Throughout history, God’s people have worshiped in many different ways. The Church has looked different through many cultures throughout eras of time. Whether people have met in homes, buildings, outside, in tents, or other means, people have gathered to meet with God. We’re going to take a short trip through Scripture to find out what has changed and how Jesus changed “church” forever.
Through the first pages of the Bible, God spoke to people directly. He spoke to people like Noah, Abraham, Jacob, and Moses. He gave them direct commands and spoke to them directly with a voice they could hear. After God had delivered the people from Egypt’s hand through the crossing of the Red Sea, God gave Moses commands to build a tabernacle. This Tent of Meeting would be a portable tent yard that Moses and the priests would use to offer sacrifices on behalf of Israel and where Moses met with God. Moses would go into the tent, and into a place called the Most Holy place where God’s presence lived (Exodus 40:34). Moses had to go into the tent to be with the presence of God.
Later on, David’s son Solomon built a temple for the Lord. It was a majestic temple that stood even unto the day of Jesus. When Solomon built this temple, the Lord also filled the temple as he did with the tabernacle (1 Kings 8:10-13). There the high priest would enter God’s presence on behalf of the people, making atonement for himself and all Israel on the Day of Atonement. This ritual was done once a year and the sprinkling of the blood that the high priest would do on that day, points us right to Jesus.
With Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, he became our High Priest on our behalf. He became a High Priest symbolically in the fact that His own blood was shed to cleanse us from our sin. Hebrews 9:12 says, “He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.” He symbolically entered the Holy Place when he died, meaning heaven, because of the sacrifice that He made on the cross. Traditionally, the sacrifice was bulls and goats, but this time it was God’s Son and now all are set free (Hebrews 9:15).
When Jesus ascended, He sent the Holy Spirit to help us in life (John 16:7). Now because we have the Holy Spirit, God says that we are now his temple. 1 Corinthians 6:19 says, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?” Paul says that we are a temple for God’s spirit who lives in us now. No longer does a priest have to go into the temple to meet with God to sacrifice for people’s sins. Jesus paid the price for our sins once and for all. Now the Spirit lives inside of us, not in a building or temple, it resides in all who believe in Jesus. The world doesn’t have to go meet with God, God’s people are the church and we go out into the world and become a light to all people.