Rebuilding the Temple
By Gary Amirault
The Bible has a great deal to say about the Tabernacles and Temples ordained by the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They make for fascinating study. One could spend a lifetime (and some have) studying these structures and patterns and not run out of things to discover.
The time of David is an interesting moment for the study of God's dwelling places. This was a time in which the Tabernacle of Moses and the Tabernacle of David were operating simultaneously-one on Mount Gibeon and the other on Mount Zion-the first offered lots of dead flesh, but without the presence of God and the latter offered the praises of our lips with the Ark of the Covenant in the sight of all the people. (Lots of spiritual truth in that picture.) Furthermore, David provided the material to build a third dwelling place for God which came to be known as Solomon's Temple. Solomon lived through the establishment of three different dwelling places for Yahweh. All of this occurred about 3000 years ago. Before I get into the meat of the article, I just want to point out that there were approximately (or perhaps exactly) 666 years between when the vessels were removed from Solomon's Temple and sent to Babylon and when Titus destroyed Herod's Temple in 70 A.D. and carried the vessels to Rome. Furthermore, the number 666 is found in only one place in the Old Testament and it related to Solomon and his day. I'll say no more, but for the hungry ones, there is much to hear here.
Solomon's Temple went through much misuse and abuse over the next several hundred years. It was completed around the year 960 B.C. according to the Holman Bible Dictionary. (By the way this is a very nice Bible dictionary. The article on "Temples" has some interesting information. It is many color pictures, up-to-date articles, over 1400 pages and is available at any Christian bookstore or from a discounter such as Christian Book Distributors. Everyone who can afford it should have at least one such dictionary on their shelves.)
In approximately 597 B.C., the temple was plundered and the Holy Vessels were brought to Babylon. Then in 587/586 it was burned. The Jews went into Babylonian captivity for 70 years, at the end of which they were allowed to return to Israel because God cleaned the land. They began to rebuild Solomon's Temple perhaps around 538. The rebuilding was delayed by some of the people planted into Israel by the Babylonian king when he cleansed the land of Jews. These Babylonians, who were placed here 70 years earlier, did not want the Jews to rebuild the Temple. They sent letters back to Babylon trying to stop the Jews. They sent false prophets, made threats, and a host of other things to stop the rebuilding of Solomon's Temple.
We find the story of their attempt to stop the rebuilding in Nehemiah, Chapters 1-6. The key men who headed this attempt to stop the rebuilding of the temple were named Sanballet the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite. The first part of the book of Ezra tells us that Cyrus was commanded by Yahweh to rebuild the temple. Cyrus gave back all the articles of the house of the Lord. Ezra gives much information about the rebuilding process. He gives us some information about Sanballet and his band which is not found in Nehemiah. Ezra says that these transplanted Babylonians at first wanted to help rebuild the temple. (Ezra 4:2) But the leaders of Israel told them, "You may do nothing with us to build a house for our God; but we alone will build to the LORD God of Israel, as King Cyrus the king of Persia has commanded us."
I share these scenes in the Old Testament not to say that we are living in times in which it is time to rebuild a temple, whether it be a physical or spiritual one. Personally, I do not know whether this is the case or not. You see, this temple which Ezra, Nehemiah, Jeshua, Zerubbabel, etc., rebuilt did not contain the Ark of the Covenant which represents Yahweh's presence. While this story may be used to illustrate many wonderful truths, we must be careful not to make it say something prophetically which it may not refer to. I just brought these passages into this edition of Dew to paint a little picture of where I am going with this edition of Dew and subsequent editions. This temple building was built with charred stones. The charring came from Babylon and was ordained by God. Burnt Stones. Have you felt the fire lately? There were many deceiving voices trying to add their own strength, wisdom, etc. to the building process, but the mixture of the transplanted Babylonians cannot help in the building of this Temple. These transplants claimed they worshipped the same God, "Let us build with you, for we seek your God as you do; and we have sacrificed to Him since the days of Esarhaddon, king of Assyria, who brought us here." (Ezra 4:2) But these same people became enemies of the building process. Israel had to build this temple with sword in one hand and building instrument in the other. They had to be able to discern the false and chase it away while at the same time rebuild the temple.
As we look to the process of "Coming together in Christ," we, too, must be able to discern what doctrines, principles, voices, etc. do not belong in this building process, and we too must resist their attempts to join into the very foundation of the building. The temple we are looking at is a spiritual temple made of people coming together under the headship of Christ. Jesus Christ said the leaders of Israel made the word of God of none effect by their traditions. We must have keen discernment and boldness to call mixture what it is-not pure, not worthy of the temple of our Father. We must speak out against the Sanballets and Tobiahs, warning that they will not bring the true temple together. I realize that as I do this, many will tell me I am judging my brothers and should not do this. I realize, also that I am a man of unclean lips. I am not perfect. But I believe I have a vision of something I need to share. Many Sanballets are in the Christian community saying they are worshipping the same God and I beg to differ with them. Yes, they use the same name, but they know nothing about the nature of the God I worship. Their hearts are far from His will. I do not say this because I think I am more righteous in my own strength than these other voices. Looking into our Father's heart was a gift given to me, not of my works, but of His predestined sovereign works. Woe to me if I do not declare His righteousness. I do not boast in my own righteousness, even though it will appear that way to the Sanballets of this world. I will appear self-righteous. "Who are you to tell us we do not worship the same God as you do?"
As we begin the building process, it will be easier discerning how to build. We have been in Babylon and know how religions are built! We are not interested in building another institution. Ezra and Nehemiah tell us the beginning of the building process was difficult because there was so much rubble which had to first be removed. So, too, is the process in our own lives. The stripping process to get to the place of being real seems to be an impossible task. But Nehemiah 6:15-16 tells us it was a quick work because it is the work of God.
Those who went through the Babylonian captivity and saw Solomon's temple before it was destroyed cried when they saw how unglorious the rebuilt temple was in comparision to the original temple. When we get real, our fleshly cosmetics, gaudy religious clothes, pretenses, will not be a part of our rebuilt temple. We will not have the glory of man's hands on us like Solomon's beautiful architecture. No, but it will be beautiful from God's point of view. His ways are much higher than man's ways and His buildings look quite different from man's. . . for they are Spirit and radiate His Life.
We can glean much more from Nehemiah and Ezra than the tidbits we just looked into, but this introduction is not about studying a couple of books in the Bible. It is about corporately coming together as a body of believers and expressing the true life, nature, power, love, wisdom, fruit, mercy, righteous judgment, etc. of the kingdom of our Father. We want to look into the ingredients which must be present in the physical environment which will aid in bringing about the spiritual environment of the true temple of Yahweh so that we may offer up true worship. With that in mind, let us look into the matter of "Coming together in Christ."