This is what the LORD says:
"Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool.
Where is the house you will build for me?
Where will my resting place be?” — Isaiah 66:1
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.
In our techno-driven world, people are finding community online via Facebook pages, websites, or blogs that are centered on shared interests, beliefs, or values. For example, need advice on losing weight and getting fit? Try myfitnesspal.com. A big fan of Game of Thrones? You can share your insights and comments on the latest episode at its fan page on Facebook. Literally, you can find an online community for just about anything!
Community is important not only for those trying to lose weight, but also for people of faith to keep one another accountable, to support and pray for one another in difficult times, and to spur one another to love and good deeds. In biblical times, the Temple was the center of community for the Jewish people.
But when the Temple was destroyed and the people exiled to Babylon in the sixth century B.C.E., the Jewish people began gathering together in what eventually evolved into the synagogue. By New Testament times, there were hundreds of synagogues throughout Israel. In fact, Jesus did much of his teaching and preaching in the local synagogues.
The synagogue as a place to sustain our faith and to study God’s Word became even more important after the Second Temple was destroyed in 70 C.E. and the Jewish people were dispersed to the four corners of the earth. Since then, the synagogue has become the place where we Jews celebrate life’s joyous occasions and gather in times of sorrow and difficulty. It is where we assemble to worship and pray. It’s our communal study hall where children and adults come to learn about the Bible. And it furthers our social and humanitarian efforts as well.
For Jews and Christians alike, our primary responsibilities have always been to God — focusing on His will for our lives, obeying His commands, worshiping Him, and studying His Word. And God knew that in order to best fulfill those responsibilities, we needed a “house,” a “resting place” where we could come together and meet with Him.For the Jews, that place is the synagogue; for Christians, the church.
These places are more than just buildings — they are where we live out our faith and values together, in community. In both faith traditions, we need one another to offer support and encouragement and to sustain each other through life’s difficulties.
How are you practicing community and living out your faith with others?
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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