Rebuild the Temple

The early disciples had a strange relationship to the Jerusalem Temple for they seem to have continued to visit the Temple, so for example we read in Acts 3 that Peter and John were going ‘to the temple at the hour of prayer’. When Jesus had spoken about ‘not one stone remaining on another’ those words came as quite a shock to the disciples. The building was awesome, immense and impressive. The Temple was a subject of conversation among travellers within the Imperial world. ‘But have you seen the Temple in Jerusalem?’ would be a comment when a traveller was recounting what they had seen as they travelled across the Roman world. The Temple site occupied around 20% of the entire footprint of Jerusalem – this was not so much a city with a Temple (Canterbury with its cathedral is a city with a cathedral) but a Temple with surrounding buildings. The reference of Jesus to ‘my Father’s house has many [store-]rooms’ is based on the historic Temple with its many storehouses.

The shock of it coming down certainly indicated the end of the age, in our culture something like the detonation of an atomic bomb, with a significant before and after. The trauma of AD70 was intense… The great hope was of God delivering Jerusalem with many prophetic voices asking the people to stay firm. In the midst of the years of assault the Roman armies withdrew as Rome central was in crisis – imagine how those who believed the prophets would have rejoiced. However Jesus had warned about such ‘false prophets’ and once Rome stabilised they returned to finish the work and the end result was utter destruction. [I am deeply concerned that a considerable part of the prophetic movement globally is caught in that position currently – when I hear of ‘go back’, ‘God will vindicate’, or I read of the rejoicing when an intellectual proclaims a return to biblical foundations I get a tad worried, for the prophetic is not about yesterday but about tomorrow. Yesterday might stir faith but it is faith for ‘a new thing’. I see parallels between Jerusalem and today – the crisis we are in is to bring us through to something different, to landscape that is all-but unrecognisable.]

There is a hope for the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem that is held to by some Zionists and Christians influenced by Dispensationalism, but seems so unlikely to me. There is no hope found in early Christian literature of the hope of the Temple being rebuilt that I am aware; Ezekiel’s vision of the Temple is never specified as being in a specific location, other than the city shall be called ‘The Lord is there’. Ezekiel’s vision fuels John’s vision in Revelation 21 of the New Jerusalem, the city that comes down with dimensions that fill the whole earth, and John says ‘I saw no Temple there’… The old Jerusalem was a Temple with a city around it, and any visitor would say ‘I saw the Temple’ for there was no way that one could visit the city and not see the Temple. John’s statement is in total contrast. A city without a temple! Or as we read we know the city is both a city and a temple. The eschaton has no hope of a third temple.

One final text that is quite powerful are the closing words of Matthew’s Gospel known as the Great Commission. Matthew begins his Gospel with the Genesis of Jesus Christ, he often then writes of Scripture being fulfilled, then comes to the close with the Great Commission:

Thus says King Cyrus of Persia: The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Let any of those among you who are of his people—may the Lord their God be with them!—go up.

OH, did I get the wrong quote? Maybe not. The last words of the Writings (2 Chronicles) – the ‘Great Commission’ of king Cyrus, to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem… ‘Go to Jerusalem’ from the place of Exile, and may God go with you… OK here comes the quote,

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

The direction has always been the radical opposite, Jerusalem… to the ends of the earth, Jerusalem to all exilic places; temple building, but not with stones one upon another. Presence – now what does the Presence of God look like / feel like? The Presence is the evidence. Presence with, among not simply for people and certainly way beyond a power to act on people. There is a Temple being rebuilt, and maybe these next years will see a ‘temple’ that we are convinced will remain intact being removed one stone from another? I am not an iconoclast, but I do believe in a journey into the unknown, hence the promise of ‘I am with you always’ is so important.

4 thoughts on “Rebuild the Temple

  1. There is such a difference between the latest trend of as you say of intellectuals sort of becoming ‘cultural Christians’ and the actual kingdom of God. It is a form of Christianity which denies the power of the cross and ignores the total level of kenosis that went on there and sacrifice. It also elevates ‘Christian values’ in a sort of ‘picking the bits you like way’ whilst denying that absolute command to protect the poor, the wanderer and the widow. It often ignores how much Israel got into trouble when they forgot them in the Old Testament and forgets how much the Evangelicals of the 18th century cared about the plight of the destitute and slaves etc. except for the sake of scoring points over mainly Muslims for instance!
    When you see modern day Christians encouraging division and disorder in order to achieve a perceived important goal like building the third temple it is sort of confusing and frustrating simultaneously. The kingdom of God is always marked by an outpouring of love and of loving one’s enemies – so so hard! If we force our own agendas for the ‘sake of the kingdom’ we also violate our call to be a different people, a holy people, and the royal priesthood should look like Christ alone who let go of all power in order to serve completely. So interesting thank you Martin!!

  2. Dispensationalism
    Dominionism & 7 mountain mandate
    Christian Nationalism

    It just keeps getting better and better . . .

    1. Better and better!!! So some would think!

    2. I have only begun to Tip the Sacred Cows of the NAR goose-stepping mongrels who make “An Appeal to Heaven” while lusting for bloodshed in what they think is a “righteous cause” . . .
      What would Yeshua say?
      “You don’t know what spirit you’re of . . .”

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