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16.5.5.1. What about the Physical Temple

It might seem that in the tearing of the veil of the Temple and the coming of the Spirit to establish the Temple of the believer that all purposes for a Temple building standing on the Temple Mount have forever been done away with. If we did not have the Scriptures, we might easily come to this conclusion.1 But a careful study of Scripture precludes such a conclusion:
  1. The Early Church and the Temple - The early church did not abandon the Temple, but continued to treat it as an important institution associated with God. This is seen immediately after Jesus’ ascension: “Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven. And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. Amen” [emphasis added] (Luke Luke 24:51-53). This pattern continued far beyond the coming of the Spirit on Pentecost and is especially evident in the life of Paul who: (1) observed feasts regulated by the Temple (Acts Acts 20:6); Acts 2:1) fulfilled a religious Nazirite vow (Acts Acts 18:18); Acts 3:1) participated in purification rites, even sponsoring four proselytes (Acts Acts 21:22-26; Acts Acts 24:16); Acts 4:1) offered sacrifices at the Temple (Acts Acts 21:26; Acts Acts 24:17); Acts 5:1) prayed and worshiped at the Temple (Acts Acts 22:17; Acts Acts 24:11); Acts 6:1) respected the Temple priesthood (Acts Acts 23:5); Acts 7:1) paid the Temple tax (Acts Acts 24:17); (8) professed ceremonial purity (Acts Acts 24:18); (9) and was careful not to violate customs of “our fathers” (Acts Acts 28:17). These would be strange activities indeed if the Temple had lost all significance after the Day of Pentecost. When Paul discusses the desecration of the Temple by the Antichrist, how could he consider this act by the man of sin to be blasphemous and describe its location as “the temple of God” (2Th. 2Th. 2:3-4) if all interest by God in the Temple disappeared with the Day of Pentecost?2 It would seem that this early Christian rabbi understood something beyond the simplistic view that, with the cross of Jesus, God had forever made an end to the concept of “God’s House” on Mount Moriah.
  2. The Millennial Temple - Ezekiel was given a highly detailed vision of a Temple unlike any which have ever existed in history. The details of this Temple go far beyond anything which can be explained as mere symbolism. It can only be a literal Temple of the future. Ezekiel and several other prophets indicate there will be sacrifices for atonement offered at this Temple. See Millennial Temple and Millennial Sacrifices.
Following the rejection of Messiah Jesus by Israel, the Temple stood for several decades, but was overthrown as Jesus had predicted. During this age, a spiritual Temple of God is within believers who are sanctified by the blood of Jesus. Each believer is permanently indwelt by the Holy Spirit, much as the Shekinah dwelt within the Holy of Holies of the Tabernacle in the Wilderness and Solomon’s Temple. Yet, in the future, at least two more physical Temples will be built upon Mount Moriah. The existence of the spiritual Temple of the believer during the present age does not preclude a future physical Temple:

The “Branch,” as set forth by the prophet in [Zec. Zec. 6:1], Messiah, the true Son of David, shall not only be the real builder of the future literal Temple, which through the millennial period shall be the centre of the true worship of Jehovah on this earth, and the House of Prayer for all nations; but also of the much more glorious mystical Building, which through eternity shall be for the habitation of God through the Spirit. Of this spiritual Temple He is Himself the “sure Foundation,” the previous Corner-stone and Head-stone of the Corner, as well as the Master Builder. Nineteen centuries ago, in His life and suffering, death of atonement, and glorious resurrection, the foundation of that Temple was laid.3


Notes

1 And in fact many Christians do conclude this even with Scriptural evidence to the contrary.

2 “John Townsend stated in his Harvard dissertation on this point: ‘Since Paul sets the desecration of the Temple beside the ultimate blasphemy of proclaiming oneself to be God and since he regards these acts as the climax of the evil which is to precede the parousia [Christ’s second coming], there can be no doubt of Paul’s veneration for this Temple.’ ”—Randall Price, The Coming Last Days Temple (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1999), 491. Even if we take this reference to the Temple as being the Second Temple like preterist interpreters do—although we disagree—it still demonstrates that Paul found significance in the Temple then standing after Pentecost.

3 David Baron, Zechariah: A Commentary On His Visions And Prophecies (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1918), 140.