Lesson Three - Restoration of the Temple

"Listen, O high priest Joshua and your associates seated before you, who are men symbolic of things to come" Zechariah 3:8 (see also 1 Corinthians 10:11).

After 70 years of captivity in Babylon and Persia, a remnant (approximately 50,000) returned to Jerusalem under the leadership of Zerubbabel (Daniel 9:1-2; Ezra 1:1-2:70). They returned under the authority of a decree from Cyrus, king of Persia, to rebuild the temple (Isaiah 44:28; 45:1,13; 2 Chronicles 36:22-23). This rebuilding came in four stages:

  1. The altar of sacrifice
  2. The foundation of the Temple
  3. The Temple
  4. The worship of the Temple

These four stages parallel God's present work in the restoration of His Church.

The Altar

The first thing to be re-established was the altar of sacrifice, which represents a restored relationship with God. This was the brazen altar in the Temple's Outer Court. Peter tells us that:

"...you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ" 1 Peter 2:5.

Leviticus chapter 5 lists five sacrifices that Israel brought before the Lord, and each of them has a spiritual equivalent:

  1. Guilt offering - Romans 5:8.
  2. Sin offering - 2 Corinthians 5:22; Romans 6:6.
  3. Peace offering - Hebrews 13:15.
  4. Grain offering - Philippians 4:18.
  5. Burnt offering - Romans 12:1.

The restoration of the Church also began with a restoration of each Christian's individual relationship with the Lord. (Note 2 Kings 16:10-15).

The Foundation

The next stage of restoration involved the re-laying of the foundations of the Temple. The New Testament reveals that the Church is founded on a four-layer foundation:

One of the key elements in the laying of a firm foundation is the restoration of the ministries of apostle and prophet. These two functions can be seen clearly in the restoration of the natural Temple. The prophets spoke and stirred the people, and the apostles acted on the word of the Lord and directed the work (Haggai 1:13-14; Ezra 5:1-2).


"When the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles were building a temple for the Lord, the God of Israel, they...set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building" Ezra 4:1,4.

Once the foundation was laid, the people began rebuilding the Temple itself, but opposition from non-Jews immediately arose. The enemies of Israel used three principal means to try to deter the work of restoration:

The result was that the work of restoration came to a standstill for 15 years (Ezra 4:23-24).

Voice of the Prophet

The Lord spoke to the people of Israel through two prophets - Haggai and Zechariah. Their words of rebuke and encouragement apply just as much in present restoration times as back in the days of Zerubbabel.


Haggai was an older prophet, and much of what he had to say compared the present Temple with the former one.


Zechariah was a younger prophet, born, like Zerubbabel, during the exile. (Note: Zerubbabel means "offspring of Babylon"). His prophecies look forward to what is to come, and from chapter 7 onwards are Messianic in content.

The Temple Rebuilt

"So the elders of the Jews continued to build and prosper under the preaching of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah, a descendant of Iddo. They finished building the temple according to the command of the God of Israel" Ezra 6:14.

Under the encouragement of the prophets and the direction of Zerubbabel, the Temple was finally completed. But the natural Temple was simply a shadow of the reality that was later to be established in the Church (Hebrews 8:5; 10:1; Colossians 2:17). God no longer lives in a natural Temple (Acts 7:48-50), but has come to reside in His Church - the Temple of His Spirit.

"In him the whole building...rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit" Ephesians 2:21-22.

Worship Restored

The final act of restoration was the Temple worship (Ezra 6:13-end), together with a purification of the lifestyle of the people. These two things always go together, since worship is not just an outward form, but a matter of the heart. Worship is more than just singing - it is our whole lives (Romans 12:1), as the Temple of His Spirit.

"Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks" John 4:23. [NEXT] [UP] [HOME] [WORLDSCOPE] [FEEDBACK] [POST OFFICE] [RANDOM] [SEARCH]

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Unless otherwise stated, all scriptures quoted in these studies are from the New International Version of the Bible, © New York International Bible Society, used by permission. Other versions referred to are: KJV (King James Version), NKJB (New King James Bible), TLB (The Living Bible), Amp (The Amplified Bible) and The Message. All versions used by permission.

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