The Temple, the Dwelling place
The Temple on the Mount Moriah served as a constant reminder and an unavoidable show-and-tell, concerning God’s dwelling among His people. The primary service associated with the Temple was the annual “day of removal,” (the day of atonement) which depicted how God would remove from the humankind the sin which separated it from Him. “‘Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them.'” Exodus 25:8, NIV. The Hebrew word for the sanctuary is usually translated to mean a building or a physical structure for a worship service. However, the noun translated as “sanctuary” also means “a hideout or a hiding place”; and because it was for God, it was His holy dwelling among His people. This blog addresses God’s residence or a hideout among His people. Why did God ask they build a “hideout” for Him? Because people were afraid when God spoke to them directly; but He wanted to be among His people. Exodus 20:18, 19, NIV.
So, God asked His people to build a place where He could reside among them. The people would know He is there; however, they would not see His glory and be afraid. The structure would be a daily reminder that God is with His people. The temple building was God’s sacred residence, and could not serve other purposes. Accordingly, God instructed Moses to build a sanctuary “for Him” and not “to Him. God asked for a place where He could dwell with His people; He did not ask for a place where people could conduct the worship services. The people were free to worship God wherever they are. The desire by Gods creation to always be with Him is more pleasing to Him than a most solemn and extraordinary worship service. The Gods dwelling place, the hideout, was a powerful reminder that, in the fullness of time, God would reside among His faithful forever.
The Hebrew noun “mikdash,” the hideout, refers to an entity which itself is not a physical structure, but a sanctuary located inside a physical structure. The Hebrew word for the Temple, or the dwelling place, is “Mishkan”; the “mikdash” was inside the “Mishkan.” In the instruction given to Moses, nouns employed for the “sanctuary” and the term used for the “temple” are not the same; they are different.
The next blog will address the significance of the physical structure.