Third Temple?

In the Book of Revelation, nothing is said about a temple structure in the city of Jerusalem during the “thousand years” when Satan is “bound,” let alone concerning the restoration of the Levitical priesthood, the annual feast days, or animal sacrifices. Based mainly on chapters 40-48 of the Book of Ezekiel, some interpretations assume the Temple will be rebuilt during or shortly before the start of the so-called Millennium.

There are several problems with this theory. First, only one scriptural passage refers to the thousand-year period, and it makes no mention of any temple or temple rituals.

Stone Tower - Photo by Dušan veverkolog on Unsplash
[Photo by Dušan veverkolog on Unsplash]

Second, 
Revelation locates Ezekiel’s ideal temple in the city of “New Jerusalem,” not in old Jerusalem located in the Middle East.

Third, in the New Testament, Jesus is portrayed as the true and final Temple in which God now dwells which was foreshadowed by the ancient structure, whether the portable Tabernacle or the Temple “made with hands” in Jerusalem.

SATAN IMPRISONED


During the “thousand years,” Satan is “bound” in the “Abyss” to prevent him from “deceiving the nations” until his release after the end of the period. Saints martyred “for the testimony of Jesus” are vindicated and reign with Christ during this time as a “kingdom of priests.” The “rest of the dead” do not live again until the period ends. Moreover, the passage mentions neither the Temple nor Jerusalem.

When he is loosed, Satan gathers the nations to the final battle against the “camp of the saints.” This confrontation ends in the destruction of the attacking force by fire from heaven, and the casting of the Devil and all those whose names are “not written into the Lamb’s Book of Life” into the “Lake of Fire.”

Afterward, John is “carried in the spirit to a high mountain” where he sees the “holy city, New Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God” to the earth - (Revelation 21:1-9).

The description of the city’s descent alludes to Ezekiel’s vision when the hand of Yahweh carried him “into the land of Israel to set him upon a very high mountain on which was the frame of a city on the south” - (Ezekiel 40:1-5, Revelation 21:1-10). Note the following parallels:

  • In Revelation, an angel gave John “a golden reed to measure the city, its gates, and its wall.”
  • In Ezekiel, a man “with a line of flax in his hand and a measuring reed stood in the gate… And behold, a wall on the outside of the house round about, and in the man’s hand a measuring reed six cubits long, of a cubit and a handbreadth each: so he measured the thickness of the building, one reed; and the height, one reed.”
  • New Jerusalem had “a wall great and high; with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names written on it, which are of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: on the east were three gates; and on the north three gates; and on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.”
  • In Ezekiel 48:30-35, “The gates of the city shall be after the names of the tribes of Israel, three gates northward…And at the east side three gates…And at the south side three gates.”
  • In Revelation 22:1-2, John saw “a river of water of life, bright as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.” On either side was “the tree of life, bearing twelve fruits yielding fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”
  • The preceding passage alludes to Ezekiel 47:1-12 where the “waters proceeded out from under the threshold of the house eastward.” On either bank grew “every tree for food whose leaf shall not whither, neither shall the fruit thereof fail; it shall bring forth new fruit every month because the waters thereof issue out of the sanctuary, and the fruit thereof shall be for food, and the leaf thereof for healing.”

The final verse of Ezekiel reads, “The name of the city from that day shall be Yahweh IS THERE.” In Revelation, this becomes, “the throne of God and of the Lamb SHALL BE THERE” - (Ezekiel 48:35, Revelation 22:3).

NEW JERUSALEM


John states that he “saw no temple” in the city. Instead, the “Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its Temple,” just as the city has no more need of the light of the sun or moon “for the glory of God illuminated and its lamp is the Lamb.”

The holy sanctuary encompasses the entire city, and it is coterminous with the New Creation. Thus, God’s presence is everywhere, and therefore, all unclean things and persons are excluded from “New Jerusalem.”

Consistently in the New Testament, Jesus is presented as the true and greater Temple, the habitation of God prefigured by the earlier Tabernacle. He is the true Bethel, the “house of God,” the real mediator between heaven and earth, the temple MADE WITHOUT HANDS that is destroyed by evil men but raised from the dead by His Father - (John 1:14, 1:51, 2:17-21, Colossians 1:19).

In the new Messianic Age, questions about the proper location of the Temple are no longer relevant. With the first arrival of Jesus, “the hour is coming and now is when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth” - (John 4:20-24). Collectively, his disciples form the “Temple of God” in which His Spirit now dwells - (John 4:20-24, 1 Corinthians 3:16, 6:19, Ephesians 2:20-22).

With the death and resurrection of Jesus, the time of shadows and types has come to an end. He is the true and final temple, tabernacle and sacrifice, the substance to which the shadows and patterns all pointed - (Romans 10:4, Colossians 2:9-17).

None of this means that the New Testament has abandoned the promises of a future Temple. Instead, it has REINTERPRETED THEM IN JESUS CHRIST.


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