If there’s one thing most Christians and Jews agree on is that Israel’s restoration cannot be complete without the third temple. “For I shall return to Jerusalem with compassion; and My house shall be built in it, declares the Lord” (Zech. 1:16). Well, if the coming of Messiah is as near as many of us believe, then you have to ask – where’s the temple?
Would you be shocked to learn the temple is well along in its construction and nearing completion? If so, then you probably have been looking for it with natural eyes, not eyes of faith. Natural eyes are focused on the Temple Mount, hoping and praying for some divine intervention to remove the Dome of the Rock so construction can finally begin. But that is not the kind of temple God has in mind.
Like Israel’s God-given Feast Days, the Mosaic temple complex was just one more type and shadow pointing to a spiritual fulfillment in Messiah. Weren’t we told that – “The Most High does not dwell in houses made with human hands?” (Acts 7:48) And that – “Heaven is My throne, and earth is the footstool for My feet; What kind of house will you build for Me?” (Isa. 66:1). Why then would we look for a temple that men can build?
If we want to see God’s eternal place of residence today we must look at what God has been doing to restore the church. And by “church” I mean the body of Messiah, not the worldly institutional corporate entity which is the fruit of the fourth-century apostasy. For we are the living stones of the New Covenant temple – “having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, Messiah Yeshua himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord” (Eph. 2:20-22).
In two previous articles I tried to show how each stage of God’s restoration of Messiah’s congregation could be seen as a restoration of the fulfillments of Israel’s major Feasts. But that isn’t the only thing being revealed in the stages of our restoration. We can also track the rebuilding of the temple.
As most know, the Mosaic tabernacle/temple complex was divided into three separate sections: the Outer Court, the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. The last two sections were under one roof separated (in Moses’ day) by a thin veil. Each section roughly corresponds to the three major Feasts of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles.
Now throughout the temple were seven carefully placed pieces of “furniture.” Each one speaking volumes of spiritual truth concerning our salvation, taking us from justification to sanctification to glorification.
In the Outer Court were the Brazen Altar and the Laver. Within the Holy Place were the Menorah, the Table of Showbread and the Golden Altar of Incense. And in the Holy of Holies, where God’s Presence dwelt, we find the last two: the Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat.
In 1517, when Martin Luther discovered that Yeshua’s sacrifice was the only sacrifice by which we could be justified before God, the Brazen Altar experience was restored to the body. In the ensuing Reformation, when Believer’s Baptism was restored by the Anabaptists, the Laver was again set in place. That completed the Outer Court.
Then, in the early 1900’s, Pentecost broke out and the Menorah, the seven-branched lamp which is symbolic of the Holy Spirit, was brought back from Rome. Christians could now minister in the light and power of the Spirit. Then came June 7, 1967, and the Israeli military victory that birthed a new repentance and fellowship between Jews and Christians. And the Table of Showbread with its twelve loaves, which speaks of the One New Man and the Lord’s commitment to save all Israel, was restored.
That only leaves the Golden Altar of Incense, which lay directly in front of the veil, to complete the Holy Place. Incense, we are told, represents “the prayers of the saints” (Rev.8:4). Could that altar have been restored over the last four decades when the Charismatic Movement burst on to the scene with its emphasis on restoring our spiritual prayer language? Perhaps. It was at that time, also, that Jews began to believe in Yeshua again in numbers not seen since the first century. Both these awakenings then filled the tabernacle with spirit-filled songs of praise and worship.
But this altar plays a central role on the Feast of Atonement also, when the High Priest goes through the veil into the Holy of Holies to make atonement for the people and to purify the whole temple (us). That Day speaks of the final perfection of God’s people – our complete deliverance from sin and carnality.
But before that Day can come we must first cross through what the Jews call “the Days of Awe.” They are the ten days between Trumpets and Atonement when the people would repent of their transgressions against God and their fellow man.
It is very possible these ten days will manifest as the Great Tribulation. “You shall have tribulation ten days; be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Rev. 2:10) God would use that time to strip us of all dependence on self and this world system before our great salvation appears. It would prepare us, like the five virgins, to go through the door (veil of flesh) with Yeshua, our High Priest, into the Holy of Holies and celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles in its season. Which is also, no doubt, the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
Once God’s eternal dwelling is completed the world will witness a sight far more spectacular than Solomon’s Temple. It will be the glorified body of Messiah clothed in God’s righteousness. As Haggai so famously understated: “The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former” (Hag. 2:9).
Brian Hennessy is the author of Valley of the Steeples