Temples Made With Hands
The following article was copied with permission from "Dr." James White's Alpha & Omega web site. A response to "Dr." White's article was written by Dr. William (Bill) Hamblin. To read Dr. Hamblin's reply and ensuing correspondence between the two apologists, please click here. SHIELDS does not endorse the conclusions of James' e-tract.
Many of the worldís religions focus their worship upon a temple, or temples. Often the deity that is worshipped is said to be physically present in the temple, while at other times the deity, though dwelling somewhere else, visits with the people at the temple.
Under the Old Covenant, the one true God of Israel, Jehovah, allowed His people to build a single temple, located in Jerusalem. The first temple was built by Solomon, and was destroyed in 586 B.C. by the invading Babylonians. The second temple was built by Zerubbabel, and was expanded greatly by Herod in the years prior to Christís ministry. This temple was destroyed by Titus and the Roman legions in A.D. 70. Never did God allow His people to build multiple temples such as those of the pagan religions that surrounded Israel.
Further, the temple in Israel had one primary function: the worship of God through the offering of sacrifices. There were no secret ceremonies, no endowments, so sealings in the temple in Jerusalem. The highest act of worship took place on the day of Atonement, when the one high priest* offered the sacrifice for the sins of the people. The high Priest would, on that day, go through the veil into the Holy of Holies, and there offer the blood of the sacrifice before God.
All of the actions of the priests in the temple, including the one high priest , were mer[e] shadows of the reality that God provided in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. The epistle to the Hebrews in the New Testament makes it very plain that the Old Covenant, including its temple ritual and its priesthood, pointed away from itself to a greater reality in Jesus Christ (Hebrews 10:1).
The early Christians did not seek to build a temple in Jerusalem, or anywhere else, for that matter. Christians have never built temples. Why? The reasons are to be found in Scripture.
1) Jesus Christ fulfilled the law, including both the priesthood, as well as the function of the temple in Jerusalem. When Jesus Christ died, the veil, through which the high priest entered into the Holy of Holies once a year, was torn from top to bottom (Matt. 27:51). The way was opened, forever, for the people of God to approach the throne of grace, not through a mediating priesthood, as in the Old Covenant, but through the shed blood of Jesus Christ (Heb. 9:6-15, 10: 19-22). Since it was the function of the priesthood to offer sacrifices and since there is no more sacrifice for sin (Heb. 10:18), the priesthood has been fulfilled in Christ. Since it was the main function of the temple to be the place where these sacrifices were offered, its role in Godís plan, too, has been fulfilled. This is why Christians have no "enduring city," and are able to continually offer sacrifices, not of blood for the covering of sin, but of praise, through the confession of the name of Christ (Heb. 13:13-14).
2) The "temple" of the Christian Church is the body of believers, both collectively and individually. The Bible says, "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" (1 Cor. 6:19). The body of believers is Godís temple, indwelt by His Spirit, just as the body of the individual believer is the temple of God. "What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?" (1Cor. 6:19). Christians do not seek to build temples made by hands, because they have temples made by His Spirit, just as the Lord Jesus had promised (John 14:23).
In the Old Testament God spoke of His Name being in the temple (1Kings 8:29, etc.) Today, Godís people offer the sacrifice of praise to God, "Giving thanks to his name," (Heb. 13:15) not in a temple made with hands, but in the living body of Christ, the Church.
Do not be led astray by those who would direct you back to the old ways. God will not be worshipped in ways that are contrary to his revealed truth. Christians worship God in all places, not in temples made with hands. Rather than engaging in rituals, or endowments, that supposedly bestow authority or power, Christians worship God in spirit, and in truth (John 4:21-24).
*There was only one high Priest at a time under the law, and only one High Priest today, Jesus Christ. Heb. 7:24-8:6