Herod's Temple

The Temple: A History from a Mormon Perspective

The temple has played a big role in the history of Jewish and Christian life, with Mormons still building and using temples today. The following will give you a good idea of how the temple has evolved throughout the centuries, and although I write from a fully Mormon perspective, much of the content is similar with a traditional Judeo-Christian understanding.

Purpose of a Temple

To fully understand the history of the temple, it’s helpful to know a few of the reasons why God has commanded the making of temples and tabernacles in the first place. Ultimately, temples exist to bring us into the presence of God. This was stated fairly clearly when God commanded the construction of the tabernacle saying

And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.
Exodus 25:8

There are two major ways that the temple brings us into God’s presence, and which ultimately allow us to dwell with God for eternity.

Sealing Power

The power to bind on earth and heaven is an essential part of coming into God’s presence for eternity. Specifically, families must be bound together in order to receive the fullness of what God would have us receive. Joseph Smith received some specifics in Doctrine and Covenants 131:

In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees;
And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage];
D&C 131:1-2 (brackets in original)

To receive God’s fullness, we need to bind ourselves to God in everlasting covenants, and these covenants can only be made in His Temple.

Saving Power

God also instituted temples to enable everyone to live His law. Although forgiveness is available to everyone through Christ, God has made it clear that we are expected to comply with His commandments. Christ said it quite succinctly when He was talking to Nicodemus:

Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
John 3:5

Of course, not everyone has a fair chance in mortality to receive the ordinance of baptism, but God loves all of His children, and wants everyone to be able to return to Him. God provides a way for everyone to comply with the law through vicarious work done in the Temple. Just as Priesthood Authority has the power to bind the living together, God established Temples to shrink the distance between heaven and earth, and allow for all to receive of His ordinances.

Pre-Temple Era

As important as Temples are, they weren’t instituted in the form we currently recognize for a while. God used other means of communicating to His children during the era of the patriarchs.

Direct Communication

"God Renews His Promise to Abraham" by James Tissot

“God Renews His Promise to Abraham” by James Tissot

Simply speaking directly to His servants was the most common form of early communication. God spoke with Adam (Gen. 2:16), Noah (Gen. 6:13), Abram (Gen. 12:1), Isaac (Gen. 26:2), and Jacob (Gen. 35:9). Perhaps God commanded each of them to go to a mountain or do something specific before receiving His communication, but the scriptures only record God’s revelation.

Mountains

Moses is probably the most iconic prophet to receive communication from God on a mountain. Primarily on Mount Horeb/Sinai in the Sinai Peninsula, Moses received everything from the commandment to liberate the Israelites from Egypt (Exo. 3), to the Ten Commandments (Exo. 20), to the command to build the Tabernacle (Exo. 25).

Abraham also received divine communication on a mountain during the binding of Isaac. God commanded Abraham to go up to Mount Moriah for the dramatic episode of narrowly-avoided human sacrifice (Gen. 22).

Dreams

Jacob's Ladder

Jacob’s Ladder

As time went on, God introduced dreams as a method of communication with His prophets. Jacob first received revelation in a dream when he was at Beth-el (Gen. 28:12-15). More famously, Joseph of Egypt followed the trend of receiving divine dreams just a generation later (Gen. 37:5-11).

Dreams even persisted as a way God communicated with His children after the tabernacle and temple were established, but seem to have come predominantly to political leaders needing council and direction (see Judges 7:13-15; 2 Sam. 7:4-17; 1 Kng. 3:5,-13). Other prophets did receive dreams, but the most prominent dreams came during times where the people were separated from the temple by distance, destruction, or wickedness (see the book of Daniel; Matt. 1:20; Matt. 27:19;  Acts 16:9; Acts 18:9; 1 Ne. 8:2, Ether 9:3).

Although God continues to make use of all methods of communication with His children, He established another way to help us come even closer to Him and to receive greater blessings.

The Tabernacle Era

Before a full-fledged temple could be built, the Israelites were commanded to build a tabernacle.

Preparation and Construction

Within a year of leaving Egypt, God commanded Moses to start gathering materials from the people to build a tabernacle. This appears to be the first time God commanded people of the biblical record to build an enclosed structure for Him (though people had often built other structures such as altars (Gen. 8:20) and pillars (Gen. 28:18)). As stated above, God commanded them to build the tabernacle that He “may dwell among” the Israelites.

God gave very specific instructions on how the tabernacle should look and be built, filling chapters 25 through 27 of Exodus, with assorted instructions on looks and rituals in chapters 28 through 31, 33, and 35 through 40. The amount of real-estate this topic takes in the Bible is evidence enough that it was important (by comparison, the entire story of Noah only takes up about 4 chapters). This was a joyful time for the Israelites though, as they willingly offered so much of their substance that they were commanded to stop:

The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work, which the Lord commanded to make.
And Moses gave commandment, and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, Let neither man nor woman make any more work for the offering of the sanctuary.
Exodus 36:5-6

God also used the opportunity to lay down the ground rules for how the priesthood was to be exercised. While priesthood power was certainly exercised prior to this point, this marked the beginning of written formalization of what the priesthood was, who could have it, and what could be done with it (see Exodus 2829, and 3940).

Approximately one year after the Israelites left Egypt (Exo. 12:2 & Exo. 40:2), Moses led the people in dedicating the tabernacle. They put everything in place, washed themselves to become ritually clean, and witnessed the presence of the Lord descend on the tabernacle in cloud form.

Significantly, this is the last thing that happens in the book of Exodus; Leviticus begins as the Lord speaks from the tabernacle to provide instructions on how certain sacrifices and rituals were to be performed. This transition is not insignificant as it seems to symbolically mark the end of the Israelites leaving Egypt, and the beginning of the Israelites being an independent people. Having a tabernacle–a home for their God–established them as being more than estranged wanderers. Building a tabernacle built their identity and relationship with God.

Life of the Tabernacle

Jewish Tabernacle

The Tabernacle

The tabernacle was central to Jewish life from its construction (in either 1400’s or 1200’s BC) until Solomon built a temple in Jerusalem (at about 950 BC). In the Old Testament, the tabernacle seems to get more frequent mention while the people are wandering in the wilderness.

While the people wandered there were many instances of the tabernacle being the focal point for receiving revelation, for gatherings of the people, for religious ceremony, for guidance and direction, and for the presence of God. God’s presence took the form of a cloud, sometimes enabling God and Moses to speak “face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend” in the tabernacle (Exo. 33:9-11), while other times Moses not being able to enter the tabernacle at all “because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle” (Exo. 40:34-35). God also made use of this “cloud” and its relative position to the tabernacle to guide the Israelites during their wandering:

When the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys:
But if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up
Exodus 40:36-37

ShilohAfter Moses died, Joshua took over as leader of the Israelites and God’s prophet. After Joshua managed to conquer a significant portion of the promised land, he set the tabernacle up in Shiloh (Josh. 18:1), which is a bit above Jerusalem in the land of Ephraim’s inheritance.  Although the tabernacle would have kept its same religious and ceremonial significance, it only gets mentioned a few times in the book of Joshua, and the instances primarily involve organizing the tribes into their geographic inheritances.

The Tabernacle receives even less mention during the period of the Judges (the time between the rule of Joshua and David). This period is marked by a lack of strong, central leadership, and plenty of laziness when it came to holy duties. Except for Samson, most of the stories are less popular (such as the story of Jephthah, who I wrote about here.) This period is also marked by constant warfare, mostly against the Philistines, but also against nearly all of their other neighbors. This period is nicely summed up at the end of the book where it says

In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.
Judges 21:25

Although a lack of focus on the tabernacle wasn’t the only religious problem the people had in that era, a lack of tabernacle reverence and attendance is certainly indicative of the spiritual state of the people. God gave them the tabernacle for an important purpose, and its neglect led to a loss of the more incredible aspects of His presence.

Extent of King David's Kingdom

Extent of King David’s Kingdom

This neglect largely ended during the reign of King David. Anointed to be king by Samuel (a prophet raised in the tabernacle), David managed to unite all the tribes under his leadership, conquer Jerusalem from the Jebusites (which he made his capital), and subdue most of Israel’s enemies. David then decided to bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem and erected his own tabernacle for it (2 Sam 6:17). As far as I can tell, this is the first recorded instance of the existence of multiple temples at the same time (since most sources seem to agree that Moses’ tabernacle was still functioning during David’s time e.g. here.)

David wasn’t satisfied with just a tabernacle though. David recognized that his own abode was far superior to that of the Lord and felt that the Lord deserved better. He suggested the idea of building a better structure for God to the prophet Nathan, who basically told David to “listen to your heart,” which ended up being bad advice. David had been too much of a man of war to be able to build God’s temple (1 Kng. 5:2-3), and the Lord simply hadn’t asked him to build it anyway. Barred from actually constructing the Temple, David did what he could to prepare for it by purchasing land (2 Sam. 24:18-25), gathering materials (1 Chr. 22:3-5), and giving Solomon a charge to build the temple (1 Chr. 22:6-19).

Shortly after David’s preparations were complete, he passed away and Solomon took over. This allowed for the true beginning of the Temple as a grand and permanent structure.

The First Temple Period

Solomon kept David’s charge to build the temple, and the temple he built was magnificent. It lasted several hundred years, went through high times and years of disrepair, and was ultimately destroyed by the Babylonians. Many refer to this period as the “First Temple Period” for obvious reasons.

Temple Construction and Dedication

Solomon built the temple out of the best available materials and with the best available craftsmen. 1 Kings goes out of its way in chapters 5 and 7 to point out that Hiram, the King of Tyre, assisted in the construction by providing lumber and brass-work. The entire structure was built to last, and described in detail.

Schematic of Solomon's TempleThe temple was built with several courts with restrictions on who could advance through each one, as well as three major rooms that also had restrictions. Only priests (who had to have been of the tribe of Levi) were allowed to actually enter the temple into the Vestibule and the Holy Place. Only the High Priest could enter into the Holy of Holies, and only once a year on Yom Kippur (the day of atonement) (Lev. 16).

The courtyard contained the altar for sacrifice, and a “brazen sea” (the big brass or bronze bowl on the back of oxen). The Holy Place contained a table for showbread, candlesticks (menorahs), and an altar for incense in front of the entrance for the Holy of Holies. Inside the Holy of Holies was the Ark of the Covenant.

When the construction was finished, Solomon held a ceremony to dedicate it to the Lord. A most sacred religious ceremony, the dedication involved the sacrificing of thousands of animals (1 Kng. 8:62-64), as well as 8 days of feasting and celebration (1 Kng. 8:65-66).

Life of the First Temple

Although the temple stayed relatively central to worship until about 587 BCE, the people didn’t always keep worship a central part of their lives. The people seem to have stayed relatively firm during Solomon’s years, but it didn’t take long after Solomon’s death for things to head south.

Split of the Kingdom and False Temples

Map of the split of the kingdom of David into the kingdom of Israel and the kingdom of JudahAfter Solomon’s death in about 922 BCE, the kingdom of Israel split into two: the northern kingdom (typically called “Israel“) and the southern kingdom (often called “Judah“). The split was facilitated by a man named Jeroboam who represented the general populace in expressing grievances against the rulers. Basically, the people demanded lower taxes (1 Kng. 12:3-5). Rehoboam, the new king, consulted some wise old men, and then some foolish young men, and decided to follow the young men’s advice to raise taxes instead of lower them (1 Kng. 12:6-15).

Jeroboam used Rehoboam’s less-than-political answer to peel most of the northern tribes off into their own kingdom, leaving behind the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and Levi in the south. Things seemed fine and dandy for Jeroboam, but he quickly saw a problem with his new kingdom. Jeroboam recognized that the southern kingdom owned the Temple, and that his people in the north would want to continue going to that temple to sacrifice. He figured that it wouldn’t take long before people’s hearts turned back to the southern kingdom (1 Kng. 12:26-27).

Remains of Jeroboam's altar in Dan

Remains of Jeroboam’s altar in Dan

Jeroboam’s solution to his temple deficit was to build his own cultic sites. He made two golden calves and put one in Dan and the other in Beth-el–the most northern and southern cities respectively (1 Kng. 12:28-29). This was the beginning of the northern kingdom’s plummet into idolatry, and Jeroboam is blamed throughout much of the record for the wickedness of the northern kingdom.

Other Satellite Temples

The sanctuaries built by Jeroboam were undoubtedly wicked ones, but there are other temple sites that may have had some periods of legitimacy. The ruins of one of these temples can be seen in Arad (a city on the southern border of the area that the Jewish people controlled at the time). In the picture you can see an altar in the courtyard, and on the left there is the entrance to the holy place (a long, skinny room) and then the Holy of Holies (up a short flight of stairs).

Temple area in Arad Israel

Temple in Arad, Israel

Although there is debate as to whether these satellite temples were built in times of righteousness or wickedness, they did eventually get used for wicked purposes and were decommissioned, some by Hezekiah (2 Kng. 18:4,22) in the late 700’s BCE and some by Josiah (2 Kng. 23:5,8-9,15) around 620 BCE.

Temple Repair

Josiah didn’t just dismantle some wicked temples though, he also funded reparations on a badly worn temple (keep in mind that the temple was built around 950 BCE, and Josiah reigned over 300 years later). As they worked on the renovations they found a book of scripture which Josiah had read to him (2 Kng. 22). From this scripture they discovered that they had strayed heavily from the way of God and Josiah made some immediate and drastic efforts to fix them up (which probably helped motivate Josiah to dismantle the satellite temples).

Destruction of the First Temple

Unfortunately, after Josiah was killed by Pharaoh Nechoh in 609 BC (2 Kng. 23:29-30), Israel’s fortune took a hard nose-dive. Through the decisions of some wicked and foolish rulers and under armed pressure from Egypt, Israel got on Babylon’s bad side. This led to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon to come and destroy Israel, laying waste to the temple in 587 BCE (2 Kng. 25:8). This was such a significant event that the scripture record the exact day of the destruction:

And in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month, which is the nineteenth year of king Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, came Nebuzar-adan, captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon, unto Jerusalem
And he burnt the house of the Lord, and the king’s house, and all the houses of Jerusalem, and every great man’s house burnt he with fire.
2 Kings 25:8-9

Pharaoh Necho II kneeling statue

Pharaoh Necho II kneeling statue

Nebuchadnezzar either killed or deported almost everyone significant that was left in land, and moved people from other areas into what had now become a wasteland. The end of the Jewish kingdom at this time started a time that some call an “Inter-Temple Period” or the “Babylonian Exile” period.

Being without a temple to center their worship, the Jewish people were forced to wrestle with what else made them a cohesive people. This is where the story of Daniel and Esther served to help, providing literature that stressed the importance of adhering to dietary restrictions, prayer, and refusing to worship idols. Still, the people focused on returning to the Holy Land and being able to rebuild the temple. Their dream became reality soon after the Persians took over in about 539 BCE.

The Second Temple Period

The Jews managed to return to Jerusalem and build a new temple, ushering in the “Second Temple Period.” This period lasted several centuries and across two different temple constructions until the Romans eventually destroyed “Herod’s Temple.”

Return from Exile and Construction

Cyrus Cylinder

The Cyrus Cylinder

Cyrus II of Persia conquered Babylon in 539 BCE, putting the exiled Jews, as well as the Holy Land, under Persian control. Cyrus had a different leadership style than the Babylonians though, and in 537 BCE, he declared that the Jews (and other conquered peoples) could return to their homelands and rebuild their “temples and cult sanctuaries” (tangentially mentioned on the Cyrus Cylinder, which was made in Cyrus’ time to praise Cyrus for his awesomeness).

The initial return and construction of the Temple was led and completed by Zerubbabel at about 520 BCE (though the exact date seems to be more debated and controversial than some of the others I’ve given). This is why the second temple is often called “Zerubbabel’s Temple.”

The reconstruction of Jerusalem and the Temple mark the beginning of the struggle between the Jewish people and the Samaritans. The Samaritans consisted of the people who were inhabiting the land while the bulk of the Jews were in exile. They consisted primarily of a people descended from a mix of Jewish and foreign nations. At first, they were interested in helping the returnees build the temple and offered to build with them (Ezra 4:1-2). There’s some debate as to whether the Samaritans felt like they worshiped the same God in the same way and saw this temple reconstruction as an opportunity to further their faith, or that they were adversaries from the start and only offered to help build as a sneaky way of hindering the work.

Whatever originally motivated the Samaritans, Zerubbabel saw fit to reject the Samaritan offer and do the work of construction with just the returnees (Ezra 4:3). This provoked the Samaritans to hinder the work in other ways, such as by writing to the Babylonian King and spreading rumors about the Jews that caused some temporary delays in the construction.

Eventually the temple was completed against Samaritan wishes. The Jews held a joyous celebration and offered sacrifices to herald in a new Temple era (Ezra 6:16-22). Although the temple wasn’t as grand as Solomon’s temple, the future looked relatively smooth for God’s chosen people.

Temples in the Americas

Parallel to this history, God fearing people lived in the Americas as well. Having traveled across the ocean in anticipation of the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem, a prophet named Lehi established a people with his family and several others. Having come from the city of Jerusalem itself, and having been led by God in the first place, they were eventually commanded to build temples as well.

Solomon's Temple

Solomon’s Temple

The first mention of temple construction in the Americas comes from Lehi’s son, Nephi, who became the religious leader after Lehi died. It’s impossible to tell the exact date that they constructed their temple, but it was likely somewhere in the range of between 585 and 540 BCE (just giving my own broad guess). They built it similarly to Solomon’s temple, but without quite the wealth that Solomon’s empire had, they had to settle for a less-fancy version (2 Ne. 5:16).

The Nephites built other temples as well over the next 500+ years. These included the original Temple somewhere in the land of Nephi (2 Ne. 5:16), one in the land of Shilom (Mos. 7:17), more than one temple as they spread northward (Hel. 3:9), and a temple in the city called Bountiful (3 Ne. 11:1). The Lamanites (a group contrary to the more typically righteous Nephites) also built temples (Alma 23:2), but although they likely had similar traditions and rituals to those of the people in Jerusalem and the more local Nephites, they were not likely fully authorized temples of God during their entire existence.

The temples in the Americas served as the focal point of their worship as well. At the temples, major sermons were held (Jacob 1:17), important gatherings were held (Mos. 2:1), and miracles occurred (Alma 10:2). Christ Himself even chose a temple as the site for His post-mortal ministry to the people in the Americas (3 Ne. 11:1). Although these authorized temples fell out of use and were destroyed by around 400 CE, they held a place of highest prominence to the people during their righteous times.

Temple Struggles in the Holy Land

Although the holy land saw some degree of smoothness under the Persian rule, it didn’t last forever. Regime changes introduced new rulers with different ruling styles, not all of which were conducive to Jewish ways of life.

Maccabean Revolt

Fully functional Menorah owned by the Temple Institute just a few hundred feet from the Temple Mount.

Fully functional Menorah owned by the Temple Institute just a few hundred feet from the Temple Mount.

With the temple back in its place of worship in Jerusalem, regular temple worship and ritual recommenced. Politics never stayed normal for long in the region though, and the land traded hands from the Persians to Alexander the Great in 332 BCE, to the Ptolemies when Alexander died in 323 BCE, and then to the Seleucids in 198 BCE. The temple stayed fine and dandy through all of this until the Seleucid king Antiochus IV (Epiphanes) took to the throne.

The short story is that in around 168 BCE Antiochus IV ordered the forced conversion of the Jewish people from their religion and rituals to his own pantheon of gods and he desecrated the temple as part of the program. In 167 BCE the Maccabean Revolt broke out against the Seleucids, beginning with Mattathias killing a Hellenistic priest who intended to sacrifice to a Greek god in the holy Temple.

The Maccabean Revolt eventually succeeded in liberating their nation, and the temple was rededicated the same day that the revolutionaries reconquered it. There wasn’t enough oil to keep the menorahs inside the Holy Place lit for more than a day, and temple oil takes about a week to prepare, but the oil stayed miraculously lit until they were able to get a new flow of oil going. This miracle is where the more famous bits of the story of Hanukkah come from.

Roman Entrusion

Pompey enters the Holy of Holies

Pompey enters the Holy of Holies

Things ran relatively smoothly for the temple under the Hasmonean dynasty until about 63 BCE. A conflict over the succession of the High Priest led some in Judea to request the Romans (an ally at the time) to help settle the dispute. The Romans quite conclusively ended the dispute by conquering the city and fully integrating it into the Roman Empire.

Roman integration certainly caused a lot of hubbub politically, but it became religiously serious (and extremely damaging for Jewish-Roman relations) when Pompey entered the Holy of Holies to satisfy his curiosity. Only the High Priest is allowed to enter that room, and even he can only enter once a year, so Pompey’s intrusion was a serious affront to the Jewish people even though Pompey didn’t take or damage anything inside. The temple was subsequently ritually cleansed and rituals resumed.

Herod’s Reconstruction

Pompey and his Roman invasion may not have damaged much of the temple, but 500 years of normal wear-and-tear certainly did. Looking for a chance to win favor with the Jews (and add glory to himself), Herod the Great commenced reconstruction of the Temple in 20 BCE. Although some bits of construction lasted nearly until it was destroyed, the temple was mostly completed by the time Herod died in 4 BCE, and is often referred to as “Herod’s Temple.

Western Wall, Dome of the Rock, and Mormon University (BYU Jerusalem Center)

The Western Wall (bottom) and Dome of the Rock where the Temple used to be

Herod renovations on the temple included expanding the temple platform significantly (something that the Hasmoneans also did to a lesser extent over 100 years earlier). Part of the retaining wall he built for the extended platform still exists today (sometimes under the name of the “Wailing Wall,” but usually best referred to as the “Western Wall.”) He also made the temple much bigger, and added a Royal Stoa for administrative functions (occupied primarily by Sadducees.) The Temple Mount was also surrounded by porticos, which were likely used by Christ as a convenient place to preach at the temple.

The construction was done with enough skill that it never stopped the regular procedures of rituals. Although the renovations practically rebuilt the temple, it is not typically considered a third temple since it’s just intended to be a fixing-up and upgrading of the second. Since the temple never closed down, it wasn’t rededicated.

Destruction of the Second Temple

Christians are familiar with Christ’s prophecy that the temple would be destroyed so thoroughly that not one stone would be left upon another (Matt. 24:1-2). In 70 CE, the Romans diligently and violently fulfilled this prophecy.

Inside the New Hurva Synagogue in the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem's Old City

Inside the New Hurva Synagogue in the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem’s Old City

It all started with a rebellion in 66 CE of Jewish nationals trying to kick the Romans out in what’s often called the “First Jewish Revolt.” Details aren’t particularly important for our history, but it’s important to note that the Romans won and burned down the temple in the fighting.

This was a huge blow to the identity of God’s chosen people. The loss of the temple essentially eliminated the Sadducees and the Pharisaical tradition eventually evolved into the Rabbinical tradition we know today. Synagogues, though already a significant part of Jewish life while the temple stood, gained increasing levels of importance and function. However, the synagogue was never meant to, and indeed never has, replaced the temple. Temple rituals can only be done at a dedicated temple, and most Jews today still recognize the Temple Mount on Mount Moriah as the only place on earth that a temple can legitimately be built.

The Latter-day Temple Period

Mormons and Temples

Kirtland Temple

Kirtland Temple

It was not until 1833 that another fully authorized-by-God temple stood on the earth. This was about 1,766 years after the Jerusalem Temple was destroyed, and probably about 1,436 years after the last Nephite temple was gone. This first temple to usher in our modern day was built in Kirtland, Ohio under the direction of Joseph Smith. It is called the Kirtland Temple.

Modern temples have many similarities to the old ones, but are part of a New Covenant with God, the old one being fulfilled by Jesus Christ. The primary purposes are still the same, allowing us to come much closer into God’s presence and enabling the use of sealing and saving power for all mankind. However, instead of sacrificing animals, participants bring broken hearts and contrite spirits. Instead of only priests of Levitical lineage being able to enter its doors, all those who live a specific standard of worthiness can participate directly.

Temples are no longer restricted to one single location, but now dot the earth. Although temple construction started relatively slowly with only about 20 temples built by 1980, at this writing there are 159 temples in operation around the world with up through 173 announced.

As in ancient times, what happens inside the temple is sacred. For that reason, details aren’t often talked about, and when they are talked about it’s not done lightly. This isn’t to keep secrets (far from it since temple-goers would love nothing more than to have everyone joining them inside), but to avoid making sacred things common, vulgar, or trivial.

Jews and Temples Today

I’m not qualified to speak on the subject of Jewish people generally, but it is interesting to note that there is a Temple Institute in Jerusalem run by a Jewish organization. This organization has a museum right next to the Temple Mount with all the furniture, materials, and plans needed for a third temple. If you’re ever in Jerusalem, I list it as a must-see tour.

Great controversy would surround the construction of a third temple if it were to happen in the foreseeable future, but nonetheless the Temple Institute is prepared to begin operating on the temple mount as soon as they receive an official approval. Who could give this approval? When will it come? I’m really not qualified to say, and there seems to be some controversy around certain points, but if it happens, it’ll be a big deal.

The Temple Institute on Sunday, July 26, 2015

 

The plans for the third temple (some featured in the above video from the Temple Institute) are based on the vision from Ezekiel, and would include some modification in size, function, and structure to the prior temples. Not everything is completely clear, but would be made so upon the initiation of approval for this temple.

Not all Jews look forward to a third temple quite so adamantly. Some don’t feel a third temple is really necessary at all. But to many, the temple may still have a central place in their lives as they anticipate a third temple, and worship at the Western Wall–the closest they allow themselves to get to where the temple used to be.

Summary

Sacred space has always been important for God. Starting with mountains, altars, and dreams, God used specific locations and situations to communicate with His children. He started use of the Tabernacle in Moses’ time, and then moved to more permanent Temples at about 950 BCE. This temple in Jerusalem lasted a while, was rebuilt a few times, and hasn’t been around since 70 CE. Temples existed in the Americas as well, from sometime in the 500’s BCE to sometime around 400 CE. Temples authorized by God hit a low-point after that until 1833 when a new era of temples began and continues today.

 

Keep seeking truth.

 

 

 

You may also be interested in:

Orthoeínai

Jephthah: A Judge Unrighteously Judged

Joseph of Egypt: Christlike or Adamic?

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  1. Charlotte Crandall 2 February, 2017 at 15:29 Reply

    My great grandmother was Nancy Ellen Martin Durfee. Her daughter was Angeline Durfee Driggs. and my mother is Betty Driggs. I am Charlotte Gallacher Crandall. Are we cousins?

    I enjoyed this article very much! Good work.

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