“Make special containers of pure gold for the table—bowls, pans, pitchers, and jars—to be used in pouring out liquid offerings. Place the Bread of the Presence on the table to remain before me at all times.” — Exodus 25: 29–30
Undoubtedly, one of the most fascinating topics to Christians and Jews is the Holy Temple — its significance to Jewish worship in biblical time and what Judaism teaches about the building of a Third Temple in the future. This is one of six devotions looking at different aspects of the Temple and the lessons inherent in it for us all.
A table, bowls, pans, pitchers, jars, and bread . . . these items sound like they belong more in our family homes than in the House of God! Yet, when we look at the items that God commanded for His Temple we find that they are precisely the same things we would use to furnish our homes: the menorah to provide light; the table for the bread; and the water basin for washing up. The Jewish sages explain that the similarities are no accident as the two homes — ours and God’s — are deeply connected.
But how can they possibly compare the House of God to a home for mere mortals?
Again, the sages explain that when God commanded Israel to make Him a home, the purpose was “so I can live among them” (Exodus 25:8). God wants to be with us, but in order for that to happen, we have to become deserving of His presence. The Tabernacle, and later the Temple, would help us do that. It was where people went to atone for their sins and become better people. In doing so, they grew closer to God.
Today, of course, we no longer have the Tabernacle or the Temple. Instead, we have our homes. In fact, the home is called “the miniature Temple” because it is within our homes we replicate the service performed in the Temple.
What does this mean? Just as the table in the Temple and Tabernacle could never be empty of bread, so, too, our tables may never be empty of food for those in need. In the Jewish tradition, it is through the generosity provided at our tables that we find forgiveness for our sins. Just as the Temple was a place of inspiration, strength, and worship, we are to create homes that comfort and inspire others.
How can you make your home a House of God? Can you open up your home and your heart to the lonely and needy? Can you provide sustenance to the hungry and poor? It is up to us to serve God in any way that we can so that our homes will become holy and His presence will dwell among us.
For more on Rabbi Eckstein’s teachings about God’s presence on earth, visit ifcj.org/store for his five-part DVD Bible Study, The Biblical Temples — perfect for a small groups, Sunday school, or individual study.Through June 30, get 35 percent off your entire purchase with the code 35OFF.
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