Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.
But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he [is] like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap:
And he shall sit [as] a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness. — Mal 3:1-3
According to the Hebrew calendar on the first day of seventh month (the month of Nisan) of every year God’s people celebrate the Feast of Trumpets, a holy day and a high Sabbath Lev 23:24. A day which is of monumental importance to His people, a day of triumph, conquest and glory, depicting the second coming of Jesus Christ to this earth for the purpose of restoring the Kingdom of God on earth and rule over all the nations on the face of the globe. This year is no exception and even more significant as we are now very near the realisation of what that day symbolises, and it is probable that Jesus Christ may return on this very self same day as Lord of lords and King of kings Rev 22:12, 20.
Whether Jesus Christ does or does not return on this same day doesn’t change the fact that world events are moving ahead, forging and shaping the political, social, economic and military arena of most nations with a mind set they will not perceive in themselves nor understand. This will create an environment and an atmosphere of fear, distrust, suspicion and greed. This mind set will push with such momentum, that these nations will find themselves incapable of resisting the dark forces at work in the destruction and evil to unfold. Thus, causing the Great Tribulation (Jacob’s Woes), Satan’s wrath, as revealed in the Word of God to come upon physical Israel because of their many sins and rebellion against God and the Laodicean era of God’s church because of their lukewarm spiritual condition. These events will herald to the people of God Jesus Christ’s imminent second coming to his Temple, Mal 3:1, and to save mankind from himself, Zech 14:1-4, 5 (second half), 9,11. This is in contrast to His first coming, Zech 9:9 and Isa 40:3, when he came as a Lamb of God to pay the penalty for the sins of man so that men can be redeemed upon repentance.
But, to which temple will Jesus Christ return, and why? Before we attempt to answer this question let us briefly look into the history of the Temple and temple worship, from the early primitive form to the splendour of Solomon’s Temple and into the New Testament times, and also ask, “why a temple”?
Brief Background to Temple Worship
Since ancient times the temple structure with its altars was always associated with the worship of a deity of one form or another. Some 4300 years ago the evil Nimrod was the first man to organise humanity into a society of people under the first form of man’s religion and government, i.e. Satan’s government and rule over this world.
As a consequence
ancient and modern temples are strewn across the globe today. These temples are thought or believed to contain the presence or essence or spirit of the deity or his holy symbols of representation, writings and or teachings. There are as many variances of temple design and worship as there are pagan religions.
The first sacrificial offerings and beyond
We find in Genesis four, Cain and Abel the first two sons of Adam and Eve, making an offering to God on a primitive altar of some form. This was a form of worship, sacrificing to God and making an offering of their substance, their increase.
Gen 4 : 3-4
3. And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD.
4. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering:
Genesis gives only a brief account of this event, but its implication for the future of mankind was enormous in terms of the knowledge and worship of the one true God. Satan was already working in the sons of disobedience, broadcasting his attitudes of resentment, jealousy, strife and competition in the hearts of post adamic man. In this brief summary God gives us an insight into the attitude of Cain after his offering, Gen 4:3. Cain saw fit to offer only the fruit of the ground with a sinful attitude of selfishness, which was unacceptable to God and therefore rejected. Cain in affect set the stage for others to follow in false pagan worship.
Satan’s cunning plan was the hijacking of man’s relationship with God. In the first instance it was in causing the first man Adam to sin against God. The second instance had to do with the right worship and knowledge of the one true God through false worship, counterfeit sacrifices and a counterfeit temple. This led men to worship Satan and his powerful demon servants as well as lifeless images of stone, wood and metals.
Correct temple worship is vitally important to God for man to have and to stay in the proper and loving relationship with Him. It teaches reverence, obedience and love for God and his Laws, the Ten Commandments and the recognition that God is Holy, Divine and Ruler of time and space without end. It also teaches man to live in peace and harmony with his fellowmen.
Even though man had been cut of from the Holy Spirit of God, he did not have to be cut of from contact with Him. For the next approximately 1600 years men had become completely corrupt and incorrigible through false temple worship. God was then going to put an end to all life that walked and crept upon the Earth by a worldwide flood; except for one man named Noah and his family, who alone was perfect in his day.
Beginning of Babylonian Mystery Religion
Shortly after the flood, men again began to move away from the true worship and knowledge of God. Now Nimrod, the Son of Cush, who was the son of Ham, who was the son of Noah was the first false prophet and anti God, turning man away from the true knowledge and worship of God. He in effect apposed, challenged or competed with God, symbolised by the “Tower of Babel”, the first great human physical temple on earth as inspired by Satan. He taught man not to fear God but worship him who embodied Satan in the flesh.
Gen 10 : 8-10.
8. And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. 9. He was a mighty hunter before the LORD: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD. 10. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.
Gen 11 : 4.
4. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower (temple), whose top [may reach] unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.
But, God directly intervened to halt this challenge to his supremacy over all things on earth. This was an echo of times past, where aeon of years earlier Satan had directly challenged God for his thrown, Isa 14:14 and Ezek 28:16. Nimrod, together with his mother/wife who over time went under the various names of Semiramis, Ishtar, Astarte and Diana of the Ephesians were used by Satan to begin and establish the Babylonian mystery religion. This “Mystery”, was to intrigue and capture the imagination and curiosity of man about the deep and dark things of Satan who posed as the deliverer of man (Rev 2:24) was well underway.
Satan changing his approach
Over a period of some time an intricate web of worship services, offering and sacrifices developed together with wondrous temples and altars. The purpose was to occupy and to subdue man’s soul and enslave men’s hearts and to have power over his psyche and to direct his course from generation to generation: developing the Babylonian mystery religion to a fine art. Nimrod, who under different ancient cultures such as Egypt, Greece, Babylon and Assyria became over time to be known as: Kronos, Khons, Osiris and Bacchus to mention a few. His mother/wife personified him as a god in various forms after his death to preserve her own high, honoured status in life among the ancient peoples of the time when Nimrod was still alive and walked on earth with all arrogance and pomp.
God’s Relationship with Man
God’s love was and is reflected in the Ten Commandments, which exemplifies His relationship with man; based on Love in the spirit plain. Satan’s objective was and still is to destroy God’s love for man and therefore His redemptive plan for mankind. Satan’s devilish scheme was to clone God’s Temple and institute corrupt worship practices in service to pagan deities, and to thereby entrench fear, superstition and tradition in the hearts of men long before God began to institute his purpose through his Holy Nation Israel, that was to come or be born through the patriarch Abraham called the Friend of God.
A counterfeit message of the good news of the KOG could then naturally emerge and be easily accepted by conditioned and deceived minds that were by this time corrupted beyond reproach; a mind that could only be reached and worked with by and through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as God reveals the truth to a called out one.
In this manner Satan was able to easily sway ancient Israel to turn from the true God to false gods as they were surrounded, intrigued and mystified by pagan nations zealously engulfed in the Babylonian mystery religious practices begun by Nimrod and his mother/wife long before. In Deuteronomy God continually reminded the Israelites in no uncertain terms, with strong warnings to not forget the Lord their God and all his instruction, and go off and obey and worship pagan foreign gods and sadly, eventually suffer the penalties.
Why the Temple?
We read in revelation that there is a Temple and an Altar in front of the Temple in heaven, Rev 14:17-18, 15:5 – 6, 8. Revelation also reveals certain activities associated with these. It then becomes obvious that the Temple, the Altar and the worship services associated with it are very much an integral part of God’s Holy realm and heavenly activities in the serving of the Most High God. While in the wilderness of Sinai God revealed to ancient Israel how man was to serve and worship Him. Through it they were to retain the right knowledge and understanding of God to the extent that God revealed himself to them. It was to distinguish Him from the false gods and idols of the nations around them, and to refrain from doing as those nations did which was an abomination to God, Deut 12:30-32 and to distinguish Israel from the pagan nations around them as a model nation of God shinning in righteousness, prosperity and blessings.
We therefore begin to see the importance and the relevance of God’s Temple and Altar on earth as designed by God with its instructions of worship to keep man in the right knowledge of the Eternal and to symbolically reveal and teach man his purpose and plan for man and all his creation. We see this in the design of the Tabernacle in the wilderness Exod 36:1-40, the Temple in Jerusalem 1Ch 28:1-29:29, the Altar, the duties and practices of the High priest, the sacrifices, the Sabbath and the festivals throughout the year, Lev 23:1-44. All these are sacrosanct of God, i.e. instituted by God and therefore Holy to Him. In Hebrews the Apostle Paul tells us the physical is a copy of the heavenly things, Heb 8:5, 9:23, and so we can see how the physical translates to the spiritual.
How do the earthly representations of the heavenly thing in the service of God become Holy? And why is the Temple of God with its fittings and implements featured so prominently in the Old and New Testaments? Since only God is Holy, Lev19:2 (second half) and therefore the things and activities of heaven surrounding the throng of God are Holy, whenever and wherever God places His presence, His name and His spirit, that place, or implement or Temple or person becomes Holy because, “God is Holy”. Again, everything God touches by being there, or placing his name there or sanctifying something or person for his service or placing his Holy spirit in a man reveals the Holiness and presence of God, Lev 11:44,45 & 19:2, Exod 3:5, Exod 20:8 &11, Isa 6:3, Eph 1:4, 1Pet 1:17, 2:9, Rev 3:7, Rev 15:14, 22:11.
Old Testament Temple
The Old Testament (Solomon’s) Temple (to which the Ark of the covenant was later relocated to at the end of its completion), and the Ten Commandments became the pivotal focal point in the relationship between God and Israel; it represented the presence and glory of God and his rule over Israel and a sign witnessing to the nations round about that the Lord is God above all gods, Deut 4:6-8, 1Kings 8:14-21.
The destruction of Solomon’s Temple signified a turning point in the relationship between God and physical Israel as prophesy was unfolding to fulfil the words of Moses and prophets that followed due to Israel’s rebellion against God. The rebuilding of the second Temple by Zerubbabel was to also fulfil prophesy in relation to Jesus Christ first coming and probably an attempt to rebuild a relationship between God and what was left of the Jewish nation after the deportation to Babylon and the subsequent return of the Jewish exiles, Isa 44:28, Dan 9:25-26, Mal 3:1. Herod the great had added to this Temple over 46 years to produce a majestic structure that was marvelled at by the New Testament Apostles.
The final and complete destruction of the second Temple in 70AD visually signified the end of God’s direct relationship with Israel and Judah, and symbolically finalising the divorce between Jesus Christ who was the God of the Old Testament and ancient Israel; the church (congregation) in the wilderness Act 7:38. This divorce in reality took affect at Jesus Christ crucifixion 38 years (two 19 year time cycles) earlier on that historic Passover season. This was symbolised by the torn curtain (Mt 27:51) separating the sanctuary and inner sanctuary i.e. holy from the Most Holy place of the Temple, into which Jesus Christ entered once and for all giving access to God the Father for those whom God calls. Once again, another pivotal momentous event in God’s grand master plan for man in reproducing himself.
The New Testament Temple
Having divorced ancient old testament Israel, the church in the wilderness, and being crucified on the cross to pay the penalty for the sins of man by his death and to reconcile us to God, and the Old Testament Temple to be destroyed by 70AD, Jesus Christ was now, upon his resurrection free to marry spiritual Israel; which He began to build beginning with Abraham, the prophets and during his three and a half year ministry working with the 12 Apostles, and formalised on the day of Pentecost in 31AD. Jesus, having prepared his new Testament Church, a spiritual body, also known as Spiritual Israel, was now building a new Temple (Mount Zion), a Temple not built by human hands, 2Cor 5:1, Heb 9:11.
This is the Temple that the glorified Jesus Christ shall return to as World Ruler of all the earth at his second coming and not a physical temple as he did in his first appearing, Mal 3:2, Joel 2:11. Mr H. W. Armstrong, God’s end time Apostle and who was the Elijah to come just before the return of Jesus Christ, correctly stated that there is no scripture foretelling the construction of a material temple in Jerusalem before Christ second coming but after it (Ezek 40). However, it is indicated that God’s physical people (most likely certain fundamental Jewish groups) will begin to offer sacrifices or perform certain rituals again prior to Jesus Christ return (Dan 12:11, note: the original word is not ’sacrifices’, but ‘the continuous’). But this will not be in a Solomon or Zerubbabel like temple. It has been suggested that this will most likely be in a make shift structure or before the Walling Wall on the Temple Mount. This however, will not last long as the prophesied Beast power of Revelation 13 invades the Holy Land and causes the abomination of desolation (Mt 24:15, Dan 12:11) to take place, and put a stop to these sacrifices.
Jesus Christ’s presence will not be in these sacrifices, nor will he return to those who are making them. He is concerned with His Spiritual Bride and her development. The trumpet will be blown by the Archangel (1Thess 4:16) and the sound will resonate throughout the world and Jesus the Christ will return to marry his spiritual bride, the Church, 1 Cor 15:51, the Spiritual Temple that He built and nurtured of which He is the Chief Corner Stone, 1 Pet 2:7, Isa 28:16. The people of God throughout the centuries and in these last days, chosen and called by God the Father himself is that Spiritual Temple 1 Cor 3:16-17, 2 Cor 6:16, Eph 2:21. That refers to you and me brethren, if the Spirit of God dwells in us at His return. We will soon meet Jesus Christ in the clouds when He returns with all power, Glory and Authority and He will take us to Himself as His Bride Forever. Brethren, let’s work toward that wonderful awesome end and get ourselves ready for Christ return and pray, “Thy kingdom come” for we are his Temple the He Built!
Sermon by Mr. H. W. Armstrong on same issue: We Are the Temple 81 08 22