How Many Temples Were Built In Jerusalem – and How Many to Come?

Erin asks…

How many times was the temple built? I’m aware of Solomon’s and Herod’s. Did they ever finish the temple after being brought back after the exile?

Thank you so much for your ministry,

First there was the tabernacle, designed by God and built under the leadership of Moses.

At least four times in the Old Testament it says that the tabernacle was build “according to the pattern” that God gave to Moses.

Example: Exodus 25:9

According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it.

This idea is repeated twice again in the New Testament (Acts 7:44, Hebrews 8:5) – again, that God gave Moses the pattern for building the tabernacle.

The tabernacle was the “temple” (so to speak) for Israel for about 500 years – from the time of Moses to the time of Solomon.

In the reign of King David, he decided to build God a temple – a permanent building instead of the tent (though it was a pretty nice tent – costing, in modern terms, up to $13 million USD for the materials).

God said “no” to David desire to build a temple; David was a man of war, and God wanted a man of peace to build His temple. That man of peace was Solomon, David’s son – and in the reign of Solomon, a magnificent temple was built – what is called “Solomon’s Temple” or “The First Temple.”

However, it’s easy to forget that though Solomon actually built the temple, David did much of the preparation work. In 1 Chronicles 29:2 David said, Now for the house of my God I have prepared with all my might. Then, 1 Chronicles 29 goes on to describe all that David prepared for the temple – what he himself gave, and what the people gave for the building work. In many ways, Solomon simply assembled the temple that David prepared.

Solomon’s temple stood for about 410 years, until the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem and destroyed the temple. There was no temple for about 70 years, then came what we call the second temple.

The second temple was built about 516 bc, under the leadership of Ezra and Zerubbabel after the Babylonian exile. They didn’t have the resources that Solomon had, so it was a much humbler building. However, that temple stood longer than Solomon’s – a total of 585 years. And, in the last 100 years of the second temple, a wealthy visionary named Herod the Great made huge improvements to the temple – so much so, that the second temple is sometimes called “Herod’s Temple,” even though it stood for more than 450 years before Herod did anything to it.

This is the temple that stood in the days of Jesus and the apostles – the temple that Jesus visited and taught in its courts. Everything in the New Testament that happened at the temple or the temple courts happened there.

After standing for 585 years, the second temple was destroyed by the Romans, under the command of Titus – this happened in ad 70.

So, to answer Erin’s question, there were two temples – one built under Solomon, and the other one built under Ezra and Zerubbabel after the exile – and that same temple was greatly improved by Herod.

However, I do believe that there will be two more temples in Jerusalem:

First, a restored temple that will be the place where the abomination of desolation takes place (Daniel 9, 11, and 12; Mathew 24, and 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4). As Christians we have mixed feelings about such a temple. It is exciting to see the desire to build a temple in Jerusalem as a fulfillment of prophecy, but it is grieving to think of it being built as a denial of the perfect sacrifice of Jesus.

Second, a temple that will exist during the millennium, described in Ezekiel 40-48. These chapters are controversial among Bible commentators and interpreters. Some believe that prophecy was already fulfilled by Ezra’s temple. Some think it is not to be taken literally at all and is simply symbolic or apocalyptic. I believe that Ezekiel 40-48 describes a temple of a coming millennial age. This future temple belongs not so much to the eternal age (as in Revelation 21:22) but to the period of a literal thousand-year reign of Jesus over this earth. Especially for the Jewish people in the millennium, Ezekiel’s temple will remember and memorialize God’s gracious work for Israel and provide a remembrance and an acting out of the rich types and ceremonies that looked forward to the perfect work of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Again, there is lots of discussion and controversy on this temple of Ezekiel 40-48; if you’re interested, go to my much more detailed commentary on those chapters, starting at Ezekiel 40 where I give a survey of the different positions and why I favor the idea that the Ezekiel 40 temple is real and is yet to come.

So there you have it – for certain there were two temples in the past (and one tabernacle). And, though there is disagreement among Christians on this, I also believe that there will be two temples to come.

What exactly is Biblical fasting for?

What is exactly biblical fasting for?

Part of the difficulty with the answer to that is that there’s no one thing that biblical fasting is for. There are actually many reasons or benefits from fasting given to us in the Bible.

First of all, it is an expression of self-denial. The Bible says that Christians should be people who have self-control, and self-denial. Part of following Jesus Christ is to deny self, and to be crucified unto self. One way that that can be expressed is through keeping the flesh under control, by saying no to our flesh. It is a good and proper thing for a believer to not be ruled by the desires of the flesh, whether those be the desires for food, the desires for sex, the desires for entertainment, the desires for adrenaline – we should not be ruled by those and other desires. Instead, we must realize that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. So, fasting is valuable as a form of self-denial.

Secondly, we would say, fasting is valuable as a way to specially be dedicated in seeking God. It is a way to say, “Lord, I’m going to push away all other pursuits and concerns. And I’m going to seek after You in a single minded way, I’m going to concern myself so much with You that I don’t want to be distracted by eating for a particular period of time.”

A third benefit from fasting is simply this, that Jesus told us both in the Gospel of Matthew and in the Gospel of Mark, where He connected an aspect of spiritual power to fasting and prayer. Jesus said that the disciples were not able to cast out a demon, because they had not prayed and fasted. There is some way that we don’t completely understand, but we understand the general principle that fasting is connected to some aspects of spiritual power and spiritual authority.

I’m sure we could talk about even more, but just get this point. There’s no one benefit to fasting. There are many spiritual benefits. There are a lot of people today with good reason, who will talk to you about the health benefits of fasting. I don’t think the two contradict each other. You can fast both for physical reasons and for spiritual reasons. And it can be a benefit in both ways.

Why do some people say that the Bible doesn’t prove the Trinity?

Becky asks, Why do some people say that the Bible doesn’t prove the Trinity?

The most straightforward answer I could give to you is this: I believe that those people aren’t reading their Bibles very carefully. They’re not paying attention when they read their Bibles. Because I believe that the Bible, in the Old Testament in some measure, the New Testament, in much greater measure teaches us this, that there is one God in three persons. In some way those Persons coexist, and are the Godhead: God, the Father, God, the Son, and God, the Holy Spirit.

To say it again, there is one God revealed to us in the Old Testament, his name is Yahweh. God the Father is Yahweh, God, the Son is Yahweh, God, the Holy Spirit is Yahweh: there is one God in three Persons.

There are some people who are kind of tripped up by the simple fact that the word Trinity does not appear in our Bibles. And that’s certainly true. But the concept of the Trinity is present in the Old Testament and even emphasized in the New Testament – that there is one God in three Persons.

I would say people who do not believe in the Trinity do not believe that the Bible teaches the Trinity. They’re just not reading their Bible carefully enough, or they are reading it with such presuppositions that they are not reading the Bible honestly, if I could say that.

In 1 John 4:7-8, does John mean the love that Christians have for fellow believers, or the love we should have for all people, even if they are not Christians?

In 1 John 4:7-8, does John mean the love that Christians have for fellow believers, or the love we should have for all people, even if they are not Christians? I’m used to thinking he’s referring to all people, but maybe he isn’t in this context.

I think you’re talking about that passage where John tells us about the necessity of our love for one another: Beloved, Let us love one another, for love IS of God, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God, He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In the letter of 1 John, John emphasizes the love that we should have for one another in the family of God, love for our brethren, including our brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ.

I would say that John’s first focus here (of course the Holy Spirit’s first focus here) is the love that we would have for one another in God’s family. So that’s the first thing in mind here. However, I would say that this doesn’t absolutely exclude love for the world at large. But what is really emphasized here is the love that we can and should have for our brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ.

John intends that that would be the measure, the indicator for the health of our relationship with God. John gives us this very challenging proposition here that if we claim to love God, but we do not love our brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ, then there is something very hollow about our claim to love God.

What does the Bible say about co-habitation, living together without marriage?

Jesse asks, David, what does the Bible say about cohabitation? I’m in a relationship with a non-Christian girl and we’re conflicting on this subject.

I think it’s really remarkable how cohabitation or living together in an admittedly romantic relationship, boyfriend and girlfriend and having what some people would consider the normal practices of a marriage. They are having marital relations without being married – that is so common today. In the broader culture, many fewer people are getting married at all. More and more, this living together without marriage is creeping in to the church.

I believe that the Bible says that marital relations (speaking diplomatically of sexual relations in marriage) marital relations should not be had until there is a marriage, until a couple has entered into the covenant of marriage, not only before God, but before man as well.

Whenever you bring this up, people will bring up the counter argument: “All that really matters is that we’re married before the eyes of God. And what if we were on a desert island? And we could be married there, but there’s no courts? There are no wedding ceremonies? What if we were on a desert island?”

My answer to that is always the same: If you ever find yourself on a desert island with a woman that you would otherwise marry, then fine, you can consider yourself married in the eyes of God. This is because there are no courts, there is no legal system, there is no church to solemnize your marriage.

Yet at the bottom line, you are not on a desert island. You live in a culture that has a recognized practice of marriage, a recognized way that couples enter into the marriage covenant. Christians should not cohabit in the sense of cohabiting and especially having marital relations without being married. This is just simple, biblical morality, what God would have us to do. So that’s God’s standard. People don’t always live up to it, of course, but where they don’t live up to it, they should correct that they should get it right before God and man.

What are true “riches”?

Joanne asks: What denotes riches? I know one is character.

I think that there are many different ways that somebody can be rich. We can be rich in material things – things like money, a bank account, material possessions, a fancy car, a big house, and all the rest – we can be rich in material things.

In some sense, these the lowest kind of riches for a person to possess, I would say the riches of relationships, the riches of character, the riches of health, the riches of contentment, the riches of happiness – all of these things are more important and indeed, more valuable forms of riches. What can replace the riches of integrity? I’m not going to deny for a moment that there is some meaning and importance attached to material wealth or riches. But those are, in fact, the lowest form of riches.

Why is there a wall around the New Jerusalem in the book of Revelation?

Jane asks: A Bible study friend asked me to ask you. In the book of Revelation, when we get a new heaven on earth – why is there a wall around Jerusalem? She’s always wanted to know.

Why is there a wall around Jerusalem in the conception given to us in the description in the last couple chapters of the book of Revelation? The answer is actually quite simple.

Today, we can’t think of any good reason to put a wall around such a city. It would seem very strange to us if we came to a city, and there was a huge wall built around the city. But that’s just us in the modern age, in Bible times, and of course, thousands of years before, and hundreds of years after Bible times, walls were an absolutely necessary defense of a city. If a city did not have walls, it was defenseless, and pretty much worthless. Nothing valuable, could continue for very long in a city without walls, because it was very simple for anybody to just come and take whatever they wanted from a city without walls.

In Bible times when the Bible was written, it was unthinkable that you would have a great city, an important city, a glorious city – and that it would not have walls. The image of the wall is according to ideas and images of those times that we can understand today. So there’s not going to be armies assaulting the walls of heaven. It doesn’t work like that! But what’s being communicated to us is that the New Jerusalem is truly a great city, an important city, a valuable city, and therefore it has walls.

Do I recommend any music or musicians?

Jessica asks: Pastor David, my question is about music. Do you have a good rule of thumb for discerning good Christian music and any recommendations for groups or musicians?

I’m really not that good with recommending groups or musicians. I can just say, listen to what you like. But I will say this, I make a pretty clear distinction in my mind, between music for worship among the people of God, and music that might just give some good, edifying entertainment and builds us up, without necessarily being music that we would join in with to worship God.

I do think it’s valid for us to look at the theological content of music. Not that we want to get obsessive over this and agonize over every word, or every phrase. I do allow (I’m just speaking for myself) some latitude for poetic expression in music, but it’s not endless latitude. So allowing for some aspect of poetic expression, at the same time, you do want music to be theologically correct, theologically good. And then especially if it’s going to be intended for a congregation, then even more, so is it important that we take a look at it and say that no, this is not only theologically solid, but it is also good for people to sing – that the people can actually sing along with it.

The whole conception is that in congregational worship, it’s not the musicians singing unto God, with the congregation, being an audience. That’s the wrong conception, all together. Actually, it’s the congregation singing unto God, and the people on the musician on the music team, whatever song leaders, whatever you want to call them, they are there to help facilitate the worship that the people in the congregation bring unto God.

But since I regard music as being very cultural, very subjective, I really can’t give you much guidance on specific people or groups, but just to give you those principles, and I hope that helps.

How do you live the Christian life?

Levy asks, How do you live the Christian life?

That’s a very broad question, of course. But think of it like this. The Christian life is something we live first of all after, we have become Christians. Don’t forget that. And how did we become a Christian? We became a Christian by placing our faith in Jesus Christ, in who He is: God and man, and what He did for us, especially what He did for us at the cross.

The Christian life is centered in the Christian beginning, on receiving, it is not centered on doing. It’s not centered on what we do for God, it is centered on what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. So, once we have become Christians are born again by God’s Spirit, then we dedicate ourselves to following after God’s way.

Again, we always keep the focus on what He has done for us more 100 times more than what we would ever do for Him. But we try to live the way that Jesus told us to live, and the way that the Bible tells us to live. When the Bible tells us to do something, we ask God for the strength and the wisdom to do it. When God tells us not to do something, we ask God for the strength and the wisdom to not do it. In some ways, it’s really that simple. It’s regarding Jesus as our master or rabbi, and following in the path after Him.

Did God write Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53?

Jane asks, David, for me, Psalm 22, and Isaiah 52. They are such accurate description of Jesus on the cross. It’s almost unbelievable scripture, did God write these? How else can they be so accurate?

You’re absolutely correct. Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 are amazing and powerful descriptions of what Jesus suffered both in connection to His crucifixion and in His actual crucifixion. By the way, Psalm 22, goes on to give a glorious description of the triumph of the Messiah after His crucifixion, His triumph in resurrection. Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 are among some of the most graphic and beautiful passages in Scripture speaking of this, and clearly, these passages have within them, the hand and mark of God.

Should we “name it and claim it” in prayer?

Donald says, asks, should we name it and claim it in prayer?

My first reaction to that question is “no way.” Because that phrase, “name it and claim it” has been associated with what sometimes people call the prosperity gospel, the prosperity teachers, people such as Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Frederick Price and others. Such teachers have over-emphasized this idea that we create our reality by the words that we speak. And in the way that these men have sometimes taught this, it’s wrong.

However, I have to say, there is some truth to this idea. God makes promises to us in His Word. And God is pleased when we take His promises and bring them before Him. The problem with the “name it and claim it” doctrine, with the prosperity doctrine, is they take a valid biblical concept, and they extend it too far in certain places. That’s one great problem.

The second great problem is, they seem to ignore the biblical place of suffering. They seem to have no theology of suffering. Brother and sister, when you read the New Testament (and the Old Testament, for that matter, but I’ll just speak of the New Testament), there is an important theology of suffering in the life of the believer. And if you would listen to these prosperity gospel teachers, you would come to the feeling that if you’re really right with God, everything would be easy and smooth in your life, and you would never suffer, you would just triumph in faith over everything. Let me tell you, that is a wrong and a false teaching.

However, there is something valid in the thought of saying, “Lord, you have made a promise. And I understand this promise correctly. And this promise is made to me, I come as a child of God, and I claim this promise before You.” Praying that way is a biblical concept. So I don’t mind people who claim the promises of God, that’s a good thing, and should be that that’s part of my walk with God. But there are some people who claim promises that aren’t actually made to us. And they ignore what the Bible says about God’s use of suffering in the life of the believer. So that’s why I kind of am a little bit allergic to that phrase, “name it and claim it.”

How do we know if our dreams are from God or from the enemy?

Coffee asks, How do we know if our dreams are from God, or from the enemy?

Here’s the quick answer to that. Number one, Judge everything by the scriptures, everything. So you have to understand God’s Word. And if you don’t understand the Bible good enough to know whether or not a dream or such could be from God, then go to somebody who do does understand the Bible – who understands that God will never, ever contradict His word, it just won’t happen. So first, we read it through that grid.

Secondly, we read it through the grid of just simple discernment. I think that the Holy Spirit will speak to us, or perhaps speak to those that we take counsel with, about such things if we will ask him. So that’s just a second answer I would give just simply regarding discernment.

I think it’s a mistake to say that God can never speak through a dream or a vision. But I also believe that it’s a mistake to think that every dream or vision is a message from God. We don’t want to err in either category.

Does Isaiah 14:1 refer to people in Isaiah’s day, or something else?

Sheila asks

Since lockdown my husband and I have been studying with the commentary every day.
I do have a query about Isa 14: 1. (b). “And settle them in their own land” If Isaiah ministered under Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah how could most of Judah been forcibly exiled? – this was about 100 years in the future?

It’s a great question – but I think the simplest answer is that God spoke prophetically through Isaiah, about something that would not happen for 100 years. In Isaiah’s own day the northern tribes of Israel – the kingdom of Israel with Samaria as its capital – was conquered by the Assyrians. Also, in Isaiah’s own day the Kingdom of Judah and the city of Jerusalem were greatly threatened, but delivered.

  • Isaiah spoke to conditions that were fulfilled among the 10 northern tribes, the kingdom of Israel.
  • Isaiah spoke to conditions that were almost fulfilled among the 2 southern tribes, the kingdom of Judah – but God relented and delivered them.
  • Isaiah prophetically spoke (in the predictive sense) to conditions that were fulfilled among the 2 southern tribes, the kingdom of Judah, about 100 years after Isaiah’s ministry.