Sunday, July 27, 2014

Marquee Service Tabernacle / Temple All Age Talk & Adult Sermon

Morning service "spoiler"!


Well, here we are meeting for church in a marquee, a tent.
And there was a time in the history of God’s people when they used to meet with God in a tent.

Does anyone know what that tent was called?

It was called the tabernacle, which just means a tent or hut.
You can read all about it at great length in the Bible in the book of Exodus.
After Moses had led the people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt, God told Moses how to have the tabernacle built.
And where-ever the people went, travelling  through the desert, they would take the tabernacle with them.
God Himself would meet with them in that tent.
The tabernacle showed the people that God wanted to meet with them.
Where-ever they went, God was with them.

But the tabernacle also taught the people that it was hard for them to meet with God.
The Bible tells us that God is holy – he’s very special.
And the tabernacle was meant to teach the people that they could only meet with God in God’s way.
They had to build and look after the tabernacle in lots of special ways exactly as God said.
There were all sorts of rules about it.

The tabernacle had 3 parts:
(1)   An outer court, where the people could come.
(2)   Then inside that an area called the Holy Place, where only the priests could come.
(3)   And then inside that there was a place called The Holy of Hollies, or The Most Holy Place, where only the High Priest could come once a year on what was called The Day of Atonement.
The very inner part of the tabernacle, the Most Holy Place, was where God’s presence was.
And it was separated from the rest of tabernacle by a curtain.
(Like this)
In fact, not quite like this!
It was thick and made of fine linen and was blue and purple and red and it had angels on it as kind of guards.  
It was probably 15 feet high and 18 feet wide.
That’s about 4 ½ meters high and 5 ½ meters wide.
Taller than 2 tall men.
That curtain was like a big no entry sign saying “You can’t come in here, because this is God’s special place.
God is holy and you aren’t so you’ve got to keep your distance!”

So, in a second we’ll have our first reading.
One of the big things to notice is what a palather it all was.
It was really hard for people to come into the presence of a Holy God.

And I want you to listen out for 2 things in particular.

Question 1: See if you can work out why people couldn’t just come into God’s presence any old how any time they wanted.
There are a couple of hints of it in the text.  
Try to work out: what’s the problem that’s got to be dealt with if people are going to come into God’s presence?

Question 2: Listen out for what’s the solution to that problem.
How is it that Aaron the High Priest can come into God’s presence?
What does he have to do first?

1st reading: Leviticus 16:1-17

So, thinking about that reading, does anyone have any idea why we can’t just approach God however we like?
What’s the problem that has to be sorted out?

13 times the passage talked about a sin offering.
Sin is all the wrong things we do and say and think.
And all the good things we should do that we fail to do.
And it’s the wrong attitude in our hearts.

The Bible says we need a sin offering – we need our sin to be dealt with if we’re to come to a holy God.

The passage says atonement is needed.
Just look at that word:
It means “AT- ONE – MENT”
God and his people aren’t at one, they aren’t friends because sin separates them, so they need AT-ONE-MENT.
They need to be made at one again.

So what about our second question.
Perhaps we’ve already given away the answer to this but:
In our passage, what’s the solution to the problem of sin?
What did Aaron have to do so he could come into God’s presence?

We need a sin offering – a sacrifice.

An innocent animal would die in the place of the people and take the punishment they deserve.
It was like a swap.
God put all the people’s sin on the animal so that they could be forgiven.
The animal died instead of the people and took God’s judgement in their place.

The animal sacrifices of the Old Testament are a picture of the death of Jesus, which we’re going to read about in a second.

* * *

In the time of King Solomon, the tabernacle was eventually replaced with the temple in Jerusalem and I’d like you to listen out for mention of the temple in this reading.

Reading: Mark 15:25-39

Did anyone notice what it said about the temple?
What happened in the temple according to the reading?

When Jesus died, the Bible tells us that curtain torn in 2 from top to bottom – as if by God.
Now people could come into the presence of God because Jesus had died to take away his people’s sin.
The way to God had been opened up.  
The NO ENTRY sign was taken away.
Jesus was the ultimate sin offering, the ultimate sacrifice of atonement.
Jesus has made a way for sinful people like you and me to come into the presence of God by dying in our place so that we might be forgiven.
The barrier that sin created between people and God has been taken away.
Isn’t that wonderful good news?!

We need to put our trust in Jesus – to depend on his death in our place, so that we can be friends with God again.

Let’s pray.

* * *


I want just for a few minutes to give you a very quick crash-course in the Biblical theology of the tabernacle and the temple.
Now, I realise that might sound as dull as dish-water.
But the tabernacle and the temple are really important in the Bible.
They help us to answer two of the great questions of life.
You went to the tabernacle for 2 reasons:
(1)   To meet with God
(2)   To be put right with God, to be forgiven and have your relationship with God restored.

So as we look at the tabernacle and the temple we’ll think about those 2 vital issues:
(1)   How can I meet with God?
(2)   And how can I be in a right relationship to him?
Those questions are just as important and relevant today as they were when Moses first had the tabernacle put up.

Many people go on religious pilgrimages today in the hope of a fresh encounter with God, or to be put right with him.
Is that the Bible’s answer to these questions?
People look for God in all sorts of places.
And they try to do all sorts of things to get into his good books.

But , in fact, what the New Testament does with these ideas of the temple tells us where to look to meet God and be put right with him.

The big thing to say is that in the Bible, Jesus himself replaces the tabernacle and the temple.
Those famous words which we read at Christmas tell us that:
“[Jesus] the Word became flesh and made his dwelling amongst us.”
Literally it says, the Word became flesh and pitched his tent among us.
The Word tabernacled with us.

For 33 years, it was as if Jesus himself was a mini-tabernacle walking round Israel.
It was in Jesus that all the fullness of God dwelt in bodily form.
For Jesus’ lifetime, God camped out on earth – a bit like he had done in the days of the tabernacle.
Jesus was filled with the Spirit of God as the Spirit had filled the temple.
Jesus was the glory of God shinning forth and revealed.
“Anyone who has seen me”, Jesus said, “has seen God the Father.”
If you had been there 2000 years ago, you could have met God living as a man.
Jesus is the new and better tabernacle – the place to go to meet with God.

Jesus said, “Destroy this temple, and I will build it again in 3 days.”
The people didn’t understand what he was on about.
The mocked him:
“It’s taken 46 years to build this temple,” they said, “and you are going to raise it in three days?”
But the Bible tells us the temple he had spoken of was his body.
In our reading, Jesus, the new temple, was being destroyed as he died – only for God to raise it up again on the first Easter Sunday.  

Jesus is the new and better temple: the place to go to meet with God.

You might say, “that’s all very well, Vicar, but how can I meet with Jesus today – he’s not here, is he!?”
It’s a perfectly fair question.
Jesus isn’t here physically.
We meet with Jesus today in his word the Bible.
The Bible was written, Jesus tells us, so that we might come to him and have life.
In the power of the Holy Spirit, as it were, Jesus walks off the pages of Scripture to meet us.
The Bible puts us in touch not with a dead hero but with our living Lord.

Second, Jesus puts us right with God.
We thought about that with the children.
All the sacrifices of the tabernacle and temple pointed to him.
The blood of sheep and goats could never really take away sin.
They were only ever intended as a picture of Jesus’ perfect sacrifice which was to come.
Jesus was the spotless lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world.
Jesus’ death was the one all-sufficient sacrifice for sin.  

The Bible tells us “we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place [to come into the presence of God] by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body”.
Jesus’ broken body is the way for sinners like you and me to come to a holy God.
And so there’s no more need for the temple or its sacrifices.

Indeed, Jesus predicted that the Temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed.
And it was.
Within a generation of Jesus’ death, Jerusalem was besieged by a Roman army and soldiers burnt down the temple in AD 70.
It has never been re-built.

For completeness sake, we should say that the Bible describes the Christian church collectively and believers individually as the temple of God.

The Bible never calls a church building a church.
Really, the church is the people who trust in Jesus, not the building.
You can have a perfectly good church service in a 13th C church or a 21st C marquee.  

Another answer to the question, “How do we meet with God?” is that he promises to be specially with us when we meet together in Jesus’ name.
Of course God is everywhere.
We can talk to him in prayer wherever and whenever we like.
But when we gather together as a church, God is particularly with us to bless us, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
We get together as a church to meet with God as we meet with one another.  

And if you’re a Christian, you too are a little temple.
Paul tells believers that their bodies are God’s temple and that the Holy Spirit lives in them.
When we trust in Jesus, we are made clean by his blood and God himself can come and live with us.
It’s not only that we can come to Jesus to meet with God, but when we do so, God the Holy Spirit comes to take up residence in our lives.

May God enable us today to trust in Jesus that we might meet with him afresh, be put right with him and know the blessing of his presence in our lives. Amen.

1 comment:

Christie Gregor said...

Personally, I would think the Tent before would now in our times could be our Adoration Chapels where the blessed host is lodged in the center of the prayer of worship and one of the earliest works of Pope then now turned St. John Paul II is the rekindling of amazement for the Eucharistic Adoration of our Lord in the adoration chapels...calling to our mind the real presence of Jesus under the form of consecrated bread which we Catholics believe through the transubstantiation, the bread truly becomes the body and blood of Jesus once consecrated during the Holy Mass.

Blessings and peace!
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