The Temple was meant to serve as a single facility for the United Monarchy, where sacrifices to God would take place, and where, in the Holy of Holies, an elaborate chamber in the innermost sanctum of the Temple, God’s presence was said to dwell. After the single monarchy split into the distinct kingdoms of Judah and Israel, which happened, according to the Bible, under Solomon’s son Rehoboam, there was again a duplication of temples, as new altars were erected in Israel, at Dan, in the north, and Bethel, in the south.
After Israel was conquered in about 720 B.C.E., and its 10 tribes driven into exile, Jerusalem again became the lone cultic center.
Solomon’s Temple sustained several attacks by foreign powers before finally, in 586 B.C.E., being totally destroyed by the army of Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian king. The residents of Judah were sent into a short-lived exile, in what is present-day Iraq.
With the fall of Babylon, the Persian emperor Cyrus the Great allowed the Jews to return to the Land of Israel, beginning in 538. A rebuilt temple was dedicated in 515 B.C.E. – a little-known precursor to the grand structure called Herod’s Temple.
That Second Temple was an expanded and significantly upgraded structure whose construction was led by the half-Jewish, half-Edumean Herod, the Roman-appointed king of Judea who died in 4 B.C.E. Finished in about 20 B.C.E., the extravagant edifice stood less than a century. The first Jewish Revolt began in 66 C.E. and in 70 C.E., the Roman general (later emperor) Titus looted the Temple and leveled it.
Following the destruction of the Second Temple during the First Revolt and the subsequent destruction of Jerusalem itself, accompanied by the exile of its inhabitants, during the Second Jewish Revolt, in 132-135, that Judaism made a sharp turn from being a temple-based cult that relied on daily sacrifices to its god. It became a mobile faith that revolved around law and prayer, and whose members soon spread out around the Mediterranean basin, and later to more distant points. The synagogue replaced the single Temple, but recalled the sanctuary by always being physically oriented in the direction of Jerusalem. Prayer took the place of animal sacrifices.
read more: http://www.haaretz.com/jewish/features/.premium-1.606550
What happened to the temple? The book of Ezekiel closes with a vision of a temple. In Chapter 40, Ezekiel is transported from Babylon to Israel where a messenger with a divine measuring rod appears. They take a tour and witness a return of the Spirit (43:1-4) which Ezekiel saw depart in chapter 10. What is the temple that he is seeing? Solomon’s? Well Solomon’s Temple was destroyed in 586 BC, and there is no temple for Ezekiel to see since this vision is happening in 573. Is it Zerbbabel’s Temple? Under the leadership of the scribe Ezra and Nehemiah and Zerubbabel and Joshua, a new temple was built in 520 BC when Cyrus of Persia released the Jewish exiles. But this temple was smaller, and didn’t have the Ark of the Covenant. It did have the Holy of Holies and sacred furniture that could be rebuilt. But this doesn’t fit the description of what Ezekiel is seeing. He seems to be seeing something at least as large if not larger than the original. So does that make it Herod’s temple? Herod expanded upon Zerubabbel’s temple. And with the size, and grandeur it seems to fit. And yet, the glory of God that Ezekiel saw return to the temple never actually returned to Herod’s temple. At least, not until Simeon and Anna welcomed the infant Jesus on the day of his dedication. Herod’s temple was destroyed around 70 AD and has never been rebuilt.
So what temple is Ezekiel describing? Now some will teach that a third physical temple is coming. But you have to ignore all the teaching of the New Testament to read Ezekiel that way (which is why some Jews believe another physical temple is in their future ). Rather, I believe Ezekiel is seeing the Church, the Body of Christ. WE are the physical structure that houses the Spirit of God that draws all people to praise not the physical structure (or the person), but the Spirit who gives life. Listen to these teachings:
1 Peter 2:4-5 Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
Acts 7:47-48 It was Solomon who built a house for him. Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made with human hands.
Ephesians 2:15-20 He [Jesus] has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.
1 Corinthians 3:16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s spirit dwells in you?
John 4:21,23-24 The hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. The true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.
So what are we to conclude? What temple does Ezekiel prophesy about? What happened to the temple? You’re looking at it. You are among it. And when you participate with the Holy Spirit to bring glory to God and build the Kingdom through the spiritual rebirth of people, YOU ARE THE TEMPLE. Let me say it again: we are the physical structure that houses the Spirit of God which draws people to God.
None of us is the temple alone. We are the living stones of the temple. But if we are not doing our individual work, playing our individual part, then the temple suffers. So we must consider our lives and the way our spiritual self as being built up as a temple as well. Think of us like a team. No one player makes up the Saints. If that were the case, they would have a winning season because they still have Drew and Drew is awesome. So Drew is a Saint, but he is not The Saints. You are a temple but you are not The Temple. The Church is The Temple. And not each local congregation. Just like the offense or the special teams are The Saints. All working together, built together, growing together. What is the best advice a football coach gives his team: Do Your Job. You can’t do my job, and I can’t do your job. I can’t do Sean and Maria’s job. Maria can’t do Gordon’s job. There are days when we try. And it goes terribly. Because if I’m up in Maria’s business and she’s up in Carrie’s business, well who is taking care of my role? I also can’t fix you. I know you wish I could. I know you wish you could fix your (fill in the blank). But baby, the good and bad news is you can’t fix anyone! Even your blessed self! That’s why we invite the Holy Spirit into the temple: glory of God, fill my life so that I might be made whole. And here is where the remodel comes in.
The Holy Spirit moves into my life and makes me a part of the Body of Christ. I am given a purpose that reaches beyond my limitations to participate in. But as I am being built up in Christ, there are parts of the structure that have to be torn down, remodeled, and rebuilt. I was visiting my sister one time and God was really doing a major work in my life and marriage and job at the church. My sister had just repainted her little house and it looked so good, so new even though it was this old house. And I prayed, God I give you permission to redo my life. New colors, new wallpaper, new furniture. Lord I want my life to reflect you, so change whatever needs to be changed.” I thought I had really surrendered! What a courageous girl I was! And I heard the Spirit of God laugh and say, “Daughter! Did you think I only wanted to put new paint on the walls? I am doing a new thing! I am not redecorating your life! I am rennovating your life! I am tearing down strongholds of the enemy that you have allowed into your heart. I am rebuilding towers of righteousness within you. This won’t be simple or inexpensive. And it certainly isn’t a DIY project. But I am the One who promises to be faithful to complete the good work that I started in you on the day of your rebirth.
There is an ancient Jewish legend that says that any brick for the temple found with even the slightest imperfection was not only discarded it was buried so it could not accidently get recycled. They did not want to risk an imperfection causing structural damage. But if I start examining my life, I see so many imperfections. I get discouraged that I’m never going to learn these lessons. And I bury myself, hide my light, cover my head. But God doesn’t ask me to do that. Instead he reminds me that he has already buried my sin in the grave of Jesus. He has redeemed my flaws and made me perfect. I’m just growing up into that. Instead of going back and digging up what Jesus has already buried, I should be building upon what Jesus has begun. So let me say these words again. Disregarded, Disrepair, Destroyed Return, Rebuilt, Re-imaged Desecrated, Demolished, Denied space Remnant, Reborn, Resurrection. How is your temple built? Which pieces can you leave at the altar this day? Which pieces are you willing to pick up and keep building on? As you receive within yourself the pieces of the chief cornerstone, rejected by men but chosen by God the Father, would you be willing to let His Spirit do a remodel in your life?