REBUILDING THE TEMPLE
King David wanted to build the LORD a house, but the time was not right (1 Chronicles 28:3): David's son would build the LORD's house (2 Samuel 7:12-13).
Before his death, David appointed the masons, prepared iron and brass, received the cedar trees gifted by Lebanon. The gold and silver, timber and stone stood ready, and the workmen were appointed.
For the worship itself, the tribe of Levi were given their tasks. There were those appointed to assist the priests in the work of God's house: in purification rites and in worship; in the presentation of offerings; and attending to the needs of the Temple and the priests.
Musicians and singers were also appointed.
So in the Temple as in the State, all was in order, and King David could die in peace.
In acknowledgement of David's zeal for God in this matter, God promised that He would build David a "house" - an everlasting royal dynasty.
Solomon, of course, did build the Temple, and it was truly magnificent. The presence of the LORD so filled the Temple that the priests could barely stand on account of it (2 Chronicles 5:13-14)! King Solomon declared, “Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain the LORD. How much less this Temple that I have built!” (2 Chronicles 6:18).
As time went on, Israel and the people of Jerusalem forgot the LORD of the Temple, and became more concerned with “the Temple of the LORD.” They were rebuked by the prophets (Jeremiah 7:4).
The anger of the LORD was so great against His people for their failure to worship Him aright, that the people were led away into exile, and the City and its Temple destroyed.
Seventy years after the exile, some of the Jews were allowed to return to their own land, and began to rebuild the Temple. There were early discouragements and setbacks, but a new line of prophets sought to lift up the drooping hands of the workmen with words of encouragement such as these: “The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former … and in this place will I give peace” (Haggai 2:9 )
One of the last prophecies in the Old Testament tells us that “the LORD whom you seek will suddenly come to His Temple” (Malachi 3:1). Thus the glory did return: in the Person of Jesus!
When Jesus was presented in the Temple as a babe in arms, Simeon took the child into his arms and praised God. Here at last was the One who would be a light to lighten the nations, and the glory of His people Israel!
The presentation of a child was no uncommon occurrence, but this was no ordinary child, a fact recognised by both Simeon in his famous song, and by the prophetess Anna who had lived in the Temple most of her long life.
On another visit Jesus, the meekest Man who ever lived, overturned the tables of the money-changers who had set up shop in the Court of the Gentiles, and took a cord and whipped them until they left His Temple! There is a fine line between gentleness and boldness.
On His way to Jerusalem on one occasion, Jesus encountered a Samaritan woman at the well of Jacob. She entered into conversation with Him about which place was the right one to worship the true and living God: it was an on-going argument between the Jews and the Samaritans.
His reply must have surprised her: those who worship God will worship Him "in spirit and in truth" (John 4:21-24).
Forty years after this conversation, the Jerusalem Temple was again destroyed, never to be rebuilt. There is no need to rebuild it, because all that it stood for is fulfilled in Jesus.
In the sacrifices of the earthly Temple, there was a constant reminder of sins. Once a year the High Priest went into the Most Holy Place with great solemnity and sprinkled the blood of the sacrifices before the Presence of the LORD.
But Jesus has made one acceptable sacrifice on our behalf, and has offered His own blood before the throne of the LORD in Heaven. He has covered our sins and made us at one with God. So we no longer need Temple, altar or sacrifice - it is all fulfilled in Him. There is no reason to have temples, or even to rebuild the Jerusalem Temple, as Christ has finished the work of sacrifice.
Thus the glory of Christianity far outshines the glory of any temple, even the LORD’s own Temple in Jerusalem.
In a sense, when God blessed David with a dynasty that reached all the way to Jesus, He was in that very act building His own house!
The LORD said to the Jews at the time of the building of the second Temple: “In this place I will give peace” (Haggai 2:9) and through the preaching of the Gospel, God’s peace continues its journey from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth, to this very day.
Jesus also left a strong legacy to His Church, and at the coming of the Holy Spirit there was the gift of all that the corporate Church needs for the worship of God.
The Church, the entire household of God’s people, is being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone. This, says the Apostle Paul, is a holy temple to the Lord, a dwelling place for God the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 2:20-22).
Individual Christians, for their part, are duty bound to find their part within the Church, and to perform their roles faithfully, without encroaching on roles that do not belong to them. Each must tap into their own gifts for the glory of God, and for the good of His people, and as a witness to those who stand outside the Church.
The Temple of the Holy Spirit is the people of God, both collectively and individually. And because the Holy Spirit is indwelling the individual as well as the Church, we are sternly exhorted to flee immorality, protecting our bodies as the Temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:17-20).
We have no way of knowing whether the second Temple was considered in its time to be greater than Solomon’s Temple. But we do know that Jesus offered a more perfect Sacrifice than any ever made in the Temple. We know that the Church has in Him a more substantial foundation than the symbols of the Old Testament. The LORD has poured out His Holy Spirit upon His people, making His Temple in their hearts.
The shadows pass away for the reality. The spiritual replaces the temporal. All that the Temple stood for is fulfilled in Christ our Great High Priest, our Final sacrifice. And when we get to heaven, the New Jerusalem, there will be no Temple building: but the Lord God Almighty, and Christ the sacrificial Lamb, will be its Temple (Revelation 21:22).