Marble and Gold
Many people complain that the Orthodox Church adorns our church buildings with majestic marble and gold. “Jesus was a simple carpenter,” they say. What these same people forget is that it was God who commanded the absolute best materials be used to build the temple. God didn’t stop at gold and marble. He demanded the best fabrics and the best wood. God commanded the best of everything be used to build His House. He had a reason.
BRETHREN, the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly sanctuary. For a tent was prepared, the outer one, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence; it is called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain stood a tent called the Holy of Holies, having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, which contained a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail. These preparations having thus been made, the priests go continually into the outer tent, performing their ritual duties; but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood which he offers for himself and for the errors of the people.Hebrews 9.1-7
Today’s reading is appointed by the Church for the Feast of the Presentation of the Theotokos in the Temple. According to Holy Tradition, she was brought at the age of three by her parents to be raised in the Temple. This was done to prepare her to become the Temple of God when she conceived Christ.
Whenever the Church discusses the Temple, we are reminded of the glory that is manifested when God dwells there. Whether it was the Temple on Earth in Jerusalem or in Heaven, God is surrounded by magnificence. Check out Isaiah and Revelation, where Heaven is described.
Every earthly command of God has a purpose, and it isn’t an earthly purpose. When we say God had a purpose, we mean Heaven. When God commanded the Temple be decorated a certain way, it was because Heaven was a certain a way. The Temple prepares us for Heaven.
How we treat the Temple of God will determine how we ‘treat’ Heaven. Do we bring the best we have to the Temple? Then we will bring the best we have to God in Heaven. Do we cut short on the glory we bring to the Temple so we can have more for ourselves? Then we will cut short our love for God in Heaven. What we do now prepares us for how we will be in Heaven.
So, before you complain about how much money the Church needs to build or decorate the Temple, remember God first commanded that only the best be offered to God. He offered us the best when He offered Himself. Start preparing yourself for Heaven now, and bring your best to the Temple.