April 23, 2017 – April 29, 2017
“The Lord is in His holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before Him” (Habakkuk 2:20).
Study Help: The Desire of Ages, 154–166; Testimonies, vol. 5, 491–500.
“The precincts of the church should be invested with a sacred reverence.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 494.
1 THE TEMPLE DEFILED
- What situation prevailed in the temple of Jerusalem at the beginning of Christ’s earthly ministry? John 2:13, 14.
Note: “The dealers demanded exorbitant prices for the animals sold, and they shared their profits with the priests and rulers, who thus enriched themselves at the expense of the people. The worshipers had been taught to believe that if they did not offer sacrifice, the blessing of God would not rest on their children or their lands. Thus a high price for the animals could be secured; for after coming so far, the people would not return to their homes without performing the act of devotion for which they had come.” The Desire of Ages, 155.
“In the defilement and cleansing of the temple we have a lesson for this time. The same spirit that existed among the Jews, leading them to substitute gain for godliness, and outward pomp for inward purity, curses the Christian world today. It spreads like a defiling leprosy among the professed worshipers of God. Sacred things are brought down to a level with the vain matters of the world. Vice is mistaken for virtue, and righteousness for crime. Temporal business is mingled with the worship of God. Extortion and wicked speculation are practiced by those who profess to be servants of the Most High.” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 2, 123.
- What effect did the iniquitous trading have upon the temple services? Ezekiel 22:26, first part.
2 REVERENCE IN THE HOUSE OF GOD
- How does God consider the place where He manifests His presence? Exodus 3:1–5.
- How should we conduct ourselves in God’s house and in His divine presence? Habakkuk 2:20.
- What command did the Lord give when He descended upon Mount Sinai? Exodus 19:12, 13.
Note: “When the Lord descended upon Mount Sinai, the place was consecrated by His presence. Moses was commanded to put bounds around the mount and sanctify it, and the word of the Lord was heard in warning: ‘Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death: there shall not an hand touch it, but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through; whether it be beast or man, it shall not live’ (Exodus 19:12, 13). Thus was taught the lesson that wherever God manifests His presence, the place is holy. The precincts of God’s temple should have been regarded as sacred.” The Desire of Ages, 155, 156.
“It is too true that reverence for the house of God has become almost extinct. Sacred things and places are not discerned; the holy and exalted are not appreciated. Is there not a cause for the want of fervent piety in our families? Is it not because the high standard of religion is left to trail in the dust? God gave rules of order, perfect and exact, to His ancient people. Has His character changed? Is He not the great and mighty God who rules in the heaven of heavens? Would it not be well for us often to read the directions given by God Himself to the Hebrews, that we who have the light of the glorious truth shining upon us may imitate their reverence for the house of God? We have abundant reason to maintain a fervent, devoted spirit in the worship of God. We have reason even to be more thoughtful and reverential in our worship than had the Jews. But an enemy has been at work to destroy our faith in the sacredness of Christian worship. …
“The moral taste of the worshipers in God’s holy sanctuary must be elevated, refined, sanctified.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 495, 496.
3 THE TEMPLE, AN OBJECT LESSON
- What was the Lord’s purpose in establishing His sanctuary among His people? Exodus 25:8.
Note: “That temple, erected for the abode of the divine Presence, was designed to be an object lesson for Israel and for the world. From eternal ages it was God’s purpose that every created being, from the bright and holy seraph to man, should be a temple for the indwelling of the Creator.” The Desire of Ages, 161.
- What does it mean that we are the temple of God? I Corinthians 3:16, 17; Isaiah 57:15.
Note: “Because of sin, humanity ceased to be a temple for God. Darkened and defiled by evil, the heart of man no longer revealed the glory of the Divine One. But by the incarnation of the Son of God, the purpose of Heaven is fulfilled. God dwells in humanity, and through saving grace the heart of man becomes again His temple.” The Desire of Ages, 161.
“By a most beautiful and impressive figure, God’s word shows the regard He places upon our physical organism and the responsibility resting on us to preserve it in the best condition: ‘Know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have from God? and ye are not your own.’ ‘If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are’ (I Corinthians 6:19, R.V., margin; 3:17).
“Let pupils be impressed with the thought that the body is a temple in which God desires to dwell, that it must be kept pure, the abiding place of high and noble thoughts. As in the study of physiology they see that they are indeed ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’ (Psalm 139:14), they will be inspired with reverence. Instead of marring God’s handiwork, they will have an ambition to make all that is possible of themselves, in order to fulfill the Creator’s glorious plan. Thus they will come to regard obedience to the laws of health, not as a matter of sacrifice or self-denial, but as it really is, an inestimable privilege and blessing.” Education, 200, 201.
“It is a duty to know how to preserve the body in the very best condition of health, and it is a sacred duty to live up to the light which God has graciously given.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 70.
4 JESUS PURIFIES THE TEMPLE
- What was Christ’s reaction towards the desecration of the temple? John 2:15, 16.
Note: “As Jesus came into the temple, He took in the whole scene. He saw the unfair transactions. He saw the distress of the poor, who thought that without shedding of blood there would be no forgiveness for their sins. He saw the outer court of His temple converted into a place of unholy traffic. The sacred enclosure had become one vast exchange. …
“Slowly descending the steps, and raising the scourge of cords gathered up on entering the enclosure, He bids the bargaining company depart from the precincts of the temple. With a zeal and severity He has never before manifested, He overthrows the tables of the money-changers. The coin falls, ringing sharply upon the marble pavement. None presume to question His authority. None dare stop to gather up their ill-gotten gain. Jesus does not smite them with the whip of cords, but in His hand that simple scourge seems terrible as a flaming sword. Officers of the temple, speculating priests, brokers and cattle traders, with their sheep and oxen, rush from the place, with the one thought of escaping from the condemnation of His presence.” The Desire of Ages, 157, 158.
- What is the extent of Christ’s act in purifying the temple? Malachi 3:1–3.
Note: “In the cleansing of the temple, Jesus was announcing His mission as the Messiah, and entering upon His work. … God designed that the temple at Jerusalem should be a continual witness to the high destiny open to every soul. But the Jews had not understood the significance of the building they regarded with so much pride. They did not yield themselves as holy temples for the Divine Spirit. The courts of the temple at Jerusalem, filled with the tumult of unholy traffic, represented all too truly the temple of the heart, defiled by the presence of sensual passion and unholy thoughts. In cleansing the temple from the world’s buyers and sellers, Jesus announced His mission to cleanse the heart from the defilement of sin—from the earthly desires, the selfish lusts, the evil habits, that corrupt the soul.” The Desire of Ages, 161.
5 PURIFYING THE LIVING TEMPLE
- What is it that individuals cannot accomplish by their own efforts? Jeremiah 2:22; 13:22; Job 14:4.
Note: “No man can of himself cast out the evil throng that have taken possession of the heart.” The Desire of Ages, 161.
- What does the Lord intend to do for and in us? Ezekiel 36:25–27; Zechariah 3:3–5.
Note: “Only Christ can cleanse the soul temple. But He will not force an entrance. He comes not into the heart as to the temple of old; but He says, ‘Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him’ (Revelation 3:20). He will come, not for one day merely; for He says, ‘I will dwell in them, and walk in them; … and they shall be My people.’ ‘He will subdue our iniquities; and Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea’ (2 Corinthians 6:16; Micah 7:19). His presence will cleanse and sanctify the soul, so that it may be a holy temple unto the Lord, and ‘an habitation of God through the Spirit’ (Ephesians 2:21, 22).” The Desire of Ages, 161, 162.
“While Jesus ministers in the sanctuary above, He is still by His Spirit the minister of the church on earth.” Ibid., 166.
“I call upon everyone who claims to be a son of God never to forget this great truth, that we need the Spirit of God within us in order to reach heaven, and the work of Christ without us in order to give us a title to the immortal inheritance.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 442.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1 Who were the leaders of the iniquitous trade in the temple?
2 What should be the attitude of anyone who comes to God?
3 What spiritual significance did the temple at Jerusalem have?
4 What did Christ announce in cleansing the temple?
5 Who only can cleanse the human heart?
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