The Temple and itís sacrifices provided a stage whereby a story was told, of a Supreme sacrifice that would be paid for the sins of mankind.
Though built by Herod, Jesus called it "my fatherís house." Itís grandeur was immense, itís beauty could be seen glimmering in the sun from miles away. It housed the continuing worship of God, by the Levitical system of vicarious atonement through blood sacrifice, declaring to the world, the immensity of itís sin, and the power of Godís grace.The Son of God entered itís hallowed grounds, and cleansed it of corrupt profiteering on the part of the religious leaders at the beginning of His ministry, and once again nearing itís end, preserving itís message of justice and mercy by the righteous and loving Creator.
The pinnacle of the temple provided a location for the devil to tempt the Lord into taking His authority prematurely, unwisely, and pridefully, against the nature and character of the Father. The courts of the gentiles provided an awe inspiring backdrop for the Messiah to teach the multitudes who gathered to experience His glory and unparalleled wisdom. The courts of the temple provided a location for a lesson on giving, as Jesus pointed out that the widow who gave 2 mites, offered more than all the wealthy put together, because it cost her more, giving all she had.But as beautiful and holy as the Jerusalem Temple was, it was still only a building, whoís ultimate meaning was in teaching that humanity was indeed enslaved within a sinful nature, and manís approach to God was not automatic or cost free. The Holy God had provided a means, and the temple declared that the means was through a vicarious payment for manís sins. The Passover lambs, the scapegoats, the blood taken into the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement, all testified that manís sinfulness exacted a terrible price, and the price must be paid. Yet, the writer of Hebrews realized by the Holy Spirit, that the blood of bulls and goats could not take away sins permanently. They were but checks, that would have to be covered by the blood in the bank account of the True Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. (Heb. 10:4)
After the unspeakable gift of Christís sacrifice upon a Roman cross paid for the sins of the world, the temple no longer provided that vicarious access to God. Itís veil, which separated man from the very Presence of God Himself, was miraculously torn in two, from top to bottom, declaring that the way of approach to God was no longer found inside this granite and marble structure, but now was open to all, who would enter by the sacrifice once for all given, by Jesus Christ. (Mat 27:51) The new abode of God, was each individual who accepts this sacrifice on their behalf, becomes filled with the Holy Spirit, and thus becomes a glorious individual temple of God.As we understand the majesties of the Jerusalem Temple, we must realize that by accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior, we by far outshine the former temple in our value to God, who loves us, and paid the supreme price for our redemption.
Index of Topics
Rebuilding the Temple
Court of the Gentiles
Court of Israel
Court of the Priest's
Altar of Sacrifice
Holy of Holies
Jesus and the Temple
Schematic Plan of the Temple
The Jewish Temple in the First Century A.D.It is interesting that in the Middle East certain places have remained holy throughout the centuries, even if another religion may have taken possession of them. Today the Moslem Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem is the prominent building where the Jewish temple once stood. When Jesus came to Jerusalem, the Temple had just been marvelously rebuilt by Herod the Great. The Temple area had been enlarged to a size of about thirty-five acres. Around the Temple area were double colonnades. The Jewish historian Josephus describes the colonnades: "All the cloisters were double, and the pillars to them belonging were twenty-five cubits in height, and supported -the cloisters. These pillars were of one entire stone each of them, and that stone was white marble; and the roofs were adorned with cedar, curiously graven. The natural magnificence, and excellent polish, and the harmony of the joints in these cloisters, afforded a prospect that was very remarkable; nor was it on the outside adorned with any work of the painter or engraver. The cloisters -(of the outmost court) were in breadth thirty cubits, while the entire compass of it was by measure six furlongs, including the tower of Antonia; those entire courts that were exposed to the air were laid with stones of all sorts" (Jewish War 5. 5. 2). The eastern portico was named after King Solomon and the part to the south, which overlooked the Valley of Kidron, was called "Royal." On the east side the high corner was possibly the pinnacle of the temple, mentioned in the story of the temptation of Jesus (Matthew 4:5). There were eight gates leading into the temple. There were the two Huldah Gates or "mole" Gates from the south, which passed underneath the Royal Porch. To the east was the Gate of Susa, still visible as the Golden Gate which was walled up by the Byzantines. In the western wall was the main gate named the Gate of Coponius after the first procurator; it was decorated with the golden eagle as a sign that the Temple had been placed under the protection of Rome. Anyone was allowed to enter the outer area, which was therefore called the Court of the Gentiles. The actual Temple was enclosed by a balustrade, and at the entrances to it were warning notices, one of them is now in a museum in Istanbul. It says that foreigners have freedom of access provided they do not go beyond the balustrade which went all around the central edifice and which no uncircumcised could cross without incurring the death penalty. Fourteen steps led through the Beautiful Gate to the Court of the women where the poor boxes were, into one of which the poor widow cast her two mites (Luke 21:1-4). Another fifteen steps led up to the famous Gate of Nicanor, to which Mary had brought the child at the time of his presentation; this led through the Court of the Men to that of the priests, which had in its center the altar for the burnt offerings and to the left of it a large basin called the Brazen Sea resting upon twelve bulls cast in bronze. Further steps led up to the actual temple, a comparatively small building. A priceless curtain, embroidered with a map of the known world, concealed from view what lay beyond, and none except the priest on duty was allowed to go farther. It contained the golden altar at which incense was offered and next to it the seven-branched candelabrum and the table with the twelve loaves of shewbread, which were replaced by fresh ones every sabbath. Beyond it, behind another large curtain, lay the Holy of Holies, which none except the high priest was allowed to enter, and he only on the Day of Atonement. A stone designated the place where once the Ark of the Covenant had stood. Jesus came to the Temple at a very young age and in Solomon's Porch the boy argued with the rabbis, astonishing them with his questions and with his answers. He remained behind when his parents left, and when his worried mother at last found him he said to her enigmatically: "'Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?"' (Luke 2:49). It is one of the most original sayings of Jesus, in which he speaks of God for the first time as "avi" (My Father) which was an expression reserved for the Son of God. Today the Western Wall, the so-called Wailing Wall, is all that remains of the ancient walls of Herod's Temple; one can still see the pilaster and the beginning of Robinsonís Arch, which was part of a large viaduct leading to the upper city. Excavations in 1967, led by the well-known archaeologist Benjamin Mazar, revealed the cornerstone. Adjacent to it on the southern side remain traces of the road from which the pilgrims entered the gates. Archaeology
The Story of the Bible
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