In Ephesians 2: 21, Christians are looked at in the figure of a temple: “in whom all [the] building fitted together increases to a holy temple in the Lord”. This sets before us the great truth of God dwelling in the midst of His people on earth. However, not only does God dwell, but the word temple carries the thought of a shrine—a dwelling place certainly, but connected with the thought of holiness because of who it is that is dwelling there. It becomes a sanctuary, a sphere of priestly activity, a place of worship—a place made by the persons who compose it because God “does not dwell in temples made with hands” (Acts 17: 24) but “yourselves also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house” (1 Pet. 2: 5). We are “fitted together” (Eph. 2: 21)—that is, God sets us in relation to one another with the view of being His temple on earth.
This idea runs right through Scripture. Did God redeem Israel out of Egypt simply to relieve them of their intolerable bondage? No, it was to bring them to Himself, and even the tents of the common people had to be pitched in a certain order around the tabernacle. All was put in relation to Jehovah, and holiness was demanded of them in all their ways. Did God demand the half shekel of silver—the redemption money when He numbered the people—and that was the end of it? No, the half shekels produced over one hundred talents of silver which was used in connection with the tabernacle, principally as sockets for the interconnected boards.
Sadly, this concept of the Assembly as God’s temple is fast disappearing among God’s people. There is often great energy as to appropriating personal or family blessings, and sometimes much activity in evangelical work, but little attention is given to thought of Christians as priests in the house of God. And yet if Christians generally sought more to enter into the sense of God dwelling in their midst and of taking up their privilege as worshippers, how different things would be! Service in other directions would not lose, but infinitely gain.