That master soul, the Apostle Paul, was in Ephesus when he wrote to the Christians in distant Corinth, "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God?" (I Cor. 3:16). Ephesus was a city famed throughout the world for its temple to Diana. As he wrote, Paul may have been looking out upon that most glorious temple, with its 120 pillars of Parian marble, its doors of carved cypress wood, its cedar roof, supported by columns of jasper, its masterpieces of Praxiteles and Phidias, its great altar, and the monstrous image of Diana, ever shrouded in thick darkness. That was the pagan world's idea of a temple. Of its kind, it has never been surpassed.
But the apostle of Jesus Christ had another idea of a temple. As he looked out from the school of Tyrannus, where he wrote and taught, and saw the flashing splendors of the marvelous shrine to Diana, he thought of another and a more glorious temple; and to the believers at Corinth he wrote of the temple of the body, God's incomparable temple, compared with which the Fourth Wonder of the World was but a poor and mean thing. Man could make the temple of Diana, but only God could make the temple of man.
Belshazzar perished just at the time he was desecrating and profaning the sacred vessels taken from the temple at Jerusalem. In a figurative sense, all of us possess sacred vessels. Every person is in a certain sense a king, and has within him that which is holy—which ought not to be desecrated, profaned, or given to the dogs. That is the sad thing about every form of desecration: it profanes a sacred vessel. The body, Paul said, is the temple of the Holy Ghost, and whoever defiles that temple God will destroy, just as he destroyed Belshazzar when he defiled the vessels of Jehovah's temple.
Esau is termed a "profane person" who sold his birthright. The root meaning of the word used and translated "profane" is "unfenced," "common." There was no temple area in Esau's life, no sacred enclosure. You have a heavenly birthright; when you are tempted to sell it for the savory morsel of passing appetite, remember Esau the profane. His body was just a sty where a beast was fed, not a temple in which a god was worshiped.
A student in a medical college allowed the fence of awe and reverence about his life to be broken down. "For Sale" was written over the temple where his birthright was stored. Bidders and buyers were not wanting. The markets of the world may be ever so dull, but the business of buying and exchanging birthrights is always brisk. Things went from bad to worse, from one disillusionment to another, till the wretched student ended his scholastic career in the police station. Then his father, an honored physician in a Western State, came and took that wreck, that ruined temple, home with him. Perhaps now the son looks after his father's garage or runs his car for him, a grief to his father, a heaviness to his mother, ashamed to lift his head in the village—if indeed, he has not by this time been submerged in the stream of crime. Complete shipwreck! The temple defiled, and the man who defiled it destroyed!