The stories and archeological findings related to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem reveal the rich history of the Jewish people and future restoration of all things. The dwelling place of God’s divine presence was important to the ancient Israelites, and today, we should place just as much interest in the site.
The Lord’s presence was in the Holy of Holies in the Temple, and He provided instruction for it to be built in Jerusalem.
When you stop and imagine what the restoration of all things will be like, it takes your breath away. It is by no accident that the Temple was to be built in Jerusalem on sacred ground in the Promised Land.
And it is awe-inspiriting to envision “the tabernacle of God with men, and He will dwell with them” in our future!
- “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.’… Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’”—Revelation 21:1-3, 5
Through King David, God sent specific instructions how Solomon, the king’s son, was to build the Holy Temple. Using the finest materials and having all skilled workers participate was an overarching theme when it came to plans for constructing the Holy Temple.
The Lord gave King David Instructions for the First Temple. It was to be intricate, beautiful beyond words, and treasured—just like God.
- “Now He said to me, ‘It is your son Solomon who shall build My house and My courts; for I have chosen him to be My son, and I will be his Father. Moreover I will establish his kingdom forever, if he is steadfast to observe My commandments and My judgments, as it is this day.’…“As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts… Consider now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a house for the sanctuary; be strong, and do it.””—1 Chronicles 28:6-7, 9, 10
How Many Temples Have Been Built in Jerusalem?
There have been 2 temples built in Jerusalem. Though the temples were destroyed, people from all over the world, including Christians and Jews, still journey to Jerusalem to catch a glimpse of the remnants of the outer wall of the Second Temple courtyard.
Christians who want to discover and connect with the roots of their faith take a step back in time and imagine what it was like for the Jewish people more than 2000 years ago. From every corner of the globe, people still travel to the Wailing Wall (also known as the Western Wall) to pray.
Let’s look at what was happening in history at the time of the First and Second Temple construction.
The First Temple
Around 1000 BCE, King David and his men fiercely captured Jerusalem from the Canaanites. King David then resided in Jerusalem, and the city also became known as the City of David.
Who Built the First Temple in Jerusalem?
As mentioned above, David received building instructions for the Holy Temple from the Lord, and he was to tell his son Solomon. The First Temple also became known as Solomon’s Temple. The temple was to hold the Ark of the Covenant and to be established as a sacred place to worship and give offerings to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Both King David and King Solomon provided a great abundance of materials for the First Temple.
- “Indeed I have taken much trouble to prepare for the house of the Lord one hundred thousand talents of gold and one million talents of silver, and bronze and iron beyond measure, for it is so abundant. I have prepared timber and stone also, and you may add to them.”—1 Chronicles 22:14
When Was the First Temple Destroyed?
The First Temple was destroyed in 586 BCE by the King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar. The prophet Jeremiah referred to Nebuchadnezzar as a destroyer of the nations who made the land of Israel desolate.
In 2 Kings 24, it states that Nebuchadnezzar looted and plundered the temple, either taking Jews captive or sending them into exile—leaving the Temple to be destroyed.
- “And he carried out from there all the treasures of the house of the Lord and the treasures of the king’s house, and he cut in pieces all the articles of gold which Solomon king of Israel had made in the temple of the Lord, as the Lord had said. Also he carried into captivity all Jerusalem: all the captains and all the mighty men of valor, ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and smiths…”—2 Kings 24:13-14
The Second Temple
The Second Temple period was between 586 BCE and 70 CE. It was marked by the return of the Jews from exile to Jerusalem in 538 BCE. By 515 BCE, the Second Temple was completed.
How did they go from being exiled to completing a Second Temple in such a short amount of time? The Babylonian Empire was conquered by the Persian Empire led by Cyrus the Great. In 538 BCE, King Cyrus made a decree that the Jewish temple be rebuilt and the exiles return to Judea.
When the Lord uses those in governmental authority to accomplish His will, His plans gain speed and momentum!
Who Built the Second Temple in Jerusalem?
Zerubbabel, the leader of the tribe of Judah in 538 BCE, returned to Jerusalem, and Cyrus appointed him as governor of Judah (Haggai 1:1). Joshua, the high priest, and Zerubbabel got right to work reconstructing the Second Temple.
- “Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying, ‘Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: “All the kingdoms of the earth the Lord God of heaven has given me. And He has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem which is in Judah.”'”—Ezra 1:1-2
Although Cyrus himself did not build the temple, He was “stirred up” by the Lord to proclaim and put in writing that the Second Temple was to be built in Jerusalem.
It is for this reason that many liken President Trump to King Cyrus, as President Trump declared Jerusalem as Israel’s capital—bringing the Jewish state one step closer to fulfilling biblical prophecy.
When was the Second Temple destroyed?
The Second Temple was destroyed in 70 CE. Jews were under foreign rule during the Second Temple period by the Persians, the Greeks, and the Romans. In 66 CE, the Jewish people rebelled against Roman rule, and 4 years later Titus destroyed the Second Temple along with much of Jerusalem.
Jesus Himself walked through the temple courts. He honored His Father’s house and understood its significance.
- “So they came to Jerusalem. Then Jesus went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He would not allow anyone to carry wares through the temple. Then He taught, saying to them, ‘Is it not written, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations”? But you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’”—Mark 11:15-17
The Temple is clearly of importance to the Lord. And Jerusalem, the Temple, and Israel still hold their place in God’s heart and restoration plan. We can hold tight to the promises of God while we look forward to that day in the future when we see His throne in His city!
If you want to read more about the Third Temple prophecies, click HERE.