mmmm Notre Dame Cathedral: House of God mmmm

mmmm Celebrating Easter with Chocolate Eggs mmmm

Just couldn’t resist all the chocolate in supermarkets

Restricted myself to the mini-eggs this year

#Love to #share & #eat #Chocolate with #family & #friends this #Easter

 

Horrified to see photos & videos of the #NotreDameFire in #Paris in #France yesterday

Notre Dame is the most visited Paris monument with 12,000,000+ visitors annually [1]

It’s one of many fine examples of Gothic architecture in Europe & the Western World.

This #church has national historical importance and a special place in French hearts

Privileged to visit this Paris church as independent travellers many years ago

Smiled as hordes of tourist groups were herded through this iconic building

Many tourists are unaware of the spiritual significance of this cathedral

The official Notre Dame website says it is a “House of God and the abode of men” [2]

 

So what is a “House of God”?

What is the origin of these stone buildings across the Western World?

The origins start with the first temple in Jerusalem in Israel

Before the Israelites settled in this city, God’s presence was symbolised by a tabernacle [3]

King David built his Jerusalem palace & saw that God was still living/dwelling in this tent

He wanted to build a “House of God” to replace the temporary tabernacle

But God responded to David through his prophet Nathan:

“When your days are over and you go to be with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for me, and I will establish his throne for ever.”
1 Chronicles chapter 17 verses 11-12

So King David’s son Solomon built the temple and declared to God:

“I have built a magnificent temple for you, a place for you to dwell for ever.”
2 Chronicles chapter 6 verse 2

At the dedication of the temple, Solomon prayed asking:

But will God really dwell on earth with humans? The heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain you. How much less this temple that I have built!”
2 Chronicles chapter 6 verses 18

What did the Israelites think of the temple?

“When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple.”
Jonah chapter 2 verse 7

“The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.”
Habakkuk chapter 2 verse 20

The temple was a place to pray and be silent before God in His dwelling place

 

So what happened to Solomon’s temple?

On the seventh day of the fifth month, in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard, an official of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. He set fire to the temple of the Lord, the royal palace and all the houses of Jerusalem. Every important building he burned down.
2 Kings chapter 25 verses 8-9

Less than 400 years after Solomon, his temple was destroyed in 587 BC

The Israelites were then enslaved and taken to Babylon as exiles

However 50 years later, the Israelites were allowed to return to Jerusalem

In 538 BC, King Cyrus declared:

This is what Cyrus king of Persia says, “The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of his people among you may go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem, and may their God be with them.”
Ezra chapter 1 verses 2-3

God also spoke to the Israelites through his prophet Haggai:

This is what the Lord Almighty says, “Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honoured.” says the Lord.
Haggai chapter 1 verses 7-8

The foundations of this Second Temple in Jerusalem were laid in 537 BC

Governor Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem to protect the Second Temple.

When he completed this task, he prayed:

“Remember me for this, my God, and do not blot out what I have so faithfully done for the house of my God and its services.”
Nehemiah chapter 13 verse 14

 

So what happened to this Second Temple in Jerusalem?

The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD and never rebuilt

Jesus famously spoke about the Second Temple:

Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in 3 days.’ The Jews replied, “It has taken 46 years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in 3 days?”
But the temple he had spoken of was his body.
John chapter 2 verses 19-21

This is what is celebrated at #Easter:

  • 2000 years ago, Jesus died on the first Good Friday
  • His death symbolised the destruction of the temple and the old ways of the Jewish religion
  • God raised Jesus to life again as the King of the Universe 3 days later
  • Jesus’ resurrection is now celebrated on Easter Sunday worldwide

Jesus’ resurrection body replaced the importance of the Second Temple

Jesus is where we can now meet God through saving grace

We no longer need to go to Jerusalem to pray and worship God

In fact there is now a Mosque on the site of the Second Temple in Jerusalem

 

So what are the roles of cathedrals and church buildings in the 21st Century?

Are they still the “houses of God”?

Followers meet in church buildings to encourage each other by remembering Jesus

But God does not actually “live” in these buildings:

The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands.
Acts chapter 17 verse 24

Instead God now actually “lives” inside His followers:

[Jesus’ follower Paul said] “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?”
1 Corinthians chapter 3 verse 16

[Paul continued to say] “For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.’ “
2 Corinthians chapter 6 verse 16

God now dwells in the hearts of His followers, instead of buildings made of stone

In Australia, some groups of followers do not own their own building

Instead they meet in rented halls and school buildings as their “church” on Sundays

  • The “church” is not actually the physical building
  • The “church” is actually the spiritual community of followers worldwide

 

So is it important to renovate & repair Notre Dame cathedral?

This evening, I heard that already $900 million has been raised for Notre Dame [4]

As long as we remember its spiritual significance in the life of followers this Easter

How to donate to the Notre Dame appeal [5]

Is the physical beauty of your church-building important to you:

  1. Stained Glass Windows
  2. Gothic Architecture
  3. Traditional Wooden Pews

Or do you love the actual church-people inside the building more?

Happy Easter!
Footnotes:

[1] SMH News online (16 April 2019) Macron promises to rebuild, but Paris monument suffers ‘colossal damage’ https://www.smh.com.au/world/europe/historic-notre-dame-cathedral-in-paris-catches-fire-20190416-p51eh7.html

[2] “A cathedral of Art and history” http://www.notredamedeparis.fr/en/la-cathedrale/

[3] The tabernacle was the portable “tent of meeting” that moved with the Israelites when they were heading to the Promised Land after escaping Egypt. The tabernacle symbolised God’s Presence with the Israelites. For more info, see the “Tabernacle” article in the New Bible Dictionary (1962, republished 1996) InterVarsity Press: https://www.ivpress.com/new-bible-dictionary

[4] ABC News Radio (17 April 2019) ABC 702AM News bulletin (Sydney, Australia)

[5] How To Donate To Help Rebuild Notre Dame (17 April 2019) https://www.lifehacker.com.au/2019/04/how-to-donate-to-help-rebuild-notre-dame/ 

PS. After I published this blog post last night, I saw the Philanthropy Australia CEO on ABC24 TV evening news (17 April 2019) trying to protect Australian charities from losing funds to Notre Dame. She acknowledged that donors had become “numb” to frequent Emergency Aid appeals and this unique overseas appeal had captured the imagination of the whole world.

So don’t forget your local Aussie NFPs!

mmmm Bible mmmm

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