The Sacred Calendar
Part 6: The Oracles of God

John Plunkett
June 7, 2014

As I have mentioned a couple of times in earlier episodes of this series, I would venture to say that many – even most – Church of God brethren have never questioned or studied into why they keep the Holy Days when they do. 

Until quite recently I was among that group too; so I am certainly not unrighteously judging any brethren who have not yet asked those questions.

We all know, of course, that God’s Word clearly tells us to keep the Passover on Abib 14, the First Day of Unleavened Bread on Abib 15, the Day of Atonement on Tishri 10, and so on. 

But how do we know when Abib 14 is?  And how do we know when Tishri 10 is?  We need some kind of calendar.  But what calendar does God want us to use?  And where does He want us to get that calendar from?

Is it sufficient for us to consult the little, white calendar cards that are put out by our church group?  Where did your church group get its information for the compilation of its little calendar cards?

Most mainstream Church of God leaders and ministers would likely freely admit that they adopted their versions and methods of the so-called “sacred calendar” from the late Herbert W. Armstrong and the now defunct Worldwide Church of God.

But where did Herbert W. Armstrong and the Worldwide Church of God get their calendar information and methods from?  Did they get them from God’s holy Word in the Bible?  No!  They adopted them from the modern-day Jews.  From the Jews, yes; but throughout the years, they – Herbert W. Armstrong and the Worldwide Church of God – made some modifications and mid-course corrections to the Jews' calendar that they adopted.

In defense of their common stance on this adoption of the Jews' calendar, those mainstream Church of God leaders would often reiterate the old Worldwide Church of God leaders’ explanation, often quoting Romans 3:1-2:

Romans 3:
1: What advantage then has the Jew?  Or what profit is there of circumcision?
2:  Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.

We’ll come back to this verse in a few minutes to examine it in more detail; but first, I would like to read you an e-mail letter which I received some time ago – a very relevant letter which, I believe, introduces today’s sub-topic quite well.

The Sabbath-keeping Church of God has occasionally been criticized by some outside observers as being a confusing mixture of New Covenant Christianity and Old Covenant Judaism.  

Are the Jews really to be emulated?  What do the Jews know and understand – if anything – that we Church of God members perhaps do not?  Could the Jews be, in some respects, even closer to God and His truth than true Christians are?  Some people feel that they are.

With these questions in mind, please consider this interesting question which I received some time ago via e-mail:

Why doesn’t the Church of God do as Yeshua instructed and look to the orthodox Jews (scribes and Pharisees) for instruction on the holy days? 

There is so much confusion in the churches of God, and has been throughout its history, over appointed times. 

The appointed time of Pentecost, after the counting of the omer comes to mind.

I think that, in light of our current Sacred Calendar sermon series, I thought you might be interested in how I answered this lady’s intriguing question – plus a few other related questions. 

Should God’s church look to the Jews of today – orthodox or otherwise – or to the scribes and Pharisees of yesteryear for our instructions regarding the keeping and timing of God’s Holy Days?  Should we look to them for anything else?  Did Jesus really command us to do so?

I wrote back to that lady and, first of all, thanked her for her question.  Then I asked her a question in return.  I asked her which scripture or scriptures she was referring to in which Jesus (Yeshua) supposedly instructed us to look to the scribes and Pharisees for their instruction on the keeping and timing of the Holy Days.

A few weeks went by and I still did not receive a reply; so I wrote back to her again and I suggested perhaps she might have been referring to Jesus’ words in Matthew 23 and, although I never did hear from her again, I am pretty sure that this was the scripture that she was referring to:

Matthew 23:
1:  Then spoke Jesus to the multitude, and to His disciples,
2:  Saying, "The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat:
3:  All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not you after their works: for they say, and do not."

This looks convincing at first reading; but then, in subsequent scriptures, Jesus exposes the chronic hypocrisy of the Scribes, Pharisees and, to a somewhat lesser extent, the Sadducees. 

As Jesus clearly tells us right here, the scribes and Pharisees sometimes talked-the-talk; but they certainly did not walk-the-walk!

These Jews may have read accurately from the Holy Scriptures – from the Torah and/or the Tanakh; but they did not put what they said verbally into practice practically!  They did not practice what they preached!

Jesus tells us two things here, quite clearly: 

First: Rather than emulating the works of the scribes and the Pharisees, we must conform to their words; but, of course, only their words that conform to His words.

The apostle Paul who, by the way, was a Pharisee (Acts 23:6; 26:5; Philippians 3:5), understood and taught this very same concept:

I Corinthians 11:1: 
Be you followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. 

The New King James Version renders this verse as follows:

Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.

Yes, we may follow Paul’s words and works; but only as far as they agree with the words and works of our Saviour. 

We are to be followers and imitators of Jesus Christ; yes, and His apostles too, as they followed His lead; and even the Pharisees too, whenever they followed His lead, which was very rare, and in many cases, never!

Second:  Jesus implies that, by following the correct words of the scribes and Pharisees (but not their deeds, so many of which were incorrect), we will be doing much better that they did themselves! 

In an earlier verse, He solidifies this implication even further by telling us that the righteousness of His spiritual brothers and sisters must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees:

Matthew 5:20: 
For I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. 

So this is a “salvation issue” then?  Yes!  Our righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and the Pharisees.

We are to look primarily to Him and His written Word – including the Old Testament – for our instructions; but we are not told to look to the Jews – and certainly not to the hypocritical scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ human lifetime. 

Why not?  Because, God’s Word clearly warns us that, in so many of their beliefs and teachings, rather than looking to the inviolably true written Word of God, the scribes and the Pharisees were guided by the Traditions of the Elders, the Talmud and the Mishnah.

Just what are the Talmud and the Mishnah?  Are they not Holy Scripture?  Are they not on a par with the Torah and the Tanakh?  No, they are not! 

We read about them back in Part 3 of this series; but let’s take another brief look at these different Jewish terms right here:

The Torah (also known as the Pentateuch) is a collective term for the first five books of the Holy Bible, inspired by God and written, we believe, by Moses. 

The Tanakh (also known as the Masoretic Text or the Miqra) refers to the whole inspired Hebrew Bible, which we would call "the Old Testament" and which included the Torah.  There are some disagreements amongst certain Jewish sects and scholars whether certain of its books should or should not be included in the Tanakh; but we don’t need to get into that now.

The Talmud and the Mishnah are not inspired scripture!  They are mere human opinions.  

The Talmud is a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history. 

I will give you the short version of the definition for the Mishnah because it can get complex depending on which Mishnah one is talking about.  But basically, it is a written version of the Jewish oral traditions. 

The discussion, the recording and the editing of these humanly-devised ideas was part of the scribes’ function and was likely what brought them under Jesus’ ire.  They concentrated on these humanly-devised ideas rather than the true written word of God.

With all of that background solidly in our minds, let us now go back again and re-read Romans 3:1-2:

Romans 3:
1:  What advantage then has the Jew?  Or what profit is there of circumcision?
2:  Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.

Here, the apostle Paul states that the oracles of God were committed, or entrusted to the Jews.  This statement provokes lots of questions. 

First of all, just what are the oracles of God? 

The four New Testament appearances of the English word “oracles” were all translated from the Greek noun “logion” (Strong’s 3051).

My Bible lexicons tell me that:

Going back to the Greek noun logion, it is a collective term referring to the entire revelation of God to His people.  We may accurately say, then, that God’s oracles include all of His inspired Holy Scriptures. 

It is interesting to note that, at the times of the four mentions of this word logion in the writings of Luke, Peter and Paul (as well as the author of Hebrews, if it was not Paul), this term referred at that time to the only scriptures they recognized as holy – i.e. the Tanakh –  the Old Testament scriptures.  This is an important point for us to keep in mind as we continue, that when these New Testament writers mentioned the oracles of God, they were referring to the Old Testament scriptures. 

We will look at the Old Testament Hebrew words for oracle later; but for now, let us take a look at the other three of the four New Testament appearances of this word logion:

Acts 7: 
37:  This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, "A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall you hear."
38:  This is he who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the Angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers, the one who received the living oracles to give to us

These words of Stephen quoting Moses' words in Deuteronomy 18:15, reveals that the living oracles of God were not actually given to the Jews only, as Paul seems to imply in Romans 3:1-2; but rather to all Israelites – through Moses who, by the way, was not a Jew from the tribe of Judah! He was a Levite of the tribe of Levi!

Also, please note the last phrase, “to give to us.”  The living oracles were given from God – through Moses – not just to the Jews alone – but to all of the tribes of the children of Israel, and even more importantly, to us – to the New Testament spiritual Israel of God (Galatians 6:16), the Church of God.

Stephen’s words here in Acts 7 state that the “living oracles” of God were given to the Israelites via Moses on Mount Sinai.  There is also an implication that they were at least referring to the Ten Commandments.  But much more than just the Ten Commandments. 

So, what else was given to Israel through Moses on Mount Sinai?  All of His statutes and judgments too?  Yes, and perhaps the entire revelation of God to His people.  

Did He give it all to them at one time on Mount Sinai?  Or did He give more of it as time went along in His relationship with them?  We will come to that question again as we go along today. 

The third New Testament oracles scripture is in the book of Hebrews:

Hebrews 5:12: 
Or though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 

The "first principles" of God’s oracles constitute what we might term "the Milk of the Word."  The more advanced principles of the oracles of God would then constitute "the solid food" of God’s Word – what we commonly call the “strong meat.”  But whether Milk or Strong Meat, the oracles of God (logion) is clearly another term for the Word of God.

Here is the fourth New Testament oracles scripture:

I Peter 4:11: 
If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God.  If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. 

This could almost be a parallel scripture with the first Old Testament “oracle” scripture – II Samuel 16:23, which we’ll come to shortly. 

What does it tell us?  It tells us that all the words of any man giving a sermon, sermonette or Bible study in God’s church must be solidly based upon and grounded in the scriptures – the Word of God – the oracles of God.


Going back again to our initial question: To what extent are true Christians bound to adhere to the detailed ideas of the Jews?  Jesus answers this question in His own words:

Matthew 15:
1:  Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying,
2:  "Why do your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders?  For they wash not their hands when they eat bread"...

Their challenge to Jesus was similar to what that lady’s e-mail was basically asking me: "Why do the churches of God transgress the traditions of the elders?"

3:  But He answered and said unto them, "Why do you also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?...

Jesus here weighs the Commandments of God – the Word of God – the true Oracles of God – against the mere traditions of human beings.

4:  For God commanded, saying, 'Honour your father and mother': and 'He that curses father or mother, let him die the death.'
5:  But you say, 'Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, "It is a gift, by whatsoever you might be profited by me";
6: And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free.' Thus have you made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.

Jesus sharply criticized the scribes and the Pharisees for placing humanly-devised traditions above God’s Holy written Word – His true Oracles.

Despite what Paul wrote in Romans 3:2, the Old Testament scriptures do not belong to the Jews.  When he wrote, “To them were committed the oracles of God,” Paul meant only that:

  1. The tribe of Judah (plus some representatives of the priestly tribe of Levi and the tribe of Benjamin and perhaps, some tiny remnants of some of the other tribes) were all collectively referred to as “the Jews.” 
  2. At that time, this grouping called "the Jews" was the only tribe of Israel remaining in that area (once referred to as “the Promised Land”) and had been since the exile, captivity and scattering of the northern tribes which made up the House of Israel.  "The Jews" had taken over the areas formerly inhabited by those other tribes.
  3. Since becoming the only remaining tribe of Israel, this grouping called "the Jews" have inherited the responsibility for the accurate preservation of God’s oracles.  

Paul is not meaning that the oracles apply only to Jews; neither is he meaning that the Jews exclusively possess them in some way.

Logically, one example of the Jews’ required commitment to the care of God’s oracles is their responsibility to preserve the sacred calendar – to preserve the proper calculation of the months and days of God’s sacred year so that God’s Holy Days may be accurately calculated and observed. 

Although the detailed methods of how to determine the New Moon days and New Year days appear to be somewhat vague or even hidden in the scriptures – likely for the LORD's own own good reasons (Isaiah 28:10-13; Matthew 13:10-17), we can be quite sure that He did give them to the Israelites (all of them; not just the tribe of Judah!) as part of His oracles.  I solidly believe that He did.

Although I hesitate to say so, in the preservation of the sacred calendar and its methods, the Jews appear to have done quite a good job for the most part – at least for the period from the initial giving of the oracles of God in Moses’ time right up until the 4th century AD when the Jews took it upon themselves to institute some major, unscriptural changes which, sadly, were adopted by Herbert W. Armstrong, the Worldwide Church of God and most of the subsequent mainstream Church of God groups. 

I have recently been watching a really interesting television documentary series called “The History of the Jews” written  and hosted by Simon Schama.  It reveals all the more that the Jews and many of their doctrines and beliefs continue to be bogged down in questionable – even faulty – tradition. 

As the gospel accounts show us, some of the Jews' traditions date from ancient times; but many are more modern.  I'm sure that you must have seen orthodox Jewish men in their black suits and hats?  Why do they have to wear black suits and black hats?  Is that scriptural?  I don’t think it is.  Also, when they are praying at the Western Wall and in their synagogues, why do they rock back and forth as they pray?  Some of them, when they are reading the scriptures, have special little rocking  book-stands, something like rocking chairs; and they rock backwards and forwards as they read.  I am not criticizing them for doing this.  I'm sure these things have some symbolic meaning to them; but I am just saying that these things are not commanded or even mentioned in the scriptures.  These are just a few traditions that the Jews seem to find important.  But there are many, many more. 

Jesus and His apostles have clearly taught us that:


Now let us take a look at the Old Testament Hebrew mentions of the word “oracle” which is always expressed in the singular form whereas, as we have seen, its New Testament counterparts always appear in the plural.

The first Bible mention of the English word “oracle” is this one:

II Samuel 16:23: 
And the counsel of Ahithophel, which he counselled in those days, was as if a man had enquired at the oracle of God: so was all the counsel of Ahithophel both with David and with Absalom.

The grammar here in this verse implies that the Oracle of God was, at that time, a place where a person could inquire about certain matters from God.  Although Ahithophel later greatly erred in his judgments, initially, back at the time mentioned here, he was considered to be so wise that seeking counsel from him was like receiving it from out of the Holy of Holies from the LORD/YHVH Himself.

The word "oracle" is translated here from the very common Hebrew noun “dabar” (Strong’s 1697) which is also translated in the scriptures as, thing, matter, acts, chronicles, saying and, very significantly, commandment and word.  Its extended Hebrew meanings include speech, speaking and utterance.  We see some similarities here to the meanings of the New Testament Greek terms logion and logos.  This common word dabar is very frequently used in the Old Testament in its New Testament sense as the Word of the LORD.

This idea of the oracle of God being a location is certainly supported in virtually all of the other Old Testament appearances of the English word ‘oracle,’ which we will look at in a moment.  

Out of all of the Old Testament appearances of the English word oracle, the one we just read is the only one that comes from the Hebrew word dabar.  All the others – and there are sixteen of them – are translated from the similarly-pronounced Hebrew noun debiyr in its long form and debir in its shortened form (both Strong’s 1687).  They are always translated in the scriptures as the singular oracle which always refers to the innermost room of the temple or the old tent tabernacle.  The Oracle is the Most Holy Place, and is often referred to in some Bible versions as the Holy of Holies.  It is an earthly throne room – a copy of God’s throne room in heaven.  It is YHVH’s earthly throne room from which His Word emanated.

The primitive root verb of both of these nouns – debiyr and dabar – is also spelled dabar (Strong’s 1696) and it is translated in the Old Testament as: speak, say, talk, promise, tell, commune, pronounce, utter and command – all very relevant terms for the words of God.  By extension, other significant Hebrew meanings include declare, converse, warn, threaten and one that is, perhaps, somewhat less significant, sing.

All of this gives an indication that the plural “oracles of God” in the New Testament originally came forth from the singular “oracle.”  Expressed another way, once the tent tabernacle was set up and consecrated, from that time on, God transmitted His Word to the Israelites from the Most Holy Place, the Holy of Holies – the Oracle.

Exactly when and where He gave His calendar to Moses and the Israelites, we do not know for sure.  As I have mentioned before in this series, perhaps He gave it to our ancestors at a much earlier time:

Genesis 1:14:
And God said, "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:"

But we do know that prior to the construction of the tent-tabernacle, He spoke directly to Moses from another very holy place, and that was on Mount Horeb (Sinai).  Remember that Moses had to take his shoes off because he was informed that it was "holy ground":

Exodus 3:
1: Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb...
5:  And He said, "Draw not nigh hither: put off your shoes from off your feet, for the place whereon you stand is holy ground.

Now, let us go back and take a quick look at the sixteen appearances of the Old Testament Hebrew noun debiyr, most of which are mentioned in the two accounts of the building of Solomon’s temple.  As we read these verses, we find further solid confirmation of what the Old Testament Oracle of God was. 

1 Kings 6:5: 
And against the wall of the house he built chambers round about, against the walls of the house round about, both of the temple and of the oracle: and he made chambers round about…

The main body of the temple building is here referred to as “the house,” as it frequently is throughout the scriptures.  The main part of the house of God, accessible only to the Aaronic priests is usually called “the Holy Place”; but is here referred to as “the temple.” 

If you ever see a movie depicting regular Israelites or Jews wandering around in the Holy Place, you can be sure that that depiction is wrong, because they weren't allowed in there.  It was only the priests who could go into the Holy Place.

The innermost room which contained the Ark of the Covenant was also, of course, part of the temple; but is here referred to as “the oracle.”  Throughout the King James Version of the Old Testament, the innermost room is generally called “the Most Holy” (Hebrew qodesh-qodesh which means holy-holy).  In some of its scriptural appearances, the translators have added the word “place” to give us the idea that it is “the Most Holy” place.  In the New Testament book of Hebrews (9:3; 9:8; 10:19), it is referred to as “the Holiest” or “the Holiest of All.”  Again, some translations call it “the Holy of Holies.”  So the Oracle was a small, cube-shaped room that is called the “Holy of Holies” or the “most Holy Place.”  Continuing:

I Kings 6:
16:  And he built twenty cubits on the sides of the house, both the floor and the walls with boards of cedar: he even built them for it within, even for the oracle
{debiyr}, even for the most holy place {qodesh-qodesh}
19:  And the oracle he prepared in the house within, to set there the ark of the covenant of the LORD.
20:  And the oracle in the forepart was twenty cubits in length, and twenty cubits in breadth, and twenty cubits in the height thereof: and he overlaid it with pure gold; and so covered the altar which was of cedar.
21:  So Solomon overlaid the house within with pure gold: and he made a partition by the chains of gold before the oracle; and he overlaid it with gold.
22: And the whole house he overlaid with gold, until he had finished all the house: also the whole altar that was by the oracle he overlaid with gold.
23: And within the oracle he made two cherubim of olive tree
{wood}, each ten cubits high…
31: And for the entering of the oracle he made doors of olive tree
{wood}: the lintel and side posts were a fifth part of the wall.

So we see quite clearly here that this debiyr or oracle was another name for the Most Holy Place – the Holy of Holies – in which resided the Ark of the Covenant part of which was the Mercy Seat – YHVH’s earthly throne.  This is supported by all of the word's other appearances.  Let’s quickly run through them:

I Kings 7:49: 
And the candlesticks of pure gold, five on the right side, and five on the left, before the oracle, with the flowers, and the lamps, and the tongs of gold,

I Kings 8:
6:  And the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the LORD unto his place, into the oracle of the house, to the most holy place, even under the wings of the cherubim…
8:  And they drew out the staves, that the ends of the staves were seen out in the holy place before the oracle
{i.e. they were in the Holy Place; but in front of the Most Holy Place} and they were not seen without: and there they are unto this day.

Next we go to the parallel account of the building of Solomon’s temple in II Chronicles.  Some of the scriptures are the same; but I think that it is important to go through them so that we have it absolutely imprinted on our minds that we know exactly what the oracle is so that when we see the word, we don’t think of the oracle of Delphi or some other weird pagan thing.  It is absolutely not!  Quite the opposite.  It is a very, very holy and pure thing. 

II Chronicles 3:16: 
And he made chains, as in the oracle, and put them on the heads of the pillars; and made an hundred pomegranates, and put them on the chains.

II Chronicles 4:20: 
Moreover the candlesticks with their lamps, that they should burn after the manner before the oracle, of pure gold;

III Chronicles 5:7a: 
And the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the LORD unto his place...

It is interesting that he says “His” place.  Sometimes we can translate that as "its place"; but when we think of the oracle, the Most Holy Place certainly was God’s place.  We talk about "our place" for our house or we say, "Let’s go to her place."  This oracle was God’s place.

7b:  ... to the oracle of the house, into the most holy place, even under the wings of the cherubim…
9:  And they drew out the staves of the ark, that the ends of the staves were seen from the ark before the oracle; but they were not seen without. And there it is unto this day.

Finally in the Old Testament, let’s go to the Psalms:

Psalms 28:
1:  Unto you will I cry, O LORD my Rock; be not silent to me: lest, if you be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit.
2:  Hear the voice of my supplications, when I cry unto you, when I lift up my hands toward your holy oracle.

We must remember that, when David was still alive, the stone temple was not there yet.  But prior to the building of Solomon’s stone temple, whenever David wanted to cry out to God in prayer, he was able to go into the courtyard of the tent tabernacle and to lift his hands in the direction of the Most Holy Place, where the LORD would dwell during His visits.


Was this oracle – the Most Holy Place – given to the Jews only?  Or rather, as we have learned already, to all of the Israelites?  Well, yes, it was – at least to some limited degree – given to them all.

But again, even though His did give it to the Israelites, we just read one scripture which said that it was His place – the LORD’S place; and He took ownership of it.  Why?  Because that room and its furnishings were so very holy, because they were a physical, earthly copy of God’s Throne Room in heaven (Exodus 25:40; 39:43; Hebrews 8:5).  God gave the pattern to Moses, and later to David and Solomon.  But because those rooms were so holy, it appears that God retained ownership of them.  Even the one that was rebuilt later and embellished by the wicked King Herod; quoting His own words through Isaiah (56:7), Jesus still said that it was His house:

Matthew 21:13: 
And said unto them, "It is written, 'My house shall be called the house of prayer; but you have made it a den of thieves.'"

What I am trying to get across here is the ownership of the Most Holy Place by God the Father and Jesus Christ.

Whenever the tent-tabernacle was set up – and later in the times of the stone temples – the Most Holy Place was only enterable by one human being – the Aaronic High Priest – once a year on the Day of Atonement.

I've sometimes wondered, when they collapsed the tent-tabernacle to move it, whether or not the Levites who had the job of taking it down had special instructions of how to do so in order to avoid actually going into the Most Holy Place.  That is one other of the things that we don’t have the fine details on.

But still, as indicated by its mention in David’s Psalm, the LORD gave the Israelites access to Him at all times when He was in residence in His earthly throne room.

So that is pretty well it for the Old Testament "oracle" scriptures.  But we still have more questions to answer:

What about now – in our day and age – in this New Testament era?  Is there any New Covenant spiritual version or anti-type of the Old Testament Oracle of God – the Most Holy Place – the physical throne room of His physical earthly palace?

Yes, I believe that there certainly is!

John 2:
19:  Jesus answered and said unto them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up”…
21:  But he spoke of the temple of His body.

The human Jesus declared Himself – His own body – to be the temple of God.  This may have a dual meaning.  It obviously refers to Jesus during His human lifetime as being a vessel containing a full measure of God’s Holy Spirit.  But also, it may have been linked to a prophecy of the wonderful future time when God the Father will join Jesus Christ and us in the New Jerusalem.

Our limited human brains can only understand so much about spiritual things such as the link between the physical tabernacle and temples and the spiritual tabernacle and temple in heaven.  I don’t think that we can totally comprehend them; but this concept is expanded even more for us in Revelation 21:

Revelation 21:
1:  And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
2:  And I John saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

If Solomon’s temple with all of its gold was so fabulous to look at, can you imagine what this one in the New Jerusalem is going to look like?

3:  And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God {the Father} Himself shall be with them, and be their God…. 
10:  And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God…

So here we see the new heaven, the new earth and this holy Jerusalem coming down; but then, suddeny in verse 22:

22:  And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. 

This comparison between God’s physical and spiritual temples was also mentioned by Stephen in his courageous and inspiring address before the Jews who were about to kill him:

Acts 7:
44:  Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as He had appointed, speaking unto Moses, that he should make it according to the fashion that he had seen. 
45:  Which also our fathers that came after brought in with Jesus
{Joshua} into the possession of the Gentiles, whom God drove out before the face of our fathers, unto the days of David;
46:  Who found favour before God, and desired to find a tabernacle for the God of Jacob…
48:  Howbeit the most High dwells not in temples made with hands; as says the prophet,
49:  Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will you build me? says the Lord: or what is the place of my rest?
{Isaiah 66:1-2}

Yes, the tent-tabernacle and the stone temples certainly were very special; particularly their oracles – their Most Holy Places.  But as indicated right here in what we just read in Acts 7, even though it was most holy, it still was not "the number one thing."  It may have been the Most Holy Place physically; but it was not the most holy entity overall.  Let’s read what Jesus said about this:

Matthew 23:
16:  Woe unto you, you blind guides, which say, “Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor!”
17:  You fools and blind: for which is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifies the gold?
18:  And, “Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever swears by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty.”
19:  You fools and blind: for which is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifies the gift?
20:  Whoso therefore shall swear by the altar, swears by it, and by all things thereon.
21:  And whoso shall swear by the temple, swears by it, and
{Here’s what really is something! Here’s what really is the important thing!} by Him that dwells therein.
22:  And he that shall swear by heaven
{by the heavenly palace of God, of which the physical temples were mere physical copies and symbols} swears by the throne of God {the heavenly throne-room of God, of which the physical Most Holy Place was a mere physical copy and symbol} and {Here again is what is something! Here’s what is the important thing!} by Him that sits thereon.

Jesus shows here that the importance increases with every item that He lists here: the temple gold, the temple itself, the altar, the gifts on the altar, the heavenly throne, the One who dwells in the temple; then finally and ultimately, the One who sits on the heavenly throne. 

He is saying that only Jesus Christ and His Father are to be worshipped; not anything physical; not even the temple, the altar, the gifts, or the gold.  Not even the Oracle – the very, very sacred Most Holy Place – which was still secondary in holiness to Jesus and His Father. 

Through Jeremiah, God warns against the repeatedly mentioning "the Temple of the LORD, The Temple of the LORD, The Temple of the LORD" (Jeremiah 7:4) in an idolatrous manner. It was as though the people were using the vain repetition of these words as magic words or incantations. 

Not even the Oracle of God, the ultra-sacred “Most Holy Place” is to be worshipped.  Yes, it was holy; but it was still secondary in holiness to the LORD and God the Father.

This gets even deeper.  If Jesus considered His human body to be the holy temple (John 2:19-21) and if He and His Father are going to be the ultimate Temple throughout eternity after the end of the end times (Revelation 21:22), and if we, as the brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, are to emulate Him in all things, are we also to consider our bodies to be spiritual temples?  Or, as some are concerned about the singular or plural grammar in the New Testament "temple" scriptures, are we to consider ourselves to be spiritual stones and pillars of His temple?  Yes, we are!  We are the temple of God.  We make up the temple of God.  We are parts of the temple of God:

I Corinthians 3: 
9:  For we are labourers together with God: you are God’s husbandry, you are God’s building.
10:  According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation, and another builds thereon.  But let every man take heed how he builds thereupon.
11:  For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
12:  Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble…
16:  Know you not that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
17:  If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.

I Corinthians 6:19:
What?  Know you not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which you have of God, and you are not your own?

In both of these passages, Paul states that what makes us the temple of God is the Holy Spirit that is within us.

II Corinthians 6:16a: 
And what agreement has the temple of God with idols?  For you are the temple of the living God... 

The brethren in the church at Corinth were parts of the temple of the living God.  And so are we!

16 b: ... as God has said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them…

There are scriptures which mention Jesus walking in His physical temple (Mark 11:27; John 10:23); but He also said that He is going to walk in us; and that He will dwell in us because we are His temple.

16c: ... and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Ephesians 2:
19:  Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
20:  And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone;
21:  In whom all the building fitly framed together grows unto an holy temple in the Lord:

He repeats this fact to us over and over again.  Here are a few more scriptures verifying it:

Revelation 3:12: 
Him that overcomes will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.

I Peter 2:5: 
You also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

If we truly are God's temple and/or the pillars and stones of it, and if we have Jesus and His Father dwelling within us (John 17) and walking within us through their Spirit, then perhaps we have a kind of spiritual "mini-oracle" inside us where they dwell!  Think of it!  A mini Most Holy Place!

If so, then perhaps that mini-oracle actually is the Holy Spirit that dwells in us – through which they dwell in us.  I'm not sure exactly how to think of it.  My poor old brain doesn’t go that far!  Perhaps we might think of it as a kind of "womb" that provides a kind of necessary protective "buffer" between our remaining imperfection and worldliness and their perfection and holiness.  Haven't you ever thought yourself unworthy to have Jesus Christ and God the Father dwelling in you?  I know I have.

As mentioned earlier, the Word of God emanated from the Oracle – from the Most Holy Place.  After Moses' final audience with the LORD on Mount Sinai and once the tent-tabernacle was set up, all of His subsequent commands came from Him as He sat in that small cube-shaped room on His Mercy Seat.  So then, the Word of God is now transmitted to us through His Holy Spirit that is within us. 


Just a few more questions before closing:

Could God’s physical, earthly Oracle – the Holy of Holies – be defiled?  Yes, it could be.  And it was!  Twice, at least!  Once by the forces of Nebuchadnezzar in approximately 587 BC and once by the Roman army in 70 AD.  

Did the LORD have the power to prevent those two defilements?  Of course He did!  But because of the vile sins of His people, He allowed those desecrations to take place.

Could the living Oracles of God (plural) – the holy Word of God that emanated from the Old Testament earthly Oracle (singular) of the “Most Holy Place” – be defiled?  Could they be twisted into counterfeits and false doctrines?  Could that be possible?

Also, could the New Testament Temple of God – including its Most Holy Place – be defiled?  Yes, they could!  

The Israelites defiled God's spiritual temple numerous times – but especially when they rejected its Chief Cornerstone (Matthew 21:42; Mark 12:10; Luke 20:17; Psalm 118:22).  

We must take care not to do the same, nor anything even similar; for example, by rejecting our Chief Cornerstone, nor any of the other stones or pillars of God's spiritual temple. 

God has not given any of us the right to judge who is and who is not part of His temple; certainly not based on group size or membership in any human corporate organization, even if that organization is – or considers itself to be – a branch of the true Church of God.  God knows who His people are and He reserves the right both to call them and to recognize them as His own.

We individually must take very great care not to get involved in any such judgments, rejections, defilements or unsanctioned assumptions of authority. 

God sets a huge penalty for anyone who wants to risk defiling His temple.  I repeat this one scripture, just to show you what that penalty is:

I Corinthians 3:17: 
If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.

He is not talking about the physical temple there.  He is talking about the holy temple of God – which we are!

Through Jude, God exhorts every one of us to earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints; but He wants us to do this as closely as possible to the original; not some defiled or altered counterfeit version of it!

If God’s sacred calendar was, in fact, one part of the Oracles that the LORD God gave to us through Moses and the Israelites – and I strongly believe that it was – and if the Jewish authorities did, in fact, take it upon themselves to alter and defile that particular part of the Oracles of God, then, considering the serious implications mentioned in I Corinthians 3:17, God’s New Testament people have some serious decisions to be making!