Updated: Oct 1, 2021
For years, I would have the thought process on Sunday mornings of going to church because that's where we meet God. I would hear in many a sermon, and even preach it myself, that the altar is where we meet God in order to do business with God. Certainly, there is some truth to these statements. The issue comes when we seclude God exclusively to a particular building.
Many people all over the world today went to a building thinking that they were going to where God is. This is a sad reality that reveals the fact that many Christians lack understanding of the truths of The New Covenant.
God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; - Acts 17:24 KJV
This seems fairly elementary, and please excuse me for addressing one of the most basic truths of what Jesus has accomplished, but Jesus' finished work and the beginning of a New Covenant guaranteed that we do not need to be in a physical location or in a certain position to be in the presence of God.
Prior to the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus there was a physical location that God ordained to be the place where God met with man.
In the time when God led Israel out of the land of Egypt, the place that God instructed was Mt. Horeb. This was to be a place that was completely set apart. So much so, that the people or their cattle couldn't even touch the mountain or they would die. (Exodus 19:12)
"And the LORD came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the LORD called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up. ... And Moses said unto the LORD, The people cannot come up to mount Sinai: for thou chargedst us, saying, Set bounds about the mount, and sanctify it." - Exodus 19:20, 23
Then God chose the tabernacle where He would meet with one man, Moses and then Moses would address the people on behalf of God.
And it came to pass, when Moses went out unto the tabernacle, that all the people rose up, and stood every man at his tent door, and looked after Moses, until he was gone into the tabernacle. And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the LORD talked with Moses. ... And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle. - Exodus 33:8-9, 11
After that, The temple was the physical location where God would meet with The High Priest in the Holy of Holies. The first covenant consisted of a worldly (physical location) sanctuary.
Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary. For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary. And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly. Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: - Hebrews 9:1-8 KJV
As we can see, during The Old Covenant there was an earthly, physical location, where people had to go in order to be in the presence of God. I do not believe it is an understatement to say that we as Christians have somewhat adopted this Old Covenant mindset of having to go to a physical place and do a physical, fleshly ordinance to be with God. In the above verses The Holy Spirit was making the point that we did not have access yet into this "Holiest of all" because the earthly tabernacle still stood.
It's Different Now
The body of Jesus was the last sacrifice to ever be made. The day of atonement for the sins of all mankind has come and gone (Romans 5:11). He offered His own blood (Heb. 4:14-16, 5:1-10, 7:23-28, 8:6, 9:11-14, 10:10-14). Jesus has bodily resurrected from the tomb (Matthew 28:6). On the day that Jesus died God tore the veil that separated the outer courts from the Holiest of all. The partition that separated us from the presence of God was done away with. We no longer need a priest, or any man for that matter, to represent God to us. We as believers are the "priests" (I Peter 2:9), our sins have been completely paid for by one offering (Hebrews 10:14), we are totally forgiven individuals (Colossians 2:13), and we are sanctified and holy (Hebrews 10:10, Colossians 1:22).
The truth is God's presence is now in us. My fellow believer, you are the equivalent of the Old Testament Temple with the exception that there are no more sacrifices for sin. You have already been purchased. You are the temple of God. God never leaves you, He never forsakes you, He always leads you (Romans 8:14, Galatians 5:18). He is working in you mightily (Colossians 1:29). He has begun a work in you and will keep performing it until the day you see Jesus face to face (Phil 1:6). We do not have to conjure up the presence of God by praying a certain way or singing certain songs. We have him twenty-four hours a day seven days a week, unhindered and always available.
"But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we"- Hebrews 3:6 KJV
But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. ... What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? - 1 Corinthians 6:17, 19 KJV
I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. ... And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them. - John 17:23, 26 KJV
God's presence is now in us. We are the church. We are the house of God. Where is the Holiest of all today? Well, It's in every believer!!
Please don't misunderstand me! I believe it is a healthy thing to gather with other believers and celebrate Jesus and propagate The Gospel, but the church doesn't revolve around a particular place in order to "be with God." When you go to that building to meet with other believers you are taking God with you!
The Jew's Religion and Our Relationship
The Jewish religion centered around an earthly temple. (1 Samuel 1:9; 3:3,) (2 Samuel 22:7,) (1 Kings 6:3, 5, 17, 33) (1 Kings 7:21, 50) (2 Kings 11:10-11, 13; 18:16; 23:4; 24:13) (1 Chronicles 6:10; 10:10) (2 Chronicles 3:17; 4:7-8, 22; 23:10; 26:16; 27:2; 29:16; 35:20; 36:7) (Ezra 3:6, 10; 4:1; 5:14-15; 6:5) (Nehemiah 6:10-11) (Psalms 5:7; 11:4; 18:6; 27:4; 29:9; 48:9; 65:4; 68:29; 79:1; 138:2)(Isaiah 6:1; 44:28; 66:6) (Jeremiah 7:4; 24:1; 50:28; 51:11) (Ezekiel 8:16; 41:1, 4, 15, 20-21, 23, 25; 42:8) (Daniel 5:2-3) (Amos 8:3) (Jonah 2:4, 7) (Micah 1:2) (Habakkuk 2:20) (Haggai 2:15, 18)
(Zechariah 6:12-15) (Zechariah 8:9) (Malachi 3:1) (Matthew 4:5; 12:5-6; 21:12, 14-15, 23; 23:16-17, 21, 35; 24:1; 26:55, 61; 27:5, 40, 51) (Mark 11:11, 15-16, 27; 12:35; 13:1, 3; 14:49, 58; 15:29, 38)
(Luke 1:9, 21-22; 2:27, 37, 46; 4:9; 11:51; 18:10; 19:45, 47; 20:1; 21:5, 37-38; 22:52-53; 23:45; 24:53)
(John 2:14-15, 19-21; 5:14; 7:14, 28; 8:2, 20, 59; 10:23; 11:56; 18:20)
Our relationship and closeness with God centers around a person and resting in His finished work.
And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. (Colossians 1:18 KJV)
According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: (2 Peter 1:3 KJV)