Truth, Understanding, Insight

A Promised Future Temple

30th January 2004, seh,mgh


1) A Vision of the Future

The Bible provides the reader with visions of a future age. These visions should give the faithful vitality and make them vigilant. One of those visions is of a magnificent Temple yet to be built on this earth. The details of this Temple are given in the book of Ezekiel. Without these visions people lose sight of the glorious future on this earth promised to the faithful.

The information given about this Temple, by the prophet Ezekiel (chapters 40 – 48), occupies approximately the same space in the scriptures as the whole book of Revelation. This is indicative of its importance. Henry Sulley (1887), an architect, has given visual images of this future temple, which are probably very close to accurate, according to an architect who has studied his conclusions.

The popular view among Christians is to dismiss this prophecy of a future Temple as described by Ezekiel. They argue that the New Testament makes no mention of this building. They prefer to refer to the temple as the Spiritual house, which is the metaphorical house of faithful believers and followers of the Messiah. Many Christians believe that they will be transported to a new world when our planet is destroyed. They rely on the New Testament writings, rejecting the prophets of the Old Testament.

The Messiah's Directive

We are faced here with a problem. However, the Lord himself gives the perceptive reader the clues to solving this problem about the Temple described in Ezekiel and the earth's destiny. In Matthew 21: 13 and Mark 11: 17, we have parallel accounts of the same incident. It is recorded in both places that:

“He taught saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations, the house of prayer, but ye have made it a den of thieves.”

Notice the italics. The temple existing at the time in no way resembled that of Ezekiel's prophecy. It was Herod's temple, which was not being utilised according to Jewish Law. It had become a 'den of thieves', a place of trade and commerce.

On a closer reading of this passage, we see that the Messiah is here directing the perceptive listener to the records of the prophets. Note how He says to them, “Is it not written?” He is here quoting directly from the prophet Isaiah, from Isaiah 56: 7. The written records wre those of the Old Testament, which were read to the people in the temple and the synagogues.

Our Lord frequently asked the Jews, “Have ye not read?” And here in Mark 11: 17, He is directing their attention to the prophecy of Isaiah 56, to reference to the House of Prayer and to the future. It appears that His assumption is that they are famoiliar with, or should be familiar with the writings of Isaiah, which regularly read to them.

The context Isaiah 56: 1-8, from which this quotation comes, specifically establishes a relationship between the Jews and Gentiles, who were the sons of strangers. This was accomplished through the work of the Messiah, which extended the hope of salvation to all people.

In verses 1-5 of Isaiah 56: 1- 8 a relationship is established between the Jews and the Gentiles (the sons of strangers). This was accomplished through the work of the Messiah, which extended the hope of salvation to all people.

Thus saith the LORD, Keep ye judgment, and do justice: for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed. Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that layeth hold on it; that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil. ¶ Neither let the son of the stranger, that hath joined himself to the LORD, speak, saying, The LORD hath utterly separated me from his people: neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree.> For thus saith the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant;> Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.

Verses 6-8 of this chapter describe a time when Jew and Gentile will be united in worship of the God of Israel. The outcasts of Israel will be gathered and others, who are the strangers or gentiles, will be joined with these outcasts of Israel. The centre of worship will be “my house of prayer” in “my holy mountain.”

Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant. Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.The Lord GOD which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him.

These verses contain very significant aspects of worship, such as offerings and sacrifices, no doubt to memorialise and remind the people of the Messiah's past sacrificial offering. It is also to be noted that both Jew and Gentile will be included in the worship and it will be a house of prayer for all nations. There are clues to the location of this house of prayer in, “my holy mountain.” By quoting this section of the Old Testament, the Messiah would clearly show the perceptive listener that the existing temple in Jerusalem, destroyed by the Romans in A.D 70, was not the “house” referred to by many of the prophets. The Messiah emphasised the fact that “my house shall be called... the house of prayer.” This would have to be prophetic of a future age.