The Messianic Temple| Will Jesus Rebuild A Literal Temple?
A Look at Mark 14:58
Both during his life and when he was on trial, he was accused of many things. Some of the accusations were true, some were not. One of the true accusations is found above, and has profound implications for the current eschatological debate today.
Zionists like John Hagee, Hal Lindsay, Jack Van Impe and a host of others raise millions of dollars every year to support Israel and the efforts to rebuild the temple. We are told that the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem is near! Hal Lindsey claims that the recent “re-establishment” of the Sanhedrin heralds the imminent restoration of the Law of Moses cultic system. For more on this supposed restoration, see my book, Israel 1948: Countdown to No Where. It is a devastating critique of the claim that the events in modern “Israel” are the fulfillment of prophecy.
The Old Testament certainly foretold the building of the Messianic Temple. In Isaiah 2:2f for instance, where “the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established.” This is a direct reference to the Messianic Temple. In Zechariah 6:12-13 the prophet foretold the coming of “The Branch” who would build the temple of the Lord and sit on the throne as king and priest.
What kind of temple did these prophecies– and more– have in mind? Was it a physical edifice in Jerusalem? Is it to be a literal building sitting again on its geographical location on the temple mount, in spite of the fact that the Muslim Dome of the Rock now sits too close to that original location as to allow such a thing? (Lindsey and others are now claiming that there is room on that temple mount for both buildings, however. But, in truth, this is simply an attempt to allow for the desired temple. Any attempt to build a temple that close to the Muslim Dome would result in WW III. Lamentably, some Zionists openly call for such a war, insisting it is necessary for the rebuilding of the temple!).
Lindsey and the host of others predicting the imminent rebuilding of the temple, and the construction of the Messianic Temple – are overlooking that the Bible is very clear that the Messianic Temple would not be a physical building at all! Notice the accusation– which was true– against Jesus: “He will build another (temple) not made with hands.” We have to look closer at this charge.
In the OT prophecies of the Messianic Temple we are told that the foundation for that temple would be a living person, not a stone of granite or marble! Isaiah 28, predicted the laying of the foundation stone. We are told that those who would trust in it would not be ashamed. Now, in stark contrast to the OT condemnation of those who put their trust in the physical temple (see Jeremiah 7 especially) Isaiah was saying that the “foundation stone” of this Messianic Temple was to be believed in and trusted.
Jesus and the Messianic Temple
Amazingly, the NT writers unequivocally say that Christ is the anticipated foundation stone of the Messianic Temple! Peter affirms this in no uncertain terms in Acts 4:11f and 1 Peter 2:6f. Peter leaves no doubt that Jesus was the predicted foundation stone of the Messianic Temple. Furthermore, he also says that the foundation of the Temple was the living apostolate, and then adds that living saints were the living stones of the promised Temple. This is hugely important!
Dispensationalism says that the OT never predicted the church or the church age. Thus, the OT never predicted the establishment of the church as the Messianic Temple, or, for that matter, by implication, the OT never predicted Jesus as the chief cornerstone of the Messianic Temple! And yet, Jesus, Paul and Peter all cite the OT prophecies of the Messianic Temple and say that Christ is the rejected chief cornerstone. He is the living chief cornerstone! This is a total refutation of the Dispensational view of the Messianic Temple! I have produced a very special CD, entitled Romancing The Stone, which is an examination of every OT prophecy of the Messianic Temple Stone. Contact me directly to order your copy of this special presentation! It is very, very powerful!
So, there was to be a Messianic Temple for sure. However, that Temple would be a living temple, built on a living foundation stone! And there is more to be found in Mark 14:58.
Notice the reference to the temple “not made with hands.” As Timothy Gray notes: “The word ‘made with hands’ is found 14 times in the LXX, and in every case it describes idols. This observation is very consequential, for the description of the Jerusalem temple ‘as made with hands’ is not simply saying that the temple is of this world– man made– but that it has become an idol” (Timothy Gray, The Temple in Mark, (Grand Rapids, Baker Academic, 2008)175).
This background would not have been lost on Jesus’ audience and even the Sanhedrin as they heard the accusation. Furthermore, in the NT we find a constant contrast between the OT cultus, and the things that identified Israel as God’s people, and the things of Christ as things not made with hands.
Stephen lost his life for telling the Jews– as he stood in their (now idolatrous) temple: “The Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands” (Acts 7:48). All he did was quote their own scriptures to them that the temple could not be God’s dwelling place in the kingdom, and they killed him for it!
Paul contrasted the circumcision made with hands– circumcision being one of the key markers of the children of God– in contrast to the circumcision of Christ, the circumcision not made with hands (Colossians 2:11-12).
Hebrews speaks of the “true tabernacle” over which Jesus ministers as high priest, and says it is the “true tabernacle” the one that God pitched and not man. Christ’s New Covenant, Messianic temple is not made with hands. He is the living foundation stone of the true tabernacle. Then, the Hebrews author says that the Old Covenant Temple was “this creation” but, the New Covenant, Messianic Temple which is “greater and more perfect” than the Old, “is not of this creation” (Hebrews 9:11).
The doctrine of a future physical Messianic Temple needs to be re-examined in light of these words.
Christ’s New Covenant Temple is “greater and more perfect” than the magnificent Herodian Temple.
Christ’s Messianic Temple is “true” as opposed to the old.
It is greater and more perfect.
It is “not of this creation.
Could any future, physical edifice, made with hands ever surpass, or even equal, the true tabernacle that Christ has already built upon himself as the chief-cornerstone?
See my discussion of the Messianic Temple in my book The Elements Shall Melt With Fervent Heat.
All of the prognostications about a future Messianic Temple are groundless and based on a misunderstanding of what the Bible actually foretold. Jesus’ accusers got it right! Jesus said he was going to destroy the old temple made with hands (and he did!), and build another temple not made with hands. He has kept his word, and now “The tabernacle of God is with man!” (Revelation 21:3-4). Christ and his body is the Messianic Temple!