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  • Writer's pictureRob

The Hundred-Second (Temple)

Have you noticed how I have a tendency to take a look at the original words used in scripture to study what verses mean or find themes in His message? Have you also noticed that I usually give definitions of those words? That those words mean something, and while they may have different ideas or thoughts conveyed based on their context, they absolutely have a defined meaning that is unchanging?

It is important to remember this, especially when this world is going down the path that words don't actually mean what they mean so you can make them mean anything you want. They also stigmatize certain words by claiming it causes people to feel a certain way and then forcing that claim upon society as a whole, thereby essentially banning the use of that word. The latest one that's started down that road I just saw the other day. In case you weren't aware, the word "inmate" now dehumanizes people in prison, so New York will now be using the term "incarcerated individual" instead.

Now, don't get me wrong. There are clearly words and terms that are inappropriate to use based on how they were used in the past. However, society has conditioned people to become outraged at individuals rather than realize that their use of those words may or may not be meant as derogatory or mean. What matters is what is in the person's heart, and we cannot see what that is. Hence why Jesus told us not to judge others (Matthew 7:1, Luke 6:37). Yehovah looks upon the heart to repay a person's deeds (Jeremiah 17:10) so we must leave judgment to Him.

While that may seem like a random tangent, it struck me as appropriate for this week's topic. When you study scripture, there is what God intended and there's what people try to read into it. When Jesus spoke of building a house upon a rock, He was referencing His words. His words mean something, same as the rest of scripture, and twisting them into something else is worse than the man that built his house on the sand by ignoring them (Matthew 7:24-27, Luke 6:47-49).

In that vein, we have a definition of temple that means place of worship. However, when you read scripture and you find that word, you wouldn't realize that in the original text there are multiple words that were translated to it. In the Old Testament, you'll find four different words translated to temple, and three in the New Testament. Two of the Hebrew words more properly mean house (bayit) and the temple of your head (raqqa). As a side note on that second one, I found a simile about a maiden's temple being like a piece of pomegranate (Song of Solomon 4:3, 6:7). Interesting. The other verses using raqqa are a bit more...gory.

But back to this place of worship idea, when you look at the Greek words one specifically means idol's temple (eidoleion) and the others are used in context to mean the overall temple (hieron) as compared to the inner sanctuary of the temple (naos). The naos is where the Holy and Most Holy place was contained. This is where Yehovah dwelled, and there was a very specific and detailed process to enter that area.

When you dig a little deeper, and take a look at where each of these words are used, you'll find hieron, or the temple as a whole, is not used anywhere but the four gospels and the book of Acts, with the notable exception of 1 Corinthians 9:13. So, when you read that we are the temple of Yehovah (1 Corinthians 3:16), the word used is the same as that used for the inner sanctuary of the temple rather than the word for the temple overall.

Paul expanded this idea, and wrote to the church in Ephesus about Jesus being the chief cornerstone of the ekklesia formed out of believers in Him (Ephesians 2:19-22). We make up the naos, built on the foundation of apostles and prophets; Jesus being the One that started the laying of that foundation and setting it straight and true. What does that, in and of itself, tell us? That the apostles and prophets, the things that they did as directed and enabled by Jesus, are the basis of what we as the ekklesia have the ability to do today.

That's not to say we ignore the Old Testament by any means. One of the reasons Jesus is the cornerstone is because of his fulfillment of the Old Testament. So, in order to understand Him, where the things in the New Testament came from, and much of the symbology used you must go back and dig into the Old Testament. In fact, there's one more place in the New Testament that's key to understanding the naos, and that's a reference to the precursor to the temple.

Before the first temple, the Israelites built a tabernacle. In that setup, the naos was called the sanctuary (miqdash in Hebrew, or hagion in Greek). Same as in the temple, the sanctuary is where Yehovah dwelled with the Holy of Holies housing the ark of the covenant. You may remember our look at sanctification, which involved the word hagiasmos. This has the same root as sanctuary, and interestingly enough, hagion is only used in one book: Hebrews.

You'll find this word in chapters 8 through 10 translated to various forms including sanctuary, Holiest of all (or Holy of Holies), holy place, and holiest, and it talks about the process of the priest in the tabernacle to enter the sanctuary. The writer makes the parallel that Jesus' blood is completely cleansing, unlike the blood of animals, and that He entered the actual Holy of Holies in heaven, where Yehovah dwells, as the high priest using His blood, similar to how the high priest had to use animal blood to enter the Holy of Holies in the sanctuary.

So, not only is Jesus the cornerstone of our earthly temple, which is made of individuals in His ekklesia rather than stone, He walked into the heavenly temple following His resurrection and used His blood as the offering for the sins of all mankind. But that's not where naos ends. We have prophecy about it that has yet to pass. The next place this word is found after Ephesians is 2 Thessalonians.

This passage is where Paul wrote to the church of Thessalonica about the return of Jesus, and that there will be a "son of perdition" that sets himself in the naos above all things that are worshipped (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4). Some believe this to be a reference to a third temple, based on a passage from Daniel, however as you see, naos is used to describe us being the temple. To give strength to this interpretation, in the verse before Paul writes about a falling away from the faith that occurs first. In other words, it is plausible Paul is describing that this son of perdition finds a way to win over the hearts of those weak in the faith and thus "sets himself up" in their hearts to replace God.

I bring this up not to tell you what this particular passage means, but to help open the door to let the Holy Spirit lead you to what it means. I believe this passage describes a key part of future events, and at a minimum, knowing the possible meanings of passages like this will help you be prepared for deceptions that are coming. Unfortunately, with prophecy you sometimes don't know exactly how something's going to happen until it happens. Not at least trying to figure it out the prophecy given in scripture is opening yourself up to fall for the deceptions that will continue to occur until Jesus returns.

So, be the Temple of God, and keep yourself pure and Holy. Study His word to help prepare yourself for what is to come. Shabbat shalom and God bless you!

-Rob and Sara Gene

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