Reflecting the divine.
One of the places that I like taking people to visit on a tour is the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, where there is a miniature replica of the first century city of Jerusalem as it would have been in the time of Yeshua. It creates for us a wonderful picture of how life would have been for the people who lived in that city. Most people, who see it for the first time, are wowed by its magnificence and comment “Can you imagine what it would have been like to have lived in the real city, it must have been incredible. That temple is so impressive, you could not miss it, no wonder the disciples were in awe of it!” It is a little glimpse of Jerusalem's past glory.
In Genesis we are told that as an ultimate act of creation, man is made in the image of God. God brings this man, Adam, to life by breathing into him, His divine breath.
According to ancient Jewish thought, from that moment this tiny human being is imbued with a presence of the divine. Both Adam and Eve are seen as miniature reflections of God on earth. Later Rabbi's take this thought further by teaching that when God created man everything that was created in the world was created in him too. So, each human being is an 'Olam Katan', a mini world within themselves.
The Hasidic’s teach that each part of a human corresponds to a particular aspect of the universe. Internally, we contain feelings and emotions, peace, Joy, love, war, hatred, anger envy and greed. It is all there present within us, just as it is in the outside world.
It is possible to take this hypothesis further. Why stop at our bodies, maybe our faith, our corporate worship, and our personal lives too can all be seen as mini reflections of God's glory.
We can all draw close to him with the veil removed from our faces. And with no veil we all become like mirrors who brightly reflect the glory of the Lord Jesus. We are being transfigured into his very image as we move from one brighter level of glory to another. And this glorious transfiguration comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18.
Over the past twenty to thirty years the idea that Sundays are sacred and distinct has been eroded, now it is considered by most as just another normal day. This concept has in many ways permeated the church too. I remember a time when Sunday's were the Christian equivalent to the Jewish Shabbat. It was dedicated to worship, teaching our children, fellowship, physical rest and family. Businesses were shut, the church gathered together two or three times throughout the day, afternoons were for Sunday school to teach our children and dinner was when the family came together around the table. Today, we think nothing of going shopping, dinner is on a tray in front of the TV, and many churches tend to squeeze their gathering and children's work into one meeting, which is time sensitive so that the rest of the day is free for us to do what we want.
For the believer, our holy day is meant to be a miniature reflection of what it is going to be like in heaven in the presence of the Living God. In Hebrew it is called Olam Ha'ba –The world to come. The idea is that everyone gets to taste a little bit of its beauty and wonder, so that all who experience it can grasp an understanding of what being there in all its fullness would be Like. Is that something people experience when they gather with us? Do we leave people wanting more and desiring to be a part of God's kingdom?
How often do our mindsets and traditions limit us to just offering services and programmes? As we come out of the Covid restrictions do we have an opportunity to do things differently? To build communities and not just ‘church’, where people think far wider than just Sundays and possibly a mid week home-group, or deeper than mere observance and traditions (This is something that affects all denominations) so that our faith and His divine presence permeates every area of our life. A community where our children, older youth, young adults, singles, families and the elderly all know that they are a part of something special and leave them wanting more. That our faith in Yeshua is not about adhering to a set of beliefs, but it is about belonging and becoming too.
We can learn a lot from how the Jewish community do things. More often than not, they do not just build a Synagogue where people attend every Shabbat, they develop a whole complex where all ages are catered for throughout the week. Schools, nurseries, elderly homes, gymnasiums, community centres, GP surgeries, Post offices -I could go on. All aspects of their community life reflect their faith and sense of belonging. I will never forget the comment made by a man whose door I had just knocked on while doing outreach. “Oh Yeh! You’re from the place that is six days invisible & one day incomprehensible!” I vowed then, that I would aim to help reverse that concept, and to some degree have achieved it wherever we ministered.
There is another way where each believer can be a miniature reflection of the holy.
Have you forgotten that your body is now the sacred temple of the Spirit of Holiness, who lives in you? You don't belong to yourself any longer, for the gift of God, the Holy Spirit, lives inside your sanctuary. 1 Corinthians 6:19.
Each one of us are called a Mikdash a sanctuary or temple, and in Jewish terms we are considered a miniature or individual reflection of the Beit ha mikdash – House of the holy (The temple).
The purpose of the temple is not just about religious practice or tradition but about finding our way to the Holy of Holies, the place where before the veil was removed the Cohen Gadol (high priest) touched or experienced the very presence of the Holy Living God. So we recognise, as Paul reminds us, that our body holds something so precious, a private divine place where heaven and earth can meet. It is an inner sanctuary where the divine spark of the Ruach Ha kadesh, the Holy Spirit can reside in us.
It is a powerful concept when we grasp the understanding that this body is a miniature sanctuary and we should be treating it as such. Not only that, but we should see and treat each person as a small sanctuary, each child is a precious sanctuary; a place where the divine presence wants to reside, while we walk on this earth.
It is also a place where we house and feed on the word of God. In every Synagogue the Aron Ha Kodesh is where the Torah scroll is kept. If my body is a temple, it reminds me not Leave it to someone else to spoon feed me one day a week with the word of God, but to feed on it daily. When we get this, our heart and soul will shine a little bit of the light of Yeshua every day to those around us and who we meet.
Finally, when we gather together as a believing community, we are not coming to a shell of a place that we call church, but we are drawing close to experiencing a glimpse or a taste of what is to come and touch the essence of Holy one of Israel.
By recognising ourselves as a mini temple, each one of us carries with us to the corporate temple, a spark of the Holy Spirit, that is like kindling for His fire to set alight. Can you imagine what would happen to our families, our communities, our nation if every believer in every church believed this, taught this and lived this - Wow!
The outside world may be changing around us, and the church may not have the influence that they once thought they did, but each of us does have control of what is inside of us. If we want to have a fresh corporate impact on those in the world around, we first start by focussing on our own olam katan, miniature world that is a reflecting of the divine, and a mini sanctuary for the presence of the Holy to reside.
Mark Baker – FOI Director
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