Real Tabernacle and True Temple - Jesus

OVERVIEW - Jesus is the Greater Tabernacle and the True Temple foreshadowed by the ancient worship structures of Israel

Jesus Reigns - Photo by Joshua Gresham on Unsplash
ill there be a “third temple” built from stone in the city of Jerusalem in fulfillment of prophecy? The idea stands in tension with the New Testament portrait of Jesus as the Greater and True Temple that was foreshadowed by the religious structures of Ancient Israel, both the Tabernacle in the wilderness and the later Temple complex build by Solomon - [Jesus Reigns - Photo by Joshua Gresham on Unsplash].

If Jesus is the true and final sanctuary in which God’s presence dwells, why must another stone edifice “made-with-hands” be erected, one in which His glory will not reside? If he is the “once-for-all sacrifice” for sins, the “priest forever after the order of Melchizedek,” the one who inaugurated the New Covenant, “achieved the purification of sins,” and fulfilled all the “law and the prophets,” why the need to regress to the old and obsolete system of worship? - (Galatians 2:21, Hebrews 8:13)?

Consistently in the New Testament, Jesus is the true and greater Temple, the habitation of God prefigured in the earlier portable Tabernacle constructed by Moses. He is the true “Bethel,” the “house of God” and the real mediator between heaven and earth. He is the temple “made-without-hands” that was destroyed by evil men but raised from the dead by his Father - (John 1:14, 1:51, 2:17-21, Colossians 1:19, 2:9).

With his Death and Resurrection, questions about the proper location or time of worship are no longer relevant. With the arrival of Jesus, “the hour is coming and now is when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth” - (John 4:20-24).

In Christ, all the fullness of God dwells forevermore. Jewish and Gentile believers are “circumcised with the circumcision made-without-hands.” Once restricted to the outer sections of the Temple, Gentiles now have full access to the presence of Yahweh through Jesus. The “middle wall” of separation between Jew and Gentile has been dismantled in him forever - (Colossians 2:9-17).

Believers are quickened in him. No longer are they subject to the calendrical cycles and dietary restrictions detailed in the Book of Leviticus. The ancient rituals amounted to mere “shadows of the coming things.” What was foreshadowed has come to fruition in Jesus.

God never intended to achieve perfection through the Levitical system; otherwise, He would not have promised the greater priest and his “better sacrifice.” A change of priesthood meant a “change of law.” The old animal sacrifices and purity regulations were powerless to perfect anyone; therefore, Jesus became the “guarantor of a better covenant,” and appointed to a better and an “un-transmissible priesthood” - (Hebrews 7:11-28).

The “Son” in whom God “spoke” his complete word inaugurated the “new and better covenant, legislated on better promises.” The old covenant was “not faultless”; it was incapable of achieving the “purification of sins.” With the arrival of the new one, the old covenant was “rendered obsolete” - (Hebrews 1:1-3, 8:1-13, Jeremiah 31:31-33).

Jesus is the supremely superior high priest, the final mediator who entered the “greater and more perfect Tabernacle not-made-with-hands,” there, to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. He is the living and “true light of the world,” not the stone building erected in Ancient Jerusalem - (John 1:4-9, Luke 1:78-79, 2:32, Acts 26:23, Hebrews 9:11-24).

The mission God gave to Israel has fallen to Jesus and his disciples. He fulfills the priestly role of mediating the light of Yahweh to the nations, because he is the true Israel of God and “light of the world.” Likewise, his disciples become lights in this world as they reflect his light - (Matthew 5:14, Philippians 2:15, 1 Thessalonians 5:5, Revelation 1:20).

Church Illuminated - Photo by Yeo Khee on Unsplash
Photo by Yeo Khee on Unsplash

Christ came to the “
circumcision to confirm the promises made to the fathers.” This included the promise that the “Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.” As Isaiah prophesied, Jesus is the “root of Jesse risen to reign over the Gentiles”; and, therefore, he reigns over the nations in this present age - (Romans 15:8-9Revelation 1:4-6).

Thus, the gospel is now proclaimed to all the nations “for the obedience of faith,” as promised by the prophets. The Scriptures foresaw that God would justify the heathen, just as Yahweh promised Abraham, “In you will all nations be blessed.” This is now occurring in Abraham’s seed, Christ - (Romans 16:25-26, Galatians 3:16).

When he testified before the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem, Stephen reminded them that “the Most High does not dwell in places made-by-hand.” The temple buildings and the Tabernacle were man-made structures – Shadows and types of the true habitation of God – Jesus Christ and his “body.”
With the victory of Jesus, the time of shadows came to an end. He was and is the “goal” of the Mosaic legislation. The structures of the old system have reached their intended end, and now, Jesus is the True Tabernacle and the Final temple - (Romans 10:4).

In the Book of Revelation, John “saw no temple” in “New Jerusalem”; however, he was referring to its lack of a physical building. Instead, the “Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are the Temple,” and the holy sanctuary encompassed the entire New Creation. There were no geographical, spatial, or temporal restrictions on the presence of God; His glory and that of the “Lamb” radiated throughout the Cosmos.

In the last chapters of his book, the prophet Ezekiel described an idealized Temple in the perfected city of Jerusalem, prophecies Revelation locates in the “New Jerusalem” set in the New Creation. Thus, the New Testament does not abandon the promise of an ideal temple; instead, it reinterprets it in Jesus, the sacrificial “Lamb” who was declared “worthy” by a great myriad of heavenly voices to receive the “power, and riches, and wisdom, and might, and honor, and glory, and blessing.”

Will there be a third or fourth Temple in Jerusalem?  What would be the point?


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