Confirmation Questions 11-17-13

Last Sunday I preached on Luke 21:5-19. I focused on Jesus’ prediction of the destruction of the temple and how the loss of the building might effect a congregation. You can find the sermon here.

The confirmation kids asked some great questions in their sermon notes. They were all focused around some of the history that I relayed regarding the temple in Jesus time. I will do my best to address them here.

-Why was there a barrier between God and Humanity?
The barrier in this question refers the curtain that separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the Temple…also it created the same separation in the Tabernacle, which was a special tent that served the same purpose as the Temple while the Israelites were wandering in the desert. It is described in Exodus 26. In this section, God is giving Moses the instructions on how to create the Tabernacle.  The Holy of Holies was originally where they stored the Ark of the Covenant…a special box where the tablets of the 10 commandments were stored. This was also where God stayed in the pillar of cloud when the Israelites camped.  The main point of the curtain and the barrier was because humanity could/can not handle seeing God. The only one to do so was Moses and he saw God from behind…not seeing God’s face.  The barrier was for the protection of the people.
-Is God’s presence greater in churches or holy buildings?
One could argue that during the time that the Israelites wandered in the desert, yes…because God would come down in a pillar of smoke to reside among the people in the tabernacle (see the last question). But I don’t believe this is the case any longer. As Jesus says in Matthew 18, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there with them.” God is not limited to a specific place. Though that being said, when we gather in worship in a sanctuary, God is certainly there.  So long story short, no God’s presence is not greater in one place over another, but God joins us when we gather together regardless of where we are.
-Why could only the high priest enter into the Holy of Holies?
It was the duty of the High Priest to bear the sins of the entire assembly of the people (the Israelites). On the Day of Atonement, which was the one day a year that the priest would enter into the Holy of Holies, there was a ritual that would essentially place all the sins of the people upon the high priest, who would go into the Holy of Holies and perform a sacrifice of atonement for the sins, so that God would forgive the sins of all the people. This is described in Exodus 28.
-Why were they afraid of God?
Because God is so completely and awesomely good, and we recognize our own sinfulness. An example is Moses in Exodus 3. When he approaches the burning bush and God tells him who He is, Moses is terrified and covers his face. I believe that to be in the presence of God shows us how completely non-righteous we really are.


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