How could I have been so blind?
Perhaps the most difficult thing for anybody to do is to admit he is wrong and be willing to change his mind when confronted with facts and logic that contradict his beliefs. An expert on human belief systems said on the radio the other day that hardly anybody ever changes a belief. Born a Muslim? You stay a Muslim. Born a Catholic; a Catholic you stay. Changing one's belief is possible, of course, but difficult and rarely done. It's particularly hard to change your thinking to embrace an idea that hardly anybody else would agree with. But over the past few years I have been forced to accept an idea that ten years ago I would have rejected out of hand.
What am I talking about? I now believe that Old Testament laws pertaining to temple ritual and animal sacrifice are still valid. Naturally, they cannot be practiced — the Romans destroyed the temple over 1900 years ago. But I believe they remain valid, and will be restored when the Master is ready.
Yes, I know all the theories, especially those of shadow theology, against the idea; I embraced those arguments for decades. But that's all they are — arguments, and mostly weak ones at that. Yes, I am well aware of the Epistle to the Hebrews. But I believe we have misread it. I have not changed my thinking out of a desire to be different from everybody else. It comes down to just this simple question — is one willing to believe what the Bible says? Over about five years of intensive study, my eyes gradually opened to a sublime truth — leaving aside the book of Hebrews, nothing in either Old or New Testaments suggests that God despises either the temple or its ritual. He was the one who commanded that a tabernacle be built so that “I may dwell among them” (Ex. 25:8), while Jesus, who is commonly presumed to have rendered the entire system defunct by His sacrifice, incurred the wrath of religious leaders because of His zeal for His Father's house (John 2:17). Jesus declared that the temple was to be a “house of prayer (including sacrifice) for all nations” (Matt. 21:13). Would He have made such a statement if its truthfulness was about to come to an end? That's what I used to think; how could I have been so blind?
Consider the following two Scriptures which
show God's love for His earthly dwelling and His intention to eventually take up residence there “forever”:
"Go up to the mountains and bring wood and build the temple, that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified," says the Lord (Hag. 1:8).
Why do you fume with envy, you mountains of many peaks? This is the mountain which God desires to dwell in; yes, the Lord will dwell in it forever (Ps. 68:16).
Consider the words of a true believer, one who worshiped God in spirit and truth and had a relationship with Him that did not depend on the existence of the Holy Place:
My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God (Ps. 84:2).
Without doing violence to the plain meaning of these passages, they unequivocally treat the temple as a precious gift from God to man — read “man”, not just Israel. Do we dare despise something that God Himself loves, something that glorifies Him, something that has the power to uplift the spirits of God-loving men and women? As most commentators agree, Isaiah 56 speaks of the gift of salvation. Numbered amongst the delights of the glorified saints is this one:
Also the sons of the foreigner who join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants… Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on My altar; for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations (Is. 56:6-7).
Can you believe it? Dare we dismiss the obvious sense of such magnificent promises by reinterpreting them figuratively? Much temple ritual serves as a shadow of Jesus' atoning and saving work; blessed are those who will have the opportunity of rehearsing Jesus' saving works by participating in deeply-meaningful, divinely-ordained physical rites. I wish I could.