There are very few topics one could write on that are as sensitive and significant as the topic of the Temple of God.For one thing, there are countless temples dotting our planet which make claim of being “Houses of God.” To single out one particular structure as The Temple of God is to invite the ire of a large number of people who consider their house to be God’s house. Yet the Scriptures indicate that a very specific site, on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem, has historically been the place where God has placed His name and which He calls “His house.”1 For another thing, it is a large topic of immense spiritual importance: every temple which claims to recognize a deity seeks to provide a place where deity and creature may commune with one another, albeit in a limited way. Thus, a discussion of the Temple of God is all about relationship between God and man. This too is a sensitive topic, which at its core, is what uniquely and completely separates Christianity from every other religion of the world: for Christianity holds that only in the blood atonement of God Himself (Rev. 1:5+, 18+; 5:6+, 9+) is it possible for sinful man to have communion with a perfect and Holy God. “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus” (1Ti. 2:5).Thus we expect, and indeed find, that the history of the Temple of God as set forth in Scripture communicates both a problem and a solution:
- The Problem - Man has fallen irretrievably into sin and is unable to abide in the presence of a Holy God. His communion with God is severed.
- The Solution - The Perfect Man, the God-man Jesus Christ, did what no other man could. He paid the penalty of imperfect men to restore communion between man and God. When sinful men rely upon His sacrifice of atonement on their behalf, they now appear before God clothed in His righteousness. Communion with God is reestablished and, eventually, consummated.
The Temple of God has always stood at the epicenter of the meeting between God and man. For most of history, the meeting has been formal and distant due to the intervening problem of sin. For God is a consuming fire and man would be consumed in judgment if he were exposed to God’s full presence while in his sinful condition.2Unlike all other temples, which are initiated by men in an attempt to demonstrate their merit and climb up to God, the true Temple of God was constructed at God’s behest. It was God’s idea and purpose to meet with man in a Temple during the period of man’s estrangement. As with redemption, the initiative was completely God’s.The following is an introduction and overview of this enormous topic, intended to acquaint the reader with the most significant theological aspects of the Temple of God, the history of the Temple, and Scriptural revelation concerning the role of the Temple in the future. Much of the material which follows is drawn from the work of Dr. Randall Price, an expert on the Temple whose resources we recommend.3
From the day that Adam and Eve rebelled and were driven out of the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:24) until the eternal state when God and the Lamb will once again dwell in the midst of men (Rev. 21:3+, 22+), mankind has been unable to approach God “face to face” in complete intimacy and fellowship.4 For God is an all-consuming fire in the presence of sin (Deu. 4:24; 5:25; Isa. 6:5; 33:14; Heb. 12:29). Until sin is no more, God has chosen to provide a means by which the original relationship between man and God—unmarred by sin—can be approximated. This is the primary purpose of the Temple. It is the meeting place between God and man, the place where God’s presence dwells in the midst of men.5One way to understand the saga of the Temple within biblical history is to consider the children’s game of hide and seek. One child closes their eyes and counts from one to ten. The other children run away to hide while they can. When the first child reaches ten, he uncovers his eyes and searches for the hidden children, not knowing where they may be found. In our analogy God is the seeker and mankind runs away to hide. This game was first played in history when Adam and Eve hid from God in the Garden (Gen. 3:8). After the introduction of sin into the human race, history has played itself out as a protracted session of hide and seek, but it is anything but a game!Although there may be numerous motives for why Adam and Eve hid from God, Scripture reveals “the eyes of both of them were opened and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings” (Gen. 3:7). Although they had previously been naked and unashamed (Gen. 2:25), now they were ashamed. Their shame prompted an attempt to cover themselves. Clearly, they realized the need to protect or shield themselves. But from what or from whom? It would appear that they realized that with their fall into sin a huge gap stood between their own condition and that of a Holy Creator with searching eyes of piercing omniscience (see commentary on Revelation 1:14). An early object lesson concerning sin came when God indicated that their attempt to cover themselves with fig leaves was insufficient. Instead, animals were slain to provide a God-given covering for their sin (Gen. 3:21). This established the biblical requirement that remission of sin requires the shedding of blood (see commentary on Revelation 1:5). Another, more severe object lesson followed. With the introduction of sin, man could no longer remain in God’s presence—Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden (Gen. 3:24).6 Thereafter, we find that man must approach God through a new means requiring blood sacrifice (Gen. 4:3-7). There would be no more strolling with God, naked and unashamed.This pattern of man rejecting God only to have God seek after him to reestablish relationship is a theme of biblical history. It is the prime motivation behind the Great Commission of the Church to reach all nations (Mat. 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-17; Luke 24:47; Acts 1:8). It recognizes the inability of unregenerate flesh to truly please or seek God (Rom. 3:10-18 cf. Ps. 5:9; 10:7; 14:1-3; 36:1; 53:1-3; 140:3 Pr. 1:16; Isa. 59:7-8) and that only by God’s initiative can any be restored to fellowship with Him (John 1:12-13; 6:44).When studying the Temple, God’s meeting place with man, we must always remember this human tendency. Even though millions now no longer know Him, let us not forget that twice in the history of mankind every person alive knew God (Adam and Eve and their family; Noah and his family after the flood). That which their forefathers once knew was actively rejected leaving the offspring without knowledge of God.
At the heart of the idea of a Temple is the abiding presence of God. Although God is omnipresent, He has chosen to manifest His presence in certain locations and at certain times within history. This physical manifestation of God has come to be called the Shekinah.
the Shechinah Glory is the visible manifestation of the presence of God. It is the majestic presence or manifestation of God in which He descends to dwell among men. Whenever the invisible God becomes visible, and whenever the omnipresence of God is localized, this is the Shechinah Glory. The usual title found in Scriptures for the Shechinah Glory is the glory of Jehovah, or the glory of the Lord. The Hebrew form is Kvod Adonai, which means ‘the glory of Jehovah’ and describes what the Shechinah Glory is. The Greek title, Doxa Kurion, is translated as ‘the glory of the Lord.’ Doxa means ‘brightness,’ ‘brilliance,’ or ‘splendor,’ and it depicts how the Shechinah Glory appears. Other titles give it the sense of ‘dwelling,’ which portrays what the Shechinah Glory does. The Hebrew word Shechinah, from the root shachan, means ‘to dwell.’ The Greek word skeinei, which is similar in sound as the Hebrew Shechinah (Greek has no ‘sh’ sound), means ‘to tabernacle.’. . . In the Old Testament, most of these visible manifestations took the form of light, fire, or cloud, or a combination of these. A new form appears in the New Testament: the Incarnate Word [John 1:14].7
The concept of the Shekinah is behind the wonder of the incarnation. The very glory of God “tabernacled” within human flesh and was handled and beheld. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (ἐσκήνωσεν [eskēnōsen]), and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” [emphasis added] (John 1:14).
Σκηνή [Skēnē] was the word used by the translators of the Septuagint for the Hebrew מִשְׁכָּן [miškān], “tabernacle” (Ex. 25:9). During Israel’s pilgrimage from Egypt to Canaan the tabernacle was the place of worship for the people. The tabernacle or tent in the wilderness was the “tent of Jehovah,” Himself a pilgrim among His pilgrim people. In sound and meaning σκηνόω [skēnoō] recalls the Hebrew verb שָׁכַּן [šākkan] meaning “to dwell,” which is sometimes used of God’s dwelling with Israel (Ex. 25:8; 29:46). In postbiblical Hebrew the Jews used the term שְׁכִינָה [šeḵînâ] (“Shekinah,” literally, “presence”) of the bright cloud of the presence of God that settled on the tabernacle. The Shekinah glory was nothing less than the visible manifestation of God.8
The manifestation of the Shekinah is at the heart of understanding the meeting of God with man. In the earliest communion of man with God, God is said to have been “walking in the Garden in the cool of the day” (Gen. 3:8). This must speak of a localized presence with which Adam and Eve could interact—the Shekinah. The word itself embodies the notion of dwelling or abiding. This emphasizes the single most important aspect concerning God’s localized presence: where is He abiding? For wherever the Shekinah is, there is relationship with God in a more intimate way and all the benefits which come from His special presence. This is the essence of the promise made to the overcomer in Philadelphia, the fulfillment of that first love which was lacking in Ephesus: to walk once again in full fellowship with God (Gen. 3:8; 5:24; Rev. 21:3+, 22+). This was the ultimate desire of the psalmist (Ps. 23:6; 65:4). Thus, it is an incredible blessing to enjoy the presence of God.This was the primary purpose of the Temple throughout history: to house the Shekinah glory of God among men. It is in the Temple where God’s presence “dwells between the cherubim” over the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant (Ex. 25:22; Num. 7:89; 1S. 4:4; 2S. 6:2; 1K. 7:29; 2K. 19:15; 1Chr. 13:6; 2Chr. 5:7; 6:41; Ps. 80:1; Ps. 99:1; Isa. 37:16; Eze. 41:18). Unless the glory of God “inhabits” the Temple (1K. 8:10-11; 2Chr. 7:1; Eze. 43:2-4; 44:1-2; Hag. 2:7-9; Mat. 20:12) it is just a dead architectural edifice.9Conversely, in the history of the Temple, there are grave consequences when the Shekinah departs from the Temple, for it indicates God’s displeasure with those among whom He previously dwelt and the removal of His protection and blessing in His departure. The Temple, the house of Israel, is left desolate when the glory of God departs. In at least two occasions in history, the result has been the destruction of the Temple. When the Shekinah left Solomon’s Temple in the days of Ezekiel’s prophecy (Eze. 10:18; 11:22-23), the eventual result was the destruction of the Temple by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. When the Shekinah left the Second Temple in the days of Jesus (Mat. 23:38), the eventual result was the destruction of the Temple by Titus Vespasian of Rome (Mat. 24:1-3). Whether God remains in His house is serious business!Although it is beyond the scope of our treatment here to consider an extensive discussion of God’s abiding presence, it will be helpful to note some of the most significant historical events related to the Shekinah.10 The Shekinah glory:11
- Illuminated the earth prior to the creation of the sun and moon (Gen. 1:3, 14).
- Walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden (Gen. 3:8).
- Ratified the Abrahamic covenant while Abraham slept (Gen. 15:17).
- Descended upon Mount Sinai at the giving of the law (Ex. 19:18; 24:15-16; 33:18-23; 34:5-6).
- Filled the Tabernacle in the wilderness (Ex. 40:34).
- Filled Solomon’s Temple upon its dedication (1K. 8:10-11; 2Chr. 7:1).
- Left Solomon’s Temple due to Israel’s sin (Eze. 8:4-6; 9:3; 10:4, 18-19; 11:22-23). The Temple is left unprotected.
- Returned to the Second Temple in the form of the incarnation of Messiah Jesus (Mat. 12:6; 21:12; John 1:14; 2:15).
- Left the Second Temple desolate upon the departure of Jesus (Mat. 23:38; 24:2; Luke 13:35; 21:6). The Temple is left unprotected.
- Appeared on the Mount of Transfiguration (Mat. 17:2; Mark 9:2; Luke 9:29).
- Appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3; 22:11; 26:13; 1Ti. 6:16).
- Will return to the Millennial Temple (Isa. 60:3; Eze. 43:2-4).
- Illuminates the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:23+; 22:5+).
The significance of the Mount of Olives derives from it association with the departure and arrival of the glory of the Lord:
The mountain which is so clearly defined and located in this prophecy [Zec. 14:4] is already associated with many events and crises in Israel’s history. . . it was from this mountain, which is before Jerusalem on the east, that the prophet Ezekiel saw the glory of Jehovah finally taking its departure. It was from this mountain also that He, who was not only the symbol, but the living personal revelation of the glory of Jehovah, finally took His departure from the land, after He had been rejected by the nation. He led His handful of disciples out as far as Bethany (on the Mount of Olives), and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. ‘And it came to pass while He blessed them, He was parted from them, and carried up to heaven’ [Luke 24:50-51; Acts 1;9]; since then a still darker era in the long Ichabod period of Israel’s history commenced. . . . And what is this but a prophecy in symbolic language of the same event which the heavenly messengers announced to the men of Galilee [Acts 1:9-11]. We love to think that this same mountain on which He once shed tears of sorrow over Jerusalem, the slope of which witnessed His agony and bloody sweat, shall be the first also to witness His manifestation in glory; and that His blessed feet, which in the days of His flesh walked wearily over this mountain on the way to Bethany shall, ‘in that day,’ be planted here in triumph and majesty.12
In summary, the Shekinah is the visible representation of the localized presence of God. By God’s design, the Temple is the location where His abiding presence is intended to dwell and where He has put His name (Deu. 12:5, 11, 21; 2Chr. 6:20; 7:16; 20:19; Ezra 6:12; Ne. 1:9; Mat. 21:13; Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46).
Isn’t it interesting that in our own day, one of the most significant controversies occupying the nations is that of jurisdiction over the Temple Mount in Jerusalem? What an incredible coincidence that what should be an inconsequential and forgotten piece of real-estate associated with a religion of antiquity today causes great perplexity among both religious peoples and secular skeptics the world over! Yet those who study the Bible know from the Master of history that what we witness today concerning the controversy over the Temple Mount is but a precursor to a subsequent day when the city of Jerusalem will become the major concern of all nations as they oppose what God has declared in the pages of Scripture (Zec. 12:2-3). Truly “the nations rage and the people plot a vain thing!” (Ps. 2:1)As of A.D. 2003, the two most dominant features visible upon the Temple Mount are the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. But this is from man’s point of view. God recognizes neither of these structures as His Temple. Yet the piece of real-estate occupied by these buildings has great biblical significance, for it is Mount Moriah. The importance of Mount Moriah is established by a number of key historical events which have taken place there:14
- Abraham Offers Isaac - It was here where Abraham’s faith was tested when God instructed him to offer up his son Isaac in sacrifice (Gen. 22). See Abraham Offers Isaac.
- Site of Solomon’s Temple - In 990 B.C., King David was instructed by God to erect an altar on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite which occupied this site. David purchased the land which later became the site of Solomon’s Temple (2S. 24:18-25; 1Chr. 21:18-26; 2Chr. 3:1).
- The Crucifixion of Jesus - On the very mountain where Abraham was asked to sacrifice his “only son” (Gen. 22:2, 12), God sacrificed His only Son.15
For Islam, only the first of these events is significant.16 Even then, Islam claims that it was Ishmael, not Isaac, who was offered up by Abraham (see Dome of the Rock). Although ample evidence exists that Islam recognized the Temple Mount to have been the historic site of Solomon’s Temple in the past, more recently it has served Islamic political interests for some to deny any previous historical Jewish presence on the Temple Mount. For Judaism, only the first two events are of significance, since Judaism rejects the idea that Israel crucified her Messiah, God in the flesh. All three events are of great significance to Christians, for they evidence the consistent purpose of God in their shared location:
Therefore [the sacrifice of Isaac took] place nowhere else than on “Moriah,” the mount where “God is seen” (Gen. 22:14), where later the Temple stood (2Chr. 3:1), where upon the altar of burnt offering all the sacrifices which pointed to Christ would be brought, and where in the death hour on Golgotha the veil between the holy and all-holy places would be rent (Mark 15:38).17
It was upon Mount Moriah where Abraham was told to offer Isaac: “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you” (Gen. 22:2). What transpired upon this mountain, as recorded in Genesis 22, is a foundational event, both for Judaism and Christianity. To those who are familiar with the Torah, the opening instruction given to Abraham is shocking! For the Torah—the very Word of God—specifically indicates God’s opposition to child sacrifice (Deu. 12:31; 18:10). Yet here, the Almighty Himself instructs Abraham to offer child sacrifice! Why would God give such instructions if it were not meant as an exclamation mark commenting upon the very event itself?Although Judaism sees the purpose merely as a point of testing of Abraham’s faith, Christianity understands the full typological significance of what took place—as a sign post pointing to the most significant event in all history: when another Father would offer His “only Son” upon the same mountain. The offering of Isaac is a carefully constructed divine pattern which pointed to the redeeming sacrifice of Jesus upon the cross many years later. That this is true can be seen from the numerous typological correlations between this event and the crucifixion.
|Type (Model)||Antitype (Fulfillment)|
|Abraham offered his only son (Gen. 22:2, 12).||God offered his only Son (John 3:16).|
|Isaac carried the wood for the sacrifice (Gen. 22:5).||Jesus carried the cross for the sacrifice (John 19:17).|
|Isaac cried out to his father (Gen. 22:7).||Jesus cried out to His Father (Mat. 27:46; Mark 15:34).|
|Isaac escaped death after three days (Gen. 22:4).||Jesus rose from the dead on the third day (Mat. 16:21; Mark 16:2-4; Luke 9:22).|
|Abraham indicated God will provide a lamb for the sacrifice (Gen. 22:8).||God provided Jesus as The Lamb for the sacrifice (Isa. 53:7; John 1:29, 36; Rev. 5:6+; 7:17+).|
|God provided a ram, a male sheep, as a substitutionary sacrifice (Gen. 22:13).||God provided a male, Jesus, as a substitutionary sacrifice.|
|The ram was caught by its horns (head) in a thicket (thorns) (Gen. 22:13).||Jesus wore a crown of thorns on his head (Mat. 27:29), a symbol of the sin He bore (Gen. 3:18).|
|Sacrifice offered at specific location on Mount Moriah (Gen. 22:2, 9).||For hundreds of years, sacrifices would be offered from the same spot inside Solomon’s Temple and the Second Temple (2Chr. 3:1). When Jesus is crucified outside the city walls on the same mountain, the veil within the Temple is rent in two (Mark 15:38).|
|The ram was God’s provision (Gen. 22:13-14).||Abraham prophetically named the place pointing to the crucifixion where God made the ultimate provision: the sacrifice of His Son for sin (Heb. 9:26-28).|
Now the God-given instruction to sacrifice Isaac, in violation of what would later be codified in the Law of Moses, can be understood—God had no intention of actually allowing Isaac to die. Instead, He intended to test Abraham’s faith and demonstrate prophetically His intention to offer His own Son, Jesus Christ, on the same mountain hundreds of years later (Ps. 22; Isa. 53). Sadly, the same words that Jesus spoke to the religious leaders of His day can still be said to Judaism which rejects Messiah Jesus: “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me” (John 5:39).18 In the hundreds of years which would separate Abraham’s offering of Isaac on Mount Moriah from God’s offering of Jesus, the ritual slaughter of countless animals within the Tabernacle in the Wilderness, Solomon’s Temple, and the Second Temple all pointed forward to this ultimate offering of Jesus on the cross. Both Solomon’s Temple and the Second Temple were specifically placed on Mount Moriah to show their connection with the ultimate sacrifice of God’s Lamb.Thus, the Temple Mount is not just a random piece of real-estate contested by some confused religious fanatics. It is a specific location where God Himself ordained that Abraham should act out the event pointing to the crucifixion and the place where the intervening Temples stood. It is at this precise location where both the Tribulation Temple and the Millennial Temple will be built.
The earthly Temple is patterned after a greater reality: the heavenly Temple (Heb. 8:4-5; Heb. 9:1-11). Almost everything which was shown Moses (Ex. 25:40) and David (1Chr. 28:12-19) concerning the Tabernacle and Temple, respectively, has a purpose in revealing a greater reality which ultimately serves the purpose of God in heaven. The heavenly pattern which is reflected in the earthly Temple communicates truths about the nature of sin, redemption, God’s holiness, communion with God, and ultimately points to the promised sacrifice of Messiah Jesus to reconcile man to God (Luke 24:27, 44; John 5:39; Acts 10:43).Price has identified many of the parallels between the earthly and heavenly Temples, which we’ve incorporated in the table below.19
|called “worldly sanctuary” versus “Temple in heaven” or “true Tabernacle”||Heb. 9:1-2||Rev. 7:15+; 14:17+; 15:5+; 16:17+; Heb. 8:2|
|seven-branched lampstand||Ex. 26:35||Rev. 1:12+|
|trumpet||Ex. 19:13, 16, 19||Rev. 8:2+, 6+|
|altar of sacrifice||Ex. 27:1-2; 39:39||Rev. 6:9+|
|sacral vestments||Ex. 29, 39||Rev. 4:4+; 6:11+; 15:6+|
|altar of incense||Ex. 30:1-6; 39:38||Rev. 8:3-5+|
|four horns of the altar||Ex. 30:10||Rev. 9:13+|
|Ark of the Covenant||Ex. 25||Rev. 11:19+|
|golden censer||1K. 7:50||Rev. 8:3-5+|
|incense||Ex. 30:34-36||Rev. 5:8+; 8:3-4+|
|incense bowls||1K. 7:50; Num. 7:13, 19, 25, 31, 37||Rev. 5:8+|
|throne (mercy seat)||Ex. 25:22; Lev. 16:2||Ps. 11:4; Rev. 7:9+; 16:17+|
|Holy Place||1K. 7:50||Heb. 9:11-12, 24|
|Holy of Holies||Ex. 26:25-33||Rev. 4:1-10+|
|high priest||Heb. 4:14||Heb. 9:6-7|
|priestly officiants versus priestly officials||Ps. 110:4; Heb. 7:17||Rev. 8:2-5+|
|rites||Lev. 1-10; 16:23-34||Rev. 4:8-11+; 8:2-5+; 15:1-8+|
|24 priestly courses versus 24 elders||1Chr. 23:3-6||Rev. 4:4+, 10+; 5:8+|
|cherubim versus living creatures||Ex. 25:18, 22; 1K. 6:23-28||Rev. 4:6-8+|
|worshipers||2Chr. 7:3||Rev. 5:11+; 7:9+; 19:6+|
|sacrifice of lambs versus slain Lamb of God||Ex. 29:39||Rev. 5:6+|
|400422||Garden of Eden||Prior to The Fall and the entry of sin, Adam and Eve enjoyed full communion with God. No Temple was needed.||Gen. 2:25 cf. Gen. 3:8|
|1446 - 960/950 B.C.||Tabernacle in the Wilderness||A portable and temporary structure housing the Ark of the Covenant and the location of God’s presence among the Jews in their wilderness wanderings.||Ex. 24:15-18; 25:8-22|
|960/950 - 586 B.C.||Solomon’s Temple||Erected in Jerusalem according to God’s instructions. Planned by King David who gathered the materials, but built by his son Solomon. Destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon.||1K. 5-8; 2K. 24:13; 2Chr. 36:7|
|515 B.C.23 - A.D. 70||Second Temple||Rebuilt under the direction of Zerubbabel upon the return of the Jews from Babylon. Desecrated by Antiochus IV (Epiphanes), later cleansed and rededicated by Judas Maccabaeus in 165 B.C. (first Hanukkah). Rebuilt by Herod the Great (from 20 B.C. - A.D. 64). Destroyed by Roman General Titus in A.D. 70.||2Chr. 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-4; 3:1-13; 5:1-17; 6:1-18; Dan. 9:26; Mat. 23:37-38; 24:2; Mark 13:2; Luke 21:6, 20-24|
|33 A.D.24 - Rapture||Temple of the Believer||This Temple was created with the formation of the Body of Christ, the Church, on the Day of Pentecost—when believers began to be baptized with the Spirit. Without physical structure or geographic location (John 4:20-24), the Temple is comprised of believers who come to faith during the Church age.||John 4:20-24; 7:37-39; 14:16-18; 16:7; Acts 1:5; 11:15; 1Cor. 6:19; 12:13; 2Cor. 6:16; Eph. 1:22-23; Eph. 2:19-22; Col. 1:18; Heb. 4:16; 10:19-22|
|?||Tribulation Temple||A future Jewish Temple which will be built where sacrifices will be offered until the midpoint of the Tribulation. The Beast will sit in this Temple and proclaim himself to be God.||Isa. 66:1-6?; Dan. 9:27; 12:11; Mat. 24:15; 2Th. 2:4; Rev. 11:1-2+; Rev. 13:6+?|
|Second Coming||Millennial Temple||The Temple will be built by Messiah Jesus and serve as the center for His worship and rule during the thousand year reign on earth. All nations will keep the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem.||Eze. 40:5-43:27; Zec. 6:12-15; 14:16-21; Isa. 24:23; 56:6-7; Rev. 20:2-4+|
|Second Coming + 1,000 years||New Jerusalem||Sin no longer exists. Man is restored to full fellowship with God. God is the Temple (Rev. 21:22+).||Rev. 21+, 22+|
The Garden of Eden is a “Temple” in the same sense as the New Jerusalem. There is no separate building or Holy Place because the entire environ is Holy and without sin. In this sense, the entire Garden may be said to be a “Temple” in that there is full and unrestrained access to God by man (Rev. 21:22+). The Garden, like the New Jerusalem, typifies the “Holy of Holies” of every other Temple—the place of unrestricted communion with God without the intimacy-destroying presence of sin. Until the quality of the fellowship man once had with God in the Garden is appreciated more fully, one will be unable to understand the horrible effects of sin and the great effort involved in carrying out the prescribed liturgical details attending the subsequent Temples where man approached God on a limited basis.The effect of The Fall upon man’s communion with God has already been described. No matter how one looks at it, the result was catastrophic. It is as if man reclined and ate at God’s table (John 13:23; Rev. 3:20+) only to find himself removed from the table, locked outside the room, and only able to commune with God through a keyhole. Even on the Day of Atonement on his closest approach to God, the high priest was still required to burn incense when inside the Holy of Holies to cover the mercy seat and separate himself from God’s presence “lest he die” (Lev. 16:13). This would all change for believers in Jesus who are the Temple of the Believer, but that would not come until much later.In a study of the Temple, it is most useful to examine the Garden of Eden in relation to the condition of man immediately after The Fall, after having been driven from the Garden. In addition to the correspondence seen earlier between the earthly and heavenly Temples, there is a correspondence between both Temples and the Garden of Eden after The Fall into sin. In some sense, all of Scripture describes events associated with God establishing a way for man to return to the conditions of Eden prior to The Fall. In this sense, Jesus is Eden’s Bridge.Immediately after The Fall, Adam and Eve were expelled out of the Garden. Evidently, they were driven away toward the East for God placed cherubim “at the east of the Garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life” [emphasis added] (Gen. 3:24). God barred man’s way to the tree of life by placing Cherubim between the tree and Adam and Eve.When various aspects of the scene at the expulsion of the Garden of Eden are compared with the layout of the Tabernacle and Temple, numerous similarities can be seen:25
- Eastern Entry - To return back into God’s Holy presence in the Garden, Adam and Eve would have had to return from the east toward the west. And this is exactly what we see in the pattern of the Tabernacle and Temple, both of which are entered on the east and which have the holiest place at the western extremity where the very presence of God abides.
- Guarding Cherubim - In the same way that cherubim separated man from the tree of life in the Garden, so too the veils on the east end of the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies contain depictions of cherubim (Ex. 26:31; 36:8, 35; 2Chr. 3:14). The Ark of God within the Holy of Holies, above which God’s Shekinah glory dwelt, was overspread by cherubim (Ex. 25:22; Num. 7:89; 2Chr. 5:7).
- Flames - The cherubim guarded the way back to the tree of life, but also to the divine presence, with a “flaming sword” (Gen. 3:24). Just outside each veil of separation in the Temple is found an altar upon which fire is found. The priest must pass by the bronze altar of sacrifice before entering the Holy Place, whereas the altar of incense stood before the veil into the Holy of Holies. The fire speaks of purification and judgment of sin.
- River - A river flowed from the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:10). The Temple contained a bronze laver with water for cleansing. The Millennial Temple is the source of a river of life (Eze. 47:1). So too the New Jerusalem has a river of life (Rev. 22:1+).
- Mountain - Since a river originated in Eden and flowed outward from there, we may safely assume that the Garden was elevated above the surrounding countryside. As we have seen, the Temple stood on a mountain (Mount Moriah). The Millennial Temple will stand upon the “mountain of the LORD’S house” (Isa. 2:2; 27:13; 30:29; 56:7; Eze. 17:24; 20:40; 40:2; Mic. 4:1) as will the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:10+).
- Tree of Life - When man fell in the Garden, he lost access to the tree of life by which he would obtain eternal life (Gen. 2:9; 3:22). The testimony of the law of Moses was stored with the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies within the Temple. When Moses reviewed the law to the new generation about to cross the Jordan, he said “Set your hearts on all the words which I testify among you today . . . observe-all the words of this law. . . . because it is your life, and by this word you shall prolong your days in the land” (Deu. 32:46). Thus, the words of the law within the Holy of Holies represent the way of life. This is what Stephen referred to as “the living oracles” (Acts 7:38). John recognized the life-giving power of God’s word when he said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” [emphasis added] (John 6:68). Thus, the Tree of Life in the Garden is represented by God’s word recorded in the Holy of Holies of the Temple.26 The Tree of Life in our own age, when no recognized Temple stands on the Temple Mount, is the cross of Christ. Those who embrace it regain access to eternal life.
Many more similarities could be identified between the Garden of Eden, the various Temples, and the New Jerusalem (which some see as being in entirety a “Temple,” Rev. 21:22+). But in each case, the primary message we must not miss is that the Temple represents the way back to God. The entire concept of the earthly Temple is concerned with making allowance for sinful man meeting with Holy God in partial communion which is a shadow of what man once had and the redeemed will one day enjoy.
The arrangement of the Garden of Eden’s landscape corresponds to that of the Tabernacle and the Temple with its furniture. Eastward movement (out of the Garden) is away from God’s presence; westward movement (through the Sanctuary) is a return [to] God. On the Day of Atonement the high priest reverses the peoples spiritual exile from God and restores them to a relationship with God (through blood sacrifice for sin). [emphasis added]27
The first real structure of any sort which was designed to house the Shekinah was the Tabernacle in the wilderness. After Israel’s rescue from Egypt and before crossing the Jordan into the Promised Land, the Jews wandered in the Sinai. God gave Moses instructions to build the Tabernacle (Ex. 25:40) around which the tribes would camp. (See Camp of Israel.) Israel could only approach God when protected from His presence by the Tabernacle. Even then, elaborate procedures were necessary to account for the sinful condition of man (Ex. 25:9; 40:34). Even the name “Tabernacle” denoted the purpose common to every Temple: that God would dwell with man. “The Hebrew word for ‘tabernacle’ is Hamishkhan, having the same root as Shechinah. Thus, the word ‘tabernacle’ can also be translated as ’the dwelling place of the Shechinah.”28The portability of the Tabernacle had some advantages over the more permanent Temples to follow. For one thing, it taught Israel to depend upon God’s leading because they were to stay camped until God’s presence indicated it was time to move (Ex. 40:36-37). How often this is the case in our own lives—that we learn to wait on God and follow Him more closely in the wilderness! Later, when Israel had the more permanent Temple of Solomon, they made the mistake of assuming the permanence of the building’s location inferred the same for God’s presence.Later, when Solomon’s Temple was complete, the Tabernacle was brought to the Temple and its furnishings, together with the Ark of the Covenant, were transferred into the Temple (1K. 8:4; 2Chr. 5:5).29
In the days of David’s kingdom, Israel dwelt permanently in the land and the kingdom was administered from Jerusalem. After a time, David realized the inequity of dwelling in a kingly palace while God’s presence resided in the more humble temporary structure of the Tabernacle. Although he desired to build a permanent Temple, he was disallowed from doing so because he was a man of war (1Chr. 17:4; 22:8; 28:3). However, David was able to further the work toward building the Temple. He was given plans by the Holy Spirit (1Chr. 28:12, 19; Heb. 8:5), purchased the location where it was to be built (2S. 24:24; 1Chr. 21:24-26; 2Chr. 3:1), and procured materials for its construction (1Chr. 29:1-9). As with the Tabernacle, the Temple service included elaborate procedures by which man could approach God’s presence in a limited way. When the Temple was dedicated, God’s presence came to the Temple (1K. 8:10-11; 2Chr. 5:13-14).In the days of Ezekiel, after the civil war and after the Northern Kingdom had fallen into apostasy and been judged by Assyria, the sin of the Southern Kingdom, where Jerusalem and the Temple were located, was so severe as to drive God from His sanctuary. God no longer met with Israel in the Temple because it was no longer His House (Eze. 8:6; 9:3; 10:4, 18-19; 11:22-23 cf. Mat. 23:38-39; Mat. 24:3; Luke 13:35). Soon thereafter, the Temple was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar and the Jews that remained were exiled to Babylon. Thus, an important historic principle was established concerning the Temple: when God leaves His House, it becomes subject to destruction. When God is “at Home” in the Temple, no force in the universe can destroy it. In the sequence of events which led up to the final destruction of Jerusalem and Solomon’s Temple by Nebuchadnezzar, some of the Temple articles were taken to Babylon (2Chr. 36:7, 10, 18; Dan. 5:2-3, 23) as Jeremiah had prophesied (Jer. 20:5).The destruction of Solomon’s Temple fell on the 9th day of the Jewish month of Av, a date which became famous in Jewish history and is known as Tish Bʿav (9th of Av).30
Five events of national tragedy have been associated with this date. The first of these national tragedies, and the supposed cause of all that followed, was the failure of the Israelites to enter the Promised Land under Moses [Num. 14:23]. . . oral tradition recounts that this lamentation took place on the Ninth of Av. . . The next four events occurring on the Ninth of Av all relate to the Temple. The second and third disasters involve Solomon’s first Temple and Herod’s second Temple, which were both destroyed on the same day 656 years apart. The last two disasters occurred 65 years later on the same day (A.D. 135). The first of these was the defeat of the army of Bar Kokhba at Betar. The second followed as a consequence of the first. It was the plowing of the site of the Temple Mount by the Roman governor of Judea, Tineius Rufus.31
After seventy years of captivity in Babylon which God had prophesied (2Chr. 36:21; Jer. 25:11; 29:10; Dan. 9:2), and as God had prophesied through Isaiah (Isa. 44:24-5:7), Cyrus was used of God to release the Jews to return back to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple (Ezra 1:2; 3:7; 4:3; 5:13; 6:3, 14). When the Jews returned from Babylon, the Temple articles which had been taken by Nebuchadnezzar were returned (Ezra 1:7; 6:5). All of this was recorded by the historian Josephus:
(1) In the first year of the reign of Cyrus, which was the seventieth from the day that our people were removed out of their own land into Babylon, God commiserated the captivity and calamity of these poor people, according as he had foretold to them by Jeremiah the prophet, before the destruction of the city, (2) that after they has served Nebuchadnezzar and his posterity, and after they had undergone that servitude seventy years, he would restore them again to the land of their fathers, and they should build their temple, and enjoy their ancient prosperity; and these things God did afford them; (3) for he stirred up the mind of Cyrus, and made him write this throughout all Asia: “Thus saith Cyrus the King:—Since God Almighty hath appointed me to be king of the habitable earth, I believe that he is that God which the nation of the Israelites worship; (4) for indeed he foretold my name by the prophets; and that I should build him a house at Jerusalem, in the country of Judea.” 2. (5) This was known to Cyrus by his reading the book which Isaiah left behind him of his prophecies; for this prophet said that God had spoken thus to him in a secret vision: “My will is, that Cyrus, whom I have appointed to be king over many and great nations, send back my people to their own land, and build my temple.” (6) This was foretold by Isaiah one hundred and forty years before the temple was demolished. Accordingly, when Cyrus read this, and admired the divine power, an earnest desire and ambition seized upon him to fulfill what was so written; so he called for the most eminent Jews that were in Babylon, and said to them, that he gave them leave to go back to their own country, and to rebuild their city Jerusalem, and the temple of God, (7) for that he would be their assistant, and that he would write to the rulers and governors that were in the neighborhood of their country of Judea, that they should contribute to them gold and silver for the building of the temple, and, beside that, beasts for their sacrifices. 3. (8) When Cyrus had said this to the Israelites, the rulers of the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin, with the Levites and priests, went in haste to Jerusalem, yet did many of them stay at Babylon, as not willing to leave their possessions; (9) and when they were come thither, all the king’s friends assisted them, and brought in, for the building of the temple, some gold, and some silver, and some a great many cattle and horses. So they performed their vows to God, and offered the sacrifices that had been accustomed of old time; I mean this upon the rebuilding of their city, and the revival of the ancient practices relating to their worship. (10) Cyrus also sent back to them the vessels of God which king Nebuchadnezzar had pillaged out of the temple, and carried to Babylon.32
The destruction of Solomon’s Temple and the subsequent building of the Second Temple did not require a purification ceremony, as was done later following the subsequent defilement of Antiochus IV (Epiphanes). “Foreigners who enter the Temple generally bring about only desecration, not defilement, and for this reason the Second Temple could be rebuilt after its desecration and destruction by the Babylonians without requiring a purification ceremony (Ezra 3:2-13). However, the Second Temple later required purification (channukah, ‘dedication’) because an apostate Israelite priest sacrificed an unclean animal (a sow) on the altar (under orders of the Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes) and thereby brought defilement. In addition, the presence of idols or idolatrous practices is an ‘abomination’ (shiqqutz) that brings both desecration and defilement to the Temple and the Land, which has harbored such abominations.”33 Sacrifice was resumed at the site of the Second Temple while construction was in progress:
Temple sacrifices were renewed on the first day of the month of Tishri 538 B.C.E. at a festival known as the Feast of Trumpets. . . Seven months later, work began on building the Second Temple itself, using cedarwood ordered from Lebanon.} . . . The king’s treasury even helped to finance the cost of the rebuilding of the ruined Temple, which was finally completed on the 3rd of Adar (February-March) 515 B.C.E.34
After the Jews rebuilt the Temple, there is no indication that God’s presence ever dwelt there as it had in the Tabernacle or Solomon’s Temple. God’s presence would eventually come to the Second Temple (see below), but in a form which the Jews would fail to recognize (John 1:14).
Since these verses [Eze. 43:1-7] on the return and restoration of God’s glory to the new Temple are one of the strongest evidences for the eschatological interpretation of chapters 40-48, it is important to give closer attention to this event. Nowhere in Scripture nor in extrabiblical Jewish literature is it stated that the divine presence filled the Second Temple as it did the Tabernacle (Ex. 40:34-35) and the First Temple (1K. 8:10-11; 2Chr. 5:13-14; 2Chr. 7:13). Rather, Jewish sources made a point of its absence (see Tosefta Yom Tov) and relegated such a hope to the eschatological period known as ‘the period of the restoration of all things’ (Acts 3:21).35
During the Second Temple period, there was a great deal of political upheaval, both before and after the birth of Christ. Perhaps the two most significant events involving the Second Temple prior to the birth of Jesus were the defilement of the Temple at the time of Antiochus IV (Epiphanes) and the entry into the Holy of Holies years later by Pompey of Rome. The first event was predicted by Daniel and serves as a model—which Jesus pointed to (Mat. 24:15)—of the future desolation by Antichrist:
Antiochus further desecrated the Temple by sacrificing an unclean animal (a pig) on the Temple altar and by erecting a statue of Zeus Olympians in the Holy of Holies in 168 B.C. This action had been predicted by the prophet Daniel (Dan. 8:23-25; Dan. 11:21-35) and served as a partial fulfillment of the type of desecration the Temple would one day suffer under the Antichrist (Dan. 7:24-26; Dan. 9:24-27; Dan. 11:36-45).36
This grievous event precipitated the Hasmonean Revolt and the rededication of the Temple, which came to be celebrated as Hanukkah, also mentioned in John’s gospel (John 10:22):37 “On the twenty-fifth day of the month of Kislev—then October 16, for the Hebrew lunar calendar had not been intercalated since 167 B.C.E.—in the year 164 B.C.E., the Jews celebrated the rededication of the temple sacrificial service.”38 Thereafter, Judea enjoyed a period of independence, albeit a politically turbulent one. This came to an end in 63 B.C. with the triumphal entrance of Roman general Pompey into Jerusalem. It appears that the priests were prepared for his arrival for the Temple articles had been removed:
Not only did [Pompey] enter the Holy Place, but he also tore away its veil of separation and marched into the Holy of Holies itself. A record of the event was preserved by the Roman historian Tacitus: ‘By right of conquest he entered their Temple. It is a fact well known, that he found no image, no statue, no symbolical representation of the Deity: the whole presented a naked dome; the sanctuary was unadorned and simple.’39
After Herod was proclaimed King of Judea by the Roman Senate (40 B.C.), he returned to the “Roman Palestine” and began to reconquer the country while liquidating the Hasmonean dynasty. During this period, he began a project to rebuild the Second Temple. “Herod began rebuilding the Temple in 19 B.C., and the work was dedicated ten years later, although detail work continued on it for the next 75 years.”40 It was the rebuilt Second Temple, “Herod’s Temple,” to which the glory of the Lord would return.During the ministry of Jesus, He recognized the Second Temple as being the “Father’s house” (Luke 2:49; John 2:16). It was in the days of Jesus that the glory of the Lord (John 1:14) returned to His Temple (Mat. 12:6; 21:23), yet once again sin resulted in the departure of the glory—as Jesus left the Temple for the Mount of Olives, retracing the steps of the departure of the glory in Ezekiel’s day (Mat. 23:38-39; Mat. 24:3; Luke 13:35). Although Jesus had previously indicated the Temple was the house of the Father (Luke 2:49; John 2:16), in His final departure from the Temple He referred to it as “your house,” indicating it was being left desolate (Mat. 23:38)—an indication that it would be destroyed (Mat. 24:2).41At the crucifixion, when the Lamb of God (Isa. 53:7; John 1:29; 1Pe. 1:19; Rev. 5:6+) was offered on the cross, God created a new and living way for man to approach Him. See Temple of the Believer. Yet the Temple remained standing with sacrifices continuing to be offered for almost another four decades: “On August 6 [70 A.D.] the daily sacrifice ceased in the temple. It had been offered every morning for more than five hundred years save for the period of the Syrian persecution when an abomination had occupied the Holy of Holies.”42 Price relates several historical indicators of divine disfavor during the period following the crucifixion of Messiah Jesus and the subsequent destruction of the Temple at the hands of Rome:
Josephus (Jewish Wars 6:293-96) noted that at the time of the Passover c. A.D. 66, as the Roman siege was about to begin, the huge Nicanor gate that secured the inner court of the Eastern (Shushan) Gate was observed at the sixth hour to open of its own accord. This event was ultimately interpreted negatively as evidence of divine displeasure. . .This interpretation is also given in a story told in the Babylonian Talmud (Yoma 39b), along with another concerning the Temple service, which reflected the problem of divine favor: “Our Rabbis taught: During the last forty years before the destruction of the Temple the lot ‘for the Lord’ did not come up in the right hand; nor did the crimson-colored string [suspended in the Temple to show the acceptance of the pascal sacrifice] become white; nor did the western-most light shine; and the doors of the Temple would open by themselves, until R. Yohanon b. [ben] Zakkai rebuked them, saying: ‘Temple, Temple why will you yourself be the alarmer? I know about you that you will be destroyed, for Zechariah b. [ben] Ido has already prophesied concerning you: “Open your door, O” Lebanon, that the fire may devour your cedars’ ”43
When the Lamb of God (Isa. 53:7; John 1:29; 1Pe. 1:19; Rev. 5:6+) was offered on the cross, the veil of the Second Temple was torn from top to bottom (Mat. 27:51; Mark 15:38; Luke 23:45). This was a divine indication that the previous separation between God and man which required elaborate liturgical procedures by a special priesthood was done away with by Christ. Instead of recognizing a special day once a year when the high priest could enter through the veil into the Holy of Holies to represent the people before the presence of God, a new and living way was consecrated for believers through Christ’s body and blood offered on our behalf. The writer of Hebrews expressed it this way:
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. (Heb. 10:19-22) [emphasis added]
There are numerous benefits which were won for believers by Christ’s sacrifice, but perhaps the most important aspect of the work of Christ is the restoration of fellowship where man can approach God with a conscience having been cleansed by Jesus’ one-time sacrifice. Here again we touch on the theme of the Temple which we’ve been pointing to all along—the meeting place between God and man. Christ’s flesh and blood give the believer, by faith, full access to God:
To the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him. (Eph. 3:10-12) [emphasis added]
Many things changed in the moment of the crucifixion when the veil of the Temple was torn, but perhaps none more significant to our subject at hand than the glorification of Jesus which led the way to the giving of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost (John 7:38-39) to form a new type of spiritual Temple within the body of those who believe on Jesus. A short summary of this important transition, so essential to understanding the book of Acts, will be helpful.44 The significance of the coming of the Holy Spirit can be seen in several passages from John’s Gospel:
On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7:37-39) [emphasis added]
Jesus states that rivers of living water (see Garden of Eden) will flow out of the heart of those who believe in Him. John explains to the reader that Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit, but that the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. The Holy Spirit could not come to take up His new ministry until Jesus had been glorified. Something about the crucifixion was necessary before the Spirit could take up permanent residence within sinful flesh.Later, in Jesus’ intimate time with His disciples on the night of His betrayal, He provides further insight into the new ministry of the Spirit:
And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. (John 14:16-18) [emphasis added]
Jesus is about to die on the cross and encourages His disciples by telling them that He will send another (αλλος [allos], another of the same kind) of Helper. When this helper comes, He will abide with them forever. Jesus also relates that the Helper already dwells with them, but will be in them. He goes on to identify Himself with the Helper: I will come to you. These are remarkable statements pregnant in their theology and hope! Although the Holy Spirit has ministered on earth since the beginning (e.g., Gen. 1:2), He would come in a new way, in a permanent way, in a way which emphasized indwelling, and in the identity of Christ (Rom. 8:9; Php. 1:19). Although the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, had ministered in the times preceding the crucifixion (1Pe. 1:11), there was not a permanence to this indwelling (1S. 16:14; Ps. 51:11; Eze. 2:2; 3:24). But this could not happen prior to the cross:
Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. (John 16:7) [emphasis added]
Can you imagine sitting at the feet of the Master and hearing words more puzzling than these? How could He claim it was to their advantage that He would leave? But note that the Helper “will not come” unless Jesus departs. This is connected with the explanation which John gave earlier: “But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7:37-39).To summarize:
- The Holy Spirit would not just be with the disciples, but permanently in them.
- The Holy Spirit could not come in the way Jesus promised until Jesus was glorified.
- The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ. With the indwelling Spirit would be the indwelling Christ.
- The Holy Spirit would reside within each believer in much the same way as the Shekinah glory dwelt within the Tabernacle and Temple. (See The Abiding Presence of God.)
All of this was fulfilled in the events of the Day of Pentecost, often called “the birthday of the Church” (Acts 1:4-8; 2:4; cf. 8:14; 10:45; 11:16; 15:8; 19:6; 1Cor. 12:13). With the coming of the Spirit, the body of the believer became the Temple of God and God’s Spirit resided permanently within.45
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? (1Cor. 6:19) [emphasis added]
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.” (2Cor. 6:16) [emphasis added]
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 cornerstone, 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 2:19-22) [emphasis added]
These passages emphasize that the body of the believer is a Temple of God in the Spirit. The Holy Spirit Who resides permanently within every believer is functioning in an analogous way as the Shekinah dwelt between the cherubim over the Ark in the Holy of Holies, but with one extremely important difference: the Holy Spirit will never depart from the Temple of the believer as the Shekinah departed from the Temple (see The Abiding Presence of God). This is why believers are said to be sealed with the Holy Spirit (2Cor. 1:22; Eph. 1:13; 4:30). Believers may grieve or quench Him (Eph. 4:30; 1Th. 5:19), but He will never leave them!How can God Himself dwell within the sinful flesh of the believer permanently when the sin of the people during Ezekiel’s day caused the glory of the Lord to depart the Temple? The answer lies in the completed sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. In the same way that the righteous dead were held in Abraham’s bosom46 but could not enter heaven until the crucifixion was accomplished (Luke 16:22 cf. Luke 23:43; 2Cor. 5:6; Php. 1:21-23), prior to the cross the Holy Spirit could enter individuals for specific purposes and times but could not permanently reside (1S. 16:14; Ps. 51:11; Eze. 2:2; Eze. 3:24)47 within sinful flesh as He now does (Eph. 1:13; 4:30). See The Coming of the Spirit.
It might seem that in the tearing of the veil of the Temple and the coming of the Spirit to establish the Temple of the believer that all purposes for a Temple building standing on the Temple Mount have forever been done away with. If we did not have the Scriptures, we might easily come to this conclusion.48 But a careful study of Scripture precludes such a conclusion:
- The Early Church and the Temple - The early church did not abandon the Temple, but continued to treat it as an important institution associated with God. This is seen immediately after Jesus’ ascension: “Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven. And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. Amen” [emphasis added] (Luke 24:51-53). This pattern continued far beyond the coming of the Spirit on Pentecost and is especially evident in the life of Paul who: (1) observed feasts regulated by the Temple (Acts 20:6); 2) fulfilled a religious Nazirite vow (Acts 18:18); 3) participated in purification rites, even sponsoring four proselytes (Acts 21:22-26; Acts 24:16); 4) offered sacrifices at the Temple (Acts 21:26; Acts 24:17); 5) prayed and worshiped at the Temple (Acts 22:17; Acts 24:11); 6) respected the Temple priesthood (Acts 23:5); 7) paid the Temple tax (Acts 24:17); (8) professed ceremonial purity (Acts 24:18); (9) and was careful not to violate customs of “our fathers” (Acts 28:17). These would be strange activities indeed if the Temple had lost all significance after the Day of Pentecost. When Paul discusses the desecration of the Temple by the Antichrist, how could he consider this act by the man of sin to be blasphemous and describe its location as “the temple of God” (2Th. 2:3-4) if all interest by God in the Temple disappeared with the Day of Pentecost?49 It would seem that this early Christian rabbi understood something beyond the simplistic view that, with the cross of Jesus, God had forever made an end to the concept of “God’s House” on Mount Moriah.
- The Millennial Temple - Ezekiel was given a highly detailed vision of a Temple unlike any which have ever existed in history. The details of this Temple go far beyond anything which can be explained as mere symbolism. It can only be a literal Temple of the future. Ezekiel and several other prophets indicate there will be sacrifices for atonement offered at this Temple. See Millennial Temple and Millennial Sacrifices.
Following the rejection of Messiah Jesus by Israel, the Temple stood for several decades, but was overthrown as Jesus had predicted. During this age, a spiritual Temple of God is within believers who are sanctified by the blood of Jesus. Each believer is permanently indwelt by the Holy Spirit, much as the Shekinah dwelt within the Holy of Holies of the Tabernacle in the Wilderness and Solomon’s Temple. Yet, in the future, at least two more physical Temples will be built upon Mount Moriah. The existence of the spiritual Temple of the believer during the present age does not preclude a future physical Temple:
The “Branch,” as set forth by the prophet in [Zec. 6], Messiah, the true Son of David, shall not only be the real builder of the future literal Temple, which through the millennial period shall be the centre of the true worship of Jehovah on this earth, and the House of Prayer for all nations; but also of the much more glorious mystical Building, which through eternity shall be for the habitation of God through the Spirit. Of this spiritual Temple He is Himself the “sure Foundation,” the previous Corner-stone and Head-stone of the Corner, as well as the Master Builder. Nineteen centuries ago, in His life and suffering, death of atonement, and glorious resurrection, the foundation of that Temple was laid.50
It has been suggested from various evidences that the Temple was rebuilt during the Bar Kokhba51 revolt (A.D. 132) and later destroyed by Hadrian (A.D. 135). Price mentions the following evidence in support of this possibility:52
- A passage in the Sibylline Oracles (5:414-417, 420-422) may suggest this possibility.
- A Midrash (Exodus Rabbah 51:5) indicates that Hadrian entered the Holy of Holies which would not have been possible without a rebuilt temple.
- The seventh-century Byzantine historian known as Chronicum Paschale records that “Hadrian tore down the Temple of the Jews in Jerusalem” in his History of the Jews.
- A fourth-century Roman emperor Julian in his Fragment of a Letter to a Priest, in A.D. 362 records: “What have they [the Jews] to say about their own temple, which was overthrown three times and even now is not being raised up again?” [emphasis added]
- Coins minted by Bar Kokhba bear an image of the Holy Temple—an unusual practice for Jews if the Temple had not existed.
- Evidence of the resumption of the sacrificial system (Sanhedrin 11b) following the Second Temple’s destruction.
- Archaeological measurements of the elevated platform upon which the Dome of the Rock are said to indicate dimensions commensurate with the Messianic Temple of Ezekiel rather than the dimensions of the second Temple. Since Bar Kokhba was proclaimed as Messiah and Messiah was expected to build Ezekiel’s Temple, then perhaps the platform is the remains of the Temple of Bar Kokhba.
Although Rabbi Akiva had proclaimed Bar Kokhba as king messiah, this messianic hopeful was eventually killed and the revolt bearing his name was put down and the Temple Mount left without a Jewish Temple.
Flavius Claudius Julianus became ruler of Rome in A.D. 361 upon the death of his uncle Constantine. He favored Judaism over Christianity and sought to rebuild the Jewish Temple as polemic against Christianity (and Jesus’ predictions that the Temple would be destroyed). Jewish religious authorities acquired the necessary building materials, but an earthquake intervened and destroyed the building materials. Julian died a short time thereafter and was succeeded by the Christian emperor Jovian, putting an end to Julian’s favoritism towards Judaism and the Jews.53 Thus, Julian’s Temple failed to materialize in history.
In our day, the most striking presence upon the Temple Mount is the Islamic Dome of the Rock.
The Dome of the Rock is not God’s Temple—at least not the God of the Bible. This can be readily seen even by a cursory comparison of the God defined by the Qur’an with the God of the Bible. According to the Qur’an:
- No Crucifixion - Jesus was not crucified, but only appeared to be (Surah 3:54-55; 4:157-158; 5:117, 120).
- God Has No Son - Jesus is not the Son of God (Surah 2:116; 5:72; 4:171; 6:101; 10:68; 19:35 cf. Ps. 2:7, 12; 110:1; Pr. 30:4; Jer. 3:19; Dan. 3:25; 7:13).
- No Trinity - The Trinity is denied (Surah 3:64; 4:116, 171; 5:27; 9:30-31).55
- Redemption Unnecessary - The Fall in the Garden of Eden resulted in no need of a Savior (Surah 7:20-25).56
- Salvation by Works - Salvation is by works, not faith (Surah 23:102-103; 39:61 cf. Gen. 15:6).
- Jerusalem Not Mentioned - Jerusalem is never mentioned by name in the Qur’an, but over 800 times in the Bible, the city where God put His name (1K. 11:36; 2Chr. 33:4, 7; Dan. 9:19).
- Mohammed Greater Than Jesus - Although Jesus was born of a virgin (Surah 3:45-47; 19:19-21; 21:91), sinless (Surah 19:18), and performed miracles (Surah 3:49; 5:110; 19:29), Mohammed, who was born by a normal pregnancy, who sinned (Surah 40:55; 41:19; 48:1-2), and who performed no miracles is said to be superior to Jesus.
If the Qur’an is God’s Word, then the Bible cannot be. If the Bible is God’s Word, then the Qur’an cannot be. They disagree on numerous fundamental issues, not to mention many additional details where the Qur’an not only contradicts the NT (which Islam maintains is corrupted), but also the OT.57 Since the Qur’an describes a god which differs in fundamentals from the God of the Bible, but claims to be inerrant (Surah 4:82), then the inescapable conclusion is that the god of Islam cannot be the God of the Bible:
While Islam today has much in common with Christianity on the essential attributes of God, there is wide divergence on His moral and relational attributes. Muslims and Christians may speak of the same subject, the true God, but they have different concepts of Him. . . . Jews have an incomplete picture of God’s nature (their view being confined to the Old Testament only), Muslims have an inaccurate picture of His nature (based on the Qur’an and the Hadith), and only Christians have the complete and accurate view of His nature (based on the Bible). For here lies the big impasse: Allah/God could not have been the source of both the Bible and the Qur’an since they have contradictory messages on the most fundamental issues, especially on the nature of God. From a Christian perspective God is the author of the Bible only. But from a Muslim perspective God is the author of both the Bible and the Qur’an, except that the present Bible is a corrupted version of the original one. . . . It is here that the issue of the nature of God comes into focus. Though Muslims and Christians may believe in the same God as subject, the nature of God as conceived by Islam is not at all identical to the nature of God within the Judeo-Christian faith.58
Therefore, the Dome of the Rock is not the temple of the God of the Bible.According to tradition, the altar which Abraham constructed upon which to offer Isaac (Gen. 22:9) stood upon a particular rock on the mount, the Stone of Binding:
In the Midrashim it is written that the Rock is the Even Akkidah, the ‘Stone of Binding’ and marks the place where Abraham bound his son Isaac and laid him on an altar, but that the Holy of Holies was built over the place where the ram was caught in the thicket, a short distance away. Tradition further contends that the Rock is not only the place where the offering of Isaac was attempted, but that it was also the threshing floor of Arunah the Jebusite which King David purchased and upon which he pitched the Tabernacle.59
It is this “Rock” which is referred to in the name Dome of the Rock, although Islam distorts the OT teaching by claiming that Abraham offered Ishmael rather than Isaac. Interestingly, the passage within the Qur’an which describes the offering never mentions Ishmael by name, associating Isaac’s name more closely with the account.60In A.D. 638, the Muslims invaded Israel and Jerusalem which had previously been under the control of Byzantine Christians. Caliph Omar caused a mosque to be built on what was considered to be the ancient site of the Temple of David. He is said to have set an example of reverence by personally clearing away some of the garbage which had been discarded upon the Rock marking the location of the Temple on the Mount.
In 691 the Umayyad Caliph ’Abd al-Malik built a wooden cupola over the Rock that Caliph Omar had cleared, giving it the misnomer, “the mosque of Omar,” or as it is properly known, the Dome of the Rock (Arabic, Qubbet es-Sakhra). In a further show of conquest over the Christians, Caliph Omar later built a wooden mosque on the compound over the foundations of an early Christian church. This mosque, known as the Al-Aqsa Mosque, was completed in A.D. 715 and has been rebuilt many times since. Today this mosque is regarded as the third holiest place in Islam (after Mecca and Medina), but it is the Dome of the Rock which is considered the crown of the Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount).61
Originally, Islam had little use for Jerusalem:
Today the Muslims call Jerusalem Al-Quds (‘the Holy’); however, the earliest Arab name for the city was Iliyia, derived from the Roman renaming of the city as Aelia (Capitolina). In the Islamic period, the name was Bayt al Maqdis from the Hebrew Beit Hamiqdash (‘the Holy House,’ i.e., the Temple), revealing the city’s Israelite origin. Only later was the name changed to Al-Quds.62
But over time, it was asserted that the destination of Mohammed’s journey described in the Qur’an (Surah 17:1) was Jerusalem, the “Farthest Mosque”:63
Glory to (Allah) who did take His Servant for a journey by night from the Sacred Mosque to the Farthest Mosque, whose precincts We did Bless—in order that We Might show him some of Our Signs: for He is the One Who heareth and seeth (all things). (Surah 17:1) [emphasis added]64
It was only after centuries—and most likely to justify the continued Muslim presence in Jerusalem—that the stories of Jerusalem being the place of Mohammed’s night journey and his final ascension (supposedly at the time of Byzantine Christian rule when the Rock was under a dung heap!) were invented. . . this is obvious from the fact that the name of Jerusalem is not mentioned in the Qur’an. . . . While some Muslim authorities have argued that there is a reference to Jerusalem in the night journey of Mohammed when the account says that he went to Al-Aqsa, the name of the mosque which today is built south of the Dome of the Rock, the word Al-Aqsa simply means “far corner”—a term originally applied to the east corner of Mecca, not Jerusalem.65
The current status of the Temple Mount is that it is effectively owned by Israel, but jurisdiction is completely in the hands of the Muslims. Even though Israel took back the Temple Mount in the Six-Day War of 1967, by a strange turn of events (God is sovereign, remember?), within ten days the Jews gave up control of the very site of their historic Temples:66
Rabbi Shlomo Goren, the chief rabbi of the Israeli Defense Forces . . . recounts the events of that day: “In the midst of deliberations, in both governmental and religious frameworks, about renewing Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount and building a permanent synagogue on the open southern plain, the Minister of Defense told me, to my great surprise, that he decided to pass the auspices and responsibilities for all arrangements on the Temple Mount to the Islamic Wakf. He ordered me to take the Torah study center of the Military Rabbinate down from the Temple Mount and to remove all officers of the Temple Mount. From then on, according to him, the Military Rabbinate has no responsibility for the arrangements there, and I should stop organizing Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount. I accepted the order with anger and pain, and I told the Minister of Defense that this is likely to bring about a third destruction, since the key to our sovereignty over Judea, Samaria, and Gaza is the Temple Mount.”67
Previously, Islam recognized the Temple Mount as the location of the Jewish Temple,68 it has more recently become politically expedient to deny the Jewish history which transpired at the location.69Controversy continues to rage as to whose site it should be and whether Jews should have access to the site for religious purposes. Even the Jewish rabbis disagree about allowing Jews upon the Temple Mount due to fear that they would accidentally defile the Holy places out of ignorance and lack of preparation:
Does Halakhah [Jewish law] permit Jews to enter the Temple Mount? The Bible specifically forbids those who are ritually impure - as we are today - from entering the inner areas of the Holy Temple. However, many hareidi and religious-Zionist rabbis say that after immersion in a mikveh [ritual bath] and taking other precautions, one may enter the other areas of the Temple Mount. Rabbi Yehuda Edri, of the Movement to Establish the Temple, a principal and educational supervisor for ten years in the hareidi Shas Party’s El HaMa’yan educational system, spoke about this with Yosef Zalmanson today. “Several of our great sages of the Rishonim period,” he said, “such as Maimonides and Ishtori HaParchi, actually set foot on the Temple Mount. In addition, Rabbi Akiva Eiger [d. 1837] tried to find out if the Turks would allow Jews to bring the Passover offering... Over the centuries, the Jews simply got used to not frequenting the Temple Mount because the Moslems allowed neither Christians nor Jews to do so.” Rabbi Edri said that even now, “not one religious authority forbids entry into the Temple Mount per se. It is only that because the sin of entering the Holy of Holies is so grave, they are afraid that Jews who either don’t know or don’t care will also ascend to the Temple Mount and will enter the wrong places. But this does not affect Jews who do know and who are careful.” He agreed that these rulings, ironically, prevent only knowledgeable Jews from entering, while having no influence on those whose entry they wish to stop. 70
The Yesha Rabbis Council issued a Halakhic ruling today not only permitting Jews to ascend to the Temple Mount, but even mandating it, contingent upon proper precautions. Excerpts from the announcement of the ruling: “...One of the rabbis commented that by refraining from ascending, we are thereby declaring to the world as if we, G-d forbid, have no part in the Mountain of G-d - and we thus strengthen the Arabs’ feeling that the Temple Mount is theirs. The public is not aware that many rabbis are of the opinion that we currently have the information necessary to enable one to ascend without transgressing, and that therefore those who permit it are not being ‘lenient’ and are not disputing those who came before them - but are rather clearly relying on that which is now known. We therefore call on every rabbi who [agrees with this] to actually visit the Temple Mount, and to guide his congregants in doing so according to Halakhah [Jewish law]. It is a disgrace for us that the Arabs - ‘who say let us seize for ourselves the pastures of G-d’ [Psalms 88] - ascend to the site by the tens of thousands, while barely any Jews do so... All those who continue to feel that it is forbidden did not check the matter sufficiently, and forbade it only because of uncertainty [as to the permitted locations] - but this doubt has been cleared up, and it can be clearly delineated where on the Mount we are permitted to walk. It is our tradition that ‘we do not add decrees.’ In order to forbid something, the Sanhedrin, or all the generation’s Torah leaders, would have to convene and make this decision - but that has not occurred, and therefore the Law remains as it was, namely, permitting ascent to the Temple Mount, as Maimonides himself did and as the Meiri testified that it is a ‘common-place custom’ to do so. Even a prophet cannot uproot a commandment except as a temporary measure. Those who wish to be extra careful [should know that] their stringency is leading to a leniency, in that many people who would be happy to follow the Halakhah actually transgress it out of ignorance - simply because the proper laws are not publicized. The Yesha Rabbis’ announcement, which quotes Maimonides’ ruling [Bait HaMikdash 3,4], states that one who ascends to the Mount while adhering to three conditions - immersion in a mikveh; keeping the laws of Awe of the Temple (no leather shoes, etc.); and knowledge of the precise permitted areas - is fulfilling a ‘great mitzvah [Torah commandment].’ ” 71
For additional information on Islam from a Christian perspective, see:
- Caner, Ergun Mehmet and Caner, Unveiling Islam.72
- Geisler, Norman L., and Abdul Saleeb, Answering Islam.73
- Price, Randall, Unholy War.74
- Daniel 9:27 - The prince who is to come confirms a covenant for the duration of The 70th Week of Daniel. In the middle of the week, “he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.” This implies an preexisting Temple within which sacrifice and offering had been taking place.
- Daniel 12:11 - The daily sacrifice will be taken away and the Abomination of Desolation is set up. The context indicates that this occurs during “a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a [Jewish] nation” (Dan. 12:1). A Temple must have been standing in which the daily sacrifices were being offered.
- Matthew 24:15 - Jesus predicted that the Abomination of Desolation would stand “in the holy place.” This refers to a location within the Temple.
- 2 Thessalonians 2:4 - Paul indicated that one of the acts of the man of sin would be to exalt himself “above all that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” [emphasis added]
- Revelation 11:1+ - John is told to measure “the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there.” The context is during the Tribulation, prior to the return of Christ.
It is beyond all doubt that a Temple exists at the time of Antichrist. The only question which remains is which Temple? As we have already mentioned, most preterist interpreters take Nero to be The Beast and understand the fulfillment of his overthrow by Christ (Rev. 19:20+) to be his suicide in A.D. 68. They see John’s mention of a Temple in Revelation 11+ as internal evidence for an early date for the writing of Revelation.If this were an acceptable explanation and interpretation, then the Tribulation Temple would be none other than the Second Temple prior to its destruction by Rome in A.D. 70. However, attempts to find fulfillment of the book of Revelation, not to mention all the other related prophetic themes, in the events of the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 require an enormous amount of creative and imprecise interpretation, not to mention outright reversal of textual meaning.76 Although preterists maintain that since John is told to measure the Temple (Rev. 11:1+) it must therefore have been standing in John’s day, this is not necessarily so:
Regarding Preterist assertion that this is Herod’s temple, to be destroyed in 70 A.D., there are at least two problems with this view. Firstly, most scholars date the book of Revelation after that destruction and secondly, It does not matter at all whether the temple is thought to still be standing in Jerusalem at the time that John sees the vision, since that would not necessarily have any bearing upon a vision. John is told by the angel accompanying him during the vision to ‘measure the temple’ (Rev. 11:1+). Measure what temple? The temple in the vision. In fact, Ezekiel, during a similar vision of a temple (Eze. 40-48) was told to measure that temple. [Preterists] would agree, that when Ezekiel saw and was told to measure a temple, that there was not one standing in Jerusalem.77
There is an additional problem with the preterist view that the Tribulation Temple is the Second Temple: no one in the early church—the saints who lived closest to the times of both Nero and John—understood the preterist scheme. They did not see Nero as the Antichrist and the destruction of Jerusalem as the fulfillment of the book of Revelation. Some of the earliest interpreters, like futurist interpreters of today, expected the Temple to be a rebuilt Temple future to John’s day:
Therefore, when he [the antichrist] receives the kingdom, he orders the temple of God to be rebuilt for himself, which is in Jerusalem; who after coming into it, he shall sit as God.—Ephraim the Syrian, A.D. 373.78
But when this Antichrist shall have devastated all things in this world, he will reign for three years and six months, and sit in the temple at Jerusalem; and then the Lord will come from heaven in the clouds, in the glory of the Father, sending this man and those who follow him into the lake of fire; but bringing in for the righteous the times of the kingdom, that is, the rest, the hallowed seventh day; and restoring to Abraham the promised inheritance, in which kingdom the Lord declared, that “many coming from the east and from the west should sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”79
As we discuss elsewhere, the Date of the writing of the book of Revelation is most likely in A.D. 95 or 96 at the end of Domitian’s reign. At that time, no Temple stood in Jerusalem. Therefore, the passages mentioned above which have not yet been fulfilled require the rebuilding of a Jewish Temple. It would appear that this Tribulation Temple must be in place no later than the midpoint of The 70th Week of Daniel in order for the man of sin to sit in the Holy Place and for the Abomination of Desolation to be set up. The Temple may actually be built well in advance of that event, especially since it appears that the breaking of the covenant between the Antichrist and “many” in Israel contravenes the resumption of sacrifice and offering which would previously have been taking place at the site of the Temple (Dan. 9:27). Either the Tribulation Temple will be complete by the time the sacrifice is resumed or, as in the days of the rebuilding of the Second Temple, the sacrifices will be resumed while the construction of the Temple is in progress.As we discussed in relation to the Temple of the Believer, there is nothing which precludes the existence of a Jewish Temple side-by-side with believers who are indwelt with the Holy Spirit. This was the situation for almost four decades after the Day of Pentecost until the destruction of the Second Temple:
The early Jewish church—before the destruction of the Temple—was indwelt, sealed, and filled with the Spirit and yet continued to worship in the Temple! This would imply that the Third Temple could be built during the church age and even sacrifices commenced without there being a necessary conflict with “spiritual worship.”80
Moreover, a rebuilt Jewish Temple would most likely be the product of orthodox Judaism which rejects the Christian reality of the Temple of the Believer. So views concerning the compatibility of a physical Temple while a spiritual Temple already exists within each believer may be irrelevant. There is also the possibility that the Church will be taken in the Rapture prior to the construction of the Tribulation Temple. Finally, we note that during the Millennial Kingdom, a physical Temple will exist alongside believers in Jesus.As to the practicality of rebuilding the Temple, there is much controversy. Considerable debate attends the identification of the precise location of Solomon’s Temple upon the Temple Mount and whether the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque preclude any possibility of a future Jewish Temple on the Mount.There is also disagreement concerning whether a Jewish Temple could be built upon the Temple Mount while the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque continue to stand. Some investigators claim that the Second Temple stood at a slightly different location than that occupied by the Dome of the Rock. Others say this is a moot point because Muslims would never allow the Jews to build anything anywhere upon the Temple Mount so long as Islam controls the location. Similarly, orthodox Judaism considers all Islamic presence on the Mount to be a defilement of their historical holy location. It is beyond the scope of our treatment here to consider the issues related to the precise location and ability to rebuild. See Temple-Related Websites.See commentary on Revelation 11:1.
There is overwhelming scriptural evidence predicting a Temple during the Millennial Kingdom on earth (Isa. 2:3; 56:6-7; 60:13; Eze. 40-47; Dan. 9:24; Joel 3:18; Hag. 2:7-9; Zec. 6:12-15; 8:20-23). Most interpreters do not deny these passages. However, most spiritualize them because they are unable to reconcile a future earthly kingdom, complete with Temple, with a theology which believes that the Church has replaced Israel as the “New Israel” and that the spiritual Temple of the Believer has forever replaced any need for a physical Temple. Even though the level of detail given concerning the Temple (Eze. 40-47) is impossible to explain allegorically or to reliably attach spiritual significance to, most commentators attempt to do just this. They reject the Golden Rule of Interpretation in favor of a completely spiritual/figurative interpretation. This inability to accept the statements of Scripture concerning the details of the Millennial Temple has led to a variety of interpretations:
Several non-literal interpretations have been advanced by interpreters regarding the millennial temple of Ezekiel. These are: First view— The vision was given by God for the benefit of post-exilic Jews to help them remember Solomon’s temple design when they restore the old temple. Second view— Here is an ideal blueprint of what should have been built by the Jewish remnant after their return from the Babylonian captivity. Third view— The prophecy is a grand, complicated symbol of the Christian church. This is the standard amillennial position. As Milton Terry says, “this vision of restored and perfected temple, service, and land symbolizes the perfected kingdom of God and his Messiah.” Fourth view— The glorious descriptions found in this prophecy will surely be fulfilled at the millennium, but do not fuss over the how of fulfillment. This is the covenant premillennial position which refuses to go into details.81
Those who seek to dismiss Ezekiel’s description of the Millennial Temple as being non-literal, are inconsistent because similar descriptions elsewhere in Ezekiel are manifestly literal:
The Millennial Temple is not the only temple that Ezekiel describes. In [Eze. 8-11], he describes the departure of the Shechinah Glory from Israel from the First Temple. All agree that his description of the Temple and the events that happen there are very literal. In [Eze. 40-48], Ezekiel describes the future return of the Shechinah Glory into the Fourth Temple. If what he said about the First Temple was literal, then what he says about the Fourth Temple should also be taken literally.82
Take the silver and gold, make an elaborate crown, and set it on the head of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Then speak to him, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, saying: “Behold, the Man whose name is the BRANCH! From His place He shall branch out, and He shall build the temple of the LORD; yes, He shall build the temple of the LORD. He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule on His throne; so He shall be a priest on His throne, and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.” ’ (Zec. 6:11-13) [emphasis added]
The Scripture says, “the counsel of peace shall be between them both.” Between both what? Unfortunately, the translation suffers from lack of precision. Where the instructions say “make an elaborate crown,” the Hebrew actually says, “make elaborate crowns” (plural).
The term for crown is plural signifying that the “branch” will wear both kingly and priestly crowns (Zec. 6:13). The Hebrew word for “crown” here is עֲטֶרֶת [ʿăṭereṯ], a term never used in the OT for the priestly crown or mitre. Thus, the scene here is the investing of the priest with royal authority.83
There are two crowns: a gold crown denoting royalty and a silver crown denoting priesthood. “Both” refers to the two offices denoted by the two crowns. The Messiah will be both king and priest! This passage refers to the future earthly rule of Messiah Jesus upon the throne of David (Isa. 9:7, see The Arrival of God’s Kingdom).The rabbis understood this passage to teach that Messiah would build the Temple at His coming (in this case, the Second Coming):
The medieval rabbi Rashi declared that the Temple would descend directly from heaven after the coming of the Messiah. Maimonides also argued that only the Messiah could build the Temple. The prayer at the afternoon service on Tisha B’Av reflects this thinking: “For You, O Lord, did consume it [the Temple] with fire, and with fire You will in the future restore it.”84
To this we could add the implications of Jesus’ statement: “See! Your house [the Temple] is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say . . .” (Mat. 23:38-39a). The desolation of the Temple is connected with the departure of Jesus, the glory of the Lord (see The Abiding Presence of God). Could it be that the restoration of the Temple is connected with His return? This is what Zechariah’s passage explains. This agrees with Daniel’s prophecy concerning the Most Holy being anointed following The 70th Week of Daniel:
Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy. (Dan. 9:24) [emphasis added]
That which is to be anointed is not a person, but a future Temple, the Millennial Temple:
Nowhere in Holy Writ is קֹדֶשׁ קָדָשִׁים [qōḏeš qāḏāšîm] (“a most holy”) applied to the Church or to a person. . . Each of the 39 occurrences of קֹדֶשׁ קָדָשִׁים [qōḏeš qāḏāšîm] pertains to the Tabernacle, Temple (specifically the Holy of Holies), or the things of the Temple. . . A reasonable deduction from that fact is “a most holy” is the Temple. The allusion is not likely to be the Holy of Holies proper because that term almost always has the article with it.85
The Malbim says that this [to anoint the Most Holy] refers to “the Third Temple,” since “it will be anointed.” This statement reflects the contrast with the Second Temple, which the Mishnah records had not been anointed (Yoma 21b; compare Tosefta Sotah 13:2). The “anointing” refers to the consecration of the chamber that housed the Ark of the Covenant, whose presence sanctified the Temple by virtue of the Shekinah (the divine presence). Since neither the Ark nor the Shekinah were present in the Second Temple (Yoma 21b) rabbinic tradition held that the Ark will be revealed in the future by the Messianic king, who will also build the Third Temple (Zec. 6:12-13).86
Since the destruction of the Second Temple many centuries ago and the dispersion of the Jews, the idea of a future Jewish state and a literal rebuilt Temple have seemed fantastic to many. Yet based on his simple reading of Scripture, writing over a century ago in advance of the recreation of the Jewish state, Walter Scott (1796 - 1861) said:
The Jews as a nation shall be restored in unbelief both on their part and on that of the friendly nation who shall espouse their cause (Isa. 18). They then proceed to build a temple, and restore so far as they can, the Mosaic ritual. God is not in this movement, which is undertaken for political ends and purposes. But amidst the rank unbelief of these times, there shall be as ever, a true godly remnant, and it is this remnant which is here [Rev. 11:1+] divinely recognized.87
One of the more difficult aspects of the Millennial Kingdom concerns passages which make plain that a sacrificial system will be active during the thousand year reign of Christ on earth. These sacrifices are both by Ezekiel in his famous passage concerning the Millennial Temple (Eze. 43:20, 26; 45:15, 17, 20), but also by four other prophets (Isa. 56:7; 66:20-23; Jer. 33:18; Zec. 14:16-21; Mal. 3:3-4).88If the writer of Hebrews indicates that Christ’s one-time sacrifice has made a new and living way to approach God (Heb. 10:20), then what possible purpose would future sacrifices serve, especially after the return of Christ and during His righteous rule from Jerusalem?
One of the most difficult passages to harmonize with dispensational literalism is Ezekiel 40-48 . In these chapters Ezekiel recorded a vision of a new temple in which sacrificial ritual occurred. This immediately places the dispensationalist in a dilemma. If the temple is viewed as in the eschaton and the sacrifices are literal, then this seems to be at odds with the Book of Hebrews, which clearly states that Christ’s sacrifice has put an end to all sacrifice. If, on the other hand, the sacrifices are not accepted as literal, this seems to oppose one of the cornerstones of dispensationalism, namely, the normal interpretation of prophetic literature.89
Several elements contribute to an understanding of the purpose of sacrifices during the Millennial Kingdom:
- Sin Remains - Although conditions during the millennial reign are far superior to the present age (e.g., a just rule, regenerated environment, peace among animals and man), the problem of sin and death remains (Isa. 65:20). Not everyone in the kingdom will have obtained their glorified state of sinlessness (Rev. 20:4+, 6+). At its inception, those believers who survive the Tribulation will enter the kingdom in their natural bodies (Mat. 25:31-34). They will have natural children, all whom will be born in sin, some of whom will reject God (Isa. 65:20; Rev. 20:7-9+).
- Ministry of Holy Spirit - The unique ministry of the Holy Spirit during this age, which began on the Day of Pentecost and formed the spiritual Temple of the Believer, may also end at the Rapture of the Church when the body of Christ returned to be with Her Lord (John 14:1-3). This unique spiritual ministry, which began with the formation of the Church for the purposes of the present age may not attend regeneration during the Millennium. Scripture simply does not say. Since a new and different ministry of the Spirit (Spirit-baptism) attended salvation beginning with the Day of Pentecost, it may be presumptuous to assume the precise continuance of this same ministry in the lives of believers subsequent to the departure of the Church. Note that the spiritual Temple of the Believer is associated with membership in the body of Christ during the present age. This spiritual organism was created for purposes associated with Jesus’ physical absence (John 7:38-39; 16:7), but during the Millennial Kingdom Jesus will be physically present on earth. At that time, the literal body of Christ Himself will be seated on the throne of David and ruling from Jerusalem.
- Presence of God - Prior to the incarnation, God’s presence was manifested by the Shekinah and approach to the Shekinah was highly restricted through a priesthood and elaborate Temple liturgy. At the First Coming of Messiah, God’s presence was manifested in the incarnation of Jesus (John 1:14) and was handled directly by sinful flesh (Luke 7:44). After the ascension of Jesus, with the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, believers were baptized with the Spirit and God’s presence dwelt within them as a spiritual Temple and provided a new quality of access to God (Heb. 4:16). The pattern is this: changes in the manifestation of the divine presence (Shekinah, incarnation, Spirit baptism) are attended by changes in the way of approach to that presence (physical Temple and liturgy, direct physical handling, spiritual Temple). During the Millennial Kingdom, God’s presence will be manifested in the physical person of Messiah Jesus reigning from Jerusalem as both king and priest (Zec. 6:13). When the divine presence resides in physical form within the Millennial Temple, an entire priestly liturgy will be instituted which includes a system of sacrifice.
- Purpose of Sacrifice - We recognize that animal sacrifice could not purchase salvation (Heb. 10:4) and that it pointed to the sacrifice of the Lamb of God to reconcile sinners to God (1Cor. 5:7; 1Pe. 1:19). “To the objection that a renewal of ‘expiatory’ animal sacrifices is unthinkable and would deny the complete efficacy of our Lord’s atoning death, the reply is very simple: no animal sacrifice in the Bible has ever had an expiatory efficacy [Heb. 10:4]. . . These sacrifices were simply a ‘remembrance’ of the sins committed, and pointed forward to the one sacrifice which would take them away.”90 The countless animals which died in the OT did not move man any closer to redemption, but neither were they entirely a forward-pointing memorial. Animal sacrifice had intrinsic value: it provided atonement. We discuss this aspect in more detail below.
As has been recognized, animal sacrifice in the OT was a type—a forward-looking memorial—to the eventual sacrifice of the Lamb of God (Ex. 12:5-6; Isa. 53:7; John 1:29, 36; 19:14; Acts 8:32; 1Cor. 5:7; 1Pe. 1:19; Rev. 5:6+, 12+). Some have explained the sacrifices during the Millennial Kingdom as having a similar backward-looking memorial purpose:
These sacrifices will be types and symbols of their faith in Christ’s death, but that does not make them any the less real. There will probably be mingled sorrow and joy in the sacrifices, as they recall how their fathers refused to accept Christ as the Messiah and how now they have the privilege of seeing it all so clearly.91
Most dispensationalists have explained the sacrifices in Ezekiel 40-48 through what is known as “the memorial view.” According to this view the sacrifices offered during the earthly reign of Christ will be visible reminders of His work on the cross. Thus these sacrifices will not contradict the clear teaching of Hebrews, for they will not have any efficacy except to memorialize Christ’s death. The primary support for this view is the parallel of the Lord’s Supper. It is argued that just as the communion table looks back on the Cross without besmirching its glory, so millennial sacrifices will do the same.92
The memorial view helps explain one of the purposes of millennial sacrifices which they share with OT sacrifices. Yet in itself, this explanation is lacking because the Scriptures indicate that millennial sacrifices are more than just memorial, they provide atonement (Eze. 16:63; 43:20, 26; 45:15, 17, 20). As we saw above, God’s presence will be on earth in a new way which differs from the Shekinah of the OT, the incarnation of the life of Jesus, and the Holy Spirit indwelling the Church as the spiritual Temple during the present age:
Atonement cleansing was necessary in Leviticus because of the descent of the Shekinah in Exodus 40. A holy God had taken up residence in the midst of a sinful and unclean people. Similarly Ezekiel foresaw the return of God’s glory to the millennial temple. This will again create a tension between a holy God and an unclean people.93
Animal sacrifices during the millennium will serve primarily to remove ceremonial uncleanness and prevent defilement from polluting the temple envisioned by Ezekiel. This will be necessary because the glorious presence of Yahweh will once again be dwelling on earth in the midst of a sinful and unclean people.94
When we carefully read the following passage from the book of Hebrews, we notice that the author differentiates between purification of the flesh and cleansing of the conscience:
Then indeed, even the first covenant had ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary. For a tabernacle was prepared: the first part, in which was the lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary; and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All, which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant; and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail. Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services. But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people’s sins committed in ignorance; the Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing. It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience— concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation. 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. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Heb. 9:1-14) [emphasis added]
The writer of Hebrews understands that although animal sacrifices were ineffectual as a means of salvation, they were effectual for the purifying of the flesh. Animal sacrifices in the OT were not purely forward-looking memorials, but also had effectual function in their time. Their function was not that of providing redemption, but of providing ceremonial cleansing.
Hebrews 9:10 and 13 state that the Levitical offerings were related to “food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body,” and the sprinkling of blood so as to sanctify and purify the flesh. Animal sacrifices were efficacious in removing ceremonial uncleanness. While Christ is superior, the fact should not be lost that animal sacrifices did in the earthly sphere cleanse the flesh and remove outward defilement. . . . Hebrews reveals that Christ’s death met certain objectives and operated in a sphere different from that of the animal sacrifices of the old economy. Hebrews states that animal sacrifices were efficacious in the sphere of ceremonial cleansing. They were not efficacious, however, in the realm of conscience and therefore in the matter of spiritual salvation. Because of this, Christ’s offering is superior in that it accomplished something the Levitical offerings never could, namely, soteriological benefits.95
With an appreciation of the effectual aspect of OT sacrifice—that OT sacrifice was more than merely a memorial to the coming work of Christ—we can begin to see why sacrifices are indicated during the Millennial Kingdom. Another way of looking at the relation of animal sacrifice to Christ’s redemptive work is to ask what the effect is of adding to Christ’s redemptive work? We know that to add anything to Christ’s redemptive work is blasphemy for it is akin to representing that His work was incomplete. This in itself indicates sacrifice which was required by the OT could not be merely a miniature form of what Christ did. For then, their efficacious value could be said to contribute to the work of Christ. Alas, this is blasphemy! This dilemma is solved by recognizing that the animal sacrifices in the OT had efficacious value which pointed to, but differed in function from the ultimate redemptive work of Christ. Once we recognize this distinction, we understand that in the same way OT sacrifices do not add to the work of Christ, neither will millennial sacrifices take away from it.Perhaps an analogy would be of further help: that of the contribution of confession in the life of the believer. When a believer is born again, he is unable to become unborn for he is among those chosen by God. As a member among the redeemed, the one-time sacrifice of Jesus paid for all his sin, both past and future. When he commits sin, it does not result in the loss of salvation, otherwise every believer would lose his salvation daily and require regeneration a multitude of times. Moreover, there would be no possibility of knowing whether he has eternal life.96 Yet sin clearly separates the believer from God. Although his salvation is secure, his fellowship is adversely affected because He becomes more distant from God. The solution is found in repentance and confession (1Jn. 1:9). We find that the confession of the believer is efficacious for cleansing, but unrelated to his essential salvation. This is analogous to the function of animal sacrifices both in the OT and the coming Millennial Kingdom. They are not salvific, but associated with cleansing and the approach of God by those who still suffer the ravages of sin.97For additional information on the Millennial Temple, see [J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come: A Study in Biblical Eschatology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1958), 512-531] and [John F. Walvoord, The Millennial Kingdom (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1959), 305-315].
At the close of the Millennial Kingdom, after the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20:11-14+), all things are made new and the holy city, the New Jerusalem, comes down out of heaven from God (Rev. 21:1-2+). Perhaps the greatest blessing attending the New Jerusalem is the nearness of the redeemed to The Abiding Presence of God:
But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it for the glory of God [the Shekinah] illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. (Rev. 21:22-23+)
In the eternal state, the purpose of every Temple through history is finally achieved: God and the Lamb are the temple. The age-long separation between man and God which has taken numerous forms is now done away with and full communion is restored. Man will once again walk with God in full fellowship as in the Garden of Eden, but now in a glorified state and in a city. Access to the tree of life, lost at The Fall, will now be restored (Rev. 22:2+, 14+) for man may now live eternally without the threat of sin (Gen. 3:22).
In one sense there shall be “no temple” in the heavenly city because there shall be no distinction of things into sacred and secular, for all things and persons shall be holy to the Lord. The city shall be all one great temple, in which the saints shall be not merely stones, as in the spiritual temple now on earth, but all eminent as pillars: immovably firm (unlike Philadelphia, the city which was so often shaken by earthquakes, Strabo [12 and 13]), like the colossal pillars before Solomon’s temple, Boaz (that is, “In it is strength”) and Jachin (“It shall be established”): only that those pillars were outside, these shall be within the temple.98
Here is a city said to be 1,500 miles in measurement, yet with all the measurements equal (Rev. 21:16+, 22+). Since the Holy of Holies in the earthly Temples were built according to this design (cf. 1K. 6:19-20), it has been well recognized that what this depicts is that the entire city is a Sanctuary, or rather, an immense Holy of Holies.See Millennial Kingdom. See Genesis and Revelation as Bookends. See commentary on Revelation 21:2 and Revelation 21:9.
The following Temple-related websites contain additional material concerning the history of the Temple and especially modern issues related to the possible establishment of a future Jewish Temple upon Mount Moriah.
- Associates for Scripture Knowledge, [http://askelm.com/temple/t001211.htm]
- Chronology of the Temple Mount, [http://www.ldolphin.org/chron.html]
- Jerusalem Model, [http://www.inisrael.com/holyland/model.html]
- Jewish Virtual Library, [http://www.us-israel.org/jsource/Society_&_Culture/geo/Mount.html]
- List of Bible Archaeology Websites, [http://www.spiritandtruth.org/sites/sites.htm#archaeology]
- List of Bible History Websites, [http://www.spiritandtruth.org/sites/sites.htm#history]
- List of Temple Mount Websites, [http://www.spiritandtruth.org/sites/sites.htm#temple_mount]
- Noble Sanctuary, [http://www.noblesanctuary.com]
- Ritmeyer Archaeological Design, [http://www.templemountonline.com]
- Solomon’s Temple, [http://www.solomonstemple.com]
- Temple Institute, [http://www.templeinstitute.org]
- Temple Mount Archaeological Destruction, [http://www.har-habayt.org]
- Temple Mount UST Project, [http://www.ust.ucla.edu/ustweb/Projects/israel.htm]
- TempleMount.Org, [http://www.templemount.org]
- Walking in Their Sandals, [http://www.ancientsandals.com/overviews/temple.htm]
- World of the Bible, [http://www.worldofthebible.com]
1Concerning the Temple as God’s House and the place of His name: Deu. 12:5, 11; 12:21; 1Chr. 28:6; 2Chr. 6:20; 7:16; 20:19; Ezra 6:12; Ne. 1:9; Mat. 21:13; Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46.
2A picnic analogy may be helpful. Consider sin as tomato ketchup. When ketchup spills on a man’s clothing, it stains his clothing. But when ketchup is spilled on the coals of a fire, the coals consume the ketchup. The man’s clothing remains stained, but the coals are unaffected by the ketchup. The coals of the fire are like God: that which is sinful is consumed by His power and Holiness. Concerning God’s consuming fire: Ex. 24:17; Lev. 9:24; Num. 11:1; Deu. 4:24; 5:25; 9:3; 1K. 18:38; 1Chr. 21:26; 2Chr. 7:1; Ps. 50:3; Isa. 33:14; Jer. 21:12; Heb. 12:29.
6Although the initial motive for the expulsion was to prevent their partaking from the tree of life, it soon becomes apparent that fellowship with God apart from sacrificial offering is no longer possible (Gen. 4:7).
9The presence of God is essentially that which defines the Temple.
10Concerning God’s abiding presence in visible form: Gen. 3:8, 24; 15:17; Ex. 3:2; 13:21-22; 14:19-20, 24; 16:10; 19:18; 24:15-16; 33:18-23; 34:5-6; 40:34; Lev. 9:6, 23; Num. 14:10, 22; 16:19, 42; 20:6; Deu. 5:25-26; 33:16; 1K. 8:10-11; 2Chr. 7:1; Isa. 4:5; 35:2; 40:5; 58:8; 60:3; Eze. 1:28; 3:23; 9:3; 10:18; 43:2-4; Hag. 2:7-9; Zec. 2:5; Mat. 16:27; 17:2; 24:30; Mark 9:3; Luke 2:8-9; 9:29; John 1:14; Acts 2:3; 9:3; 22:6; 26:13; Heb. 1:3; 2Pe. 1:16-17; Rev. 1:14-16+; 15:8+; 21:3+; 21:23+.
11We have omitted the indwelling of the believer by God during the Church Age since this differs somewhat from the Shekinah in that there is no obvious outward manifestation of God’s presence upon the believer as there is with the Shekinah.
12David Baron, Zechariah: A Commentary On His Visions And Prophecies (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1918), 496.
13Ariel view of the Temple Mount from the north showing the Dome of the Rock (golden dome, center) and the Al-Aqsa Mosque (gray-blue dome, above center) as of A.D. 2003. The Kidron Valley is to the left. Copyright © 2003 www.BiblePlaces.com. This image appears by special permission and may not be duplicated for use in derivative works.
14We have purposefully omitted Mohammed’s fabled night journey to Jerusalem, the Mi’raj (Surah 17:1) because we do not believe it to be factual.
15Jesus was crucified outside the gates of Jerusalem (Heb. 13:11-13) on Mount Moriah.
16Actually, all three are highly significant to all men everywhere, although most do not recognize it.
18Concerning the revelation of Jesus to be found in the OT: Ps. 40:7; Luke 18:31; 24:27, 44; John 5:39, 46; Acts 8:35; Acts 10:43; Heb. 10:7.
22 [Floyd Nolen Jones, Chronology of the Old Testament (Woodlands, TX: KingsWord Press, 1999), 26], [James Ussher, The Annals of the World (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 1658, c2003), 17]. See Jones for a list of 30 bible chronologers who date creation between 5426 and 3836 B.C.
26[Torah scrolls are] written on parchment, sewn together, rolled onto wooden rollers called eytz chayeem (tree of life), and read regularly in the synagogue.—Israel My Glory, May/June 2001, 23.
29“Josephus states that the Tabernacle was brought into the First Temple [Antiquities, pp. 8. 101, 106], and that the effect of the spread-winged cherubim was to make it appear as a tent (8. 103).”—Randall Price, In Search of Temple Treasure (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1994), 193.
30The Jewish month of Av (also Ab) is the 5th month of the sacred year and 11th month of the civil year and falls in the months of July-August. [W. A. Criswell and Paige Patterson, eds., The Holy Bible: Baptist Study Edition (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1991), 1314]
37“Dedication” translates the Aramaic word hanukkah.
41“But the nation had rejected Him; and as He leaves this temple, it is no longer named “my house” (Mat. 21:13) but ‘your house’ (Mat. 23:38). And by reason of His rejection and withdrawal, Israel’s house is left ‘desolate.’ ”—Alva J. McClain, The Greatness Of The Kingdom (Winona Lake, IN: BMH Books, 1959), 361.
44For additional background on the transition associated with the Coming of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, see [Tony Garland, “Does Dispensationalism Teach Two Ways of Salvation?,” in The Conservative Theological Journal, vol. 7 no. 20 (Fort Worth, TX: Tyndale Theological Seminary, March 2003)].
45There is some disagreement regarding whether each individual believer comprises a Temple of God or whether only the collective body of believers is the Temple. Some note plural pronouns which occur in passages describing the Temple of the believer’s body (1Cor. 6:19; 2Cor. 6:16). Others explain this plural form as teaching concerning the individual, but delivered to the readers as a group.
46“In the rabbinic writings this is a very common term . . . the term . . . is a figure of speech describing a guest at a feast, reclining on the breast of his neighbor. Just as in the Gospel of John.”—Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, 754.
47“It is said on separate occasions that the Spirit entered into Ezekiel (Eze. 2:2; Eze. 3:24). How could this be if Ezekiel was permanently indwelled [sic]?”—Mal Couch, ed., A Bible Handbook to the Acts of the Apostles (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1999), 27.
48And in fact many Christians do conclude this even with Scriptural evidence to the contrary.
49“John Townsend stated in his Harvard dissertation on this point: ‘Since Paul sets the desecration of the Temple beside the ultimate blasphemy of proclaiming oneself to be God and since he regards these acts as the climax of the evil which is to precede the parousia [Christ’s second coming], there can be no doubt of Paul’s veneration for this Temple.’ ”—Price, The Coming Last Days Temple, 491. Even if we take this reference to the Temple as being the Second Temple like preterist interpreters do—although we disagree—it still demonstrates that Paul found significance in the Temple then standing after Pentecost.
51“His original name was probably Bar Koseva, and it is doubtful whether it was derived from a settlement in the Judean mountains or whether it indicates his father’s name or a general family name. The appellation Bar Kokhba was apparently given to him during the revolt on the basis of the homiletical interpretation, in a reference to messianic expectations, of the verse (Num. 24:17): ‘There shall step forth a star [כּוֹכָב [kôḵāḇ], kokhav] out of Jacob.’ Bar Kokhba was general midrashic designation for the ‘king messiah’ (see Messiah), and customarily used before the destruction of Jerusalem.”—Geoffrey Wigoder, ed., Encyclopedia Judaica CDROM Edition Version 1.0 (Keter Publishing House, Ltd., 1997), s.v. “BAR KOKHBA.”
54Ariel view of the southern portion of the Temple Mount from the southeast showing the Dome of the Rock (golden dome, upper right) and the Al-Aqsa Mosque (gray-blue dome, center left) as of A.D. 2003. The edge of the Kidron Valley is in the immediate foreground. Copyright © 2003 www.BiblePlaces.com. This image appears by special permission and may not be duplicated for use in derivative works.
55“It is due to this uncompromising emphasis on God’s absolute unity that in Islam the greatest of all sins is the sin of shirk, or assigning partners to God.”—Norman L. Geisler and Abdul Saleeb, Answering Islam (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1993), 18.
56“Kateregga writes. . .‘Islam teaches that the first phase of life on earth did not begin in sin and rebellion against Allah. Although Adam disobeyed Allah, he repented and was forgiven and even given guidance for mankind. Man is not born a sinner and the doctrine of the sinfulness of man has no basis in Islam.’. . . Faruqi, notes that ‘in the Islamic view, human beings are no more “fallen” than they are “saved.” Because they are not “fallen,” they have no need of a savior. But because they are not “saved” either, they need to do good works—and do them ethically—which alone will earn them the desired “salvation.” ’ ”—Ibid., 42-43.
57Both OT and NT were written hundreds of years prior to the Qur’an: an incontrovertible fact. For example, the Dead Sea Scrolls, dated prior to the birth of Christ, contain the detailed prediction of His death (Isaiah 53). Neither Judaism nor Islam can adequately deal with this reality for both deny the substitutionary atonement of the death of Messiah.
58Imad N. Shehadeh, “Do Muslims and Christians Believe in the Same God?,” in Bibliotheca Sacra, vol. 161 no. 641 (Dallas, TX: Dallas Theological Seminary, January-March 2004), 22-23, 26.
60“He said: ‘I will go to my Lord! He will surely guide me! O my Lord! grant me a righteous (son)!’ So We gave him the good news of a boy ready to suffer and forbear. Then, when (the son) reached (the age of serious) work with him, He said: ‘O my son! I see in vision that I offer thee in sacrifice: now see what is thy view!’ (The son) said: ‘O my father! Do as thou art commanded: thou wilt find me, if Allah so wills one practising patience and constancy!’ So when they had both submitted their wills (to Allah), and he had laid him prostrate on his forehead (for sacrifice), We called out to him, ‘O Abraham! Thou hast already fulfilled the vision!’—thus indeed do we reward those who do right. For this was obviously a trial—and we ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice: and we left (this blessing) for him among generations (to come) in later times: ‘Peace and salutation to Abraham!’ Thus indeed do We reward those who do right for he was one of Our believing servants. And we gave him the good news of Isaac—a prophet—one of the righteous. We blessed him and Isaac: but of their progeny are (some) that do right and (some) that obviously do wrong, to their own souls. (Surah 37:99-113)” [emphasis added]—Abdullah Yusuf Ali, The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an (Beltsville, MD: Amana Publications, 2001), Surah 37:99-113.
63“The Farthest Mosque must refer to the site of the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem on the hill of Moriah, at or near which stands the Dome of the Rock. This and the Mosque known as the Farthest Mosque (al Masjid al Aqsa) were completed by the Amir ’Abd al Malik in A.H. 68. Farthest, because it was the place of worship farthest west which was known to the Arabs in the time of the Holy Prophets: it was a sacred place to both Jews and Christians, but the Christians then had the upper hand, as it was included in the Byzantine (Roman) Empire, which maintained a Patriarch at Jerusalem.”—Ali, The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an, 673n2168.
64Ibid., Surah 17:1.
66 “June 7, 1967 - Israel, during the Six-Day War, liberates Temple Mount; hopes of rebuilding Temple revive, and Rabbi Goren suggests blowing up mosques on the Temple Mount, but later Defense Minister Moshe Dayan orders Israeli flag removed from atop the Dome of the Rock. . . . June 17, 1967 - Moshe Dayan meets with leaders of Supreme Muslim Council in Al-Aqsa Mosque and returns Temple Mount, especially site of the Temple, to sovereign control of the Muslim Wakf as a gesture of peace; agrees that Jews can have access to Mount, but cannot conduct prayers or religious activities.”—Ibid., 602, 603.
68“ ‘This site is one of the oldest in the world. Its sanctity dates from the earliest times. Its identity with the site of Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute.’—Guidebook issued by the Supreme Muslim Council of Jerusalem in 1930”—Randall Price, Unholy War (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2001), 259.
69Yet even the Qur’an indicates that the Promised Land was given to Moses and the Jews: “Remember Moses said to his people: ‘O my People! Call in remembrance the favour Of Allah unto you, when He produced prophets among you, made you kings, and gave You what He had not given to any other among the peoples. O my people! enter the holy land which Allah hath assigned unto you, and turn not back ignominiously, for then will ye be overthrown, to your own ruin.’ (Surah 5:20-21)”—Ali, The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an, Surah 5:20-21.
75We have only included passages which are definite references to the Tribulation Temple. Other passages may be related to the Tribulation Temple, but such reference is less certain (e.g., Rev. 13:6+, 14+). Some see a passage in Isaiah as denoting an unaccepted Temple at the time of the end: “Isaiah [Isa. 66:1-6] speaks of a house or temple being built for God which He does not sanction. It cannot refer to Solomon’s Temple or the Temple built by Zerubbabel, because God did sanction both of them. Nor can it refer to the Millennial Temple. That one will be built by Messiah, and God will certainly sanction it. Therefore, the only temple that this could refer to is the Tribulation Temple. . . . What God wants Israel to do at this time is to return to Him in faith, not merely to build Him a house.”—Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, 138. Although this may be possible, the passage may simply denote God’s dislike of insincere worship offered within the existing temple.
76The city of Babylon in Revelation 18+ is taken to be Jerusalem. God’s defense of the city of Jerusalem recorded in Zechariah 12, 14 is taken to describe its destruction by Rome. For an excellent summary comparison of the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 with Zechariah, see [Thomas Ice, “The Olivet Discourse,” in Tim LaHaye and Thomas Ice, eds., The End Times Controversy (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2003), 182].
88“It must not be forgotten that Ezekiel is not alone in this affirmation of a revival of a temple ritual in the coming Kingdom. As Reeve says, ‘The great prophets all speak of a sacrificial system in full vogue in the Messianic Age.’ [J. J. Reeve, ‘Sacrifice,’ I.S.B.E., op cit., Vol. IV, p. 2651.].”—McClain, The Greatness Of The Kingdom, 251.
89Jerry M. Hullinger, “The Problem of Animal sacrifices in Ezekiel 40-48,” in Bibliotheca Sacra, vol. 152 no. 607 (Dallas, TX: Dallas Theological Seminary, July-Sep 1995), 279.
96Indeed, this is precisely the situation of the Roman Catholic who may have a mortal sin laid to his account which has the potential to send him to hell in the next moment if he should die before confession and absolution.
97The population who entered the kingdom in their natural unresurrected bodies and who will eventually die.
98A. R. Fausset, “The Revelation of St. John the Divine,” in Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997, 1877), Rev. 3:12.