True and Greater Temple - Jesus

SYNOPSIS - Jesus is the Greater and Final Temple foreshadowed by the ancient Tabernacle and the later Temple of Israel

Church and Stars - Photo by Andrew Seaman on Unsplash
Some schools of interpretations argue that a “third temple” will be built in Jerusalem either just before or during the Millennium, the “thousand years” during which the “saints” reign as a “kingdom of priests.” This last temple will be the global center of worship. The ancient feasts, sacrifices, and other Levitical rituals will be restored, and national Israel will fulfill its role as the “light of the world.” - [Photo by Andrew Seaman on Unsplash].

However, the idea of a future rebuilt temple stands in tension with the New Testament portrait of Jesus as the Greater and True Temple that was foreshadowed by the religious structures and rituals of ancient Israel.

If Jesus is the True Sanctuary in which God’s presence dwells, and the real “light of the world,” why must another stone edifice “made-with-hands” be built, one in which His glory will not reside? If he is the “once-for-all sacrifice” for sins, the “priest forever after the order of Melchizedek,” the inaugurator of the New Covenant, the one who “achieved the purification of sins,” and who fulfilled all the “law and the prophets,” why the need to regress to the old and obsolete regime? What was the point of his death, or did he simply “die in vain,” to borrow a phrase from the Apostle Paul - (Galatians 2:21, Hebrews 8:13)?

Consistently in the New Testament, Jesus is presented as the true and greater Temple, the habitation of God that was prefigured in the earlier portable Tabernacle and the later Temple complex in the city of Jerusalem. He is the true Bethel, the “house of God” and the real mediator between heaven and earth. He is the temple “made-without-hands” that was destroyed by evil men but raised from the dead by his Father - (John 1:14, 1:51, 2:17-21, Colossians 1:19, 2:9).

With his death and resurrection, questions about the proper location of the temple are no longer relevant. With the 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).

In Christ, all the fullness of God dwells forevermore. Jewish and Gentile believers are “circumcised with the circumcision made-without-hands.” Once restricted to the outer sections of the Temple, Gentiles now have full access to the presence of Yahweh through Jesus. The “middle wall” of separation between Jew and Gentile has been dismantled in him forever. Why erect it again? - (Colossians 2:9-17).

Believers are quickened in him. No longer are they subject to the calendrical cycles and dietary restrictions of the old Levitical order. Such practices were no more than “shadows of the coming things.” What was foreshadowed in the old system has come to fruition in Jesus.

God never intended to achieve perfection through the Levitical system; otherwise, He would not have promised a greater priest and a “better sacrifice.” A change of priesthood means a “change of law.” The Levitical system was powerless to perfect anyone, therefore, Jesus became the “guarantor of a better covenant,” appointed to a better and an “un-transmissible priesthood” - (Hebrews 7:11-28).

Jesus inaugurated a “new and better covenant,” one legislated on better promises.” The old covenant was “not faultless” - It was unable to achieve “purification of sins.” With the arrival of the new covenant, the old one “has been made obsolete” - (Hebrews 1:1-3, 8:1-13, Jeremiah 31:31-33).

Jesus is the supremely superior high priest, the final mediator who entered the “greater and more perfect Tabernacle, one not-made-with-hands” to appear in the presence of God for us. He is the “true light of the world,” not ancient Israel, and certainly not a stone building in the Middle East - (John 1:4-9, Luke 1:78-79, 2:32, Acts 26:23, Hebrews 9:11-24).

The Resurrection in the Garden
The mission given to Israel by Yahweh has fallen to Jesus and his disciples. He fulfills the role because he is the true Israel of God and the “light of the world.” Likewise, his disciples are lights in this world but only as they reflect his light - (Matthew 5:14, Philippians 2:15, 1 Thessalonians 5:5, Revelation 1:20).

Jesus came to the “circumcision to confirm the promises made to the fathers.” This included the promise that the “Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.” As Isaiah prophesied, Jesus was the “root of Jesse risen to reign over the Gentiles.” He reigns over the nations in this present age - (Romans 15:8-9Revelation 1:4-6).

The gospel is proclaimed to all nations “for the obedience of faith,” as promised by the prophets. The scriptures foresaw that God would justify the heathen. As Yahweh promised Abraham - “In you will all nations be blessed.” This has now occurred in Abraham’s seed, Christ - (Romans 16:25-26, Galatians 3:16).

When he testified before the Sanhedrin, Stephen reminded the temple authorities that “the Most High does not dwell in places made-by-hand.” The temple buildings and the Tabernacle were man-made structures – Shadows and types of the true habitation of God’s Spirit – Jesus Christ and his “body.”
With the victory of Jesus, the time of shadows has come to an end. He is the “goal” of the Mosaic legislation. The structures of the old regime have reached their intended end – Now, Jesus is forever the True and Final temple - (Romans 10:4).
The single passage that describes the “thousand years” during which overcoming “saints” reign makes no mention of any temple, tabernacle, sanctuary, altar, animal sacrifice, Jerusalem, calendrical observations, or Israel - Those ideas must be imported into the text - (Revelation 20:1-10).

The expectation of a millennial temple is based on chapters 40-48 of the book of Ezekiel and Isaiah 2:2-4 - (“In the last days the mountain of Yahweh’s house will be established on the top of the mountains…and all nations will flow to it”). There are two main problems with this interpretation:

First, only one biblical passage refers to the thousand-year period and it makes no mention of a temple. Second, Revelation locates Ezekiel’s ideal temple in the city of “New Jerusalem” AFTER the “thousand years.” What Revelation does place in the “thousand years” is the “binding of Satan” and the “reign” of the “saints” - (Revelation 20:1-10, 21:1-22:5).

John declared that he “saw no temple” in “New Jerusalem”; however, he was referring to its lack of a physical building. In the city, the “Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are the Temple,” and the holy sanctuary encompasses the entire New Creation.

The New Testament has not abandoned the promise of an ideal temple - It has reinterpreted it in Jesus - In his Death and Resurrection.




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