When you ask people, what a temple is for, you will probably get three different aspects. A temple is a place of worship, to get in contact with the deity through prayer, and to sacrifice. And from all I can tell, that is pretty universal. Details might differ. Sacrifices can be given as worship, to seek forgiveness, as a form as entrance fee, or other things. But the general concept remains, independent of the religion you look at. (The major differences between religions are not in the means, but in the center of worship. That is, why all religions may look the same, when some couldn’t be more different. But that is a topic for another day.) And it seems, that we, as humans, need those things. That’s, why everybody is doing it, right?
When God started a covenant with Israel at mount Sinai, He told them to build a tent of meeting, the tabernacle. A place, where the Presence off God would dwell. The people can come to worship, to sacrifice (as praise and for their atonement), and to bring petitions before God. It was one place for all. Until then, altars and worship were a more private thing. Abraham, for example, build numerous altars to worship and pray. But now, there was one for all. A few hundred years later, the tabernacle was replaced by a temple building. But the fundamental functions remained. (It got a little bit complicated, when the people split into Judah and Israel, but the idea nonetheless stayed the same.) And then comes Jesus. He is the last and ultimate sacrifice. The perfect atonement for our sins. The highest form of worship. The one real petition for the restoration of this fallen world. And then, just a few decades later, the temple in Jerusalem is destroyed. All, that remains, is a piece of the outer wall. And with that, worship becomes impossible. How could God do that? This question tormented jews for the last 2,000 years, and it still does. We Christians know, that Jesus fulfilled the temple. The building became obsolete. But its functions are so vital to us, they have to go somewhere. And the answer is, of course, the Church.
Looking at Christianity today, it seems, that the temple happens Sunday mornings. There, we meet God. There, we bring our sacrifices (praise and money). There, we pray. The Levites turned into worship leaders. The priests we call deacons and elders. And the high priest is our lead pastor. But, I fear, we couldn’t be more wrong. Because Jesus left, to send the Holy Spirit. No longer would God live in a building made by men. From now on, He dwells in our hearts. The temple is made of living stones now. Not only that. We are all called, to be His priests. Each and everyone. No exceptions. (This is all 1 Peter 2, should you ask.) So, where can the people meet God? Here with us. And where can they find forgiveness? Right here. Where can they bring their petitions to God? Together with us. But where do I go? Don’t I need a temple too? But that is one of the reasons, we meet as a church. So, we can be the temple to each other.