested in their lives in supernatural ways (i.e. a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night). They heard His voice, they received succinct direction from Him, and they experienced His supernatural provision and protection many times over. Yet we read in our text and in many other passages of Scriptures that these same Israelites succumbed to the cultures and false beliefs around them and had begun to worship other gods even though they had a covenant relationship with the one true God. We even read that under the guidance of some wicked kings they had placed worship utensils, altars, shrine prostitutes and other tributes to false gods in the building that had been dedicated as the Temple of the one true God. How could anyone or any group of people be so forgetful, sink so low, and so compromise their values?
Question – “What causes people to forsake their relationship with the Lord and to compromise their godly values?” There have been many professing believers throughout the centuries besides the Israelites who have turned their backs on God, and completely compromised their godly values. Why do people do this? Sometimes it’s because they simply don’t stay close to the Lord, maintaining a strong personal relationship with Him through prayer, worship and Bible study. Sometimes it’s because they don’t stay involved in a Church family, small group friendships, or ministry of some kind. Sometimes people drift away from the Lord because they get so wrapped up in their own lives they forget who God is to them and what the Lord has done for them. Sometimes people turn away from God and get involved in flagrant sin because they fall prey to the temptations of the flesh, devil and world and make choices that conflict with God’s desires and demands. But can you imagine someone committing flagrant sins in a building dedicated to the worship of the one true God. We know that some have, but it’s almost unimaginable for us to consider that anyone would do something like that. Yet we find that committing flagrant sins in the Temple of the Lord had become commonplace for many Israelites. Their disobedience, disregard for the Lord and dishonoring of the Lord had reached a level of unbelievable ungodliness.
Second Question – “When do you find yourself desecrating the ‘temple of the Lord’, and what convictions do you have about doing so?” When we talk about the “temple of the Lord” for a New Testament believer, we are not talking about a building made for worshippers, but our very bodies and beings. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 6:19: “Don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit . . .?”
Is there anything that happens in your “Lord’s Temple” that would be considered a desecration by you or the Lord? Are you like the Israelites in any way – and if so, what are you going to do about it? A great revival happened in Josiah’s day for God’s people when he led them to cleanse their temple and change their ways. A similar revival can happen in mine and your life when we are willing to do the same.
As you pray today: 1) Pray for the Lord to show you any ambitions, actions or attitudes that need to be cleansed from your “Temple”, and then repent of them; 2) Pray for the Lord to give you the desire and ability to live a consistent holy life; and 3) Ask the Lord how you can glorify Him this very day!