The Coming Temple

Daniel 9.26-27
Ezekiel 46.20
Ephesians 2.19-22
1 Corinthians 6.19
1 Peter 2.4-10
Revelation 11.1-3, 21.22

During midrash this past Shabbat, we were talking about the coming Temple when the typical confusion broke out. There were those in the group who ardently look forward to the re-establishment of the Temple in Jerusalem and resumption of sacrifice. Others asserted that that was all finished and that we as believers are now the tabernacle. So who's right?

If you go to a Sunday church, the prevalent opinion is the latter. You will get some variant of the statement that the Blood of Jesus was shed once and for all and that any resumption of the sacrificial system would be an insult. They would say something to the effect that we are all now priests and we are now the Temple.

If you go to a synagogue, the former opinion prevails. We are awaiting the Messiah, the restoration of Israel and the restoration of Temple sacrifice.

As it turns out they're both correct (with the exception of the insult part, as we'll see in a moment). Both Daniel and Revelation assure us that there will be a third Temple built in Jerusalem and that animal sacrifice will resume. Ezekiel assures us that there will be a Temple in what appears to be the Millenial Reign. (The Millenial Reign because Revelation assures us that in the New Jerusalem there will be no temple.)

On the other hand, Paul in Ephesians and 1 Corinthians assures us that we who have the Holy Spirit are now the temple of God both individually and corporately.

The key to resolving this apparent conflict is to realize that there is another Tabernacle - the one in Heaven. In other words, this is yet another example of the Pattern of Three. Each of these three tabernacles/temples serves a different purpose, has a different priesthood and accepts different sacrifices.

  • The Heavenly Tabernacle is the 'master version' of which the other two are in some ways copies. Here the Messiah came as the Great High Priest of the order of Melchizedek and shed His own blood once for all. This is the only place where willful sin can be dealt with.
  • The Jerusalem Temple is a copy of the Heavenly Tabernacle where priests of the order of Aaron preside and offer the blood of bulls, sheep and goats. These sacrifices and offerings are for thanksgiving and for certain unintentional sins. It is this temple that will be re-established.
  • The Temple of the Holy Spirit is the body of believers both individually and corporatly. It is here that we are the priests and that we bring the 'sacrifice of praise'.