TEMPLES! TEMPLES! TEMPLES!
Since the time of Moses, God has instructed man regarding the construction of His temples. Now, let’s take a jet tour from temples past to temples future!
I. THE TABERNACLE
A temple is a place where God is worshiped. It is a place where God will dwell and be with His people and it is a place where God will meet with man! We shall see later how the temple of today provides a unique meeting place for us and God!
It was around 1444 B.C. when Moses received detailed instructions for a portable temple called the Tabernacle, (Exodus 25:1-40:38). Tabernacle refers to a tent and this temple was much like that. It was designed so that it could be quickly dismantled should the glory of the LORD leave the temple thereby signaling the time for the children of Israel to continue on their journey.
40 Then the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 35 And Moses was not able to enter the tabernacle of meeting, because the cloud rested above it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 36 Whenever the cloud was taken up from above the tabernacle, the children of Israel would go onward in all their journeys. 37 But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not journey till the day that it was taken up. 38 For the cloud of the LORD was above the tabernacle by day, and fire was over it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.
The Tabernacle was the first of eight temples, according to the Word of God.
II. SOLOMON’S TEMPLE
The temples of the Bible are not all physical temples. As we shall see, there is a great emphasis regarding spiritual temples by Christians. But the physical Jewish temples play a great role in the unfolding plan of God and His relationship with man. Although the tabernacle was noted here in this article as the first of eight temples found in the Bible, the first actual physical temple constructed in Jerusalem was Solomon’s Temple.
In 2 Samuel chapter seven the word of the LORD came to the prophet Nathan instructing him to tell King David of this first temple. It had been on David’s heart to build the LORD a house to dwell in.
2 Samuel 7:1-7
1 Now it came to pass when the king was dwelling in his house, and the LORD had given him rest from all his enemies all around, 2 that the king said to Nathan the prophet, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells inside tent curtains.” 3 Then Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that is in your heart, for the LORD is with you.” 4 But it happened that night that the word of the LORD came to Nathan, saying, 5 “Go and tell My servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Would you build a house for Me to dwell in? 6 For I have not dwelt in a house since the time that I brought the children of Israel up from Egypt, even to this day, but have moved about in a tent and in a tabernacle. 7 Wherever I have moved about with all the children of Israel, have I ever spoken a word to anyone from the tribes of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd My people Israel, saying, ‘Why have you not built Me a house of cedar?”
Although it was David’s desire to build the temple for the LORD, God would not allow him to, but rather the task would fall to his son and successor, Solomon. 480 years after the Exodus and the 4th year of Solomon’s reign, Solomon began to build the temple on the summit of Mt. Moriah in 966 B.C.
1 Kings 6:1
And it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel had come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv, which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the LORD.
Solomon’s Temple stood for some 380 years and was destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in 586 B.C. at which time the Jews were taken into Babylonian captivity.
26Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying, 27 “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me? 28 Therefore thus says the LORD: ‘Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the Chaldeans, into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he shall take it.
Solomon’s Temple was the second of eight temples, according to the Word of God. However, this was the first temple according to temple history.
III. ZERUBBABEL’S TEMPLE
The Jewish people returned to Jerusalem after seventy years of Babylonian captivity. Zerubbabel envisioned and constructed Zerubbabel’s Temple in 516 B.C.
Now in the second month of the second year of their coming to the house of God at Jerusalem, Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and the rest of their brethren the priests and the Levites, and all those who had come out of the captivity to Jerusalem, began work and appointed the Levites from twenty years old and above to oversee the work of the house of the LORD.
Zerubbabel’s Temple functioned for some 347 years until Antiochus Epiphanes desecrated the temple in June of 168 B.C. The following prophetic reference by the prophet Daniel speaks of this horrible act which is a foreshadow of the coming Antichrist and his abomination of the tribulation temple.
29 “At the appointed time he shall return and go toward the south; but it shall not be like the former or the latter. 30 For ships from Cyprus shall come against him; therefore he shall be grieved, and return in rage against the holy covenant, and do damage. “So he shall return and show regard for those who forsake the holy covenant. 31 And forces shall be mustered by him, and they shall defile the sanctuary fortress; then they shall take away the daily sacrifices, and place there the abomination of desolation.
Zerubbabel’s Temple was the third of eight temples, according to the Word of God. However, this was the second temple according to temple history.
IV. HEROD’S TEMPLE
In 19 B.C., King Herod the Great began an extensive restoration project to restore Zerubbabel’s Temple. Herod’s Temple was a magnificent work and won Herod much favor with the Jewish people. However, Herod’s Temple would not last long. The Temple Herod build was the shortest lived thus far. Could it be that the political reasons behind Herod’s desire to restore the temple to the Jewish people lacked God’s blessing? It seems that there may be times even in our own lives when we set out to do God’s will only for personal gain or selfish ambition.
Jesus referred to the destruction of this temple in Matthew 24:2.
1Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. 2 And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”
In 70 A.D. Jesus’ prophecy came to pass. The armies of Titus converged on Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple. Although Titus did not wish to bring down the temple, the Roman soldiers tossed torches into the temple causing a great fire that burned so hot that all of the gold melted and ran into the joints of the giant blocks of the temple. In an effort to retrieve the gold, the Roman soldiers pulled all of the blocks down, thus fulfilling the prophecy; “not one stone shall be left here upon another…” Matthew 24:2b.
Herod’s Temple was the fourth of eight temples, according to the Word of God. However, this was the third temple according to temple history.
V. PRESENT (HUMAN) TEMPLE
There has not been a physical temple in Jerusalem to this day. However, as the Jewish people, who have been dispersed throughout the world, have incredibly re-gathered to their land, the land which became a sovereign nation in 1948, there is a strong desire and need to rebuild their temple! So what is stopping them? Namely the Dome of the Rock, a Muslim Mosque built sometime after 600 A.D. The mosque was built on what was believed to be the exact location of the previous temples. The location would be the summit of Mt. Moriah where the Arc of the Covenant would be placed in the Holy of Holies. However, a Jewish archeologist by the name of Dr. Asher Kaufman published an amazing finding in an article in Biblical Archeology Review, dated March/April 1983 (suggested reading). He claims that the exact location of where the Holy of Holies would have been is actually some 70 meters to the north of the Dome of the Rock, under a small structure called the Dome of the Tablets. An interesting name, as the Arc of the Covenant contained the Tablets of Moses! This being the case, the temple could in fact be built and stand next to the existing mosque. Interesting to note, the mosque would then be located in the outer court known as the Court of Gentiles! We shall read in Revelation 11:2 that John was instructed not to measure this area as it represents God’s rejection of the unbelieving gentiles!
These are fascinating times we are living in! Will the temple be built in our time? Well, I believe that the rapture will occur in our generation! Thus the temple will be built shortly after that incredible event under the shadow of the Antichrist! It seems that everything is in readiness! There have been many preparations by the Jewish people to build their temple. There has even begun training of those who would serve in temple sacrifice and worship! So what are they waiting for? Probably the same thing all of us find ourselves waiting for…..God’s timing!
So, if Herod’s Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. and it is presumed that a temple will be built sometime in the near future, what of the past 2000 plus years? You may recall that a temple is where God resides and we experience a relationship with Him. Incredibly, in this age of grace, or the church age, God has not gone without His Holy Temple!
1 Corinthians 3:16-17
16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.
Have you ever wondered what actually took place at the precise moment you asked Jesus into your heart? It seems that when we were led to the Lord, or when we have the privilege to lead someone to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, we are taught that we must repent of our sins and ask Jesus to come into our hearts. According to scriptures, Jesus ascended up into heaven with the promise that the Father would send His Holy Spirit to be with them and all believers, convicting and teaching them how to live Godly lives!
49 Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” 50 And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. 51 Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. Amen.
1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
So, when one asks Jesus to enter one’s heart, it is the Holy Spirit of God who actually enters our body, the new Temple of God!
1 Corinthians 6:19
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?
2 Corinthians 6:16
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.”
What an amazing truth this is! The Spirit of God dwelling in us as He did in the Holy of Holies! If you ever had doubts that God could love you, how do you feel about it now? God, the creator of heaven and earth, the creator of the universe desires a personal relationship with you, but not only that! He desires to dwell within your heart! You are the Temple of God!!
The Present (Human) Temple is the fifth of eight temples, according to the Word of God.
VI. TRIBULATION TEMPLE
We now find ourselves back in our current text, Revelation 11:1-2.
1 Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood, saying, “Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there. 2 But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months.
In Revelation, chapter 11:1-2 John is given a measuring rod made from a reed-like stalk. Its length was six royal cubits (20.6 inches instead of the 18 inch cubit) or approximately ten feet. He is directed to measure select areas of the future temple which will be built by permission of the Antichrist during the seven year tribulation period.
We have spent some time in conversation regarding the Jewish people’s desire to rebuild their temple and re-institute a system where the atonement of sin is accomplished through animal sacrifice. As a people, Israel has rejected the idea that the advent of Jesus Christ was the coming of their long waited Messiah.
On May 14-15, 1948, Israel declared independence as a sovereign nation! Many believe, including me, that this event marked the fulfillment of prophecy and that there was now nothing to stand in the way of the Rapture of the Church! This event will clear the way for the rise of the Antichrist and the seven years of tribulation. It will be under the authority and permission of this Son of Perdition that the temple can and will be rebuilt! However, this temple, the tribulation temple will be the shortest lived of all temples! Depending on the timing of the project, this temple will not exceed 7 years as a functioning sacrificial system. Thankfully, the times to follow will no longer look to animal sacrifice as a means to the atonement of sin! In fact, from the demise of the tribulation temple, the world will see no other atonement for sin then Jesus Christ!
Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week
He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate,
even until the consummation, which is determined, is poured out on the desolate.”
“Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand)
Daniel is referring to a peace treaty offered by a powerful new world leader, Antichrist, guaranteeing Israel seven years of peace and the freedom to rebuild their temple and once again resume their system of animal sacrifice for the atonement of sin. However, after only three and one half years he will renege on his treaty and defile the temple just as was foreshadowed by Antiochus Epiphanes, the Syrian king who defiled the Holy of Holies in Zerubbabel’s Temple in 168 B.C.
The prophetic passage of Matthew 24 also refers to the Antichrist’s act of defiling the Holy of Holies of the Tribulation Temple. Scripture does not speak of the destruction of the Tribulation Temple, however, the prophecy of Jesus’ second coming found in Zechariah 14:4 allude to seismic events which will create topographical and geological changes which may or may not destroy the Tribulation Temple.
And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east.
And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, from east to west, making a very large valley;
Half of the mountain shall move toward the north and half of it toward the south.
Regardless of whether the temple is or isn’t destroyed, when Christ returns to establish His Millennial Kingdom, He will bring about a new temple, Ezekiel’s Millennial Temple!
The Tribulation Temple is the sixth of eight temples, according to the Word of God.
VII. EZEKIEL’S (MILLENNIAL) TEMPLE
The study of prophecy (eschatology) is thrilling to say the least! We are given so much information regarding our future. Over one third of scripture is prophetic, albeit much of the prophetic writings have already come to pass; there remain several events which will profoundly affect our lives!
One incredible event that we as Christians look forward to is the second coming of Jesus Christ! As Christians, I believe that the rapture will occur at least seven years prior to the second coming of Christ. This is particularly exciting to me as we will be so blessed to participate in this wonderful event!
11 Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. 12 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. 13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. 15 Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
The armies is heaven include all believers in heaven. May I suggest to you that this will be the greatest day of horseback riding in all of history!
When Jesus returns, He has already prepared plans for a most incredible temple, Ezekiel’s Millennial Temple!
In the twenty-fifth year of our captivity, at the beginning of the year, on the tenth day of the month, in the fourteenth year after the city was captured, on the very same day the hand of the LORD was upon me; and He took me there. 2 In the visions of God He took me into the land of Israel and set me on a very high mountain; on it toward the south was something like the structure of a city. 3 He took me there, and behold, there was a man whose appearance was like the appearance of bronze. He had a line of flax and a measuring rod in his hand, and he stood in the gateway. 4 And the man said to me, “Son of man, look with your eyes and hear with your ears, and fix your mind on everything I show you; for you were brought here so that I might show them to you. Declare to the house of Israel everything you see.” 5 Now there was a wall all around the outside of the temple. In the man’s hand was a measuring rod six cubits long, each being a cubit and a handbreadth; and he measured the width of the wall structure, one rod; and the height, one rod.
Ezekiel has been so privileged in his life as a prophet! He has witnessed a dazzling display of heavenly activity as he was treated to a vision of God on His throne in Ezekiel, chapter one! He has seen the restoration of Israel in a vision of the valley of dry bones in Ezekiel, chapter 37. He watched as God supernaturally intervened as a coalition of nations teamed together to destroy Israel. He witnessed God destroy five sixths of those attacking forces, as he recorded the prophecy of Gog and Magog , found in Ezekiel, chapters 38 & 39. And now he is taken high atop a mountain and given an incredible tour of the temple Jesus Himself will construct upon His second coming! This temple will last for a thousand years, ultimately to give way to the greatest Temple of them all!
Ezekiel’s Millennial Temple is the seventh of eight temples, according to the Word of God.
VIII. THE ETERNAL TEMPLE
There is a temple mentioned in Revelation 11:19;
Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple. And there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail.
Although this temple was not directly mentioned in the line-up of eight temples, I believe this refers to God and His throne in heaven. During the period of time known as the Age of Grace, or the Church Age, all believers are the temples where the Holy Spirit dwells. Now the church, all believers, is in heaven in the very Presence of God. The ark of the Old Testament was merely a shadow of the ark that is in heaven, which is revealed here in Revelation 11:19. The point here is that every earthly temple, including the human heart of belief, has been a mere foreshadowing of an ever-present temple, which is and was and forever will be!
22 But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. 24 And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. 25 Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). 26 And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. 27 But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
What an incredible promise! A promise of our Future and Hope, our Inheritance and our Salvation! We will live eternally in the Glory of the New Jerusalem and in the very Presence of the Glory of the LORD!
The Eternal Temple, His Presence, is the eighth of eight Temples, according to the Word of God!
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