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Will God orchestrate the construction of another temple?

(Photo: Reuters/Ammar Awad)
(Photo: Reuters/Ammar Awad)

The Romans destroyed the temple in Jerusalem in AD 70. Some Christians believe that God is going to orchestrate the construction of another temple in Jerusalem. But is that really what God is planning to do? What does Scripture say? As you might expect, the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ are at the center of a biblical understanding of God's temple.

After all, “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us” (John 1:14). The Greek word literally means Jesus “tabernacled” among us. That is, the Messiah “pitched a tent among us.” The Old Testament tabernacle and temple foreshadowed the glorious reality of God becoming flesh to tabernacle among us and make the once-and-for-all payment for our sins by His death on the cross (see 1 Peter 3:18). No earthly structure can even begin to compare to “the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

There was a room in the Old Testament tabernacle “called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place ... only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance” (Hebrews 9:2-3,7).

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You may remember what happened in the temple the moment Jesus died on the cross. “And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, He gave up His spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” (Matthew 27:51). The tearing of the curtain signified that the way was now instantly opened for Jews and Gentiles alike to approach God directly through the sacrifice of the Messiah. Christ became our superior High Priest. “Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when He offered Himself” (Hebrews 7:27).

When Jesus died on the cross and then rose from the dead, He fulfilled these words He had spoken: “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days ... the temple He had spoken of was His body” (John 2:19,21). The greatest temple by far is Jesus Himself. “For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him” (Colossians 1:19). Who needs another man-made temple when you have Jesus?

The New Testament identifies another important aspect of God's temple. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16). Every believer in Jesus over the past 2,000 years has been made a part of God’s temple.

The Apostle Peter wrote to Christians, “You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). The New Testament shifts the focus away from a man-made temple and toward “a spiritual house.” Each time someone receives Christ as Savior, (see John 1:12) another “living stone” is added to the Lord's New Testament temple. 

Paul wrote to the saints in Ephesus: “You are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone. In Him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit” (Ephesians 2:19-22). You see, the Lord's “holy temple” is currently being built by the Holy Spirit who continues to bring people to faith in Christ one at a time. 

The Old Testament contained the old covenant and the man-made tabernacle and temple. The New Testament contains the new covenant and the spiritual building made up of living stones (believers) with Christ as the chief cornerstone. The Holy Spirit will continue to oversee this building project as He assembles this spiritual house all around the world. God will never again dwell in a man-made structure now that Christ has come and ushered in the new covenant.

Do you see why the construction of another temple in Jerusalem would be a step backward? There is no better or higher temple in which the fullness of God will ever dwell than Jesus Himself. And those of us who know, love and follow Christ have been made a part of God’s temple on Earth. Believers “worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). “For we are the temple of the living God” (2 Corinthians 6:16).

The Apostle John was given a revelation of “the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of Heaven from God” (Revelation 21:10). John wrote, “I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (Revelation 21:22). John's vision also included God's throne in Heaven (see Revelation chapters 4-7)

David wrote, “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6). Jesus referred to this eternal house when He told His disciples, “In my Father's house are many rooms ... I am going there to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2). Needless to say, God's throne and our eternal home in Heaven are going to be out of this world!

Dan Delzell is the pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Papillion, Nebraska. 

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