Yeshua, the living temple
“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” John - Yochanan 2:19
The Judeans didn't understand Yeshua was talking about his body and not a physical temple. They mistakingly assumed that Yeshua was talking about Herod's temple when they answered “It took forty-six years to build this temple! And will you raise it up in three days?”
In contrast to what the Jews thought at that time, many believers today hold the view that Yeshua has replaced Herod's temple and that there is no need for a physical temple any longer. However, after Yeshua's death and resurrection in 33 AD Herod's temple was still in function for another 37 years, including offerings. In 70 AD one of the most tragic days took place in Jewish history, the Romans sieged Jerusalem and destroyed the Holy Temple; just as Yeshua had prophesied:
Then Yeshua went out from the temple, and was going on his way. His disciples came to him to show him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, “You see all of these things, do you not? Amen, I tell you, there will not be left here one stone on another, that will not be thrown down.” Matthew - Mattityahu 24:1-2
After the destruction of the temple, the Jews were exiled by the Romans and Israel turned into a wasteland. Until today the temple has not been rebuilt, and will it ever be? For a long period of time, it seemed completely impossible that the Jewish people would ever return to their homeland; let alone rebuilt the temple. But what's impossible with men is possible with God. Isaiah prophesied that Israel would be re-established and born again in one day (Isa 66.8). About 2800 years later Isaiah's prophecy came to pass, on 29 November 1947 the Jews saw a 2000-year-old dream became reality: the Jewish State was born anew in its ancient homeland.
Another remarkable and often overlooked prophecy in Ezekiel's temple vision (Ez. 40-48). During the Babylonian captivity, God shows Ezekiel a vision of a temple. Unlike Solomon's temple, this temple has a completely different architecture. A quick overview of the temples:
Comparing the three temples and their structures, it's impossible that Ezekiel's vision embodied the second temple, both in form and function. Some hold the view that Ezekiel's temple vision should be seen as spiritual and refers to the living temple we have in Yeshua. It's quite problematic to spiritualize Ezekiel's vision due to the fact it's a functional temple including animal sacrifices. A common objection is that Ezekiel's temple vision includes sacrifices, and therefore cannot be an earthly temple because sacrifices are not needed any longer. Even though this is difficult to understand, we must not forget the words of Yeshua:
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Torah or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For amen, I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not even one smallest letter or one tiny pen stroke shall in any way pass away from the Torah, until all things are accomplished. Matthew-Mattityahu 5:17-18
until all things are accomplished... means until the Olam Haba (World to Come). Until the new heaven and new earth come this earthly system will continue to function. In the Millennial Kingdom, however, there will still be offerings. Perhaps to look back on the finished work of Messiah? Remember, after Yeshua's death, the temple was still in function, including offerings and animal sacrifices. Also, the author of Hebrew mentions the earthly system is a copy and a shadow of the heavenly system (Heb 5:8). There is a heavenly Jerusalem and an earthly Jerusalem, a heavenly temple and an earthly temple, etc. What then is this mysterious temple Ezekiel envisioned, with living water flowing from the throne? An interesting fact is that there is no builder or time appointed in the vision. In the book of Zechariah, a tip of the veil is lifted:
‘This is what ADONAI-Tzva’ot says, “Behold, the man whose name is the Branch: and he shall grow up out of his place; and he shall build the temple of יהוה. Even he shall build the temple of יהוה, and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule on his throne; and he shall be a kohen on his throne; and the counsel of shalom shall be between them both. Zechariah - Zekharya 6:12
...the man whose name is the Branch will build the temple. This refers to the Messiah (Jer. 23:5-6; Zch. 3:8), who will build the future temple. After his resurrection in 33 AD, Yeshua raised a spiritual temple with believers as living stones (1 Peter 2:4-5), and at his second coming he will rebuild the Holy Temple (Zech 6:14) from where he will reign as King Messiah and Priest during his thousand-year reign (Rev. 20:6) in the Millennial Kingdom. And all the nations are called to come to Jerusalem yearly to worship the King and celebrate the Feast of Sukkot:
It will happen that everyone who is left of all the nations that came against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, ADONAI-Tzva’ot, and to keep the Feast of Sukkot. Zechariah - Zekharya 14:16
Until the day of the coming of the Messiah and the building of the Millennial temple, we have access to God through our King and High Priest Yeshua, our living temple.
May the King come soon.