Third Temple?

New Creation - Photo by Jingda Chen on Unsplash
In the book of Revelation, is a new Temple building found standing in the city of Jerusalem during the “thousand years,” and will the ancient Levitical feasts and sacrifices be restored? Some commentators believe a new Temple will be built in the future, a view based largely on chapters 40-48 of the book of Ezekiel, along with a passage from the book of Isaiah - [
New Creation - Photo by Jingda Chen on Unsplash]:
  • 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” – (Isaiah 2:2-4).
There are several problems with this proposition, including:
  • Only one scriptural passage refers to a thousand-year period, and it does not mention any temple - (Revelation 20:1-10).
  • Revelation locates Ezekiel’s ideal temple in “New Jerusalem” - (Revelation 21:1-22:5).
  • In the New Testament, Jesus is the true and final Temple foreshadowed by the earlier Tabernacle and Temple.
In the Bible, the “thousand years” is found only in chapter 20 of Revelation. At that time, Satan will be “bound” in the “Abyss” and prevented from “deceiving the nations” until his release “after the thousand years.” The saints martyred “for the testimony of Jesus” are vindicated and reign with Christ for the period. The “rest of the dead” do not live again until the period end. In the passage, neither the Temple nor Jerusalem is mentioned - (Revelation 20:1-10).

When he is loosed, Satan will deceive the nations and gather them to the final battle against the “camp of the saints.” This confrontation will result in the casting of the Devil into the “Lake of Fire” and the final judgment.

After being “carried in the spirit to a high mountain,” John saw the “holy city, New Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God” to the earth. The descent of the city alludes to Ezekiel’s vision when the hand of Yahweh carried him “into the land of Israel to set him upon a very high mountain on which was the frame of a city on the south” - (Ezekiel 40:1-5, Revelation 21:1-10). Note the following parallels:
  • In Revelation, an angel gave John “a golden reed to measure the city, its gates, and its wall.”
  • In Ezekiel, a man “with a line of flax in his hand and a measuring reed stood in the gate…And behold, a wall on the outside of the house round about, and in the man’s hand a measuring reed six cubits long, of a cubit and a handbreadth each: so he measured the thickness of the building, one reed; and the height, one reed.”
  • New Jerusalem had “a wall great and high; with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names written on it, which are of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: on the east were three gates; and on the north three gates; and on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.”
  • In Ezekiel 48:30-35, “The gates of the city shall be after the names of the tribes of Israel, three gates northward…And at the east side three gates…And at the south side three gates.”
  • In Revelation 22:1-2, John saw “a river of water of life, bright as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.” On either side was “the tree of life, bearing twelve fruits yielding fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”
  • The preceding passage alludes to Ezekiel 47:1-12 where the “waters proceeded out from under the threshold of the house eastward.” On either bank grew “every tree for food, whose leaf shall not whither, neither shall the fruit thereof fail; it shall bring forth new fruit every month, because the waters thereof issue out of the sanctuary; and the fruit thereof shall be for food, and the leaf thereof for healing.”
The final verse of Ezekiel reads, “The name of the city from that day shall be, Yahweh is there.” In Revelation, this becomes, “and the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be there” - (Ezekiel 48:35, Revelation 22:3).

John stated that he “saw no temple” in New Jerusalem. Instead, the “Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are the Temple,” just as the city has no more need of the light of the sun or moon, “for the glory of God illuminated, and its lamp is the Lamb.” The holy sanctuary encompassed the entire creation. God’s presence was everywhere; therefore, all unclean things and persons were excluded from the heavenly city.

Consistently in the New Testament, Jesus is presented as the true and greater Temple, the habitation of God prefigured by the earlier Tabernacle. He is the true Bethel, the “house of God,” 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).

In the new messianic age, questions about the proper location of the temple 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).

Collectively, disciples form the “temple of God” where His Spirit now dwells. They are:
  • Built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone…in him all the building fitly framed together grows into a holy temple, a habitation of God through the Spirit” - (1 Corinthians 3:16, 6:19, Ephesians 2:20-22).
In Christ, all the fullness of God dwells. Christians are built up, established, and made “complete in him.” Jewish and Gentile believers alike are “circumcised with the circumcision made-without-hands.” Since they have been quickened in him, no longer are disciples subject to calendrical and dietary rites. Such practices had their time and place, but, in the end, amounted to mere “shadows of the coming things.” What was foreshadowed under the old system arrived in Jesus - (Colossians 2:9-17).

With the victory of Jesus, the time of shadows and types has come to an end. The structures of the old regime reached their intended end. Jesus is the true and final temple, tabernacle and sacrifice, the substance to which the shadows and patterns all pointed - (Romans 10:4).

The single passage that describes the “thousand year” says nothing about any temple, tabernacle, sanctuary, altar, animal sacrifice, Jerusalem, or, for that matter, the nation of Israel.  This does not mean the New Testament has abandoned the promises of a future Temple, but it has reinterpreted them in Jesus Christ. In “New Jerusalem,” he and his Father together form the true and final sanctuary.


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