The new Temple is within us when we surrender our lives to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior
By Donald Whitchard
John 2:12-25,Psalm 11:4,Isaiah 6:1-8,2 Corinthians 6:16,1 Kings 8
Summary: Jesus went into the Temple in Jerusalem and drove out all those who desecrated the house of the LORD, earning the scorn of the religious officials. The Lord Jesus declared Himself to be the true temple of God, holy, spotless, and free from corruption.
John’s account of the life and work of the Lord Jesus included the recording of specific miracles He performed to demonstrate His authority, power, and divinity to His disciples and to those among His countrymen who truly had a hunger for the deeper things of God. There were also those who witnessed these tremendous displays of power who ended up despising Jesus for His claims. His presence and teachings tended to upset the status quo of the religious community and their influence on the people. They were fearful of what Rome would do if His ministry became more powerful and influential. I am convinced by years of study and prayerful consideration that the High Priest, Caiaphas, and many of the higher-ranking Pharisees knew perfectly well who Jesus was, yet because He cornered them on their hypocrisy and false teachings and called them out for the spiritual frauds they were, they deliberately chose to ignore the obvious presence of God in their midst, instead choosing to follow their deviant hearts and ideas. They foolishly believed that they could rid themselves of the Holy in order to continue in unholy rituals and practices that marked them as nothing more than rank apostates, ultimately condemning themselves to hell.
Much has been written about the corrupt state of religious practice that was being conducted within the Temple in Jerusalem. What had originated as a house of prayer and worship to the LORD God had turned into an arena of confusion, prejudice, noise, and the stench of numerous animals and birds being sold to pilgrims for the purpose of being a sacrifice for their sins in accordance with the Law of Moses. The Temple of Jesus’ time had been one of the projects initiated by Herod the Great in his quest to build ports, cities, stadiums, and roads in conjunction with the Roman authorities who really governed the area. Herod was seen by the Jews as a usurper of the true royal line that started with King David over a millennia ago and was seen as nothing more than a puppet ruler over the former kingdom of Israel. Herod had built his version of the Temple upon the foundations of the one that had been erected by the returning Jewish exiles centuries before after being freed by the Persian Empire in 538 B.C and following.
The first Temple had been constructed by King Solomon and dedicated to the glory of the LORD early in his reign, around 960 B.C. Over the years, Solomon was drawn towards the worship of foreign gods through the influence of his numerous wives and was rebuked by God for doing so (1 Kings 11:1-14). The kingdom would be torn in two after his death, with the nations of Israel and Judah both spiraling into periods of idolatry, religious indifference, and apostate behavior (2 Chronicles 36:14-21). The citizens of Judah, which held onto the Davidic line, believed that even in the midst of this obvious evil behavior, God would overlook their sins due to the fact that the Temple was still there as a symbol of His presence and covenant. By the end of the kingdom of Judah in 586 B.C., the house of God had turned into a place of wickedness and reprobate behavior by the very priests who had been entrusted to observe the Laws of the LORD and to teach the people to heed them as well. Prophets such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel warned the people of the consequences of going after pagan deities and their abominable practices that even included child sacrifice.
God punished His people by sending them into a seventy-year period of exile into Babylon that finally purged them of idolatry, but unfortunately, not of rote ritualistic observance of traditions and practices that had been interwoven into the teaching of Scripture to the point where the traditions all but buried the Word of God and worship ended up an empty, meaningless system with God’s name put on it for good measure (Isaiah 1:11-15; Hosea 6:6; Amos 5:22; Micah 6:6; Matt. 9:13; Romans 1:21-25). By the time Jesus appeared (Galatians 4:4-5) on the scene, the order of worship in Herod’s Temple had become nothing more than a cacophony of confusion and frustration to the few who truly wanted to commune with God. This was more than the LORD could stand, and in righteous anger He drove out the moneychangers who were fleecing the public with high rates of exchange and the selling of “Temple-approved” sacrificial animals for outrageous sums. Everything that had been held as sacred had turned into a religious racketeering scheme that made the High Priest, Caiaphas and his equally greedy and corrupt father-in-law Annas, rich and influential. Jesus’ justifiable actions and words to them were a sharp and much needed rebuke for what had been allowed to go on for years.
The officials demanded a reason or sign that gave Jesus the authority to do what He had done. He answered by pointing to Himself, telling them to “destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (2:19). The authorities thought that He was referring to the Temple complex that had taken years to construct, and was still being built, and would not be finished until 66 A.D., the year of the Jewish revolt against Nero and Rome, eventually ending with the destruction of not just the Temple, but the entirety of Judea by the hands of Vespasian and Titus and their legions in 70 A.D. This disaster would be predicted by Jesus at His Olivet Discourse during the last week of His ministry (Matthew 24:1-2; Mark 13:1-2; Luke 21:5-6). This devastating event is a strong proof that the majority of the New Testament had been written prior to the destruction of the Temple, since it was not mentioned in any of the writings. John’s gospel, letters, and the book of Revelation, which came later in the first century A.D., made no mention of it for the fact that the prophecy was already known, the event had occurred, and not something that needed to be presented again. Jesus’ words were a condemnation of the apostate and corrupt religious practices that had turned Judaism into nothing more than a collection of rote practices that meant nothing and did nothing to awaken sinful humanity to the need to repent and adhere to the teachings of God. The Temple was nothing more to the Lord Jesus than a gaudy building full of dead men’s bones and all corruption. By walking out of it, He condemned it. God no longer lived there.
The work of redemption by the Lord Jesus that freed us from the curse of sin, death, and hell (John19:30; Romans 5: 6-11, 8:31-39; 2 Corinthians 5:17) by His death, burial, and resurrection has also initiated a new dwelling place for the Lord, which is not housed in any building, monument, or physical construction. The new Temple is within us when we surrender our lives to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (Acts 4:12, 16:31; Romans 10:9-10). We are His dwelling place, and He has promised never to leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). The True Temple could never be destroyed, not by the actions of men or the schemes of the devil (1Corinthians 2:6-9). We are His, now and forever when all of the temples, cathedrals, and buildings of current rituals and worship will be regulated to the fires of God’s final purge of this corrupted world and with it, the sin, evil, and malevolence that cursed it eons ago (Romans 8:18-23; 2 Peter 3:10-13; Revelation 21:1-7). We are the body of Christ, His people, and we will see Him who is the center of our worship, hope, and life. No mere building, however grand and great it might be, can make that claim.
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Donald was born and reared in the authentic Cajun country of south Louisiana. He is a 1978 graduate of LaGrange High School in Lake Charles. He is also a graduate of Louisiana College (B.A. in History Education, 1984), New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div., 1994) and Andersonville Theological Seminary (Doctor of Ministry, 2000). He is an ACPE Certified Chaplain with training in Trauma/ER, NICU, and Psychiatric Pastoral Care from the McFarland Institute in New Orleans (2003). He has over thirty years of ministry service, which concluded when he was called to serve as pastor of Meadowbrook Baptist Church in Muskogee, Oklahoma from 2017-2018. Due to health concerns, he retired from public ministry in 2020 and now devotes his time to internet evangelism through the writing of Bible studies, sermons, and articles on current issues for varied Christian webpages and ministries. He is a regular contributor to sites such as Rapture Ready and Sermon Central as well as Inspirational Christian Blogs. He and his wife Cathy are both active members of Eastern Heights Baptist Church in Muskogee. Don will often serve as a panel member of the Gospel Rescue Mission Pastor’s Round Table Broadcast, shown monthly on the mission’s Facebook page as his health allows. He has a personal evangelistic blog as well and can be contacted at his Email address.