In the Old Testament, the Israelites twice built a temple to God in Jerusalem. The temple was the place where God resided. He made his home in Jerusalem. In fact, during the time of the prophets, the people, even though living outside of their covenant obligations, believed that God would not allow the Babylonians to sack Jerusalem because of the presence of the temple. The prophets make it very clear that God was more interested in his people repenting than in saving his earthly dwelling.
The temple, as the house of God, was a place where many people worked diligently to maintain the temple in a way befitting the mighty and powerful God of Israel. This was a place where the sacrifices required in the Book of Leviticus were performed. The temple was a very special place. In fact, the Israelites mourned the fact that the second temple was not as grand and majestic as the one originally built by Solomon, the one destroyed by the Babylonians. They mourned the fact that the current house of God was less befitting the God of Israel.
The New Testament clearly emphasizes the fact that the people of God are now the dwelling place of God because by our baptism the Holy Spirit has taken up residence within us. By reflecting on the way the ancient Israelites understood the temple and maintained it, we can learn a lot about how we should be treating our bodies as a dwelling place of God. We can learn a lot about mourning the fact that it is less than perfect, and balancing this grief with a knowledge that God is working with us to perfect his dwelling; he is working to make it and us a proper home for him. In return, he will make us a home with him. Our inferior house will be replaced with the most magnificent of houses when we our joined with God in perfection.
Spend some time with the Holy Spirit picturing the ancient temple in Jerusalem. Feel free to google images depicting the temple. Imagine the people preparing sacrifices, laying out the bread of presence, managing the candles, and otherwise tending to the comforts of their God and creator. Spend some time with the Spirit reflecting on your own temple. How well do you care for God’s residence? What more can you do to make him feel comfortable and at home? Spend some time jotting down some notes from your time of prayer, and make some commitments related to doing a better job of treating your body as the temple of God.