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In stadiums all over the country, Major League baseball teams are fighting for a shot at the World Series trophy. But this year, one of the league’s landmark stadiums won’t be seeing much action. After 54 years of memories, including several All Star games, Super Bowls and even the Beatles’ final concert, San Francisco’s Candlestick Park is going to be demolished. It was a favorite for fans and teams, but after all those years, it had simply been outgrown. It was time to move on.
The Israelites experienced something similar. They, too, had a beloved building that was left behind once it was time to move on: of course I’m talking about the Temple. It was a majestic symbol of God’s habitation among his people, built to facilitate their connection with him. It stood for the original covenant, handed down to the Israelites through the Law and the Prophets, and carried out in part at the Temple through an intricate system of sacrifices. This system of worship foreshadowed how God would ultimately atone for their sins in the future. In this way Israel could enjoy a relationship with a holy God even before the promise of the covenant was fulfilled in Christ. Jesus spells this out in Matthew:
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them. (Matthew 5:17)
Jesus brought God and humanity together through the incarnation. Divinity and humanity were reconciled and brought into a deep personal communion in him. By the Holy Spirit we can share in that perfect fellowship between God and humanity forged in Jesus through his life, death, resurrection and ascension. He himself has become the one mediator between God and humanity. He did this not just for the chosen nation of Israel, but for all of humanity!
In doing so, he brought to completion (telos) the old covenant. From that day forward we now enjoy access to God through a relationship with Christ. He himself is our meeting place, our temple, and our one true worship leader. Every time and place around the world where the members of his Body, his Church, gather, that truth and reality is made manifest.