The temple is undervalued by modern Protestants. We tend to look at it as the arcane location of ancient Israelite worship. In their short Biblical theological work, however, Beale and Kim give us a full picture of its value and indeed enduring presence. If that’s not enough to intrigue the average reader, consider this is a modified version of Beale’s much praised The Temple and the Mission of God. Beale and Kim make a complex and important Biblical theme accessible for lay readers in this short book.
God Dwells Among Us is twelve chapters that builds progressively across the storyline of Scripture, communicating the enduring presence of God via His ever-expanding temple. It begins by setting the foundation of the Garden of Eden as a temple itself. Without this base, the rest of the development doesn’t hold. But the author’s are anxious to ground the whole study of the temple in the very practical and urgent call to missions. They write:
Compelling conviction propels us through painful sacrifice. The goal of this book is to strengthen biblical conviction for sacrificial mission. When we are motivated to mission through occasional experiences or isolated Bible verses, the spring of such motivation can run dry in the face of costly challenges. Persevering mission demands full-orbed conviction that is borne out of careful and payerful study of God’s Word. Our conviction grows richer and stronger when grounded in God’s cosmic mission from Genesis to Revelation. (14-15)
The temple and the mission of God go together. The presence of God with His people is the driving force of the mission of God’s people, it is also the goal of God’s people. We desire to expand that temple presence of God over all the earth. That begins in Genesis in the Garden, where God walks and talks with man, and it proceeds from there to cover the face of the earth. This theme is picked up throughout the Bible and Beale and Kim want to not only show us that, but use it to motivate us to greater missionary works.
The authors demonstrate how this temple theme and recommissioning of the original “cultural mandate” given to Adam and Eve run across the major plot developments of the Bible. Noah is recommissioned after the flood, and after he builds an altar. Abraham is given this same commission. Israel too, and in each case we see the old commission given, and a new “temple” established. The author’s develops the theme beautifully and fill the pages of their text with Scriptural references, exegesis, and textual interactions. This is not just scholarly study, this is true Biblical exposition. It will aid the preacher well in his own study of the subject.
The value of the book for missions may be somewhat overstated. It, no doubt, presents its case well and the connection between the temple and the mission of God is evident. The chapters are based on Kim’s sermons and I am sure that his preaching was highly motivating. The references throughout to missionaries and their own stories are insightful, but the full impact of the relationship between temple and mission seems lacking. This is a phenomenal Biblical theological study and one with great pastoral benefit, especially for preaching. Its value as a missionary tool, however, might not be as great as other resources. Nonetheless, this is a wonderful book and I highly commend it.