The Temple: It’s not what you think
I. RETURNING to build the TEMPLE. (Ezra 1-6)
A. SUPPORT from the KING. (Ezra 1:1-8)
B. Initial STAGES and DISAPPOINTMENT. (Ezra 3:1-13)
C. The problem with KINGS and TEMPLES. (Ezra 4-6)
D. Still SOMETHING is MISSING. (Ex. 40:34-35; I Kings 8:10-11)
Last week we saw Jerusalem destroyed and the people (at least most of them) marched off to exile in Babylon. Now a week later we pick up the text in what has been for Israel 70 long years. Babylon has been conquered by Cyrus, King of Persia, and things are changing. They are heading home with a royal command to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem.
1. Kid’s question: Have you ever been homesick? What was it like to come home?
2. Did Jeff’s comments about Kings and Temples provoke questions about how to navigate issues of faith and politics? What questions?
3. When has some spiritual project or quest had high expectations but disappointing results? How did you handle that?
II. Understanding TEMPLE as PRESENCE. (Rev. 21:22)
A. SEEN in CREATION. (Gen. 1-2)
B. The TABERNACLE as God WITH them. (Ex. 40:36-38)
C. GOD on Mt. ZION. (I Kings 8:10-11)
D. Where is GOD in our “EXILE”? (Acts 2:1-4; 1 Cor. 6:19; Eph. 2:19-22)
Exile is an event that happened in the Scripture that takes on a bigger thematic meaning throughout the whole of Scripture. Temple is the same…but it actually starts with the meaning and moves toward a specific place, then broadens back out to the bigger meaning as the text progresses.
4. In the OT the temple was a place where God resided with the people. Are there places like that now? Why or why not?
5. In what ways does your life feel at times like an exile? How do you respond to those feelings?
III. Three REALITIES of today’s “exilic” TEMPLE. (1 Pet. 2:4-5)
A. Not LIMITED by FEELINGS of exile. (Lk 24:15-18; 1 Jn 4:4)
B. Moves US from ME to WE. (1 Pet. 2:4,5; Rom 12:4-5)
C. UNITES us in a greater PURPOSE. (1 Pet. 2:4-5, 9-10)
All these themes and ideas from over 2500 years ago can seem to be far away from where we are seeking to live today. The truth is that the themes of temple and exile are really powerful anchors that help us to live with confidence and clarity in a world that pushes us toward chaos.
6. As you walk through Lent what are you learning about God’s presence in difficult times?
7. How does (or how should) the idea of “us” being the temple impact our relationships with one another?
8. What are some specific ways that we can function as the temple of God in Hope?