How lovely is your dwelling place,
       O LORD Almighty!
Psalm 84:1

Undoubtedly, one of the most fascinating topics to Christians and Jews is the Holy Temple — its significance to Jewish worship in biblical time and what Judaism teaches about the building of a Third Temple in the future. This is one of six devotions looking at different aspects of the Temple and the lessons inherent in it for us all.

Think of the most awe-inspiring place you have ever been. Maybe it’s a place of worship, where the soaring architecture and sheer beauty of the interior inspires you and fills you with wonder. Maybe it’s the place where your ancestors are from, a historical place that has personal meaning for you. Maybe, as it is for many, it’s walking in the Holy Land and seeing for yourself the actual places where the stories of the Bible unfolded.

In biblical times no place was more beautiful or awe-inspiring -- or more holy -- than the Temple. This was the place where God’s glory, His divine presence, schechina, was evident more than any other place in the entire world. Even today, the most holy place in all of Israel is the Western Wall — the only remaining vestige of where the First and Second Temples once stood. Jews around the world face toward Jerusalem when they pray, and in Jerusalem, we face toward the Temple and the Western Wall when we pray.

At its time, the Holy Temple that Solomon built was unrivaled in its splendor and its beauty. It was a magnificent building containing the finest materials and craftsmanship of gold, silver, bronze, and cedar. Indeed, we get a sense of how the Temple must have inspired all who saw it from the psalmist who wrote, “How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD Almighty. My soul yearns, even faints for the courts of the LORD” (v. 1-2).

For the psalm writer, being in God’s house was better than being any other place. And why? It was not simply the beauty and grandeur of the place. Certainly that was part of it. But even more than that, the Temple was the place where the psalmist felt God’s presence more than any other place. It was here he met with God and experienced Him through worship. It was the place where God promised to meet with His people and accept their praise and sacrifices.

While it’s true that we can meet with God anytime and anywhere, it’s also helpful to have a place where we can go to step aside from our busy lives and to focus on God in worship. Where is that place for you? How can you make your time with God something that you long for? Consider meeting with God in different types of places and settings to see what inspires you and where you feel closer to Him.

He is there now.

For more on Rabbi Eckstein’s teachings about God’s presence on earth, visit ifcj.org/store for his five-part DVD Bible Study, The Biblical Temples — perfect for a small groups, Sunday school, or individual study.Through June 30, get 35 percent off your entire purchase with the code 35OFF.

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