I will meet the people of Israel there, in the place made holy by my glorious presence.
Exodus 29:43 NLT
And though this Temple is impressive now, all who pass by will be appalled and will shake their heads in amazement. They will ask, ‘Why did the LORD do such terrible things to this land and to this Temple?’
9 “And the answer will be, ‘Because his people abandoned the LORD their God, who brought their ancestors out of Egypt, and they worshiped other gods instead and bowed down to them. That is why the LORD has brought all these disasters on them.'” 1 Kings 9:8-9 NLT
One of the interesting features of the book of Exodus is the amount of space given over to the building of the Tabernacle. Why is that? It is because of the nature of the problem facing the Hebrew people. Was it primarily bondage in Egypt? That is solved by the end of chapter 14. Is it an ignorance of Yahweh and his nature? That problem is solved by chapter 24. Their deepest problem, the one that is being addressed in chapters 25 – 40, is alienation from God. God is on the mountain, and they are in the valley, and they, and we, need his presence in their, and our, lives.
But the problem is not only a human one; it is also a divine one. If Adam and Eve lost the face of God as a result of the Fall, God lost the fellowship of Adam and Eve. From that moment God began scheming to come home. Why all those rich details in the description of the Tabernacle? It is because of the richness of the possibilities to be found in divine/human relationships. It is the same with the building of the Temple as described in the first book of Kings. But after the great dedicatory prayer of 1 Kings 8, when Solomon so clearly designated the Temple as a place of prayer, a place where people and God come face to face, we come to chapter 9. There God expresses his pleasure in the Temple. But then God makes it clear that this gorgeous building has no significance in itself. So long as it represents the full-hearted devotion of the people to him, God will honor that building. But the instant the people turn to the worship of this world and its forces, he will smash that building in an instant. The building represents the relationship, and if the relationship is fouled, the building is meaningless.