Irresistible Book Discussion: Chapter 4 - An Empty Temple and God's Unexpected Move


(SeanO) #1

This is a book discussion of Andy Stanley’s book ‘Irresistible’ prompted by @tabby68, @O_wretched_man, @Lakshmismehta and @andrew.bulin . There have been some accusations against the book and we would like to take the time to hear what Andy Stanley is really trying to say and to offer thoughtful, gracious critique. Below is a podcast interview with Andy Stanley you may find helpful as well as the original post that started the discussion.

To participate - read along with us and share your thoughts and opinions :slight_smile: My thoughts are here hopefully to prompt discussion - so please do join in with your observations / thoughts so that we can all benefit from your perspective. May the Lord Jesus guide our discussion.

Chapter IV

Big Idea: Israel abandoned God and God left the temple and the nation. But God had not forgotten His promise to Abraham. A Messiah would come, a descendant of David, as prophesied by Isaiah, and be a light to the nations.


After King David life things went south - Solomon’s son was an incompetent ruler and the nation was divided. After a succession of mostly bad kings both the northern kingdom, Israel, and the southern kingdom, Judah, were ransacked and the inhabitants sent into exile. God had left the temple and the nation. 70 years after Judah’s exile Cyrus allowed them to return to Jerusalem and they rebuilt the temple, but God never inhabited it as He had before. Instead, God was planning something much bigger as the prophet Isaiah had foretold - a Messiah would come who would bless the nations and fulfill God’s promise to Abraham in spite of Israel’s faithlessness. God would no longer dwell in temples, which He never needed in the first place. He would take up residence in a Galilean carpenter and shake the world.

Good Things

A good transition chapter as Stanley moves from the history of the nation of Israel to the life of the Messiah.


None really.


I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.1 Not gonna happen. Once again, this was an era of conquest, plunder, and enslavement. Nobody was trying to be a “light” to anybody. Nobody was trying to save anybody other than themselves. After Isaiah died, Judah, the Southern Kingdom, was invaded by Babylon.

Best we can tell, he never moved in. He never “inhabited” the renovated temple. Spoiler alert: God never inhabited Herod’s renovated edition either. Apparently, God was done with temples.

In spite of everything they had done to dishonor his name, God was committed to fulfilling his covenant with Abraham. Israel would be a means to his end. The world would, in fact, be blessed through them.

Once God had everything and everyone in place . . . God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. When no one expected it. When most had given up hope. As the Roman Republic transitioned to empire . . . God moved.

God would visit the temple one last time. But not as a cloud. This time he would show up as a Galilean day laborer turned rabbi. A rabbi who would start a fire neither empire nor temple would extinguish. And in the end, as promised, all the nations of the world would be blessed.

(Tabitha Gallman) #2

@SeanO, what a thorough overview :slightly_smiling_face:. You always do your homework - so to speak. (I appreciate all the time you take with this.)

I don’t have any questions, (except maybe: what did the Israelites do with themselves during the 70 years between temple worship?). How sad and lost they would seem.

With each new chapter there seems to be more historical information that I am unfamiliar with. Some of these names (Judah Maccabee and general Pompey) I am embarrassed that I don’t know more about. Not trying to make a point or anything, but I do believe that history is very important when it comes to analytical/critical thinking, so why don’t we as Christians expect more from those that the church aims to disciple? Or maybe as parents we miss the mark with that?

(SeanO) #3

@tabby68 Yes, history is critical. There is no way to understand where we are today without understanding where we have come from. I’m not sure of the root cause, but I know repetition is key to learning. Whether it’s Biblical history or math, you have to learn the same thing over and over again throughout life or it tends to fade. So really we as the Church need to identify a core set of historical information that is useful but not so much that it is overwhelming and find a way to include that in the life of the Church. I certainly don’t think it’s an easy undertaking. It requires careful planning and commitment from both local Churches and individual believers, many of whom have other struggles.

I’m so thankful that we have scholars and educated folks in the Church who keep track of all of the details. They play an important role in the Kingdom. I stand on the shoulders of those folks on a daily basis.

(Tabitha Gallman) #4

@SeanO - That’s good to know because it’s hard to know why you believe something if you don’t have a solid foundation to support those beliefs. I have never thoroughly shared my belief in Jesus with anyone as of yet. I have talked about Jesus with other Christians, but I can’t recall a time when I have truly shared my heart-felt belief with an unbeliever. I’ve been in situations that probably called for it, but out of fear not said anything…and that is terribly wrong.

Yes, repetition is the only way I learn (and a lot of it). I’m certainly thankful you stand on their shoulders daily because you have helped me immensely. :grinning:

(SeanO) #5

@tabby68 In terms of sharing with unbelievers, as they say, hindsight is 20/20. Many a time I’ve been in a conversation, walked away and thought of the perfect thing to say to point them to Christ in that situation. So I definitely understand. Sometimes it’s hard to know if it is the right time to speak because the other person may not be in a place in their life where they are ready to listen. But I am confident the Spirit guides our conversations as we seek to point others to Jesus :slight_smile:

(Andrew Bulin) #6

Not too much for me either here in this chapter. I really like old testament history and enjoy when someone covers it as clear and succinctly as the author has. One emphasis I have not thought too much about was that God did not revisit the replacement temples as He had in the passed. I was aware, but had not really pondered what this meant for the Israelites who were trying to return to an old covenant of which they had broken their side.

(Tabitha Gallman) #7

@andrew.bulin - that was a good point:

I hadn’t thought about that either. Hmm, definitely something to ponder even for today as many try to return to an old covenant way of thinking (legalism).

(Jimmy Sellers) #8

I will quote David Berlinski from The Devils Delusion:

… what is essential is not what has been distilled but what has evaporated.

I miss the Sabbath (movin’ in day) in all the rush to get to Jesus. From my notes on the Gifford Lectures, 2018, NT Wright had this to say:

The temple was the place on earth that you would find yourself in heaven. The sabbath was the moment in ordinary time when God’s new age would arrive in advance.
Sabbath was to time what temple was to space. It was a tabernacle in time.
The temple was the place were God was enthroned. The sabbath was the time when this would happen.
Mishna instructed Jews to read Psalms 93, victory over the water on Friday and Psalms 92 on Saturday in enthronement,

To be clear I do feel that Andy Stanley heart is in the ight place but there will be quite a bit of New Testament theology that will need a look back. I am sure that as we read on there will be so examples.

(Tabitha Gallman) #9

@Jimmy_Sellers, there is definitely something that I can’t quite put my finger on that is unsettling about chapters ahead (I’ve been reading ahead because it’s hard not to). Not to get into now, but there is no reference in the back of the book on two verses that I felt should have been included in some of the points he is making since it could have given more talking points that may not fully support his point he’s making…or at least leads me to my own questions when I read the whole chapter vs. the verse alone that he references. (I hope that makes sense. :slightly_smiling_face:)

(SeanO) #10

@tabby68 Looking forward to having those discussions soon :slight_smile: