Wednesday, 9 November 2011

A Tale Of Two Temples

Model by Alec Garrard
The scene is set in Jerusalem's Temple, AD49, where God Himself is believed to dwell at the heart of the Temple, in the Holy of Holies, where no-one is allowed to go except the High Priest once a year.

"Hey, you, filthy Samaritan – get off our holy mountain. We don’t want your kind here. I'll set the Temple Guard on you - go away!"

"Ah, good morning, Gentile sir. You are not allowed into the Temple proper, but here we have the Court of the Gentiles especially for you. You mustn’t come any further, but there are plenty of merchandising opportunities."

"Ladies, welcome! Come on into the Court of the Women ... you can’t see what’s going on with this enormous wall in the way, but there is plenty of opportunity to chatter and gossip."

"Oh, a eunuch ... I'm terribly sorry, sir, but you know what our Scripture says: no eunuchs in the assembly, so you are not allowed into the Temple. You can go to the Court of the Gentiles, though, and maybe talk to our foreign friend here."

"A son of Israel! Come on up – you are ceremonially clean? Of course you are! Come into the Court of the Israelites. No further: you can’t actually go into the area where sacrifices are happening, but you can see what is going on from here."

"Good day, Sir Priest. Come on up to the Court of the Priests. But don’t go any further – you don’t want to end up in the Holy of Holies, do you sir."

Jewish man: “But I want to meet with God and to worship Him!”

"Meet with God? Oh Sir, you are in the wrong place for that. Why would you want to meet with God anyway? It’s not safe: He's not safe. As for worshipping – well, Sir, that’s the point of this Temple: to help you worship God from a safe distance."

Jewish man: “But I want to meet with God and to worship Him, face to face!”

[Furtive looks around] "Are you sure? You really want to meet with God? What I said was true - He really isn't safe. Okay, follow me."

[Off the stage] "You don’t need to be on a holy mountain or in a special building to meet God for worship, but you do need the right people. Here will do nicely."

"You, Sir! Mr Samaritan, come and join us. Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah, told us of a day when both Jews and Samaritans would worship God in Spirit and in Truth – that day has come."

"And you, Mr Eunuch, you come too. The prophet Isaiah said that when the Messiah comes then eunuchs would have a special place of honour in the Temple. The Messiah has come, and God has born witness to that by raising him from the dead. I tell you that wherever the story of the growth of this new Temple, this new people of God, is told, then a eunuch – an Ethiopian eunuch– will have a special role."

"And Isaiah also said that gentile foreigners would find joy here in the new Temple, so you come and join us also."

"Women too. In this new Temple there is no separation, no wall, you are here on equal footing with the rest of us – we are all in the new Holy of Holies and none of us are worthy. And chattering and gossip are inappropriate for us all, I’m sure you agree."

"And finally, Mr Priest, will you join us. Stop sacrificing the same old animals day after day, year after year, and still never getting close to God. Accept the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus and come into the Holy Place, into the presence of God. For when followers of Jesus gather together then that is the new Holy of Holies, that is where God especially dwells, that is where heaven breaks through to earth and where amazing things can happen."

"There are no barriers in this new Temple. Jesus came for everyone - without exception - to remove the walls and to enable anyone who so desires to meet with God and to worship Him, face-to-face and heart-to-heart."

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