Ready to Vanish

Well after Christ’s resurrection, as the Apostle Paul penned Hebrews (circa 67 CE), God’s temple in Jerusalem, the earthly picture of His heavenly temple with its ceremonial ordinances and sacrificial system, was as functional as ever. (He 8:4-5)

Petra, Jordan

Yet Paul said God’s old covenant with Israel, built around this temple and its priestly activity, was decaying, growing old, and “ready to vanish away.” (He 8:13) Shortly afterward (circa 70 CE), Rome destroyed God’s temple, halting the entire sacrificial system and Israel’s ability to keep this old covenant.

But this wasn’t the first time. Previously, in 586 BCE, Babylon destroyed the temple, similarly disabling the sacrificial system and Israel’s ability to keep God’s covenant. This first vanishing of the covenant lasted for 70 years while Israel was in exile, and it didn’t make either the covenant or the sacrificial system obsolete. Why then would anyone think the second instance did?

One reason might be that, when left to ourselves, we’re innately disposed to hate God and His law (Ro 8:7), jumping at any excuse to dismiss His ways as irrelevant or obsolete. (2Ti 4:3)

The cross of Christ didn’t displace either the temple or its sacrificial system; animal sacrifices have always been God’s way of pointing us to the cross, helping us understand the nature of Christ’s atoning work. (Jn_1:29)

Without this tangible expression of propitiation (1Jn 2:2), enabling us to relate intimately and practically with the concept of atonement, most of us are hindered in our ability our grasp the nature and significance of the gospel; many in Christianity remain alienated from God (Mt 7:21-23), lost in a perversion of the gospel. (Ga 1:6-7)

Yet even with the temple and sacrificial system in place, Israel missed God’s intent so completely, corrupting and abusing its design so thoroughly (Ro 10:3), that God stepped around them to work His plan for world evangelism another way. (Ro_11:15)

Meanwhile, YHWH’s Heavenly temple still stands, eternally relevant.(Re 16:17) Its earthly counterpart will eventually be fully restored (Re 11:1-2) — there’s nothing in it inconsistent with the gospel.

Torah is holy, just and good (Ro 7:12); it’s God’s moral standard, defining sin and righteousness (1Jn 3:4) so long as Heaven and Earth remain. (Mt 5:18)

God’s temple, His kingdom, and all His laws are amazingly beautiful (Ps 27:4); we do well to seek God in them, keeping His commandments, enjoying them as He intended (Ps 119:111), longing after them (Ps 119:40), and looking forward to their glorious revelation to all Mankind. (Mi 4:2)

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