Portal versus Distraction
The Temple occupies a central place in the theology of Judaism. The climax of the exodus occurred when God’s presence came to dwell in the Tabernacle (Exodus 40:34) and the climax of history will be achieved when God’s presence is restored to the Temple in Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:2). When Jews pray, they direct their faces toward the Temple Mount in Zion. The Temple is where God meets man; this is the House of God (Genesis 28:17).
Those who promote devotion to Jesus attempt to exploit this concept for the advancement of their missionary campaign. The missionaries point to all of the attention that Judaism directs toward the Jerusalem Temple. They then argue that Jesus is the “real” temple and that their devotion to him is thus justified. The Christian Scriptures echo this argument when they compare Jesus to the Jerusalem Temple (John 2:21).
This argument does not get off the ground.
No one directs devotion toward the Temple itself. The Temple is seen as a portal, a gateway through which we can meet God. By focusing on the obedience to God reflected in the service of the Temple, by focusing on the love for God that was poured into the construction of the Temple, we move beyond the Temple and our hearts encounter God. The Temple serves as a doorway through which our hearts walk in order to meet God.
The Christians devotion to Jesus sees Jesus as an object of worship in and of himself. Jesus is not a “doorway” to God, he is a distraction that diverts attention away from God. A doorway is something that you pass through and leave behind you as you move on. The Christian theology would have the devotee focus on Jesus forever. According to the Church Jesus never gets “left behind.” A doorway that needs to be taken with you wherever you go is no doorway.
The Christian misunderstanding of the Temple spreads to another Scriptural concept.
There are several passages in scripture which describe a prophet’s encounter with an angelic being and this encounter culminates in a conversation with God. The Church misinterprets these encounters and this misunderstanding is rooted in their misunderstanding of the Temple’s function. Just as the Church cannot see the Temple as a gateway through which our hearts move to meet God, so it is with these angelic beings. Instead of seeing these beings as portals through which the prophets moved to encounter God, the Church insists on deifying some of these angelic beings.
The three angels that ate with Abraham (Genesis 18:1,2) , the angel that appeared to Moses from the burning bush (Exodus 3:2-4), the cloud of glory that Israel witnessed in the wilderness (Exodus 15:10) and the angel that spoke to Gideon (Judges 6:11-14) were all portals through which an encounter with God was achieved. The prophet or the people were able to move their hearts and minds away from the material world when they directed their attention to the angelic being. But they did not stop there. They moved beyond the angelic being and they encountered God Himself.
This concept is reflected in the Tabernacle’s Holy of Holies. No one entered the Holy of Holies except for the High Priest, and even the High Priest only entered the Holy of Holies once a year (Leviticus 16:2). The only vessel that was situated in the Holy of Holies was the Ark of the Covenant. It was from on top of the Ark of the Covenant that Moses heard God’s voice and it was at that point where God’s presence came to dwell (Numbers 7:89). The Ark was decorated with two golden cherubs and it was from between them that the voice emerged. God is called the One who dwells upon the cherubim (Psalm 80:2).
The cherubs upon the Ark represent this concept. These golden angels represent the angelic beings that act as portals through which our hearts and our minds move to encounter God. No one ever attributed divinity to the cherubs themselves. It is clear to one and all that these cherubs were simply a gateway through which our hearts move toward God and through which God’s voice emerges to speak with His prophets.
The Temple and the angelic beings serve to draw our attention away from the material world. But they do not draw attention to themselves. They draw our focus beyond themselves and direct our attention toward God.
In their effort to justify devotion to Jesus the Church has misunderstood these Scriptural concepts. The Church has taken gateways and portals and turned them into and end for themselves. By deifying Jesus, the Church has turned Jesus into the polar opposite of the Temple and of the angelic beings that the prophets encountered. The Temple and the angels direct our attention to God, the Church’s Jesus attempts to direct attention toward himself. By demanding devotion to himself, Jesus becomes a distraction from God, which is the exact opposite of a gateway to God.
The message of Scripture and the testimony of Israel refute this error. God’s witnesses declare to one and all; there is no object that deserves our devotion except for the One who created us all.
If you found this article helpful please consider making a donation to Judaism Resources by clicking on the link below.
Judaism Resources is a recognized 501(c) 3 public charity and your donation is tax exempt.
Yisroel C. Blumenthal