In earliest times there were no permanent buildings such as temples where people could worship the One True God. The heavenly Father just needed a sanctuary, which is a dedicated place where He could dwell with His children. “And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.” (Ex. 25:8) When the children of Israel were wandering in the wilderness they could not build a permanent place of worship. God would reveal Himself to them and let them know where they could erect a sacrificial altar (Deut. 112:11-14). The Tabernacle In The Wilderness was a Tent of Meeting for the people. The Tabernacle became the pattern for the first Temple of God to be built in Jerusalem. King David had the desire to build the temple but God chose his son King Solomon who completed it in about 960 B.C. (2 Sam. 7:1-17; 1 Kn, 6:1-38). It was a magnificent temple.
The Temple of God was used primarily for worship on the Sabbath day. God had warned Israel that if it violated the Sabbath commandment He would destroy the gates and palaces of Jerusalem (Jer. 17:27). Israel did not heed God’s warning so He allowed the Babylonians under King Nebuchadnezzar to burn “the house of God, broke down the wall of Jerusalem, burned all its palaces with fire, and destroyed all its precious possessions.” (2 Chron. 36:18-19). Those that survived became slaves in Babylon “until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths. As long as she lay desolate she kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years.” (2 Chron. 36:20-21).
At God’s appointed time the Persians permitted the Jews’ return from the Babylonian captivity about 538 B.C., they began to rebuild the Temple, which was completed about 15 years later. While almost certainly not as grand as the original Temple of Solomon, it survived over 450 years. It was this Temple that the Syrian king Antiochus IV desecrated in 168 B.C., triggering the revolt by The Maccabees. This Temple was largely destroyed by the conquering Romans under Pompey in 63 B.C. (see Ancient Empires - Rome)
The Herodian Temple, a rebuilding of the earlier Temple by Herod The Great, was the magnificent structure that existed at the time of Jesus Christ. It was there that The Lord drove out the money changers and had numerous confrontations with the Pharisees and Sadducees. This Temple was completely destroyed by the Roman Legions in 70 A.D., exactly as Jesus Christ prophesied, nearly 40 years earlier, that it would be (Matthew 24:1-2) (see Fall of Jerusalem In 70 A.D.). Since then, there has been no Temple in Jerusalem.
The New Testament Temple
In the Christian era, the Temple took on a much wider meaning -
· “So the Jews answered and said to Him, "What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?" Jesus answered and said to them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." Then the Jews said, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?" But He was speaking of the temple of His body.” (Jn. 2:18-21)
· “For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone, in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” (Eph. 2:18-22)
· "Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as He appointed, instructing Moses to make it according to the pattern that he had seen, which our fathers, having received it in turn, also brought with Joshua into the land possessed by the Gentiles, whom God drove out before the face of our fathers until the days of David, who found favor before God and asked to find a dwelling for the God of Jacob. But Solomon built Him a house. However, the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands, as the prophet says: 'Heaven is My throne, And earth is My footstool. What house will you build for Me? says the Lord, Or what is the place of My rest? Has My hand not made all these things?'” (Acts 7:44-50)
· “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.” (1 Cor. 3:16-17)
· “And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people." (2 Cor. 6:16)
· “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.” (1 Cor. 6:19-20)
· “But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation.” (Heb. 9:11)
· “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Heb. 10:19-25)
· “The woman said to Him, "Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship." Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." The woman said to Him, "I know that Messiah is coming" (who is called Christ). "When He comes, He will tell us all things." Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am He." (Jn. 4:19-26)
· “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” (Mt. 18:20)
· “And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.” (Mk. 16:20)
Will the Physical Temple in Jerusalem be Rebuilt?
There are a number of Jewish groups working toward the rebuilding of a physical Temple in Jerusalem. Their preparations are genuine, professional, and well financed. They would begin building today if the political situation permitted it. But will it happen? Many Christians reject the thought of any such possibility, because their Christian perspective of "Temple" is now purely spiritual, and so they disregard the minds and actions of the Jewish people. But Jews aren't Christians. Jews have a religious perspective of their own, and since 1948, the Jewish state of Israel has been a reality.
Whether or not the physical temple will be rebuilt depends on factors that relate to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Consider the incident on September 28, 2000 when the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount (Haram al-Sharif in Arabic) regarded as Islam’s third holiest place. He made this statement which is considered highly provocative to the Arabs:: 'The Temple Mount is in our hands and will remain in our hands. It is the holiest site in Judaism and it is the right of every Jew to visit the Temple Mount.'. Since that time, Palestinians have engaged in a violent insurrection that has been dubbed the "al-Aksa intifada” which continues to this day. Read “The Struggle for the Temple Mount”
It is beyond the time limitation and scope of this sermon to deal with this issue of whether or not the physical temple in Jerusalem will be rebuilt. I have made a special study on this subject in the ARK Forum. If you are interested in this study please
Paul Wong is a Christian minister and the
President of ARK International.