This discussion focuses on looking at the underlying purpose for the destruction of the first two temples; it’s derived from God’s correction upon Judah for their failure to keep their covenant with him. This occurred first when Israel(1) (the Northern kingdom) was taken captive and dispersed. Judah (the Southern kingdom) experienced this dispersion twice; once when Solomon’s temple was destroyed, and again in the first century AD when the Herodian temple was destroyed. This provides the foundation for several reasons why there is no need for a third physical temple to be built before Christ returns (Matthew 24:15-20; Luke 21:20-24):
- There is no future dispersion of Israel or Judah required. In fact just the opposite is prophesied.
- Christ’s parable about the master who goes away and leaves his property in the hands of his servants is satisfied.
- The physical temple is no longer the focus of Godly worship.
- Jesus Christ is building a new temple of God’s Holy Spirit.
To begin this discussion, one needs to set aside the traditional lens used to view the final tribulation period, namely the Seventy-Weeks Prophecy of Daniel. Authors who write supporting this traditional viewpoint generally fail to point out some of the serious problems that occur from applying it to the future. This is true whether one holds a pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation, post-tribulation, or even a pre-wrath perspective. These issues can be dealt with in a future article, but for the moment it is sufficient if we set it aside.
Israel and Judah’s Dispersion Continues
One reason I conclude that there is no need for a physical third temple of the Jews to be built is because there is no further dispersion of Israel or the Jews required before Christ’s return. Nor is there any prophesied. What is prophesied is their restoration and ultimate redemption. When our Lord returns and establishes his kingdom, it is then that he will restore Israel as a nation and Judah as a people. At that time, there will be a greater exodus of his people from the nations where he scattered them than there was from Egypt (Isaiah 49; Jeremiah 23). During his kingdom’s reign on earth, Christ will offer them a new covenant which will lead them to life eternal.
8 “And it shall come to pass in that day, declares the Lord of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off your neck, and I will burst your bonds, and foreigners shall no more make a servant of him. 9 But they shall serve the Lord their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them.
10 “Then fear not, O Jacob my servant, declares the Lord,
nor be dismayed, O Israel;
for behold, I will save you from far away,
and your offspring from the land of their captivity.
Jacob shall return and have quiet and ease,
and none shall make him afraid.
11 For I am with you to save you, declares the Lord;
I will make a full end of all the nations
among whom I scattered you,
but of you I will not make a full end.
I will discipline you in just measure,
and I will by no means leave you unpunished.
1 “At that time, declares the Lord, I will be the God of all the clans of Israel, and they shall be my people.” . . .
36 “Now therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning this city of which you say, ‘It is given into the hand of the king of Babylon by sword, by famine, and by pestilence’: 37 Behold, I will gather them from all the countries to which I drove them in my anger and my wrath and in great indignation. I will bring them back to this place, and I will make them dwell in safety. 38 And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. 39 I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them. 40 I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me. 41 I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul. . . .
Jeremiah 33:6-9 – God will win over Israel and Judah with his goodness.
6 Behold, I will bring to it health and healing, and I will heal them and reveal to them abundance of prosperity and security. 7 I will restore the fortunes of Judah and the fortunes of Israel, and rebuild them as they were at first. 8 I will cleanse them from all the guilt of their sin against me, and I will forgive all the guilt of their sin and rebellion against me. 9 And this city shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and a glory before all the nations of the earth who shall hear of all the good that I do for them. They shall fear and tremble because of all the good and all the prosperity I provide for it.
Jeremiah 33:14-16 – Israel and Judah will exchange their own righteousness for the Lord’s righteousness (Romans 10:1-4).
14 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 15 In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 16 In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’
Jeremiah 33:25-26 – The Lord’s response to the surrounding nations who claimed he has rejected Israel and Judah.
25 Thus says the Lord: If I have not established my covenant with day and night and the fixed order of heaven and earth, 26 then I will reject the offspring of Jacob and David my servant and will not choose one of his offspring to rule over the offspring of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For I will restore their fortunes and will have mercy on them.”
The Parable of the Servants
Another consideration for there being no need for a third temple, is that currently Judah (the Jews) satisfy Christ’s parable about the master who goes away and leaves his property in the hands of his servants. They killed those sent to them by the master, till finally they kill the master’s son. The destruction of the Herodian temple (Second temple) in A.D. 70 marked the beginning of the correction and dispersion for this generation of Judah who rejected and killed the son of the Master.
33 “Hear another parable. There was a master of a house who planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a winepress in it and built a tower and leased it to tenants, and went into another country. 34 When the season for fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to get his fruit. 35 And the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again he sent other servants, more than the first. And they did the same to them. 37 Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 38 But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’ 39 And they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. 40 When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” 41 They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons.”
42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: (Psalm 118:22-23)
“‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord’s doing,
and it is marvelous in our eyes’?
43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. 44 And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that he was speaking about them. 46 And although they were seeking to arrest him, they feared the crowds, because they held him to be a prophet.
In the parable, Christ is recounting the history of Israel and Judah and their treatment of the prophets (servants of God). What irritates the chief priests and Pharisees is that he judges them to be the same way. In Matthew 23 he reveals their hypocrisy to the crowd in Judea and his disciples. In this chapter, Mathew records Christ’s indictment upon these religious leaders and what their failings were; chief of which was their stubborn unwillingness to repent.
Let’s focus on one key point Christ makes in regard to their behavior. Notice he’s speaking in both past and future tense.
34 Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, 35 so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. 36 Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.
Christ is wrapping all that their forefathers did with all that these shepherds have done and will do, and packaged it all together so that upon them may come all the righteous blood shed on earth. But notice that he closes the final woe with an ominous warning – all these things will come upon this generation. To what was he referring? In a previous and related article, I make the connection between the state of Jerusalem’s religious leaders (the shepherds) and the destruction of the Herodian temple and Jerusalem in A.D. 70 (Luke 21:20-24). Let’s go back to Matthew 23 and see how Christ closes the matter regarding the woes and his judgment upon the Chief Priests, Scribes, and Pharisees.
37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 38 See, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”
- Notice how Christ shifts the identity from the leadership to the city in which they lead. It is their corrupt leadership which corrupts the city. Notice that this is the same leadership in charge of the temple.
- Their unwillingness to repent and return to God is characteristic of this people, and is spoken of even by Moses (Deuteronomy 4:25-31).
- Yet God will lead them to the point of repentance; Christ foretells it – when they say Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
- This was spoken of previously by Moses and the prophet Jeremiah (Deuteronomy 32:23-29, 35-39; Jeremiah 33:14-16; Romans 10:1-4)
What all this means for Jerusalem and its leaders is what Christ clarified in Matthew 21.
43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. 44 And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”
They were then, and continue to be now, in a state of disobedience and correction; what Paul called enemies of the gospel for our sake (Romans 11:28-32). However, this is not their final state. As we saw in the previous section, God has a plan to reveal himself to them, return them to their land, restore their national prominence, and enter into a new covenant with them. All this will occur after Christ returns to set up his kingdom on earth. It is then that they will call him – the Lord is our Righteousness!
Godly Worship is Redefined
With Jesus Christ came a new system of worship. God desires those who worship him to worship in Spirit and in truth (Fourth Gospel(2) 4:23-26). This type of worship leads to the new creation being made in Christ Jesus.
To understand the role of the covenant with Israel and its relationship to the work in Christ, we must see it in the larger context of the kingdom-building process which Christ is engaged in. Not only is Christ the doorway to truth and life beyond the grave, he’s the doorway to the final phase of the everlasting kingdom to come. All must pass through Christ in order to have any part in the eternal Kingdom of Heaven.
Many of these notes are taken from my recent book . . .
The Rapture Question – An Unfiltered View
With that in mind we can begin to see the need and purpose for what Paul describes must come first (1 Corinthians 15:20-26):
- To establish the firstfruits of the new creation; a kingdom of priests to rule with Christ in his earthly kingdom.
(1 Peter 2:9-10; Romans 8:18-23, 29-30; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; Hebrews 5:7-10; James 1:17-18)
- To establish dominion over all the nations of the earth along with powers and dominions in heaven. Bringing into subjection all God’s enemies. Christ’s work will ultimately bring all intelligent beings to his feet and all will recognize his Lordship. However, not all will voluntarily surrender to that Lordship.
(Psalm 8; 72; Daniel 4; 7:13-14, 19-27; Micah 4:1-5; Matthew 13:41-43; 24:27,30; Ephesians 6:12-13; Philippians 2:9-10; Colossians 1:16; 2 Thessalonians 2:8; Revelation 1:7; 19:11 – 20:6; 20:14-15; 22:12)
- Once completed, this earthly phase of the kingdom is transformed and handed over to God the Father.
(Fourth Gospel 18:36; Luke 4:42-44; 19:11-27; 1 Corinthians 15:50; Revelation 21:1-4)
A Paradigm Shift from the Letter to the Spirit
Israel’s expectations for the kingdom could be said to begin with Moses and the establishment of the temple and the sacrificial system. This sacrificial system was one of cleansing and purification, through the blood of animals, in order to approach and dwell in God’s presence and light. Surely there was the awareness that these types would find their fulfillment and completion at some future time. Isaiah 9 speaks to the source of this light and the promised “King of Righteousness” who would lead them; a Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:2-7). Jesus Christ, as the Son of God possesses both of these characteristics.
In Matthew 5 we see that Christ proceeds to give examples of how the faulty righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees is exceeded (Matthew 23:13-33). He does this by comparing their traditional comments on the law with his authoritative view of the spirit of the law. Note also that he uses the phrase “you have heard” when referring to the teaching of the scribes and Pharisees; their oral law. It’s worth remembering that later when he is transfigured before his disciples and appears in glory with Moses and Elijah, God’s voice came out of a cloud and proclaimed – This is my beloved Son, with him I am pleased; hear him. This was done to show the supremacy of Yeshua, the Christ, over the law (Moses) and the prophets (Elijah).
|Matthew||You Have Heard||Hear Him|
|5:21||You shall not kill||– Whoever is angry with his brother for no reason is guilty.|
– Seek reconciliation, this is more important than ceremony and offerings
|5:27||You shall not commit adultery||– Lusting after a woman is the same|
– Stop envying, Stop stealing
– Divorcing your wife can cause her to commit adultery
|5:33||You shall not lie in your oaths, entrust them to the Lord||– Never swear an oath; not by heaven, earth, or your own head|
– Yes should mean Yes
– No should mean No
|5:38||An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth||– Do not resist (repay) evil|
– Turn your other cheek
(idiom – do not start an argument or fight)
– Do more than those who compel you ask for
– Give and lend to those who ask
|5:43||Be kind to friends, hate your enemy||– Love your enemy|
– Pray for those who enslave you and persecute you
– Do good to those who hate you
– There is no reward in loving those who love you, but in loving those who don’t.
(This is the mature and perfect, unconditional, love that your Father has for you – copy it)
Christ is illustrating clearly how the motives of the law move from the external (letter) to the internal (spirit and character) – based on love, not fear. Yeshua fulfilled the requirements of the letter so that we might live in and practice the spirit of God’s law.
Christ repeatedly showed them that he was the fulfillment of the law for righteousness (Romans 3:19-26) , and shifted the focus from the letter of the law to the spirit of the law. This is illustrated first by Christ himself and again by Paul in his instruction to the Ephesians.
20 But that is not the way you learned Christ! – 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Did you catch the shift in what Paul is suggesting when he says created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness? It is this new self, created in us by Christ through the Holy Spirit, which brings us closer to the likeness of God. We are to lay aside the old man and put on the new man. Paul continues to instruct the Ephesians regarding their role in this process through the renewal of their mind.
|Put away lying||Speak the truth|
|Be angry||But do not sin, do not cherish anger|
(ill-will toward another).
Contention is alien to the spirit of love.
|Put away the unproductive||Take up the constructive good work God has prepared for those he has chosen|
|Put away bitterness and malice (they grieve the Holy Spirit)||Take up kindness, forgiveness, tenderness toward one another (just as we have received from the Father)|
|Walk in love – by this shall all men know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.|
This in part is the creation Christ is completing in each of those called, chosen, and faithful believers drawn to him by the Father.
Interested in the details of those called, chosen, and faithful in Christ? Discover more.
To the Corinthians, Paul continues his contrast between the letter of the law and the Spirit, showing where the focus now belongs.
2 Corinthians 3:7-18
7 Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? 9 For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. 10 Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. 11 For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory. . . . 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
No longer is the commandment of God for humanity written on stones. Instead it is written by the Spirit of God on our hearts.
2 Corinthians 3:3,6
3 . . . written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
6who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
What Then of the Old ?
As expected, this might leave some Jews wondering what purpose their system of worship served. In part it was illustrated by John the Baptist through the preparatory nature of his message and work. More directly, the blood of animals in the previous system of worship showed the importance of cleansing and sanctification necessary to approach God. Rather than relying on those sacrifices alone, it could lead one in faith to seek the fulfillment of those sacrifices – the Lamb of God. This is precisely what they pointed to. The author of Hebrews spells this out. I suggest you read the book fully. I will only highlight some key points.
Hebrews 7:15-28 – This makes Jesus Christ the guarantor of a better covenant. (Matthew 26:27-29; 2 Corinthians 3:4-6; Galatians 2:21-22; Galatians 3)
Hebrews 8:6-13 – The covenant Christ mediates is better and more glorious, since it is enacted on better and more permanent promises of sanctification and glorification, making the old one obsolete. (2 Corinthians 3; Romans 8:29-30; 15:8-13; 2 Corinthians 1:19-22; 2 Peter 1:3-8)
Hebrews 9:6-10 – Previously gifts and sacrifices were offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper. (Ezekiel 36:25-28; Jeremiah 31:31-34)
Hebrews 9:11-17 – Redemption comes through the blood of Christ. He is the promise of a better tabernacle, not made with hands; it is a new creation. (1 Corinthians 5:16-20)
Hebrews 9:23-28 – Christ will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. (1 Thessalonians 5:8-10,23; Titus 2:11-14; 1 Peter 1:7,13; 1 John 3:2)
Hebrews 10:1-4 – It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. In these sacrifices there is a reminder of sin. Yet in Christ there is the removal of it. (Fourth Gospel 1:29; Romans 5:16,19; Romans 6; 8:2-4,10; Galatians 1:3-5; 1 Peter 2:24-25)
Hebrews 10:8-10, 14-18 – we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin. (Acts 26:15-18; Romans 6:21-23; 1 Corinthians 1:30-31; 6:11; 2 Thessalonians 2:13)
Paul provides the appropriate perspective in summarizing this.
19 Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. 20 Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.
21 Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. (Romans 11:32)
23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
The previous system was incapable of changing the state (conscience) of the sinner – a necessary component of the work God was doing. Jesus Christ, then, becomes the focus of the beginning and the end of that work. With that perspective, one can see the value in the first covenant and the sacrificial system as a pointer, a teacher, leading one to Yeshua, the Christ – the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, forever.
It Is a New Creation
Once Christ’s sacrifice is acknowledged and accepted, the process of the new creation begins. Again, it is a work that Christ is doing in us and for us. He is the author and finisher of that work. Our job becomes the alignment of our values, our thinking, and our choices with the will and purpose of God. To achieve that requires a suitable understanding of that will. It requires learning, growing, and the spiritual sacrifices worthy of our repentance away from the lie and toward our new life in truth.
And where does this lead us? We need only look to Christ’s own prayer to his Father in heaven to see the answer.
Fourth Gospel 17:3 – And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
Jesus Christ is Building a New Temple
The temple of worship is tied to the system of worship. If the system of worship has changed, so then must the temple. Along with transforming the worship to go beyond the temple in Jerusalem, and moving focus from the letter of the law to the Spirit of Truth (Fourth Gospel 4:1-26), Christ redefines what constitutes God’s dwelling place on earth (Fourth Gospel 2:18-22).
Fourth Gospel 3:1-8
1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
The idea of being born of the Spirit only makes sense when seen in the context of Christ’s ministry as an example of the work God will complete in us. For us that birth doesn’t occur until Christ, the High Priest, returns in glory to glorify his firstfruits; priests and rulers in his kingdom. He showed himself to be the last High Priest when at his death upon the cross, the thick curtain guarding the entrance to the Holy of Holies was torn from top to bottom – exposing the throne and footstool of God to the world (Matthew 27:50-51; Luke 23:44-46).
The idea of God dwelling in humanity isn’t a new concept, as Stephen, inspired by the Holy Spirit, references back to Isaiah while testifying before the Chief Priests.
1 Thus says the Lord:
“Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool;
what is the house that you would build for me,
and what is the place of my rest?
2 All these things my hand has made,
and so all these things came to be, declares the Lord.
But this is the one to whom I will look:
he who is humble and contrite in spirit
and trembles at my word.
When God asks what is the place of my rest?, he answers it how? By discounting all the things that his hands have made as satisfactory material for building his house with one exception, a person – he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word. It is a person of this character who can have a fruitful and productive relationship with the Father for all eternity.
Later when King David sought to build a house for God, he was shown God’s plan through the prophet Nathan.
1 Chronicles 17:10c-14
10c Moreover, I declare to you that the Lord will build you a house. 11 When your days are fulfilled to walk with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom. 12 He shall build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever. 13 I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from him who was before you, 14 but I will confirm him in my house and in my kingdom forever, and his throne shall be established forever.
- The Lord declares I will build you a house
- My own Son shall build a house for me
- And I will establish his kingdom and his throne forever
Clearly this is a pointer to the Son of God, a descendant of King David, who will be the cornerstone of a new house. He is the appointed builder of God’s house, built by his hand and no other. (Isaiah 28:14-17; Matthew 21:42-43; Acts 17:22-31; Ephesians 2:19-21)
A New Path to the Father
As Yeshua the Christ prepares his disciples for his eventual departure (because of his forthcoming redemptive work), he extends reassurance to them in the form of the following:
Fourth Gospel 14:1-7
1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
- Everything Jesus is telling his disciples here begins with belief in God and in himself as the Son of God.
- Previously they only knew how to approach God through the temple system of worship. Christ will change all of that so they can come directly to the Father’s throne. (Ephesians 2:21-22)
- The pathway to stand before the throne of God only comes through him. No one gets there on their own. (Matthew 12:5-7; 1 Corinthians 6:19; Colossians 3:1-4)
- What he’s saying when he says I go to prepare a place for you is referring to the sanctifying work he’s about to do through his shed blood as the Lamb of God. They would have eventually connected this with the sprinkling of blood and the purification necessary to approach God within the confines of the temple proper, while always being restricted to the outer court. (1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 1 Peter 2:4-10)
- He is now their High Priest (Hebrews 5:1-10) and gives them direct access to God’s throne.
- Christ continues to build on the idea as he explains to them how he is the way, the truth, and the life. It’s about relationship; knowing not just who God is, but the work he’s doing in us and for us. (Revelation 3:12-13)
Why is it important that Christ’s disciples understand that he alone is the way, the truth, and the life which leads to the Father? So that they don’t trust in themselves, and instead trust in God to finish what he has started in Christ Jesus. For example, listen to the language of Isaiah 43. Notice how many times the Lord users the first-person reference.
- I formed you
- I redeemed you
- I have called you, you are mine
- I am your savior, the Lord your God
- I gave nations in ransom for you
- I love you
- I give men’s lives in return for your life
- I am with you
- I will gather your offspring;
- Those whom I created for my glory
- Those whom I formed and made
Does this sound like he’s requiring anything of those he’s called except to follow him, do as he instructs, and grow in character in the process? The Lord Jesus Christ has got this. He’s laying the pathway to the Father before us. He’s called us to believe and follow along that pathway. He’s equipped us with the Holy Spirit so that we can grow in the character and knowledge of our Lord Yeshua. But the real work has been done, is being done, and will be completed by Christ. It’s not about us!
Not only is Christ the source of truth, he is the embodiment of truth with all that entails. He brought that truth to Israel.
Isaiah 45:18-19 – Again the Lord uses the first person to declare all that he has done. Did he not give great promises to Jacob (Israel) in return for their loyalty?
Isaiah 45:22-23 – He is the only God through which they can be saved; there is no other. Every knee shall bow, and every tongue will confess this. He will perform it.
Isaiah 45:24-25 – Though it begins with the descendants of Israel (his chosen), it goes out to all the ends of the earth. He’ll likewise bring that truth to all the world.
27 All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before you.
28 For kingship belongs to the Lord,
and he rules over the nations.
29 All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship;
before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
even the one who could not keep himself alive.
30 Posterity shall serve him;
it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;
31 they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn,
that he has done it.
And where does that truth lead one?
Fourth Gospel 17:3 – And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
The truth of Christ and in Christ ultimately leads those called to him into eternal life. Do not be misguided into thinking immortality is something we already possess. Why would God promise, and Jesus Christ be the sole source of something we already possess? Such thinking is vain foolishness.
All humanity is under the scepter of death. However, it is not the first death we should fear, but the second death (Romans 6; Hebrews 9:27; Revelation 20:14-15). But God has made a way for those whom he calls into Christ to become a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17-21). This is the work of Christ in us, his firstfruits, to prepare those God has now called to himself. He will give them eternal life just as he raised his beloved son from the dead. These will be the firstfruits of salvation, not the only fruits of it. (2 Thessalonians 2:13-17; Ephesians 2:1-10; 2 Timothy 1:8-10,14; 1 Peter 2:9-10)
A Temple for God
Individually these firstfruits of salvation are the stonework of a new temple for God (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).
1 Corinthians 3:16-17
16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
They are his dwelling place, as evidenced by the gift of the Holy Spirit of God. Though we only have a partial down-payment of the Spirit, the time will come when each will be glorified in the likeness of our Lord and Savior. ( 2 Corinthians 3:17-18; Ephesians 3:14-19; Revelation 3:12-13; Revelation 7:13-17)
By focusing on the larger context of God’s will for the work being done in Christ, a perspective emerges which reveals a process that is currently in motion to lead the disobedient in Israel and Judah back to himself. The path which leads back to God has already been laid in Christ, and when he returns and sets up his kingdom on earth he will lead them into a new covenant based on faith.
To assist him in this process, Christ, the High Priest, has assembled the faithful of Israel and the faithful of the Gentiles into a temple of God able to abide as priests and rulers in his new spiritual house (Acts 15:15-17). Together they will work to lead Israel and the world into obedience to God. Will this involve elements of the original system of worship? That is both possible and likely. Since it’s already been established that it serves as a guide or teacher which can lead one to trust in God and his Christ, it’s reasonable to expect there are elements of that worship which can be reused. That said, it would seem clear that there are other elements, like animal sacrifice, which no longer have a place in the current or future worship of God. I hope I have shown likewise, the need for a physical temple as the unique dwelling place of God no longer has a place in the current or future worship of God. He has something more beautiful in store; his bride!
9 Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12 It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed— 13 on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. 14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
15 And the one who spoke with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls. . . . 18 The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, like clear glass. 19 The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel. The first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. 21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.
22 And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. 23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, 25 and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. 26 They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. 27 But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
At the close of each article, the relevant presuppositions that support it will be cited. This enables the reader to gain a clearer and deeper understanding of the context. To learn more about presuppositions, see the About page.
- Israel, descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, entered into a covenant with God and unknowingly prepared the way for the world’s redemption (Genesis 17:4-8; Exodus 29:44-46; Romans 9:25-10:4)
- God has not rejected Israel completely (the twelve tribes, the descendants of Jacob) (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Romans 11)
- God will complete his work with Israel for their reconciliation, restoration to the promised land, and ultimately their redemption through the new covenant (Isaiah 43; 54; 65; Joel 2; Amos 4:12-13; Romans 11)
- God has set aside a faithful remnant from the descendants of the twelve tribes of Israel, some of which he will call in the last days prior to the appearance of Christ (Romans 11:1-8; Revelation 7:1-8)
- There is no “gap theory” necessary to explain the end time prophecy of Daniel. The Seventy-Weeks prophecy speaks to the time of Christ(3).
1) When I refer to Israel, like the authors of Scripture, I’m referring to the descendants of Jacob (renamed Israel). This does not fit the description of the modern nation of Israel which consists of people from many assorted nationalities. Also, the modern Jews (Judah) represent only one of the twelve original tribes of Israel. In the near future, God will call to himself, for a specific purpose, descendants from all twelve tribes as part of his kingdom-building process (Romans 9:4-5; 11; Revelation 7:4-8).
2) Due to the dispute over the authorship of the fourth gospel, typically attributed to John the brother of James and author of the Book of Revelation of Jesus Christ, I have concluded on the side of such authors as J. Phillips, Edward Reaugh Smith, and Tobias Skinner who have shown conclusively John could not be the sole author and instead attribute primary authorship to Lazarus – the disciple whom Christ loved. I will therefore refer to the book as the Fourth Gospel.
3) Desolation of the Temple and Messianic Enthronement in Daniel 11:36-12:3, Jason Thomas Perry, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 54.3 (September 2011, pages 487,494-499)