During the Old Testament time, the Temple was the dwelling place of God among the people (Ex 25:8). God’s presence was in the Holy of Holies where the ark of the Covenant was kept. The stone tablets of the Ten Commandments, the manna in a gold jar and Aaron’s staff that had budded were kept inside the ark. Prophet Jeremiah had removed the tent, the ark, and the altar of incense to a cave and sealed its entrance before the destruction of the first Temple by the Babylonians under the leadership of Nebuchadnezzar (2 Macc 2:5). When Ezra and Nehemiah rebuilt the Temple after the Babylonian exile, and later, when King Herod the Great reconstructed it, the sacred contents of the ark were missing. Shekinah glory was also absent in the Holy of Holies. The word shekinah meant “that which dwells” and designated the divine presence (Ex 25:8) manifested through the light on the mercy-seat of the Ark of the Covenant kept in the Holy of Holies.
Jesus had a divine and human nature. He was the perfect dwelling of God among the people. He was the Word that became flesh and communicated with people just as God spoke to the forefathers, prophets and famous leaders of Israel.
At the baptism of Jesus, the heavens were torn open; the Spirit descended upon him like a dove, and the voice of the Father from the heavens confirming Jesus as His Son was heard (Mk 1:10-11). These were manifestation of God’s glory on earth.
At the transfiguration of Jesus, Moses and Elijah appeared beside Jesus. The shekinah cloud came back, and the voice of the Father confirming the Sonship of Jesus was heard (Mk 9:2-8).
Jesus performed miracles that were also manifestation of God’s glory. Jesus gave his own body and blood as the new manna for the nourishment and survival of our spiritual life (Jn 6:31-35). While the most important contents were missing in the last Temple, Jesus was their replacement and hence was far superior to the Temple of Jerusalem.
According to Paul, our body is a temple of the holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19). God’s presence is within us by the reception of the sacraments, especially Baptism, Holy Eucharist, and Confirmation. Let us keep our bodies and souls holy as the temple of God.