Abraham: Follow Up
January 18, 2018 | Didi Bacon
Genesis 22 tells an amazing story of Abraham being asked by God to sacrifice his son Isaac. It was a test of Abraham's faith as well as a communication of God's future plans in Jesus. The place that Abraham laid his son on the alter for sacrifice is described as a mountain in the region of Moriah. It is a place that we are told Abraham gives a special name.
Abraham called the name of that place The LORD Will Provide, as it is said to this day, "In the mount of the LORD it will be provided.” Genesis 22:14 (NASB)
In Old Testament book of Chronicles the writer says something interesting. He says that Solomon built the temple on the mountain or high place in Moriah that Abraham took Isaac to sacrifice. I was at that place not too long ago when I visited Israel. This is it.
This is the famous Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. It is a Muslim shrine. This shrine commemorates two things: the place where Muslims believe Abraham sacrificed Ishmael (not Isaac) and where the Prophet Mohamed visited in a dream or vision and then launched off that rock under the dome on a horse back to his home in Saudi Arabia.
This is the most contested and controversial piece of real estate in the world. It is the 3rd holiest site in Islam. To Orthodox Jews it is their most holy site because it is the place where the 1st and 2nd temple were built. Then there are Christians who believe that this site is very important because it is the place where the temple will be rebuilt at the end times.
And I will tell you they have all missed the point. God is not at that place anymore. The message of the Gospel is that He is about dwelling in a people not a place. In fact, we have this crazy vision from the prophet Ezekiel where there is a vision of the presence of God leaving the temple flying west over the Mount of Olives because of the sin of Israel just before the temple is destroyed by the Babylonians. Then there is no record of His return to the rebuilt 2nd temple. When the Romans tore down the 2nd Temple the story is that they found the Holy of Holies empty. God’s plan has never been to dwell in a Holy place but always to dwell in a Holy people. His intention is communicated in that story of Abraham and Isaac. The place was called “God will provide.” God will one day provide his only begotten son. Jesus will climb a mountain in that same area - wood on his back in the form of a cross. He will be set up as a sacrifice through crucifixion on a hill called Golgotha. He will provide a way that all people can be made right with God through faith. He is the seed (singular) of Abraham that will be the way Abraham will be father of a multitude. A people of God. A people of God by faith.
And remember that I said there is no record of the glory or Holy Spirit of God returning to that place? Well actually there is - in the New Testament - when the Holy Spirit is poured out on Jesus' disciples in tongues of fire and a rushing wind on the day of Pentecost recorded for us in Acts chapter 2. God’s temple will not be a place but in His people. People of faith in Christ. It was so cool to see the temple mound in Jerusalem. But that place is empty of God’s presence. His presence is in the lives of Jesus followers all over the world. In the lives of people here in Cincinnati Ohio. Living by faith. Living as carriers of the Holy Spirit - living temple stones. Living by loving God and loving people. Living by His Word and in His Will.