I’m excited to welcome Misty Keith back to My Messy Desk to teach us all about the temple – what it meant to the Israelites and what it means to modern day Christians.
The word “temple” has several different meanings and all are worthy definitions for exploring. In context and how the word is properly defined all depends upon what you are reading or the meaning that you are seeking.
The general definition of the word “temple” according to a quick Google search is a building devoted to the worship, or regarded as the dwelling place, of a god or gods or other objects of religious reverence. i.e., house of God, house of worship, shrine, sanctuary, church, cathedral, mosque, synagogue, shul, or archaic fane.
However, to the believer and follower of Jesus Christ, the word “temple” takes on a much grander meaning. Jesus Christ was of Jewish decent and to the Jewish people, the temple was physically represented by two successive religious buildings. The first temple was built by Solomon in 957 BC and later destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC. This particular temple contained the famous Ark of the Covenant. It was also the actual dwelling place of (Yah-God).
There is also some mention of the temple being rebuilt by Zerubbabel in 520 BC. Zerubbabel was the head of the tribe of Judah at the time of the return of the Babylonish captivity, during the first year of Cyrus’ reign. It is probable that Zerubbabel was in the King of Babylon’s service and like Daniel, received a different name. Since we have very few particulars or physical evidence to realize the temple’s appearance, we tend to focus on the temple when it had strongly laid foundations. Rather than seeing three different temples, scholars focus on two particular temples with modifications being made to pre-existing foundations.
The second temple (515 BC – AD 70) was enlarged by Herod the Great and later destroyed by Romans during the Jewish Revolt. It is said and often believed to have been built by Herod just to appease the Jewish people and to gain their favor.
Today, all that remains of the temple is the western part of the wall (a few stones) and an inner gate. Current ruins indicate that levels of the foundations possibly laid by Zerubbabel and Solomon are still noticeable but not built up. The physical evidence of the temple helps us to put pieces of Biblical history together and perhaps this may be the reason why there is still a focus on the history of the temple and why the Jewish people are waiting for it to be rebuilt again.
As we further explore the meaning of the word temple, we must not forget that Jesus foretold the destruction of it. Matthew 24: 1-2 (ESV) says “Jesus left the temple and was going away, when His disciples came to point out to Him the buildings of the temple. But He answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”
Since the word “temple” is mentioned over 600 times in the Bible and with this word being mentioned so much, it is important that we understand what is meant when we read the word temple both in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. The Old Testament use for the word temple is bayith (Hebrew) which literally means house, household or home. Heykal (Aramaic) is also found in the OT and means palace. The New Testament uses the Greek word eidolon which means idol’s temple and the word noas which means shrine.
Next, we have to then ask ourselves a few questions when it comes to the word “temple.”
Why was a physical “temple” needed and why was it so important to the Jewish people?
False places of worship were erected all the time for idol worship. There had to be a place where the One, True God could be worshipped and there needed to be a place where He could dwell. Further, there needed to be a place where sacrifices could be made to atone for the sins of the people. Since the temple was the House of the Lord, only the Levitical priests could enter the temple and make sacrifices on behalf of the people. This kept the temple clean and pure and up to standard for the Jewish people. It also kept the place where God dwelled, holy. Further, there needed to be a place where money could be brought in and assessed on behalf of the people. As the hearts of the people were prompted to give, money was brought in and offered up to the Lord.
As sin progressed, the hearts of God’s people digressed. The “temple” was no longer used for what it was intended to be used for and God could no longer dwell there. After all, a Holy and Perfect God couldn’t be associated with such wretchedness and evil. In the end, temple pieces were taken, sold and ended up being scattered all over Israel.
We then ask the question, where did God go if He could no longer dwell in the temple?
God loved humanity so much that He provided another way. He sent Jesus (His only begotten Son) from heaven to take His place. God in the flesh, fully God and yet fully man, left heaven and came to earth to dwell among His people. Jesus was the “new temple.” He provided the way for the people to worship their God and to have a relationship with the Father. The sad thing was and still is that God’s people did not recognize who God sent. To this very day, God’s initial people are still looking for their God to provide a way, and for Him to rebuild the “temple” as they once knew it. Rather than worshipping and recognizing who He sent, they wonder aimlessly waiting.
Which leads us to ask the next question.
Is there a need for the “temple” today?
The answer to our final question is that there is no longer the need for a physical temple. Before Jesus laid down His own life and was sacrificed on the cross for the sin of all mankind, taking on and conquering sin, He sent the Holy Spirit to dwell in the hearts of His people. God’s Spirit now lives in those who believe in Jesus Christ, His Son. So in short, we are “the temple,” the physical place where God dwells with His people.
Some day when Christ returns again, He will create a new earth. There will be no need for a physical temple at all because God will be able to dwell among His people freely and without any restrictions. Until that day, we the children of God, who trust in the way that God the Father provided and believe what His Son Jesus said and did, get to be the temple, a living, breathing place where God is honored and worshiped.
Hello, my name is Misty Ann. I am a daughter of the King of all Kings, wife to Richard, Mommy to Reagan (11 years), Kylee (8 years), and Karis Delaney (6 years). I am a teacher by trade, an encourager and up-lifter by calling and a writer by practice. I enjoy being a friend to those who will have me.
I understood from early adulthood and beyond that I would never fit. The Lord helped me to realize that He called me to stand out and because of this, I am forever grateful and at peace with how He has made me and who He has made me to be.
I will offer You my grateful heart, for I am Your unique creation, filled with wonder and awe.
You have approached even the smallest details with excellence;
Your works are wonderful;
I carry this knowledge deep within my soul. (Psalm 139:14 – The Voice)
Just A Little More About Me…..
My family and I live just outside the Austin, Texas area. I homeschool all three of my children and teach Reading for a private college in the Master’s/Credentialing program. I stay busy and enjoy the hobbies of Reading, Writing, Scrap-booking, Bible-Journaling and Running.
As a family, we attend Hill Country Bible Church. We enjoy traveling and take “family fieldtrips” often. All of life is an adventure and we are thankful for every life lesson that the Lord teaches us in the process.
For more encouragement please join the discussions on these fabulous blog link ups – Suzanne Eller, Thought Provoking Thursday, Susan B. Mead, Faith Filled Friday, Grace and Truth, Faith and Fellowship Friday, Grace and Truth Friday, Good Morning Monday, Soul Survival, Monday Musings, Rah Rah Link Up, Tell His Story, Woman to Woman Wednesday, Women With Intention Wednesday, Sitting Among Friends, Testimony Tuesday, Planting Roots, and Fresh Market Friday.