And the pillars of bronze that were in the house of the Lord, and the stands and the bronze sea that were in the house of the Lord, the Chaldeans broke in pieces, and carried all the bronze to Babylon. And they took away the pots and the shovels and the snuffers and the basins and the dishes for incense and all the vessels of bronze used in the temple service; also the small bowls and the fire pans and the basins and the pots and the lampstands and the dishes for incense and the bowls for drink offerings. What was of gold the captain of the guard took away as gold, and what was of silver, as silver. Jeremiah 52:17-19 ESV
[Jesus said:] “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:23-24 ESV
While Martha was out having dinner with her friends one evening, someone broke into her house. He had forced a window open and climbed in through it, and he quickly went through the house and took everything he could carry that was valuable. Most of the things he took, such as a laptop, a camera, and some cash, could be replaced, but there were some things he took that could never be replaced. He took some rings, necklaces, and brooches that had belonged to Martha’s mother and her grandmother. They weren’t even worth very much money, but the robber took them for whatever he might be able to get for the gold or silver they were made of. He didn’t care at all about what this jewelry meant to Martha, or the memories it gave her. Martha’s heart was broken when she found that the jewelry that had belonged to her mother and grandmother was gone.
The same kind of thing happened when the Babylonians sacked Jerusalem. They burned down all the important buildings, but before they burned the temple they took everything of value that had been left in it. When Nebuchadnezzar had first conquered Jerusalem, he had taken some of the temple vessels, but now his army took everything that was left. They didn’t care that these beautiful things had been used in the worship of God, or that the temple was where the Lord’s presence had been for his people in a special way. They only thing they cared about was the gold and the silver, and how it would make them richer to have these things. God’s people might have felt heartbroken to see their temple plundered like that, but they had already turned away from the Lord and had not followed his ways, and had worshiped false gods and goddesses. God allowed his temple to be plundered as a judgment on his people’s sins.
God’s people who turned to him in this terrible situation would find that the Lord’s presence isn’t tied to any place or building. He would be with them even if they were taken into exile in faraway Babylon, and he would be with the poorest people who were left in the land without a temple. God is a spirit who is everywhere, all the time, and he is always available to hear the prayers of his people. In the past he came to his people in a special way in the temple, but the most important way God has come to all people everywhere is in Jesus. Jesus came into our world as a human person to bring people back to God, their Heavenly Father. Jesus died on the cross so that all our sins could be forgiven, and through him we can come to God in prayer, no matter where we are, and be sure that he is there for us to hear us and answer us.
Dear Jesus, thank you for coming to us to bring us back to our Heavenly Father. Please hear our prayers and help us every day. Amen.