Yesterday I listened to a summary of G.K. Beale’s book, The Temple and the Church’s Mission: A Biblical Theology of the Dwelling Place of God. I haven’t had a chance to finish reading through the entire book yet, but after listening to his two lectures, I realize that I need to spend some serious time here! You can listen to the audio here (titled “Why Is the New Heaven and the New Earth Equated with the Temple? pt. 1 & 2″).
Beale’s contention is simply that the Garden of Eden was the first temple and that the Patriarchs who followed Adam carried on the “mantle” of the priesthood and continued to set up temples as they went out to expand the glory of God. This all culminated in the life of Jesus Christ and we, as His followers, are the temple of God. No, it is not symbolic; rather, we are God’s temple. The Garden of Eden pointed to and was the first “picture” (my description) of the Cosmic Temple that is in heaven.
I need to listen to the lectures again and read through the book in order to wrestle further with some of the implications of this concept, but Beale’s theory has always intrigued me as I’ve read and heard him hint at these concepts before. It’s kind of mind blowing. If you are a student of the Scriptures, I’d strongly recommend that you download the messages and order the book. I have a feeling I will revisit this concept later…
“For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” – 2 Cor. 6:16 (emphasis mine)