The Messianic Temple as Resurrection
One thing that is missed by some commentators is that the Garden of Eden was itself considered to be a Temple. Greg Beale in his excellent book The Temple and the Church’s Mission, demonstrates this in a very convincing way. Other scholars since ancient times, including the rabbis have seen this connection. As food for thought, consider the following:
If / since the Garden was the Temple of God, when man was cast out of the Garden (dying that day) this means that man was in essence cast out of the Temple of God. Now, clearly, the Garden / Temple was not a physical edifice but was nonetheless the Temple of God. It was a temple “not made with hands.”
Since the story of eschatology is the story of the restoration to the Garden, then since the Garden was the Temple of God, not made with hands, then the story of eschatology is the story of the return to the Temple of God. Return to the Garden Temple is resurrection!
From the very beginning therefore, Temple and eschatology are inextricably related. They are synchronous and to great extent, synonymous, insofar as fulfillment is concerned– in other words, when the Temple of God is established, man is restored to the Garden; he is restored to “life.” And of course, this is precisely what we find in Revelation 21-22! But that is to get ahead of ourselves.
My Dispensational friends focus on the Solomonic Temple as if it were the ultimate expression of God’s Temple eschatology. They insist we will soon see the rebuilding of another physical temple to rival andeven exceed the magnificent Temple of Jesus’ day. What they fail to realize is that the Old Covenant Temple was, from the very beginning, a mere shadow of “better things to come”! Now, if the Old Temple was a mere shadow of a better, eternal Temple, then any doctrine that focuses on the rebuilding of a “shadowy” physical edifice is misplaced.
Scripture makes it abundantly clear that a physical temple was never God’s determinative Temple plan (Isaiah 66:1). I will not develop that here, but, be sure to listen to the PPW-2013 lessons. But, notice this, Amillennialists and Postmillennialists alike claim to believe that the church is the Temple promised in the OT prophecies made to Israel. I agree, but, this view is, in truth, fatal to all futurist eschatologies.
If the church is the Temple promised in the OT, the man has returned to the Garden! Remember, the Garden was the Temple of God– a Temple not made with hands. And of course, anyone familiar with the NT knows that this is precisely how the church is described– a temple not made with hands.
It will be objected that we are still awaiting the resurrection however, at the end of the millennium, the time when “the tabernacle of God is with man.” If this is true, it means that the Temple of God is still “under construction”; it means that the charismatic gifts are still in operation, since those gifts were given to complete the Temple of God (Ephesians 4:8-16)!
Remember, Garden and Temple are inextricably tied to one another. But, return to the Garden, i.e. return to the Temple, is, as just stated, restoration of the life lost in Adam, i.e. resurrection!
There is a concept found in the OT and New that the Temple would be finalized only when God’s enemies were defeated. (This was true even in ancient pagan cultures). This was the case for instance when God had given Solomon “rest” from his enemies. It was then that he could build the Temple. So, the defeat of God’s enemies and the completion of the Temple go hand in hand. Sound familiar? If not, see Psalms 110 and 1 Corinthians 15:23f.
There is no dichotomy between the establishment of the church as the Temple of God, and final eschatology. The church is not a type or foreshadowing of another, greater Temple to be constructed at some proposed “end of time.” See my book AD 70: A Shadow of the “Real” End? for a complete refutation of the popular claim that the events of AD 70 foreshadow the “real” end of the age. That view has no Biblical credence.
The bottom line is that to admit that the church is the promised Temple is to admit that Edenic Eschatology is being, or will be, fulfilled in the church, the body of Christ. God did not give the promise of the restoration of the Garden Temple, and then give Israel her Temple as some how disconnected from the Edenic Temple promises. The Garden Temple was pictured in the Jerusalem Temple, which foreshadowed the final Temple, made without hands. It is one continuous story of Temple.
Any suggestion of a prolonged, protracted “will be” in regard to the Temple is an overt denial of the NT statements that 1.) The promised Temple was already under construction, through the last days ministry of the Spirit (Ephesians 2), and, 2.) Christ was about to come in the Shechinah Glory cloud to dedicate the Messianic Eternal Temple of God, the True Tabernacle, which God pitched and not man (Matthew 24:29-31; Hebrews 8:1).
We are not waiting for the Temple of God to be with man. The foundation of the eternal temple was laid in the first century, in Christ and the apostles (Ephesians 2:19f). The Temple was under construction during the forty years of the Second Exodus and dedicated at the consummation of the Seventy Weeks of Daniel. This is when the “Most Holy” was anointed at the parousia of Christ in the Shechinah Glory Presence. (I will be speaking on Daniel 9 and the anointing of the Most Holy, at PPW-2013).
God now dwells with man: “The Tabernacle of God is with man!”