In the book of Genesis, the garden of Eden is portrayed as a high place where heaven and earth are one and human relationships reflect this unity. But Eden is lost when humans rebel against God, so the unity between heaven, earth, and all humanity is fractured. God’s work throughout the rest of the Bible is all about recovering this lost unity. Israel’s tabernacle and temple served as symbolic Edens as they allowed for human and divine space to overlap. Because of Jesus, this place is no longer limited to one location, and the unity of Eden can be experienced wherever God’s people gather together in his love.
This is beautiful, but it also kind of sounds like a fantasy, especially when we acknowledge the Church’s brokenness and failures. For this week’s Bible study, we’re inviting you to reflect on what it really means to be a unified temple of God. When followers of Jesus bridge the dividing lines of race, class, and nationality, when they honor each other as equal members in God’s family, they become a place where heaven and earth are one. Listen in to the recording below to understand more about the rich symbolism of the temple and God’s Eden ideal for humanity.
What part of the video stirred up curiosity, a new thought, or a sense of awe?
Share one idea that taught, encouraged, or challenged you as you listened to Tim’s message.
Isaiah envisions a future day when the hill where Jerusalem’s temple sat will be exalted as the highest mountain in all creation. And all the nations will gather there, ending their long exile from Eden. Isaiah says that Yahweh will live in their midst and bring an end to all war and oppression. It’s a beautiful vision.
Reflect on verse three. Notice the teamwork between all the nationalities in the phrase, “come let us.” Observe how their teamwork receives the way to God in order to walk in the ways of God. Compare this to the “come let us” teamwork in Genesis 11:3-4. What do you notice?
All the nations, also known as Gentiles, were once separated from Israel’s temple. Literal walls kept them from accessing God’s presence on earth. But it was always God’s plan for Israel to be a light to all the nations, so that everyone could have access to his life and love. Though Israel failed to faithfully shine this light, Jesus carried Israel’s story forward by tearing down the walls of division and rebuilding the temple. But instead of building with bricks, this time he built a whole new temple made of both Jews and Gentiles. Now God’s presence can live inside of a unified multiethnic group of people.
What stands out to you as you read this passage?
What is hindering unity in the relationships within your family, church, and city? How has Jesus addressed those barriers with his death, resurrection, and ascension?
Ask God to bring one person he wants to reach to your mind this week. Who is he/she? How will you reach out? Is there anything you need to repair in the relationship? Consider asking him/her to show you where God's power and presence is at work in their life. Listen and seek a connection.