The first thing that God commanded Israel once the covenant had been consummated was:
“And let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them,.. (Exodus 25:8)
Later He declared that He had brought Israel out of Egypt for this purpose (Exodus 29:45-46). Moses was given the specifications for God’s house. A free-will offering was taken to assemble the construction materials and Moses chose skilled workers to construct it. Finally, after several months of work, the house was completed. It was erected and dedicated on the first day of the first month of the second year of Israel’s journey. When it was dedicated, God’s Glory filled the tabernacle.
“Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.” (Exodus 40:34-35)
Approximately 480 years later, King Solomon built the First Temple in Jerusalem. King David received the specifications for this Temple and assembled the construction materials. Solomon was the construction engineer. After completed and dedicated, God’s Glory filled the First Temple.
“Now when Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the house. The priests could not enter into the house of the Lord because the glory of the Lord filled the Lord’s house. All the sons of Israel, seeing the fire come down and the glory of the Lord upon the house, bowed down on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave praise to the Lord, saying, “Truly He is good, truly His lovingkindness is everlasting.” (2 Chronicles 7:1-3)
Eventually, God’s people were judged for their unfaithfulness and were taken into exile. The king was deposed, the people dispersed and the First Temple destroyed. Later, a remnant of the people returned to Jerusalem and built the Second Temple. There is no indication that God’s glory filled the Second Temple which was itself destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD/CE. Because the Second Temple was not inhabited by God, I refer to it as a Jewish shrine. It was built as a result of God’s command (See Haggai and Zechariah) but God never inhabited it.
In the New Testament, entities like the Tabernacle and the Priesthood are seen as “shadows” of heavenly things.
“..who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, just as Moses was warned by God when he was about to erect the tabernacle; for, “SEE,” He says, “THAT YOU MAKE all things ACCORDING TO THE PATTERN WHICH WAS SHOWN YOU ON THE MOUNTAIN,…” (Hebrews 8:5) (Emphasis by the NAS Bible)
It is evident that Jesus and the early Church saw themselves as a Temple for God. Jesus proclaimed this (John 2:19-21). Paul set forth the same concept (Ephesians 2:19-22). Peter declared the same thing (I Peter 2:4-5). John described the same vision (Revelation 3:12). They saw themselves as the continuation of the Temple pattern. As opposed to a temple made of stone, wood and precious metals, they saw themselves as a “living temple” being built for God. Indeed, Messiah Jesus is building a temple for God’s indwelling (2Samuel 7:13) in accordance to the promise made by God to King David.
Institutional Christianity has almost totally lost track of this truth. The question is asked, “If Jesus is building a temple for God, when did the glory of the Lord fill it in a manner similar to that of the Tabernacle and the First Temple? In order to answer this question, we must take into account events that have already happened and those which remain to be fulfilled. The first step taken was when the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus at His baptism (Luke 3:21). The second step was accomplished on the day of Pentecost when the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4). They became “living stones” as they were filled with the Holy Spirit. Since that time a host of other believers have been made into “living stones” by the same process. Yet, the whole building has not yet been assembled. Jesus declared that when He returns, He will come “on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:29-31). His arrival will be accompanied by angels sounding the “Great Trumpet”. At the sounding of the “Great Trumpet” or “Last Trumpet”, believers will be changed into His likeness (1 Corinthians 15:51-52) and gathered from the four winds to Jerusalem. The “Living Temple” will be assembled and filled with the Glory of God as Jesus descends upon it. Hence, the “Living Temple” will have been built and God will have indwelled it.
We are living in the age when God is gathering the people of Israel back to their land. At some point in this process, God will gather in also the “Living Temple”. At that time the words of Jeremiah the prophet will be fulfilled;
“It shall be in those days when you are multiplied and increased in the land, declares the Lord, “they will no longer say, “The ark of the covenant of the Lord.” And it will not come to mind, nor will they remember it, nor will they miss it, nor will it be made again. “At that time they will call Jerusalem “The Throne of the Lord,” and all the nations will be gathered to it, to Jerusalem, for the name of the Lord; nor will they walk anymore after the stubbornness of their evil heart.” In those days the house of Judah will walk with the house of Israel, and they will come together from the land of the north to the land that I gave your fathers as an inheritance.” (Jeremiah 3:16-18)
“They” said that God would never gather in the people of Israel to their land. “They” were wrong! “They” say that God will never gather His church into one place at the climax of the age to form a great “Living Temple” in Jerusalem. I say “they” are wrong again. What do you say?