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*Reading Time: 10 minutes*

Before reading this brief study, please read,

    1. The Meaning of Eschatology
    2. Flashback to the Prophecy of Jesus Christ
    3. The Parable of the Vineyard – Part 1 
    4. The Parable of the Vineyard – Part 2 
    5. The Parable of the Vineyard – Part 3
    6. The Wedding Feast

Old Covenant Temple

Matthew 24:1 – 2 — And Jesus went out from the Temple, and was going on his way; and his disciples came to him to show him the buildings of the Temple. 2 But he answered and said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

Mark 13:1 – 2 — And as he went forth out of the Temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Teacher, behold, what manner of stones and what manner of buildings! And Jesus said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left here one stone upon another, which shall not be thrown down.

Luke 21:5 – 7 — And as some spake of the Temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and offerings, he said,  As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in which there shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. And they asked him, saying, Teacher, when therefore shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when these things are about to come to pass?

All three gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke speak of Jesus prophesying the destruction of the Temple.

The Temple Background

We have seen that Jesus had avoided Jerusalem many times during His earthly ministry and yet at the very heart of the Temple there remained the fact, that the LORD had commanded it to be rebuilt during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah as a place of worship to the LORD.

In 20-19 BCE, in the eighteenth or the seventeenth year of his reign, Herod announced that he planned to renovate the Temple.[1] In fact, it seems that what he intended was to break it down and complete its reconstruction, so that one could call it a new Temple. Some people feared that Herod would pull down the old structures and would not be able to build them again.

Herod gave a speech to the multitude before rebuilding the Temple, as he thought they would not agree with his plans for this vast design to be rebuilt and this is what he said:

“I think I need not speak to you, my countrymen, about such other works as I have done since I came to the Kingdom, although I may say they have been performed in such a manner as to bring more security to you than glory to myself; for I have neither been negligent in the most difficult times about what tended to ease your necessities, nor have the buildings. I have made been so proper to preserve me as yourselves from injuries; and I imagine that, with God’s assistance, I have advanced the nation of the Jews to a degree of happiness which they never had before; and for the particular edifices belonging to your own country, and your own cities, as also to those cities that we have lately acquired, which we have erected and greatly adorned, and thereby augmented the dignity of your nation, it seems to me a needless task to enumerate them to you, since you well know them yourselves; but as to that undertaking which I have a mind to set about at present, and which will be a work of the greatest piety and excellence that can possibly be undertaken by us, I will now declare it to you. Our fathers, indeed, when they were returned from Babylon, built this Temple to God Almighty, yet does it want sixty cubits of its largeness in altitude; for so much did that first Temple which Solomon built exceed this Temple; nor let anyone condemn our fathers for their negligence or want of piety herein, for it was not their fault that the Temple was no higher; for they were Cyrus, and Darius the son of Hystaspes, who determined the measures for its rebuilding; and it hath been by reason of the subjection of those fathers of ours to them and to their posterity, and after them to the Macedonians, that they had not the opportunity to follow the original model of this pious edifice, nor could raise it to its ancient altitude; but since I am now, by God’s will, your governor, and I have had peace a long time, and have gained great riches and large revenues, and, what is the principal filing of all, I am at amity with and well regarded by the Romans, who, if I may so say, are the rulers of the whole world, I will do my endeavor to correct that imperfection, which hath arisen from the necessity of our affairs, and the slavery we have been under formerly, and to make a thankful return, after the most pious manner, to God, for what blessings I have received from him, by giving me this Kingdom, and that by rendering his Temple as complete as I am able.” [2]

When Herod was on his death bed, Josephus said that some youth at the instigation of their teachers, Judas and Matthias, pulled down a golden eagle that Herod had erected over the great gate of the Temple as a dedicatory offering.[3] The Temple gate referred here is probably the eastern gate leading into the inner courts of the Temple, called the gate “Beautiful.” In their view, they justified their actions using the old testament prohibition against images. The youth who were responsible for all this climbed onto the roof, lowered themselves and cut the image down with axes.

Herod’s Temple—a Beauty like no Other

After declaring the woes and lamenting over Jerusalem in Matthew 23:37-39, Jesus went out of the Temple courtyard beginning with Matthew 24:1. Josephus, the Jewish historian widely known to be an authentic and a credible source says in the “Wars of the Jews”” speaks of stones almost forty plus cubits long and says the pillars supporting the porches were twentyfive cubits high, all of one stone, and that of the whitest marble.[4]

John Wesley writes:

“Goodly Stones— Such as no engines now in use could have brought, or even set upon each other. Some of them (as an eye witness who lately measured them writes) were forty – five cubits long, five high, and six broad; yet brought thither from another country. And gifts – Which persons delivered from imminent dangers, had in accomplishment of their vows, hung on the walls and pillars. The marble of the Temple was so white, that it appeared like a mountain of snow at a distance. And the gilding of many parts made it, especially when the sun shone, a most splendid and beautiful spectacle” [5]

The Temple and Jesus

The Temple was built by king Herod and during the time of Jesus’ ministry, it had already been forty-six years under construction. The Temple was the place where the high priest and the Levites offered animal sacrifices in order to satisfy the law of Moses. Herod’s Temple was truly one of the wonders of the ancient world. Its architectural beauty was beyond compare. However, it did not possess the glorious presence of the Lord almighty or the spiritual atmosphere that had infused the tabernacle and Solomon’s Temple. Many of the sacred objects from the original tabernacle were not present in this Temple.

As in the tabernacle, the second Temple included:

    • The Menorah (golden lamp) for the Hekhal (sanctuary)
    • The Table of Showbread
    • The golden altar of incense, with golden censers.

The second Temple also included many of the original vessels of gold that had been taken by the Babylonians but restored by Cyrus the Great.[6] However, according to Jewish tradition, the Temple lacked the Shekinah, the dwelling or settling divine glory-presence of God, as was present in the first.

Since some of the original artifacts according to the biblical account lost after the destruction of the first Temple, the second Temple lacked the following holy articles:[7]

    • The Ark of the Covenant, containing the Tablets of Stone, the pot of Manna, and Aaron’s rod.
    • The Urim and Thummim (parchment contained in the Hoshen–the priestly garment)
    • The holy oil.
    • The sacred fire.

Although these were missing from the sanctuary we still find it to be a place of visitation and revelation as seen in the experience of Zechariah. The angel of the Lord brought a word from God to Zechariah in this Temple.[8]

My House v/s Your House

There is ample evidence in scripture that Jesus considered the Old Covenant Temple to be the legitimate sanctuary of the true God. Indeed, in the beginning of His ministry, Jesus called it “my Father’s house”[9] and “my house”[10] 

However, in the latter part of His ministry, the strong words of Jesus to the religious Jews and people of Jerusalem was a prophetic declaration of their spiritual condition.

Matthew 23:38 — “See! Your house is left to you desolate”

This reflects what occurred in the times of Jeremiah: 

Jeremiah 12:7 — “I have forsaken My house, I have left My heritage; I have given the dearly beloved of My soul into the hands of her enemies.”

It is important to notice that Jesus who referred to the Temple as my Fathers house in John 2:16, when He cleansed the Temple the first time and drove money changers out it, referred to the Temple as “your” house when He cleansed the Temple the second time after three and half years of ministry. 

Secular history gives a detailed picture of the destruction of the Temple and the city of Jerusalem during the next forty years before they were destroyed by the Roman army in AD. 70.

Before the beginning of Jesus’ three and half year ministry, “…the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the Temple,”[11] And it is there, satan made a vain effort to tempt him and during the course of three years that followed, Jesus was frequently in the Temple courts and in the Temple—that is in the various structures or colonnades of the inner Temple—though apparently not in the holy place itself, as given in the verses below:

Matthew 21:14-15 — And the blind and the lame came to him in the Temple, and he healed them.

Luke 19:47 — Jesus was teaching daily in the Temple courts. The chief priests and the experts in the law and the prominent leaders among the people were seeking to assassinate him,

Luke 21:38 — And all the people came to him early in the morning to listen to him in the Temple courts.

John 7:14 — When the feast was half over, Jesus went up to the Temple courts and began to teach.

John 8:2 — Early in the morning he came to the Temple courts again. All the people came to him, and he sat down and began to teach them.

John 18:20 — Jesus replied, “I have spoken publicly to the world. I always taught in the synagogues and in the Temple courts, where all the Jewish people assemble together. I have said nothing in secret.

Cleansing the Temple, Twice?

Yes, Jesus cleansed the Temple twice and in doing this He defended the sacredness of His Father’s house. In the very early days of his ministry, he cleansed the Temple courts of the merchandisers and the money changers.[12]
Later during His final week in the flesh he again “went into the Temple of God, cast out all them that sold and bought in the Temple, and overthrew the tables of the money changers.” [13]

The New Temple—His Body

After he cleansed the Temple courts the first time, Jesus made figurative use of the Temple to foreshadow his death and resurrection: “Destroy this Temple,” he said, “and in three days I will raise it up. “Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this Temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? “But he spake of the Temple of his body.” [14]

At Jesus’ death, the veil in the Temple’s most hallowed room, the holy of Holies, was “rent in twain from the top to the bottom.” [15] For generations, only the high priest had been permitted to pass through the veil and enter the symbolic presence of God—and even he had that privilege only once a year. But through His death, Jesus rent that partition signifying that all people could reach God’s presence.

Although the Temple had been built by a godless king and was in the hands of priests who had strayed from the true knowledge of (Yahweh) Jehovah—Jesus reverenced it and respected it. But He also acknowledged its position in relation to the true Lord of the Temple: “I say unto you,” he told the Pharisees, “that in this place is one greater than the Temple.” [16]

1 Corinthians 3:16-18 — Do you not know that you are God’s Temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If someone destroys God’s Temple, God will destroy him. For God’s Temple is holy, which is what you are. Guard against self-deception, each of you. If someone among you thinks he is wise in this age, let him become foolish so that he can become wise.

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?

1 Corinthians 12:27 — Now you are Christ’s body, and each of you is a member of it.

Who Is The Temple Today?

The dispensationalist teachers teach that there will again be a physical Temple rebuilt in Jerusalem. However, there is no reference in scripture that lends credence to this claim that Jesus will come back to a re-constructed Temple. The new Temple is His body—the body of Christ, which is the individual believer and the corporate body of believers. On the day of Pentecost, we find Christ coming to dwell into His new Temple—His body—the church. The church now, is the Temple of the Holy spirit of God and will remain so until the return of Jesus. [17]

The King And His Domain

The Temple was always associated with a King and his kingship. In the old testament, we find many references showing a link between the Temple and a King. Other than the tabernacles which represent symbolically the two covenants—the old and new—Moses and David; later was Solomon’s Temple, Zerubabbel’s Temple and Herod’s Temple.

The two tabernacles represent:

    1. Moses—The old covenant (Religion)
    2. David—The new covenant (Relationship)

The Temple links with Kings:

i. Solomon’s Temple connected with King Solomon.

ii. Zerubabbel’s Temple connected with kingship. [18]

iii. Herod’s Temple connected with King Herod.

iv. Body of Christ is the Temple of the Holy Spirit and is connected with King Jesus. [19]

Dwelling Place And Temple

Many movements are thrilled over the possibility of a Temple being rebuilt in present-day Jerusalem, and they with some Christian groups are fund-raising huge sums to make it happen.

There is not a single Biblical prophecy which declares that this should happen, and as Christians are the Lord’s Temple today according to Christ and His apostles, it is strange to see believers all around the world praying for the Temple rebuilding to start.

Law Written On Our Hearts

All those who are in Christ today have his law in their hearts and minds. These are ones who do not want to be bewitched and bound to the Law of the Old Covenant which could never remove our sins.

Romans 2:29 — but someone is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart by the Spirit and not by the written code.

Romans 7:6 — But now we have been released from the law, because we have died to what controlled us, so that we may serve in the new life of the Spirit and not under the old written code.

Hebrews 10:11 — And every priest stands day after day serving and offering the same sacrifices again and again – sacrifices that can never take away sins.

Hebrews 10:16 — “This is the covenant that I will establish with them after those days, says the Lord. I will put my laws on their hearts and I will inscribe them on their minds…”

The truth which can never change is this: The body of Christ – who are His people, living anywhere in the world, are His dwelling place – His living Temple and His House.

Blessings,

Godwin.


Footnotes:

[1] Josephus, Antiquities, 15.11.1-2

[2] Josephus, Antiquities, 15.11.1

[3] Josephus, Antiquities, 17.6.1-3

[4] Josephus, Wars, 5.5.1-2

[5] ‘John Wesley’s explanatory notes’ on Luke 21:5

[6] Ezra 1:-11

[7] The Jewish Encclopedia – The Second Temple

[8] Luke 1:5

[9] John 2:16

[10] Matthew 21:3; Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46

[11] Matthew 4:5

[12]  John 2:13-16

[13] Matthew 21:12

[14] John 2:19-21

[15] Matthew 27:51

[16] Matthew 12:6

[17] Acts 1:11

[18] Haggai 2:23

[19] John 2:19-22

All content © Godwin Sequeira, 2019.

error: *Blessings*