Lord is in
His Holy Temple
This series of lessons is designed to teach students how important it is that God dwell among His people in a special way. We want to convey that God is at hand -- accessible to receive our worship and to aid us. In the Bible, heaven itself is described as a place where God is with His people and dwells among them (Rev. 21:3). But God dwells among His people individually and collectively even in this life. That's the exciting message of this VBS.
The first two lessons of this series cover the building and sanctification of the Jewish temple(s). Lessons three and four cover some of the events that occurred when God's Son came to the Jewish temple; through Jesus words and actions, we learn the kinds of activities God wants where He dwells. Each of the first four lessons draw parallels between the temple and the church, but the final lesson focuses specifically on what God desires today in the church and in the bodies of His people.
Lesson 1: Solomon Builds the First Temple
Text: 1 Chronicles 22; 28-29; 2 Chronicles 2-7; 1 Kings 5-8
Lesson Objective: This lesson is designed to convey what a wonderful thing it is for God to dwell among His people and how important it is for us to prepare, work and sacrifice so that He will.
Practical Points of the Lesson:
Do God's work according to God's plan.
Be willing to generously sacrifice and work.
Understand how glorious it is when God dwells among His people and they can call confidently upon Him.
Introduction: From the time of Israel's wilderness wandering, on through the conquest of Canaan and the days of the Judges, the Tabernacle had served as a transportable center of worship for the Israelites. Soon after David became King, he took Jerusalem from the Jebusites and made it his capital city (2 Samuel 5:1-10). About that time, it entered David's heart to build a permanent house of worship for the Lord in Jerusalem to replace the Tabernacle (2 Samuel 7:1-17). But the Lord explained to David that because he had been a man of war and had spilled much blood he could not build God's house; the Lord wanted His house to be built by David's son Solomon, a man of peace. [Note: The very name Solomon means peaceful (1 Chronicles 22:6-10)].
I. Preparations for Building the Temple
A. David gathered materials and organized workmen for the construction (1 Chronicles 22:1-5, 14-16; 23:1-4)
B. David charged Solomon to build the temple and commanded Israel's leaders to help Solomon (1 Chronicles 22:11-13, 17-19; 28:10)
C. David delivered to Solomon the plans for the temple that had been given to him by God (1 Chronicles 28:11-12, 19).
D. David gave sacrificially for the building of the temple and this encouraged others to do so as well (1 Chronicles 29:1-9).
E. After David's death, Solomon continued the work of collecting materials and organizing workmen (2 Chronicles 2).
II. Construction of the Temple
A. The Site of Temple
1. Built on Mount Moriah (2 Chronicles 3:1)
2. The site is significant as the place where Abraham offered Isaac (Genesis 22:2) and where David had offered sacrifice to God on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite (cf. 1 Chronicles 15:21-28).
B. Key features of the Temple
1. The dimensions of the main temple building were 60 cubits by 20 cubits (90x30 feet) (2 Chronicles 3:3); courtyards extended out from this main building (2 Chronicles 4:9).
2. The Temple was paneled with cypress overlaid with gold, precious stones and carvings of cherubim (2 Chronicles 3:4-6).
3. In the Most Holy Place were two large carvings of cherubim whose wings spanned the 30 foot width of the building (2 Chronicles 3:10-14)
4. At the front of the temple were two large pillars donned with carved chain work wreaths which were decorated with 100 carved pomegranates
5. Furnishings included a large altar (30x30 feet), a large sea, ten lavers, ten lampstands and ten tables
III. Dedication of the Temple
A. The Ark of the Covenant is Brought into the Temple (2 Chronicles 5:2-10).
B. Solomon Dedicates the Temple with prayer.
1. The prayer begins with thanks to God for fulfilling promises and calls upon Him to continue to bless (2 Chronicles 6:12-17)
2. Although the Temple could not contain God, Solomon called upon God to give special attention to the prayers of His people offered to and from the temple (2 Chronicles 6:18-43)
C. The Glory of the Lord fills the Temple (2 Chronicles 5:13-14; 7:1-7).
Conclusion: Having special access to the God of heaven is a goal worthy of our best effort.
Lesson 2: The Jews Rebuild the Temple
Text: (Ezra 3-6; Haggai 1-2))
Lesson Objective: This lesson is designed to encourage students to do what is necessary to enable God to dwell in their lives. The Jews lost the first temple because of their disobedience. By examining the rebuilding of the temple after the Babylonian Captivity, students can see how the Jews had to overcome hardship, adversity and selfishness to prepare another dwelling place for God among them.
Practical Points of the Lesson:
We need God in our midst.
We must work hard and overcome any obstacles.
It is more important to have a place for God to dwell in your life than it is to have a dwelling for yourself.
Introduction: Because the nation of Israel continually disobeyed God and would not listen to His warnings, the Lord eventually allowed the Babylonians to conquer them, take many of them captive, and destroy the beautiful temple that Solomon had built (2 Chronicles 36:15-21).
I. Construction Begins: After 70 years in captivity, King Cyrus of Persia allowed some of the Jews to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple (Ezra 1:1-4).
A. The congregation of Israel that returned to Jerusalem and Judah at this time numbered 42,360 (Ezra 2:64-65).
B. When they arrived in Jerusalem, some of these gave freely for the rebuilding of the temple (Ezra 2:69-70).
C. The men who led the Israelites in this effort were Zerubbabel the governor and Jeshua (or Joshua) the priest (Ezra 3:8-9)
D. The foundation of the temple was laid with praise to God from people and priests as it had been in the time of Solomon (Ezra 3:10-11)
E. The old men who had seen the first temple wept when the foundations of the second temple were laid (Ezra 3:12-13).
II. Opposition is Encountered to re-building the temple.
A. The people of the land who were not Israelites offered to help build the temple, but their offer was rejected (Ezra 4:1-3)
B. Then the people of the land tried to discourage the building of the temple
1. They counseled the Persian kings against allowing the Jews to continue building (Ezra 4:4-6)
2. They sent a letter to King Artaxerxes and got him to force a ban on the building projects in Jerusalem; so the work on the temple was suspended (Ezra 4:11-24).
III. Construction Becomes a Priority
A. The prophets Zechariah and Haggai rose up during the reign of Darius to encourage the Jews to resume building, and Zerubbabel and Joshua took the lead in doing so (Ezra 5:1-2; Haggai 1:1-2)
1. The earlier ban of Artaxerxes had halted construction in Jerusalem, but the people had managed to build paneled houses for themselves.
2. Zechariah and Haggai point out that it was not right for the people to dwell in beautiful houses while God's house remained unfinished (Haggai 1:4-5).
3. The people had not been blessed by God with prosperity because they had not put Him first (Haggai 1:6-11).
B. Some of the non-Jewish leaders in the region tried to stop the construction and appealed to King Darius (Ezra 5:3-6).
1. But God was with His people (Haggai 1:13-14; Ezra 5:5).
2. So Darius decreed that the temple should be constructed and that the opposition leaders should stay away. (Ezra 5:6 -- 6:12).
3. When the Jews made building the temple a priority, God was with them, protecting them and eventually blessing them (Haggai 2:19).
IV. The Temple is Completed
A. The temple was completed and it's services organized according to the commandment of God (Ezra 6:13-22).
B. Although the beauty and glory of the second temple was nothing compared to the first, it would one day be the most glorious, because the Desire of All Nations, the Son of God, would walk there (Haggai 2:2-9).
Conclusion: It is easy to become selfish and lose sight of our need for God. The Jews learned the hard way that this is a terrible mistake; the house of God was taken from them, and it was only with great effort
Lesson 3: Jesus in the Temple
Texts: Luke 2:22-51; Matthew 17:24-27; Mark 12:35-44
Lesson Objective: The goal of this lesson is to teach respect for God's house, its services, and its function as a place for teaching the will of God. This lesson covers some of the events of Jesus' life that occurred in the temple, beginning with Jesus' early experiences in the temple as a boy and going on to include some of His dealings there as an adult (i.e. widow's mites, temple tax).
Practical Points of the Lesson.
Good families honor God in His house in the way that He has commanded, like the family of Jesus did.
God's house (then and now) is a place to offer to Him the service He requires and to learn His will.
Like Jesus and the widow, we should want to give and sacrifice for the house of God.
Introduction: Over 400 years had passed since the Jews had rebuilt the temple in the days of Zerubbabel. In Jesus' lifetime, the temple underwent major remodeling and reconstruction under Herod the Great. But it's place in the hearts of faithful Jews remained as it had for centuries.
I. Jesus' family brings Him to the temple.
A. Jesus' parents brought Him to the temple as an infant (Luke 2:22-38).
1. The Law required that the firstborn males be dedicated to the Lord (Exodus 13:2, 12, 15)
2. It also required that a woman who had given birth present herself at the house of God and make a sacrifice for her purification (Leviticus 12:1-8).
3. Note the testimony of Simeon and Anna as to the identity of Christ.
a. These were two individuals who were dedicated to the Lord and to His house, and their dedication serves as an example to us.
b. They were privileged to see Haggai's prophecy (mentioned at the end of Lesson 2) begin to be fulfilled (cf. Haggai 2:2-9)
B. Jesus' parents brought Him to the temple as a young man (Luke 2:41-50)
1. The Law required Jewish males to appear before the Lord three times a year to keep the feasts of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles (Exodus 23:14-17).
2. The family of Jesus made the trip to Jerusalem every year at Passover (Note: the text does not say whether they came for the other required feasts -- anything we might say about that would be conjecture).
3. After the feast, Jesus' family began the trip home to Nazareth, but He lingered in Jerusalem. After three days His parents found Him in the temple.
a. The fact that He was sitting in the midst of the teachers, asking and answering questions, indicates that even at 12 years of age Jesus viewed God's house as a place to learn about God's will.
b. When asked by His mother why He did what He did, Jesus responded, "Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?" (2:49).
II. Jesus teaches in the temple
A. When Jesus became a man and began is public ministry, He spent a lot of time teaching in the temple. The Bible says that Jesus taught "daily" in the temple (Luke 19:47; 20:1; 21:37-38; Mark14:49).
B. His temple teaching covered many subjects, including . . .
1. His identity as the Son of David and the Son of God (Mark 12:35-37)
2. His identity as the Christ (John 7:25-29; 10:23-26)
3. Hypocritical judging (John 8:1-11).
4. Defending His testimony concerning Himself (John 8:13-20).
C. His teaching impressed even His enemies among the Jews (John 7:14).
III. Jesus gives to support the temple, and encourages others to do so.
A. Jesus paid the temple tax, although as God's Son He didn't have to do so (Matthew 17:24-27).
B. The widows mite (Mark 12:41-44)
1. This event occurred while Jesus sitting opposite the treasury.
a. The "treasury" was a large room in which the temple tax was collected. This money was used for the services and upkeep of the temple.
b. The treasury was also known as "the court of the women," and was as far as women were allowed to go into the temple (see diagram of temple).
2. Jesus observed many rich people put in much money, but he commended a widow who contributed "two mites" because she had given out of her poverty and contributed "all that she had, he whole livelihood."
a. The money that she contributed had very little value.
b. Yet her desire to give toward God's house was commended by the Lord.
Conclusion: The examples we've looked at in this lesson from the life of Jesus show that Jesus participated in the required worship in God's house, viewed God's house as a place of teaching, and commended giving to God's house. Our attitude toward the church, which is God's house today, should be similar to the attitude that Jesus had toward the temple.
Lesson 4: Jesus Cleanses the Temple
Texts: 2 Chronicles 26:15-21; John 2:14-22; Mark 11:11-33.
Lesson Objective: Students need to understand that God's house should be kept holy and dedicated to God's purposes, not man's. We must do His things in His ways. The main points of this lesson will come from the cleansing(s) of the temple by Jesus.
Practical Points of the Lesson:
Men are not free to do whatever they feel like doing in God's house.
As God's Son, Jesus has the authority to say what should and should not occur in God's house.
Introduction: In the previous lessons we have seen the reverent attitude that those who were faithful to God had toward the temple [Review the attitudes shown by David, Solomon, Zerubbabel and Jesus]. In this lesson, we will see the Lord's condemnation of those who do not have this reverent attitude.
In the Old Testament, King Uzziah was stricken with leprosy for offering service in the temple in a way that was unauthorized (2 Chronicles 26:15-21). He went into the temple to burn incense, even though this was the duty of the priests. He was doing something God wanted done, but not in the way God wanted it done. In showing this prideful disrespect for the order of the services of the temple, Uzziah showed disrespect for God.
Jesus encountered people in the temple whose attitudes may have been worse than Uzziah's. They were not really even interested in doing what God wanted done in His house, but in doing what they wanted.
I. The first cleansing of the temple (John 2:14-22)
A. Near the beginning of His public ministry Jesus and His disciples went up to Jerusalem to the Feast of the Passover (just after the turning water into wine miracle).
B. Jesus found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business.
1. Animals were needed by temple worshipers, especially those who had come from some distance, to make the sacrifices that God required.
2. Money changers were needed to exchange foreign currency into currency that was accepted by the vendors and as temple tribute.
C. Jesus made a whip and drove the vendors out of the temple, and overturned the tables of the moneychangers. He said to those who sold doves, "Take these things away! Do not make My Father's house a house of merchandise!"
1. It was not wrong to sell animals to sacrifice or to exchange money; Jesus plainly says that the sin was in making "My Father's house" a place to do these things.
2. The disciples remembered the Old Testament Scripture that said, "Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up" (Psalm 69:9). Jesus' zeal for God's house motivated His actions in this situation.
D. The Jews ask Jesus what right He had to do what He did.
1. His response was "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."
2. The Jews thought that Jesus was talking about the temple building, which had taken 46 years to build. They didn't think it could be built back in 3 days.
3. But Jesus was speaking of the temple of His body.
a. The body is a kind of temple. The human spirit dwells in it, and if we are God's children, His Holy Spirit dwells in it too (1 Corinthians 6:19). [More on this in tomorrow's lesson].
b. Jesus' resurrection from the dead proved that He is the Son of God and that He has a right to say what should and should not go on in His Father's house.
II. The second cleansing of the temple (Mark 11:11-33; see also Matthew 21:12-13; Luke 19:45-47).
A. Near the end of His public ministry, during the final week before His crucifixion, Jesus cleansed the temple again.
B. Jesus was not moved to do this by a sudden fit of anger -- Jesus had arrived at the temple late the day before, and saw all that was going on (Mark 11:11), but it wasn't until the next day that He took action.
C. Note the similarities and differences between Jesus' actions on this occasion and the earlier one.
1. As He had done years before, He "went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves."
2. But this time He "would not allow anyone to carry wares through the temple" (Mark 11:15-16).
3. Notice also that His words of condemnation are harsher. The first time He had accused them of making His Father's house "a house of merchandise." Now He charges them with making it "a den of thieves" (Mark 11:17). The difference is between carrying on honest business and cheating people.
D. The Jewish leaders again confront Jesus, asking Him what right He had to do these things (Mark 11:27-33).
1. He answers them with a question; was the baptism of John "from heaven or from men?"
2. When they would not answer His question directly, He did not answer theirs. The implication is that Jesus' actions and John's baptism were both authorized by heaven but the Jewish leaders would not admit it.
Conclusion: The fact that God's Son cleansed the temple both at the beginning and the end of His earthly ministry indicates how much the Lord disliked abuses and misuses of His house. Hopefully, this will leave an impression that will remain as we study the next lesson concerning the temple of God today.
Lesson 5: God's Temple Today -- His Church and His People
Texts: 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:19-20; Ephesians 2:19-22
Lesson Objective: This lesson begins by establishing that the church is now the temple of God. As such, it should be built according to God's pattern and carry on His work and purpose. The lesson will also include the concept that the individual Christian's body is a temple for the Holy Spirit. As such, it should be maintained and used to the glory of God.
Suggested visual: Building blocks with students' names on them could be used to build a model temple. The blocks could be placed on a foundation with the names of the apostles on it, and the name of Jesus on the corner.
Introduction: Many of the Bible lessons we've learned from stories about the Jews and their temple also apply to the temple of God today. But unlike Bible times, today there is no physical building that serves as the temple of God. His temple is spiritual and is made up of His people. God dwells in His people individually and collectively.
I. God's Temple, The Church
A. The church is the temple of God (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
1. The chief cornerstone is Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:19-20). Everything is based on Christ as the One through whom salvation comes (Acts 4:11-12).
2. The apostles and prophets are its foundation (Ephesians 2:20).
a. Jesus has all authority (Matthew 28:18)
b. As the Builder of the church, Jesus gave His apostles authority to bind and loose (Matthew 16:18-19; 18:18). Everything that is done in the church should be founded firmly on the teachings and examples of the apostles and prophets of Jesus.
3. Church members are "living stones" that are being built together to form God's temple, the church (1 Peter 2:5).
B. The purpose of the church/temple.
1. That God may dwell among His people (Ephesians 2:22).
2. That God's people may offer acceptable service to Him (1 Peter 2:5).
C. The work and service of the church. The commands and examples of the apostles and prophets of Jesus teach that the church's work is in the following three areas:
1. Evangelism (1 Thessalonians 1:8).
a. Sending out evangelists (Acts 11:20-24; 14:25-26).
b. Supporting evangelists financially (1 Corinthians 9:14; 11:8; Philippians 4:15-16).
c. Inviting unbelievers to worship assemblies (1 Corinthians 14:23-25).
2. Edification (1 Corinthians 14:26).
a. Worship -- singing, praying, taking the Lord's supper (1 Corinthians 14:15; 11:18-34)
b. Teaching God's word (Acts 20:7; 2 Timothy 3:15).
c. Discipline (1 Corinthians 5; 2 Thessalonians 3:6).
3. Helping needy saints. (Acts 4:33-35; 6:1; 11:26-30; 2 Corinthians 8:1-4; 9:1, 12; Romans 15:25-26; 1 Timothy 5:16).
D. The importance of not defiling the church/temple.
1. God's attitude toward those who defile His temple was clearly seen in Lesson 4.
a. Review: What did God do to Uzziah and why? (2 Chronicles 26:15-21).
b. Review: Why did Jesus drive the vendors and moneychangers out of the temple?
2. In the New Testament, the Lord assures us that He will destroy those who defile His church/temple (1 Corinthians 3:16-17)
3. We must make certain that we know what God wants us to do in His temple (the church) so that we do not defile it by committing evil in ignorance (see Ecclesiastes 5:1).
4. Social programs designed to reach out to those in the world are not part of the work God has given the church. Neither are potluck suppers, recreation, concerts, pageants and parties. These things all defile the temple of God.
II. God's temple, the Christian's body
A. The physical body of a Christian is also God's temple (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
B. The temple of our body is to be used to glorify God. (1 Corinthians 6:20; Philippians 1:20). This means that . . .
1. We should not use our bodies to commit sin. A number of sins are specifically said to defile the body (1 Corinthians 6:18; Matthew 15:18-20; James 3:6).
2. We should take care of our bodies.
a. The principle of "not defiling the temple" can be applied to the human body as well as to the church.
b. Activities that harm the body but accomplish nothing positive for the body or the Lord, must be avoided. Drugs, alcohol, tobacco, partying, etc. all fall into this category.
3. We should serve God with and in our bodies (Romans 12:1).
Conclusion: Even though the temple of God today is very different from the Jewish temple, many of the truths that we've learned concerning the Jewish temple still apply. Like the Jews, we will benefit greatly if we work and sacrifice to have a dwelling place of God among us. And like them, we must learn to reverence God and serve Him acceptably in His temple.
(VBS Theme Songs)
Our God is an awesome God;
He reigns from heaven above
With wisdom, power and love
Our God is an awesome God!
Our God is an awesome God;
He reigns from heaven above
With wisdom, power and love
Our God is an awesome God!
Our God is an awesome God!
Our God is an awesome God!
The Lord is In His Holy Temple
The Lord is in His Holy Temple
Let all the earth keep silence before Him.
Keep silence, keep silence.
Keep silence before Him.
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