Dear Cornerstone brothers and sisters,
Blessings in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. I pray the Lord is strengthening your faith this week – growing you and stretching you to cast your all upon him because he cares for you (1 Pet 5:7). In our study of Mark this week, we will shift gears a bit to consider the authority of Christ and his apostles and what that means for us today.
Here are few reminders of some events in the life of the church:
1. This Saturday the men will gather at the “Egg and I” on Hwy 6 (6168 Hwy 6 N) at 8:30AM for a time of fellowship and food. Also, we will begin considering the question, “what does it mean to be a man in the Biblical sense of the word.”
2. The ladies will gather next Saturday, 3/8, at the Tan’s home for their “Mugs and Muffins.” The Tan’s address is 1310 Welch St, Unit A, Houston, TX, 77006.
3. Please let me know if you are interested in our join Spring retreat with Providence OPC ASAP. Again, the dates are Th – Sat, May 29-31. It will be a great time to get away for a couple of days.
4. Finally, next week I will jump back into Ruth; but this week’s devotional is a reflection from Haggai … and covers a point we will be considering in Sunday school this week.
Birthday From the Pastor’s Desk
“The Latter Glory”
Haggai 2:9, “‘The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former,’ says the LORD of hosts. And in this place I will give peace.’”
God’s people had been in exile for 70 years (2 Kings 25; Jer 25:11-12). Now they were coming home (Ezra 1-2); and the first order of business was to rebuild the temple (Ezra 3). In the face of opposition, and resting in the promises and the presence of God with them, the returned exiles completed the second temple in 515BC. As Ezra 3:10-13 tells us, however, the response on the part of God’s people was rather mixed. Some rejoiced while others “wept with a loud voice when they saw the foundation of this house being laid” (Ezra 3:12). Why the weeping? Because this temple – this rebuilt second temple – would be far inferior to Solomon’s temple in terms of external grandeur and beauty. If Solomon’s temple was a mansion, the rebuilt temple was a shack (Hag 2:3).
What I want us to see, however, and to consider for a few moments – is that what was significant was not the temple structure in itself, but rather what the temple represented. For what was the purpose of the temple? It was the place where God dwelt with man. It was the manifestation of God’s presence with his people. It was the place where a holy God condescended to dwell with a sinful people. Furthermore, the temple was the place where the glory of God resided. And how can sinful man approach a holy and glorious God?? Only through the blood of a substitutionary sacrifice. Thus, it was at the temple where the sacrifices were made and where sinners could approach their covenant God by means of the shed blood of the sacrifice.
In Hag 2:3-4, the Lord rebukes his people for their despairing attitudes towards the rebuilt temple; and encourages them by means of his presence and his spirit. Also, God states the he “will fill this house with glory … and the latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former” (Hag 2:7, 9). What does the Lord mean by these words? How is the latter glory greater than the glory of Solomon’s temple? Well … where is the temple now? Nowhere to be found! At least in a physical sense! The New Testament teaches us that the temple symbolism [of both the first and the second temple] has been fulfilled in Jesus Christ. In other words, all that the temple represented in terms of (1) the sacrifices offered and (2) the place where God dwells with men has found its fulfillment in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the true temple (John 2:20-22; 1 Pet 2:4-8)! Jesus is the perfect and final sacrifice (Heb 7:27; 9:12; 9:28; 10:10)! Jesus is God dwelling with man (John 1:14; Matt 1:23)! The temple was like a shadow – the reality of which is Christ (Heb 10:1). And more than that – Jesus is the very embodiment of the glory of God – in Jesus, we behold the very glory of God (John 1:18). Thus, the latter glory of the temple is greater because the latter glory is the glory of God himself – the glory of God in the flesh – the glory of God himself dwelling with man in Christ, who is the glory of God. How much greater is the reality than the shadow (Col 2:17)!
There are two thoughts of application that I want to make:
First, understanding Christ as the reality helps us to understand our Bibles. Many of the rituals and institutions we find in the Old Testament were like pictures pointing us to Christ (Lev 16 with Heb 9:25-28; Ex 28-29 with Heb 5:1-6). Jesus is the substance – he is the reality!
And second, seeing Christ as the reality helps us to understand more about Christ. Understanding the purpose of the temple, for example, informs our understanding of Christ as the true temple. The temple was glorious because it was where the glory of God dwelt – Jesus is far more glorious because in him the very glory of God has tabernacled among men!!