The temple was thought to be a copy of God's dwelling in heaven.

Saturday, 7/14/12

In the first reading Isaiah gave a description of his vision of heaven. By telling us that he had that vision the year King Uzziah died, he helps us locate the events of his life on the calendar. Other sources tell us that Uzziah died in 742 B.C.

Surprisingly, Isaiah saw God residing in a temple just like the temple in Jerusalem. God’s garments had a train that swooped down, filling the temple.

The notion of God in heaven living in a temple didn’t begin with Isaiah. Centuries before him, when Moses supplied the Israelites with a blueprint for God’s earthly sanctuary, he was precise about the dimensions of each wall and screen. He was binding them to construct an exact duplicate of God’s house in heaven.

By their temple being an exact replica of God’s house in heaven, when the Jews entered the temple they had the feeling that they were entering God’s house. He was there, and they could whisper with him.

The Seraphim hovering before God’s throne called out “Holy, holy, holy.” The Hebrew word for holy is kabod. We find it in Exodus, Chapter Three where God tells Moses to take off his sandals because he is on holy ground. Kabod is holy in the sense that it is not of this earth.

Vatican II taught us to see God’s church as being, not any building, but the people themselves. To that end we have been building round church buildings where the people are looking at each other. That is a fine idea, but we should not get rid of the old idea that a church building is God’s house where we can exchange whispers with him if everyone around us isn’t talking.

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