Summary: Travel virtually to Athens, Ephesus, Beth Shean, Corinth and Jerusalem to understand Propitiation through the mind of a Greek man. "The Temple in Me" is the fruit of four trips overseas and months of rewriting.
After reading this sermon you can view pictures of these temples at http://pastorpeter.com. Under SELECTED TOPICS, click on the "The Temple in Me"
The Temple in Me
By Peter Marshall McLewin
Everyday people cross our path, who know nothing of God’s love. They live with an inner rage because they feel that the wrath of God that is on them. They try with all their might to please a God they have never met, and never succeed. They have no peace and know nothing about the presence of God in their lives. They cannot allow themselves to be loved by a loving God. Propitiation is a word that most people never use in conversation. What did the Apostle John want to us to know when he said…
“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son,
the propitiation for our sins.” I John 4:10
Does John’s statement have any significance to those of us living in the twenty-first century? The answer lies halfway around the world. Journey with me to another time and place.
It has been my great privilege to visit the ruins of some of the greatest temples that pagans have ever built. Come with me to the Parthenon in Athens, dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena. The Parthenon is still a marvel of architecture and engineering. The proportions of this building with 8 columns across the front and 17 down the side are so pleasing to the eye that they have been duplicated around the world. Across the grand entrance to the Supreme Court of the United States stand eight magnificent Corinthian columns.
The Parthenon was the first building constructed of pure pentelic marble. The tiles on the roof were so pure that sunlight penetrated into its inner chamber, called the naos. The naos housed the massive statue of Athena who stood 45 feet tall. Her golden dress, wrapped around a wooden frame, weighed 400 pounds. Her feet, arms, hands, neck and head were carved out of pure ivory. Her facial features were precious jewels.
But Paul, unimpressed by her earthly splendor, courageously challenged the thinking of the Athenian Supreme Court by saying,
“The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; …being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man.”
Acts 17:24-25, 29
From Athens come with me to Ephesus to the location of one of the Seven Wonders of the World, where the great temple to Artemis was built. The Artemision made the Parthenon look like a matchbox. While the Parthenon had 54 columns, the Artemision stood like a petrified forest, with 156 columns. Bulls by the thousands were shipped to Ephesus and slaughtered on the altar to Artemis. Tragically, no worshiper of this great pagan deity ever left with his sins forgiven. No worshiper ever knew the joy of John’s simple statement, “…this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us.”
Paul cursed that temple which stood for nothing but darkness and despair. A riot broke out in Ephesus and the people gathered in their massive 24,000-seat theater to protest. For two hours they cried out, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” but they went home with hoarse voices and no inner peace. Paul was right when he had the courage to tell them “that gods made with hands are no gods at all.” Acts 19:26
Come with me to Galilee to a stronghold of the Egyptians and Philistines, the town of Beth Shean. On the old tell stood the walls of the ancient city where the lives of Saul and Jonathan came to a tragic end. Their bodies were hanged there to shame the God of Israel.
In the valley below, Beth Shean was transformed into a Greco-Roman city. Walk with me down the broad main road lined with columns and flanked by exclusive shops, baths, brothels and high society. At the end of that road once stood the temple to Dionysius, the patron god of the theater, love, and wine.
When God had had enough, He sent an earthquake to destroy that pit of darkness. Today the columns lay imbedded in road in the exact place where God cast them down.
The Sacred Way
Leading to all of these temples and a thousand others just like them, a road was constructed called the Sacred Way. Every week men traveled those roads, groping to find God. But the Bible says…