1 Peterby David Burge
Many masterpieces begin with a sketch. Throughout the unfolding story of Scripture, God provides sketch after sketch relating particularly to Jesus' first and second coming.
In Isaiah 28, God provides a beautiful sketch of the rebuilding of Jerusalem. It is no small renovation. For His dwelling, and for the dwelling of His people, God is going to start again from the very foundation stone (Isaiah 28:16). Unlike any ordinary man-made city, this new city is constructed by God to be a holy, eternal city where justice and righteousness triumph over human corruption and evil (v. 17).
So far, Peter has been talking about Christians being holy as God is holy, but now we zoom out to see the bigger picture. God is building something new with Jesus as the cornerstone-the first and foundational one.
This city that God is building is no mere rebuild of Jerusalem and an earthly temple. Rather, God is dwelling more intimately and permanently in us. Peter says in verses 4-5: ″As you come to him, the living Stone-rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him-you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house.″
God's view of the church is more than a spectacular new temple in which He dwells; God's church is made up of God's people.
God's people are also the new holy priests for that temple. The sacrifices of rams and goats are replaced by the spiritual sacrifices of our whole lives offered to God through Jesus Christ (see also Hebrews 13:15-16; Romans 12:1-2). The old covenant language of what is pleasing to God in temples, priests, and sacrifices is now applied to Christ and His holy people. Christ, and we in Him, become the temple and priests whose holy lives and good deeds become the sacrifices God enjoys (see John 2:19-21; 1 Corinthians 6:18-20).
There is a lot going on in this image for us to appreciate. It shows the wonder of God's plans in Israel's history, rituals, and promises so that we can comprehend what God is doing through Christ and Christ's people. Even before creation, God had planned to make an eternal people to dwell with Him.
The heartbeat of Scripture is God's determination that ″I will be their God, and they will be my people″ (Jeremiah 31:33; Revelation 21:7). By giving us the images of temple and priest, and then fulfilling them in us, God gives us another way to understand His glorious eternal purposes being accomplished.
Reflect on the ways that Old Testament history helps us to appreciate Jesus. What examples can you think of?
It may encourage you to know your significance as a Christian is far bigger than being an individual child of God. You are part of something much bigger, and at the centre of His timeless plans for the world! Spend some time now to meditate on this vision of God's spiritual house and your place in it, and give thanks.