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The Jewish Temple: Did God Want One Built?

In the record of David's preparing for Solomon to build a temple for Yahweh God in Jerusalem, a question has long tickled the back of my mind: Did God really want a temple to be built? Traditionally, both Jews and Christians have taken the answer to be Yes, and many things hang on that, not least the idea that Christians need churches in order to function as disciples of Christ.

That is something of an assumption, which we have collectively made for centuries - nay, millennia! - Yet people today are questioning that assumption. And for good reason.

When I look at the record of David wanting to build a magnificent temple for God, e.g. in II Samuel 7, I am brought up short by God saying "I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling. ... when did I ever say to any of their leaders whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, 'Why have you not built me a house of cedar?'" This reeks of "No, I don't really want a magnificent temple!" God wanted always to be with and among the people, not stuck away in some separated place. Yet David prepared Solomon to build a temple.

Moreover, my experience has always been that, when I bring someone to Christ, they tend to do well spiritually - until they join a church! Then their spirituality tends to flatten out and it loses its edge. Churches - I have been perplexed to find - might not necessarily be God's best will, even though they are universally assumed to be so. One of the ideas that bolster arguments for having churches is the temple that Solomon built.

So I have investigated throughout the Scriptures, and found that it is more likely than not that it was not God's primary or best intention to have a temple built. I was going to write it down here, but instead I will give links to others who write better than I can.

My own belief is that it is more likely than not that the temple was not God's main intention, and yet God used it out of concession and love. My view is probably best summed up by Shawn's conclusion: "If correct, the implications are enormous. It makes me wonder how much of what we personally do in ministry is actually born out of the flesh - with God later blessing it as a concession anyway." So, please read the links above, especially that by Joshua Hopping.

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Created: 29 June 2021 Last updated: