- Main Text: 1 Kings 5:1-5; 8:1-13
- Accompanying text: John 2:19-21
This marks a transition from the concept of tabernacle to that of temple. “…the reason for the transition from Israel’ tabernacle to the temple is important. It has become apparent that the tabernacle was modelled for polemical purposes, at least in part, on mobile Egyptian military tent camps that consisted of almost exactly the same three-part structure with the same measurements and that was oriented eastward…Therefore, Israel’s tabernacle may have been conceived as a travelling war headquarters from where the Lord directed his troops until all opposition was put down. When the enemies are defeated, then a more permanent dwelling can be built to signify God’s sovereign ‘resting’ from opposition, as happened during Solomon’s reign” . Solomon himself comments about the idea of rest in 1 Kings 5:4 (ESV), “But now the Lord my God has given me rest on every side, and there is no adversary or disaster”. Things had settled down and now was the time to put into effect his father’s dream.
By Christ’s time the first Temple (Solomon’s) had been destroyed as had the re-building of it under Zerubbabel (Ezra 5:2). Herod the Great had begun his repair and enlargement of Zerubbabel’s work and this Second Temple was finally completed in AD64 by Herod Agrippa, only to be destroyed, as Jesus predicted in Matthew 24:1-2, by the Romans in AD70.
Thoughts re application today
Jesus made a challenging statement in John 2:19 (ESV) concerning Herod’s temple that had built centuries after the destruction of Solomon’s temple: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” What did it mean and what relevance does it have for us? “First, God is going to judge the corrupt Temple and it will be no more…Second, it means that Jesus is the new Temple…we will discover, when we get to the Old Testament…that Isaiah, Micah and Ezekiel all see a new and glorious Temple being built that will heal the nations and spread over the whole earth. Jesus takes all that to himself…‘My death and resurrection are the true and full expression of all that the Temple stood for…This physical temple…just pointed to me.’ This is a bold theological step. Third, he is announcing himself as the temple builder…God’s prophetic purpose is going to be fulfilled in him” . The temple along with everything associated with it was merely a shadow of things to come, but Jesus is the reality.
Based on Ezekiel’s vision of the Temple, some have speculated that, either just before the return of Christ or just after it, a physical temple might be re-built and that from it the Law would be proclaimed. Notable theologians, such as G.K Beale, conclude differently, “On the basis of cumulative evidence, we have reached the conclusion that Ezekiel 40-48 is a figurative vision of a real heavenly temple that would descend and be established on earth in a non-structural form…the viability of reading Ezekiel’s temple in this way is suggested by John’s interpretation of it in Revelation 11:1-4…John portrays the church as the inaugurated but not yet consummated end-time temple. Believers are identified spiritually as being priests serving in the temple holy place, and part of their service is to function as a ‘lampstand’ of witness, shining the light of God’s presence out to the world” . Also of note is the absence from Ezekiel’s vision of the ark of covenant, which has contained the tablets of the Old Covenant (Exodus 28:34) and other artefacts of the exodus from Egypt.
1 Peter 2:9 explains that Christians are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light”. “You are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:19-22).
- Ephesians 2:14-22
- 1 Corinthians 3:16-17
- Hebrews 8:5-7
- Psalm 27
Footnotes and references
- G.K. Beale, The Temple and the Church’s Mission: a Biblical Theology of the Dwelling Place of God, published by IVP in the UK, 2004:63-64.
- Ian Galloway, Called to be Friends: Unlocking the Heart of John’s Gospel published by Hodder & Stroughton, UK, 2021:109.
- G.K. Beale, The Temple and the Church’s Mission: a Biblical Theology of the Dwelling Place of God, published by IVP in the UK, 2004:353, 361.