A Spirit Filled House

Torah Portion: Pekudei (Exodus 38:21–40:38)
Gospel Reading: Colossians 1:16–22; Hebrews 3:1–6; Romans 8
Commentary by: Kelsey Bryant

The Tabernacle stood complete in all its splendor. All the Lord’s instructions had been carried out. Moses, the man responsible for the monumental project, gazed on it with humble and grateful satisfaction. 

And then the visible cloud spread over the complex, and the kavod (glory) of Yahweh cascaded into the Tabernacle. The Presence was so strong Moses himself was unable to enter (Exod. 40:35). Somehow, it was tangible, if not exactly physical.

Centuries whooshed by. It was time for Israel to build an even greater structure, the Temple (or literally, House). First Kings 8 describes the dedication of this magnificent place – something familiar happened, something that put a stamp of approval on King Solomon’s efforts, because it was just like what happened at the Tabernacle: “It happened that when the priests came from the holy place, the cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord” (1 Kings 8:10–11, NASB).

Once again, God sent a tangible (or near tangible) reality of Himself to set His seal on His dwelling place on earth.

The pattern repeats itself with the tabernacle of Yeshua’s body – both His physical, earthly self and His extended body: us, His followers. 

Yeshua on earth was a tabernacle, a physical “container” for God to put His presence into so He could be revealed on earth:

“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt [‘tabernacled’] among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
“Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ The Jews then said, ‘It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?’ But He was speaking of the temple of His body. So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.” (John 2:19–22)

Yeshua had great glory, but, like the Tabernacle and Temple buildings, it was only revealed at certain times. Like the Transfiguration in Matthew 17:1–9, where Yeshua’s face shone like the sun and His garments became blindingly white, and the three disciples who witnessed it fell on their faces in fear. Or like John 18:5–6, where the soldiers came to arrest Him but fell to the ground when He simply stated, “I am.”

God even put some of His power on Yeshua’s Body, His followers. But it’s because of Yeshua, who sanctified us like Moses sanctified the Tabernacle (read Colossians 1:16–22 and Hebrews 3:1–6!), that we have that awesome Spirit coming to dwell in we who believe. Yeshua tells His disciples in Luke 24:49:

“And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

Believers receive the Holy Spirit to help us (John 14:17); empower us to be witnesses (Acts 1:8); enable us to live our new life (Romans 8); and much more. It assures us that we are the Lord’s: “By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit” (1 John 4:13). “Do you not know that you are a temple [or sanctuary] of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16).

Two Scripture passages, centuries apart, connect the Spirit’s presence in the Temple building with its descent upon Yeshua’s followers. Ezekiel 43:1–4 tells how Ezekiel saw the glory of Yahweh entering and filling the House (Temple). Verse 4 says, “And the glory of the Lord came into the house by the way of the gate facing toward the east.” According to Easton’s Bible Dictionary, Solomon’s Porch, where the disciples met in Acts, was on the eastern side of the Temple.

In Acts 2 the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples with great power, filling the place where they met – and most likely that place was Solomon’s Porch in the Temple* (Acts 3:11, 5:12) – lighting their heads on fire (or so it appeared) and causing their tongues to proclaim the Gospel in foreign languages. Talk about an awesome manifestation! God was setting a tangible seal on His earthly, physical representatives.

Although believers may not all bodily witness it, there’s no doubt that God’s Spirit does amazing things even today. We should remain open to His miracles. Don’t forget that every believer has had a miracle done in him/her: the Spirit transforms our dead, fleshly self into one of life and peace (Romans 8:6). There’s no other explanation for such a transformation. Let’s work with His Spirit and allow Him to accomplish great things through us.

*See FFOZ’s Torah Club Volume 4 on Acts 2.