John 2:18-19 “The Jews then responded to Him, ‘What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this’? Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days'” (NIV).
John 2 is talking about when Jesus was running all of the money changers and others out of the temple for turning it into a “den of thieves,” and the Pharisees want to know what authority He has for doing so.
Obviously, the Pharisees had no clue as to what Jesus was talking about. They asked Him how he could raise up a beautiful grand temple in three days that had taken 46 years to build.
Let’s talk about God’s temple. What is the temple, and why is it necessary? A temple revolves around only one thing – a personal relationship with God. When God has a personal relationship with “anyone,” whether it be individuals or a nation like Israel, He leaves heaven and comes to earth to be with them for that personal relationship.
This began with Adam and Eve when God left heaven to have a personal relationship with them on earth. Their sin broke that relationship, and God went back to heaven. Later, God decided He wanted to create a “nation” to have a personal relationship with, which began with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. When God establishes a personal relationship with ANYONE, one of the first things He does is deal with the sin problem since He does not have a personal relationship with anyone or any nation that has unresolved sin.
With Israel, He had them build a temple building because He was coming back to earth to have a relationship with them. The purpose of the temple was to, one, be a PLACE where God would dwell with His people, and two, be a place where the Israelites could present all of their ANIMAL SACRIFICES to God. Both of these needed to occur in the temple. God’s temple is ALWAYS about where He is “dwelling” and where atonement “sacrifices occur.” God begins what I will call His “Temple relationship program” with the nation of Israel. He did not need it with Adam and Eve because there was NO sin with them until they committed it.
His Temple relationship program with Israel lasted 2,000 years. God dwelt in the temple, and all atonement sacrifices occurred there. The purpose of this article is not to focus on temple history but only on what its purpose is. During the 2,000-year Temple relationship program with Israel, the temple was destroyed and rebuilt and was about completed when Jesus arrived on the scene.
The only thing the Israelites understood was God had commanded them to always HAVE a temple for Him to have a place to dwell and in order to maintain a relationship with God through animal sacrifices. When Jesus is telling the Pharisees that if they destroy the temple, He will rebuild it in three days, they had no way of knowing that God’s Temple relationship program had transitioned from a building to a Man.
Remember, the PURPOSE of a temple is so God can have a personal relationship with someone by having a place to dwell and a place to handle atonement sacrifices.
Back to ancient Israel, Jesus IS God, and He is “now” Israel’s NEW Temple relationship program. He is now “living” with them, and He is going to be the final atonement “sacrifice” to pay the price of not only Israel’s sins but for everyone on the planet to be able to “have” a personal relationship with the Holy Trinity God through Himself.
So Jesus, the new transitioned Temple relationship program of the Jews, is standing in front of them, telling them that if they destroy their “new human Temple,” He will raise it up in three days. Remember, the temple is where God dwells and handles the atonement sacrifices. Jesus IS God, and Jesus is the FINAL atonement sacrifice, and He is standing in front of them.
They do kill Him, and just like with Adam and Eve, God Jesus goes back to heaven because God’s first Temple relationship program with Israel has changed and is now broken again. There is a huge difference between Adam and Eve and Israel. Again, the temple is about TWO things – where God dwells and sacrifices. God dwelt with Adam and Eve, and there was NO sin to be dealt with until they committed it.
Jesus, in John 14:16-30, told His disciples, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper to be with you forever. The Helper is the Spirit of truth. The people of the world cannot accept Him because they don’t see Him or know Him. But you know Him. He lives with you, and He will be in you. I will not leave you all alone like orphans. I will come back to you.”
Remember what I said at the beginning. When God wants to have a personal relationship with “anyone,” He comes back to earth to be with them. God’s Temple relationship program went back to heaven following Jesus’ resurrection. God’s Temple relationship program began with Israel and then transitioned to the God-Man Jesus and then moved to heaven when the Jews broke that relationship by crucifying Jesus.
Then God gets ready to transition His Temple relationship program a third time, and this time is very different concerning the “sacrificial” part of it. God begins the new age of GRACE called the church age. In this new church age, God/Jesus has already paid the final atonement sacrifice price Himself. Again, God’s Temple relationship program “always” has to have a “PLACE” for God to DWELL. In phase one, God dwelt in the physical building that the Israelites built for Him. In phase two, God dwelt in Himself when God/Jesus came to earth. Phase three is God coming back to earth to have a personal relationship with everyone who falls in love with Jesus, repents, and invites Him into their lives to be their personal Savior and Lord.
So, where will He dwell now? I hope this is a rhetorical question, but as was quoted in John 14 above, God dwells “IN US” (Christians) since God’s Helper is Holy Spirit God coming to be with us by living IN US. The best news is Jesus already paid the ultimate price for our sins, and we do not need to deal with atonement sacrifices ever again.
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 3:16, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (ESV). We should “all” know that we are God’s temple since the Bible clearly tells us so, but this article’s purpose is to show how God’s Temple relationship program has transitioned from the beginning to now.
Let me add one more interesting thing to think about. Everything that is “visible” in this physical universe is dying and is temporary. That is because of SIN. Everything with God is invisible, Spiritual, and eternal with NO sin. Colossians 1:16 says, “For by Him all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities; all things were created through Him and for Him.” The Him is referring to Jesus, of course.
Notice how the first temple the Israelites built for God was a “visible” physical building inside a physical universe, which meant it would be temporary and die due to SIN. The next Temple relationship transition moved from a physical, temporary building to God/Jesus Himself who created everything, as pointed out by Col 1:16 above. After Temple Jesus goes back to heaven, the third Temple relationship program transition moves to “INSIDE” born-again believers. It is no longer physically visible and temporary but is now invisible, internal, and eternal. We are now “connected to and are a part of God.” It is by far the “greatest” thing God has ever done and probably will ever do in all of eternity. Try to think of anything God could “ever do” that would be greater than sharing Himself with a bunch of physical sinners!
Some of you might take issue when I say God is sharing Himself with a bunch of sinners. As long as we are human beings, we will “always” be sinners. Why? Because we STILL have a sin nature. Jesus gives us eternal life through our spirit. God looks at us “spiritually” when we die, and, of course, we are NOT sinners “spiritually.” We are sinners only in our sin-natured physical bodies until we transition to our holy spiritual bodies when we enter heaven with our new resurrection body with NO sin.
I recently wrote a book that goes into more detail named God’s Plan for Heaven, Eternity and the Universe Explained. If you desire to check into it, go to Amazon and/or Barnes & Noble and type in my name, David Cogburn, or the name of the book, and you can see what it is about in the description. Here are 2 links:
Blessings and Maranatha,