Jesus is the Greater and Final Temple foreshadowed by the ancient Tabernacle and the later Temple building in Jerusalem.
Jesus is the true sanctuary that was foreshadowed in the ancient religious structures and worship rituals of Israel. He is the dwelling place of God’s presence and glory, and the true and final mediator between heaven and earth. Christ is the temple “made-without-hands” that was destroyed by evil men but restored when his Father raised him from the dead.
With his death and resurrection, questions about the proper location of the temple building are no longer relevant. With his arrival, “the hour is coming and now is when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth.” Holy ground is found wherever he is – (John 4:20-24).
In Jesus, the fullness of God dwells forevermore, and Jewish and Gentile believers are “circumcised with the circumcision made-without-hands.” Once restricted to the outer sections of the Temple, the Gentiles now have full access to the presence of Yahweh through His Son. The “middle wall” of separation between Jew and Gentile has been dismantled in him forever. Why erect it again by rebuilding the old structures that have lost their significance in him? – (Colossians 2:9-17).
Believers are quickened in him. No longer are they subject to the calendrical cycles and dietary restrictions of the old Levitical order. Such practices were no more than “shadows of the coming things,” for what was foreshadowed in the old system has come to fruition in Jesus.
God never intended to achieve perfection through the Levitical system; otherwise, He would not have promised a greater priest and a “better sacrifice.” And this change of priesthood means a “change of law.” The Levitical system was powerless to perfect anyone, therefore, Jesus became the “guarantor of a better covenant,” appointed to a better and an “un-transmissible priesthood” – (Hebrews 7:11-28).
Christ inaugurated a “new and better covenant” that has been “legislated on better promises.” The old covenant was “not faultless.” It was incapable of achieving the “purification of sins,” but with the arrival of the new covenant, the old one “has been become obsolete” – (Hebrews 1:1-3, 8:1-13, Jeremiah 31:31-33).
The Son is the supremely superior high priest, the final mediator who entered the “greater and more perfect Tabernacle, one not-made-with-hands,” where he appears in the presence of God for his people. He is the “true light of the world,” and not ancient Israel or any stone building in Jerusalem – (John 1:4-9, Luke 1:78-79, 2:32, Acts 26:23, Hebrews 9:11-24).
The mission given to Israel at Sinai to become a witness to the nations has now fallen to Jesus and his disciples. He fulfills that role because he is the true Israel of God and the “light of the world.” Likewise, his disciples are lights in this world but only as they reflect his light – (Matthew 5:14, Philippians 2:15, 1 Thessalonians 5:5, Revelation 1:20).
Jesus 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, Christ was the “root of Jesse risen to reign over the Gentiles,” and he now reigns over the nations in this present age – (Romans 15:8-9, Revelation 1:4-6).
The gospel is proclaimed to all nations “for the obedience of faith,” as promised by the prophets. The scriptures foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles, just as Yahweh promised Abraham – “In you will all nations be blessed.” This is occurring now in Abraham’s seed, Jesus – (Romans 16:25-26, Galatians 3:16).
When he testified before the Sanhedrin, Stephen reminded the temple authorities 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’s Spirit – Jesus Christ and his “body.”
With the victory of Jesus, the time of shadows has come to an end. He is the “goal” of the Mosaic legislation. The structures of the old regime have reached their intended conclusion, and now Jesus is the True and Final temple forevermore – (Romans 10:4).
The single passage that describes the “thousand years” during which overcoming “saints” reign makes no mention of any temple, tabernacle, sanctuary, altar, animal sacrifices, Jerusalem, calendrical observations, or Israel. Those ideas must be imported into the text – (Revelation 20:1-10).
The expectation of a millennial temple is based on chapters 40-48 from the book of Ezekiel, and on Isaiah 2:2-4 (“In the last days the mountain of Yahweh’s house will be established on the top of the mountains…and all nations will flow to it”). But there are two problems with this reading of these two passages.
First, only one biblical passage refers to the thousand-year period and it makes no mention of a temple. Second, Revelation locates Ezekiel’s ideal temple in the city of “New Jerusalem” AFTER the “thousand years.” What Revelation does place in the “thousand years” is the “binding of Satan” and the “reign” of the “saints” – (Revelation 20:1-10, 21:1-22:5).
John declared that he “saw no temple” in “New Jerusalem.” But he was referring to its lack of any physical building. In the city, the “Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are the Temple,” and the holy sanctuary encompasses the entire city, which is coterminous with the New Creation.
The New Testament does not abandon the promise of an ideal temple. Instead, it reinterprets and reapplies the ancient promise in and to God’s Son, the Messiah of Israel, and especially in consideration of his death and resurrection. The promises of the Hebrew Bible are not forsaken or replaced but fulfilled in Jesus Christ.