It was on this day, in 586 B.C., that Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, occupied Solomon’s Temple. As we’ve stated in previous installments, Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon epitomize everything that God’s people are to avoid and resist. Babylon manifests everything we are not supposed to be and, yet, God allowed Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians to occupy and destroy the Temple.
This event has obvious prophetic overtones because, first of all, Scripture tell us that the anti-Christ will do just what Nebuchadnezzar did in regard to the Temple. Paul writes:
“Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4)
For this and for other reasons, Nebuchadnezzar is a prototype of the anti-Christ. However, the bigger issue presented here is not who and what the anti-Christ is. Considering what Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon represent in comparison to God’s people and their call, why would God allow that to occupy His Holy Place? Why would He allow the epitome of evil to sit where His presence is supposed to reside? That is the bigger issue!
To understand the significance of this, we need to understand the purpose of the Sanctuary. It was to be a house for His presence; a place where He could dwell among His people (Exodus 25:8). Later in Scripture we learn that, because His presence was in the Sanctuary, it was the responsibility of the priesthood and, by extension, the nation at large, to guard against anything considered profane or unclean polluting the Sanctuary. In turn, the people would learn to distinguish between the clean and the unclean, and live their lives accordingly, so that the nation could be a light to the other nations of the world. In other words, it wasn’t just the Sanctuary that was supposed to be holy; to be holy was the nation’s call. So when, in the time of Samuel, the Tabernacle and the nation had become corrupt, God sent an unnamed prophet to Eli, the High Priest, saying:
“You will see an enemy in My dwelling place.” (1 Samuel 2:32)
If an enemy was allowed to possess His Holy Place, that can only mean one thing: He wasn’t in the Holy Place. At some point in time, the Sanctuary here, and later in the First and Second Temple periods, ceased to function in its intended purpose. When the place that was supposed to house the presence of the Holy One became corrupt and defiled, God’s presence departed. When God’s presence departed, the enemy was free to come in.
This is very important for us to understand, not just as a history lesson and not just as a picture of what’s going to happen in regard to the anti-Christ; this is an issue that speaks to our purpose and what happens when we fail to fulfill that purpose. As Scripture tells us, our bodies are Temples of the Holy Spirit – we are created in order to be a holy habitation for His presence. So then, based on what we’ve discussed, what happens when we cease to function in that purpose? What happens when we willingly allow spiritual pollutants and unclean things to come in and pollute the Temple? What happens when the bodily Temple lives in such a way that is no longer conducive to His presence remaining? Messiah gave us an idea of what could happen if we continued to live in such a way. Speaking of an unclean spirit that was sent out of a man and then returned to see if the man was living in a righteous manner, Messiah said:
“Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation.” Matthew 12:44-45
This unclean spirit was looking for a place to dwell, and when he finds an empty house, he moves in with others that are even more wicked. In the end, the man (the house) is worse off than before. In relation to our topic, what does this story imply? If the Spirit of God is not present in our lives, His absence gives opportunity to our Adversary to come in and set up house. When God’s Presence isn’t present in our lives, life can get very bad, really quick. Obviously, no one reading this wants to see that scenario play out in their life.
So what do we need to do? We must reaffirm within ourselves that we will stand against those intrusions that would pollute the Temple that is our body. We must purpose in our hearts, every day, to crucify our flesh so that “the house is void of those things that would offend the Holy Spirit. We must live a life that is conducive to His Spirit abiding with us to work in our life. The Bible provides examples of those who had the Spirit of God working in their lives but, because carnality was allowed to prosper, the Spirit of God was removed and was replaced by an evil spirit. Again, none of us want that in our lives and, so, let’s commit to living in such a way that His Spirit wants to reside in us. That has been His intention from the very beginning, but we have a responsibility in this, as well.
So our prayer, today, is that we will acknowledge our sins and those weaknesses in our lives that would allow spiritual pollutants to come in. Let us pray that He would reveal these things to us and that He would empower us to purge these things from our lives. Soon another Nebuchadnezzar will come and, thinking himself to be above God, will seek to possess that which is considered holy. Knowing that we are living in such perilous times should encourage us, as never before, to make sure that our relationship with Him is as it should be. Living in the end of days should be sufficient provocation for us to want to crucify our flesh and live holy lives.