When Jesus declared, “I tell you, something greater than the temple is here,” (Matthew 12:6) and then told a Samaritan woman that he can give her “living water” (John 4:10-14), we are given a major clue that the pre-messianic understanding of God’s temple must be reinterpreted in the light of Jesus’ messianic mission.
The temple occupies a significant place in the witness of Israel’s prophets regarding God’s future eschatological blessing for the nation. This witness points forward to the coming of Jesus. When Jesus connects his mission to this prophetic expectation, we are greatly aided in our understanding of the nature and character of the millennial age as a present reality—not a future hope.
We begin with the Old Testament expectation regarding the temple in Jerusalem at the commencement of the era of “Second Temple” Judaism. Isaiah (2:2-4) and (Micah 4:1-5), both speak of God’s future blessing upon Israel in the last days, depicting it as a time when God’s people will go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the rebuilt and reconsecrated temple, where God’s people will once again renew themselves in the ways of the Lord.
Dr. Kim Riddlebarger is currently visiting professor of systematic theology at Westminster Seminary California. He was senior pastor of Christ Reformed Church in Anaheim from 1995 until his retirement in December 2020. Kim was also a long-time co-host of the popular White Horse Inn, a radio-internet talk show (White Horse Inn Archives).