Dedicated to Worship Him
Yael Eckstein | May 11, 2023
“But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!” — 1 Kings 8:27
Undoubtedly, one of the most fascinating topics to Christians and Jews is the Holy Temple—its significance to Jewish worship in biblical times and what Judaism teaches about the building of a Third Temple in the future. This is one of six devotions looking at different aspects of the Temple and its inherent lessons for us all.
Rabbi Mendel of Kotzk was one of the great Hasidic masters of 19th-century Europe, known for his brief but powerful teachings. It is said of Rabbi Mendel that many people had their lives completely changed by hearing only one sentence of his teaching.
Rabbi Mendel once sat surrounded by his disciples. They waited silently as Rabbi Mendel sat with his eyes closed, deep in thought. Finally, he opened his eyes and looked around the table.
“Where is God?” Rabbi Mendel asked. The students did not know what to say. After a brief silence, the rabbi answered his own question: “God is wherever you let Him in.”
Dedicated to Worship Him
King Solomon himself expressed this idea at the inauguration of the Temple he built. We read, “But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!”
A few verses later, Solomon answers his own question: “Hear the supplication of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive” (1 Kings 8:30).
Solomon goes on to describe all the reasons that people will come to the Temple to pray to God. In other words, God doesn’t need a Temple. We do.
When we read in the Bible about the Tabernacle or the Temple, we often refer to “the House of the Lord.” Now, obviously God does not dwell in any house of stone or wood, no matter how beautiful. The real point of the Temple was to provide a place for us to worship Him.
The Temple and our places of worship are ways of showing God that we have someplace dedicated to worshiping Him. It’s a place for us to gather and worship. It’s one of the most important ways we honor God. To use the words of Rabbi Mendel of Kotzk, the Temple, as well as our own houses of worship, is one of the ways we “let Him in.”
Even though God is everywhere, let’s try to honor Him in our houses of worship, in those places built for Him.