God’s word is trustworthy and true.Sara DuVall, from “Biblical Criticism”
It’s stood the test of time.
Its wealth is worldly foolishness.
It is what is sublime.
This is the time of year many of us are into our spring cleaning, including myself. It’s the time of year I usually go through my house and ask myself the last time I used this, or if I really need that anymore. While I’m decluttering, I’ll also go ahead and clean away the dust bunnies that gathered in all those corners. Sometimes I’ll discover things I forgot I ever had.
This is also the time of year people are beginning to garden again, preparing flower beds, tilling vegetable rows, weeding, etc.
Spring is also a good time to examine our hearts. We can clean our hearts from any filth that has crept its way in. We can remove clutter that has gotten in the way, made us stumble, and caused us to misplace our priorities. We can prepare our hearts by removing these weeds, tilling our heart to make it soft, and getting it ready for the next thing God wants to grow in us. Spring is a season to begin new growth. But there is a certain way to go about doing this.
During this time of year after Passover, the Jews take time to remember the Law God gave through Moses at Mount Sinai. Exodus 25:8-9 says,
‘And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst. Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it.’
The Jews did not get to worship God however they wanted. He had a particular plan that He revealed to them, and He expected them to obey. God took it so seriously, he killed Aaron’s own sons, Nadab and Abihu, the sons of the high priest, for failing to adhere to the order of worship He had authorized (Leviticus 10:1-3).
This is a sobering reminder that though God wants us to get our house in order and prepare our garden for growth, there are ways we may try that are contrary to His will and are actually counterproductive.
Okay, so what about today? There’s no tabernacle. There’s no temple. What does this have to do about spring 2021 or even me? Actually, everything. While the temple still stood, a Samaritan woman asked Jesus,
‘Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.’ The woman said to him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I who speak to you am he.’John 4:20-24
Jesus makes it clear that we worship Him in our spirit, and it must be in truth, not falsehood. As Jesus turned over the tables in the temple, cleansing it of uncleanliness,
…the Jews said to him, ‘What sign do you show us for doing these things?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ So the Jews then said, ‘It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you will raise it up in three days?’ But he was speaking about the temple of his body.John 2-18-21
Jesus says He is the temple. He is the dwelling place of God among men, because He is after all God incarnate.
Fifty days after Passover, the Holy Spirit comes to the believers at Pentecost, just like fifty days after Passover, God gave the Hebrews the Law. And now in the New Testament, while the temple still stands, the Apostle Paul can say things in the Spirit like,
Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple…Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:19-20
And again later,
Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, ‘I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.’ Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.Ephesians 2:19-22
Y’all, after I read these words, I realize I have some real spring cleaning to do in my heart. I have a lot of junk I just need to get rid of, and I have a lot of dirt and dust that needs to be swept away. Our cleaning manual is the Bible, the Word of God, and if we try to clean ourselves (when actually Jesus cleanses us) any other way, or decide to skip a few steps, it just doesn’t work. Below I have outlined different types of cleansing our hearts may need, based upon my typological interpretation of various cleansings of God’s physical temple throughout Biblical history.
- Ahab: The heart that utterly rejects God for something else.
So Ahab was not actually a King with direct control over the physical temple, but he did have control over the worship of God in his land. Ahab, king of Israel, married “Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went and served Baal and worshiped him” (1 Kings 16:3), creating places to worship Baal and Asherah. After Jezebel brought Baal worship into Israel, she went on a mission to kill the followers of Yahweh, the Lord. She “cut off the prophets of the Lord” (1 Kings 18:4) and “killed the prophets of the Lord” (1 Kings 18:13). She led the people into Baal worship and ultimately made the people forsake God’s covenant, tear down his altars, and kill His prophets with the sword so thoroughly that even Elijah thought that he was the only one left. Jezebel had scattered whoever was left so badly that even the most well-known prophet thought he was alone. King Ahab told Naboth to do something and Naboth said no. Why? Because, “The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers” (1 Kings 21:3). Because the Lord forbade it. It was more important for Naboth to obey God than man, and Jezebel had him killed for it.
There is a spirit like that of Jezebel on the earth even today, coming in as to offer another way, and then once in power, eliminating the true gospel. It darkens the heart from understanding and will cover as far as it can. Do not let foreign influences into your life that you know are contrary to the will of God, because they will take over. There is no coexistence with this. It doesn’t want to coexist. It wants to conquer.
- Joash: The heart that believes in God but wants to believe in other things too at the cost of others. (2 Chronicles 24)
Joash was the grandson of Ahab and Jezebel. Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, married Amaziah the king of Judah. When Amaziah died, Athaliah made a power grab for the throne by killing all eligible make heirs. She killed her own family so she could be queen. Joash, son of Amaziah and grandson of Athaliah, was stowed away and hidden by his aunt, Jehosheba (2 Kings) or Jehoshabeath (2 Chronicles). She was married to the high priest Jehoiada, and they raised him in secrecy in the temple until the right time for him to claim the throne at seven-years-old. As long as Jehoiada was alive, Joash walked in the ways of God. He even was the driving force behind repairing the temple structure and all its vessels. But when Jehoiada died, he began to worship pagan idols at the request of his princes. He gave into peer pressure. Jehoiada and Jehosheba’s son, Zechariah, was “clothed” with the Spirit and spoke out against the idolatry that was destroying the country, and Joash wound up stoning the son of the couple that saved his own life in the very place that was his sanctuary from death, the temple. I can’t help but feel the relevancy of this story today. Here in America, a Christian culture raised the people who now condemn its exclusivity. It is a spirit of idolatry.
I lost two “Christian” friends recently who saw one of my social media posts about letting a certain sin into the church under the name of love and acceptance. When I said that the Church cannot allow or condone this type of sin, as it is explicitly condemned in both the Old and New Testaments multiple times, they called me discriminatory, among other things, and cut me off from themselves. We go back many years, and one friend is particularly dear to my heart. It tears me apart that she severed our relationship over this. It was basically a public verbal stoning and now they treat me as dead to them. But it is also a reminder that I need to be sensitive to the rebuke God may bring to my own life through loving believers rooted in His Word. Don’t be like Joash.
- Ahaz: The heart that adapts God to what we want to believe (2 Kings 16, 2 Chronicles 28)
Ahaz was a king of Israel who “walked in the ways of the kings of Israel. He even made metal images for the Baals, and he made offerings in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom and burned his sons as an offering, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel” (2 Chronicles 28:2-3). He looked to the world to save him from his troubles. When Syria and Israel and Edom and the Philistines came against him, he sought the help of Assyria, and though they attacked Israel’s enemies, they subjugated Israel too.
When King Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, he saw the altar that was at Damascus. And King Ahaz sent to Uriah the priest a model of the altar, and its pattern, exact in all its details. And Uriah the priest built the altar, in accordance with all that King Ahaz had sent from Damascus…And when the king came from Damascus, the king viewed the altar. Then the king drew near the altar and went up on it and burned his burnt offering and his grain offering and poured his drink offering and threw the blood of his peace offering on the altar. And the bronze altar that was before the Lord he removed from the front of the house, from the place between his altar and the house of the Lord, and put it on the north side of his altar. And King Ahaz commanded Uriah the priest, saying, ‘On the great altar burn the morning burnt offering and the evening grain offering and the king’s burnt offering and his grain offering, with the burnt offering of all the people of the land, and their grain offering and their drink offering. And throw on it all the blood of the burnt offering and all the blood of the sacrifice, but the bronze altar shall be for me to inquire by. Uriah did all this, as king Ahaz commanded.
And King Ahaz cut off the frames of the stands and removed the basin from them, and he took down the sea from of the bronze oxen that were under it and put it on a stone pedestal. And the covered way for the Sabbath that had been built inside the house and the outer entrance for the king he caused to go around the house of the Lord, because of the king of Assyria.2 Kings 16:10-18
This passage is like a direct antithesis to God’s instructions at Sinai for His tabernacle. Just as Moses followed all of God’s instructions exactly, so Uriah follows all of Ahaz’s counter instructions exactly, which leads the entire nation into sin, as their sacrifices are forced to be offered on an unholy altar and in an unholy manner. Ahaz did these things for the fear of man, “because of the king of Assyria,” and Uriah likely complied for fear of King Ahaz.
Is the church being pressured today to modify the model of worship God has given? Are external forces trying to come in and tell the Church what to teach and what not to teach, what to do and what not to do, what to accept and what not to accept, because of the fear of the world? Assyria was the new world power, and Ahaz wanted to be a part of that, not mowed over by it, so he obliged. But ultimately Assyria did mow down Israel despite their best efforts to be like them. We cannot conform to the world for fear of defeat. That will be the Christian’s defeat. Our leaders must stand up to global pressures, and our church leaders must stand up to government pressures. We stand on the word of the Lord exactly as how He gave it to us 2,000 years ago. It does not change. Our obedience should not be modified.
- Josiah: The heart with so much junk inside, God’s word is lost and forgotten (2 Kings 22-23)
Josiah is like the great revival story of the Old Testament. Things had gotten so bad that the temple was falling apart and people had forgotten even the very existence of the Word of God. When Josiah had a heart to restore the temple, the priests rediscovered the Law. But Josiah didn’t try to eradicate the Law or incorporate it into their contemporary system or modify it. Josiah obeyed it exactly, and cleansed the temple and the land of idolatry and taught all the people the Word and told them to ‘Keep the Passover to the Lord your God, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant” (2 Kings 23:21). Josiah didn’t start out as a follower of God, but he became one with his whole heart, and he is debatably the most praised king in the Bible besides David (2 Kings 22:2). The only other one who even comes close is Hezekiah.
I think any true believer can relate to Josiah. We want to do the right thing, though we don’t always know what that is. But when we seek God, He reveals Himself to us, and we obey. We cleanse our temple (our body, heart, mind) of the filth and idolatry (the prioritization of anything above God), and we prepare ourselves for true worship as He has told us He desires according to His Word. This isn’t something that happens once or even twice in a believer’s life inasmuch as spring cleaning happens only once in a lifetime. No, it’s regular, periodic. It’s as rhythmic and fixed as the seasons. We must continually examine ourselves and cleanse ourselves of any filth that tries to creep into our minds and hearts and homes.
Take some time to examine your heart and consider if you might be in any of these categories. Maybe you have a heart like David or Hezekiah or Josiah, completely after Him (praise God!). But maybe you need to take some time to think and pray about how God is not being worshiped in you as He desires. Just trust and obey. Don’t do what’s right in your own eyes, walking in your own way (Proverbs 12:15). He is the way and His Word is the map. God bless you friends, and happy spring.
The Bible. English Standard Version, Crossway, 2001.
“Trust and Obey.” hymnary.org. https://hymnary.org/text/when_we_walk_with_the_lord. Accessed 25 May 2021.