16 November 2009

False Temples - Part 1

Here in the South, football, especially college football, reigns. We have massive football stadiums that seat close to 100,000 people. People spend all day Saturday watching games, tailgating, partying, and otherwise just killing time. Growing up I was not a sports-watcher; our family did not even own a TV. I was aware of sports teams and I enjoyed watching high school football and basketball games but I did not follow any professional (or college) team. My freshman year of college I lived with a couple die-hard BYU Cougar football fans. I went to many of the home games but still was not an avid fan.

Over the years I started watching college football more. I watched the Cougar games and then once I moved to an area with a lot of Florida Gator fans, my love of the sport developed more. Now I can watch multiple college football games on a Saturday (some days I do, some days I don't); I really enjoy college football. I understand how people spend so much time with it. The sport is exciting and entertaining. I find myself amazed at the abilities of the players to make plays. I marvel at quarterbacks who can throw those balls with such accuracy. I think about what is going on in the brains - physically - of the athletes; what areas of the brain are most active, what white matter pathways are involved and so forth. And sometimes I think of spiritual matters.

Recently, a store for a certain company opened in New York City. This store has been described as a temple for this company's products. Entering the store, the author wrote, was almost like entering a religious building. But this is for a religion of technology and gadgets, a false temple built up unto Mammon. I am not criticizing the store or the products (I use products from this company every day), but the author provided a sad commentary on our culture and world, without meaning to.

What temples do we worship at? Do we spend Sundays worshiping at sports temples? What gods do we place before God? Do we build up altars in our homes and lives unto false gods? Are we placing ourselves onto a path that leads to a showdown between our false gods and a proverbial prophet Elijah? Do we build up Babelic towers in our lives?

In Genesis we read of one early and prominent false temple built by the residents of the city of Babylon.

"4 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.
5 And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.
6 And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.
7 Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.
8 So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.
9 Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth." (Genesis 11:4-9).

These people built a tall tower - maybe it was tall, maybe not. It was not the height of the tower that led to the Lord's displeasure, it was the purpose of the tower. This tower was a false temple. It was a building built to get the people to heaven; an imitation of the true temple but one without the proper power and authority. The people were trying to build themselves into heaven; they believed they could save and exalt themselves. For this great sin the people's tongues were confounded. The Lord does not tolerate mockeries of His holy house.

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