From the beginning of time, God met with His people and interacted and communicated with them. There came a time when God revealed to His people, He wanted to dwell among them. In Exodus 25:8 the LORD told Moses to have the children of Israel bring Him an offering for the building of the tabernacle “that I may dwell among them.”
This is so significant – the great God of creation, the God who inhabits eternity, wanted a place where he could dwell among his people. Thus, the tabernacle was eventually built. Please note that a man-made building could not contain the infinite God. However, it was a place where God would dwell and make His presence known to His people for instruction, worship, blessing, and atonement for sin.
In Exodus 29:45 God said, “I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God.” The tabernacle would be very important. It would be a visible, daily reminder of His presence and rightful place in their lives.
God has always wanted to dwell in the midst of His people. In Exodus 29:46, He said, “And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them: I am the LORD their God.”
Many years later, after the time of Moses, David was the king and God put it on his heart to build a more permanent dwelling for God — a house or temple. This structure also was designed by God, for God, and it would also remind the people of God’s presence among them in a more permanent manner.
Like the tabernacle, the temple had three distinct parts…
There was the outer court which was visible to all and visited by all. It was a place of external worship. Next was the Holy Place. It contained the showbread, the altar of incense, and the seven-branched menorah.
Further in was the holy of holies. This was the innermost court where only the High Priest would go once a year to make an atonement for the people. God, in His Shekinah glory, dwelt there between the cherubim that covered the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant.
David, because of his sin, was not permitted to build the temple, but he was given the precise dimensions for it, by God. He, in turn, passed all of the information to Solomon who oversaw the project. David raised much of the wealth that it took for the project. (1 Chronicles 28:11-12) All of the instructions pertaining to the construction and furnishing of the temple were to teach all of us something of the nature of God and the nature of man.
For example, like the tabernacle, the temple also had three distinct areas. Our God is a triune Being – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is interesting to realize how often the world around us conveys a triune concept. All space is triune in dimension: height, width, and depth. Each dimension is distinct from the other but all three are a part of the same and they do not exist without each other.
The same concept of a trinity is seen in regards to time where we have a past, present, and future. Even though each is distinct from the other, yet together the three make up what we call time.
The Trinity of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit is hard to conceive and yet, the Scriptures give us all three. What we know about this special grouping, is only through revelation— God making Himself known to us. In Isaiah 40:25 God said, “To whom then will you liken me, or shall I be equal?” It is impossible to compare God with anyone or anything because He is totally unlike anyone or anything.
But there is more and this gets very exciting. We who were created in His likeness and image show forth His excellence when we come into a relationship with Him, through faith in Christ.
Consider the make-up of man. We have a threefold nature. The Apostle Paul, in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, speaks of the threefold nature of man. “And the very God of peace, sanctify you unholy; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Paul, in 1 Corinthians 6:19 declared “O do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So, glorify God in your body.” We are a house for God with three distinct rooms – spirit, soul, and body. It seems to me that God designed us to know three different worlds – the spiritual world, the psychological world, and the physical or material world.
I love how Adrian Rogers (now with the Lord) depicts this. “These three worlds are related to the three parts of human nature – spirit, soul, and body. When a man is rightly related to the material world with his body, he is healthy. When he is rightly related to the psychological world with his soul, he is happy. When he is properly related to the spiritual world, with his spirit, he is holy.”
Through Christ, God has redeemed the whole person for His glory and He wants us to experience all three realities of health, happiness, and holiness.
I think we probably can easily understand the concept that the body is a house or temple for God. Comprehending the soul is a bit more difficult. It may help to realize that the body is a house for the soul of man. The Greek word for soul is psyche. From this word, we get psychic, psychology, and other words that follow that train of thought.
It seems to me that the Bible indicates that the soul of man consists primarily of our mind, emotions, and will. We should be able to understand that we experience all three of these elements. In Proverbs 24:14 we read “So shall the knowledge of wisdom be unto thy soul when thou hast found it, then there shall be a reward, and thy expectations shall not be cut off.” In this passage, we see that the soul is related to the mind.
In 1 Samuel 18:1, we read “As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathon was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathon loved him as his own soul. Here we see the soul of man relating to our emotional make-up.
Next, we see the soul relating to the will of man. In Psalm 23:3 David said of the LORD “He restoreth my soul.” God created the soul of man so that we might understand Him, love Him, and serve Him.
My soul is the real me. It is housed in my body. You can’t see my soul. You only see my body that contains my mind, emotions, and will, lived out.
Next week I will deal with the spirit of man. We cannot separate soul and spirit. They work together. I think you will be blessed as we complete the trinity of man-spirit, soul, and body and see how together they relate to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Glory to God on High,