When we think of the Incarnation, we tend to think only of Jesus becoming human.
But did you know that the Jewish people had a form of incarnation before Jesus was ever born? Actually, they had three.
The Temple, the Torah, and the Land were all incarnational symbols of Judaism.
Though they did not think of these things as being fully God the way we think of Jesus Christ, the Jewish people did view The Temple, the Torah, and the Land as being the meeting place between God and man, the nexus where heaven and earth became one.
Specifically, the Temple was the place where people could meet with God, have their prayers heard, get their sins forgiven, and receive purity from God. The Temple was not God’s Dwelling place, but was a mirror reflection of the Heavenly Courtroom in which He pronounced His judgments and presided over all the earth. The Temple was the place in which people could enter the heavenly throne room of God to plead their case before Him, and receive blessings from Him. It was a doorway, a gateway to the throne of God.
The Torah was not just a book of Law and stories, but was the very Word of God to His covenant people. The Jewish people went to the Torah to hear from God, to learn about God, and to talk with God. After the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD, the study of Torah was equated with the worship of God and replaced the sacrificial system of the Temple. It was a powerful symbol of God’s nearness.
The Land has also been a powerful symbol in Judaism. The Land of Israel is not just a chunk of dirt in the Middle East. Israel cannot “move” as if any old piece of land will do. In Judaism, the Land symbolizes all the promises and covenants of God. If they do not have the land, then they do not have God. The Land symbolizes His presence and His care. The Land gives the people a sense of belonging in a community of which God is a member.
So what is the point?
Tomorrow is Shavuot, Pentecost. It is 50 days after Passover. It is the day that God gave the Torah to Moses on Mount Sinai after leading them out of captivity in the land of Egypt.
For followers of Jesus, this day also has signficance. It is the day that the disciples in the Upper Room first received the Holy Spirit. And for us, what is the Holy Spirit?
He is not just the third member of the Trinity who causes some Christians to see dreams, speak in tongues, and act strange. He is not just the one who illuminates Scripture, convicts of sin, and forms us to be more like Jesus.
No, the Holy Spirit is for us what the Temple, the Torah, and the Land are to Jewish people.
It is because of the Holy Spirit that we can meet with God, and know we stand pure and right before Him. It is because of the Holy Spirit that we can enter boldly before the throne of grace and present our requests to God. It is because of the Holy Spirit that we can hear from God, learn about God, and talk with God. It is because of the Holy Spirit that we have a community, a sense of belonging, and a place to fellowship, even when we are not “in church” or with other believers, for we are one in the Spirit.
All of the hopes and dreams and prayers of the Jewish people that were wrapped up in the Temple, the Torah, and the Land also belong to us, in and through the work and presence of the Holy Spirit.
Do you feel like your sin is separating you from God? Let the Holy Spirit remind you of the sacrifice of Jesus, and lead you boldly before God’s throne.
Do you feel like God does not hear your prayers? Listen to the Holy Spirit as He assures you that God hears and will answer.
Do you wonder about the meaning of Scripture and how to apply it to you life? Allow the Holy Spirit to guide and teach you in His gentle, softspoken way.
Do you feel like you are in foreign land, and nobody knows or loves you? Welcome the Holy Spirit in your presence, as He reminds you of the community we have with God and with one another through Him.
The Holy Spirit does all this and more. Tomorrow, on Pentecost, thank Him for being part of your life!
Here is a list of the other contributors for this month’s Synchroblog:
- Kerri at Earth’s Crammed With Heaven… – Transformation
- Sarita Brown at Gypsy Queen Journals – Pentecost: A Poem
- Tammy Carter at Blessing the Beloved – Random Biblical Calendar Thoughts, Unity & Love
- K. W. Leslie at More Christ – Pentecost
- Liz Dyer at Grace Rules – We Cannot Capture The Wind
- Emma Nadine at Life by List – An Outpouring of the Spirit
- Marta Layton at Marta’s Mathoms – Shadow of Things to Come?
- Abbie Waters at No Longer “Not Your Grandfather’s CPA” – Spiritual Gifts
- Bill Sahlman at Creative Reflections – A “Wild Goose” Festival at Pentecost
- John O’Keefe at john c. o’keefe – What’s With This
Tammy Carter says
Great post, Jeremy…thanks for some further insight into some Jewish foundations. Praising God that we are grafted into this return to the Lord, Land and Torah! BTW-so glad I got to meet you in person! Take care!
Jeremy Myers says
Likewise. As things turn out, I maybe able to drop by for another visit in July. We’ll see.