When God originally made us as humans God made us to live with together in God’s own house…or home together with God and with all people. God’s home was a place called heaven. It was grand and beautiful. Like an expansive garden. Warm and sunny. It wasn’t like a normal house, because there was no bad weather to keep out. I am sure we could still have gone to the mountains to find snow to sled and ski, and so on. But life was good there and there was no need to hide or find shelter. There was safety and warmth.
Sin messed that up. God, in order to protect us, escorted us out of heaven and separated heaven and earth with sort of a veil. He put a guardian angel there to keep us from getting back in the wrong way and causing even more damage.
Then God set in motion the plan to bring us back home to heaven. That plan pointed to Jesus—even years and years and years before Jesus came. The plan was a place where people could once again come close to God and worship God; a place where people could find some hope, peace and joy—some relief from the craziness of the world. That place was called the Temple. Originally it was large tent, a Tabernacle in the wilderness. The inner most part of the Temple was the Holy of Holies where the Ark of the Covenant was kept. Priests who served the people and served God would go to that inner chamber once a year and offer a sacrifice of atonement. Other sacrifices were made every day and at special times throughout the year. One significant sacrifice that each family celebrated once a year was the Passover. All these sacrifices pointed to the problem of sin and the consequence of sin—death.
The sacrifices allowed an animal to die in our place, its blood shed in the place of our blood. This pointed to how serious sin is, but it also pointed to hope and forgiveness. Through the sacrifices and all the Temple rituals God’s people could be forgiven and come close to God for worship.
Yet all of this was temporary because it had to be repeated over and over and over again. Every year. Every day of every year. To mess up was to risk the danger of being exposed because of the deadliness of sin. So the rules and laws were important to protect and guide us.
Then, at the appointed time Jesus—the Savior of the world—came. And when Jesus came on the scene the Temple and all its rites and rituals became outdated. They were only there to point us to God’s permanent solution. And when the permanent solution came, the temporary fix was no longer needed. Hence, today if we were to go to Jerusalem you will find no Temple, no sacrificial system. No blood letting. because Jesus’ death on our behalf was the sacrifice to end all sacrifices. We no longer have to travel to Jerusalem to worship or to find God. God has come to us in Jesus. Through Jesus we are all forgiven. There is no longer any more punishment for sin. Jesus took all the punishment for all the sin for all people, for all time on Himself. So now, we are no longer spiritually lost or homeless. No one need be excluded. No one is left out. Period! All that is left to do is belief and trust in what God has done for us in Jesus! Do you trust Him? I do. Yet this is not a passive belief, or the end of the story. It changes how we live with each other in this broken world.
Today we have homeless children and families in Utah, across our country and around the world. War causes this. Poverty causes this. Selfishness and greed causes this. Draught and weather affects it too. Many children and adults are exposed to the storms and cold of weather because they do not have a place to call home, no shelter to live in. No place of safety. We care about them, or at least we should! We care that they are in such predicaments. And we try to do what we can to make a little difference. We pray for them. We try to be generous in a variety of ways to help them. We do what we can. A little bit can make a big difference.
Jesus makes it safe for us to be back in fellowship with God. We need to work hard and make it safe for all to live with dignity, respect and safety in this world until Jesus comes again!