It was the incredible act of rebellion in Eden against the Almighty that separated man from his Creator. No less astonishing is the fact that man continues his defiance in his very attempts to be reconciled to God, and so persists in his self-righteous resolve to contribute something toward his salvation.
This, amazingly, man’s rebellion against God is seen most clearly in his religions, all of which are but mirror images of Babel—ingenious and persistent attempts to “climb up some other way” instead of entering through the door that God has provided in His Son (John:10:9).
Babel may be traced through ancient paganism to the “high places” (elevated altars) of heathen worship adopted by Israel (Leviticus:26:30; 1 Kings:11:7; 2 Kings:23:15; Ezekiel:16:24-39) and to every religion on earth today. The ornate temples, mosques, and elaborate ceremonies found in Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Mormonism, and other cults and the occult are obvious continuations of Babel. So are the magnificent cathedrals, lofty steeples, elevated and gilded altars, luxurious vestments, and impressive rituals of some of today’s churches, whether Protestant, Roman Catholic, or Orthodox.
Such pomp turns off many non-Christians, who rightly want nothing to do with a God who is influenced by ceremonies and fleshly enhancements.
Was not Solomon’s temple most magnificent? Yes, but it was uniquely designed and commanded by God. Both the tabernacle in the wilderness and the temple that succeeded it were “a figure [picture]…of good things to come [that is, of Christ and heaven]” (Hebrews:9:9-11). God said to Moses, “See…that thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount [Sinai]” (Hebrews:8:5).
No such pattern or approval was given by God for any other religious structure. While Protestants reject relics, statues, and icons, they often refer to their places of worship as “sanctuaries,” as though God dwells there. In fact, God inhabits the Christian’s body (“your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost”—1 Corinthians:6:19), which is therefore to be kept holy. Paul reminded the Athenians:
God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things. (Acts:17:24-25)