The second temple.
*Zerubbabel’s temple replaced the destroyed temple of Solomon. However, this second temple was smaller and not as grand, lacking the wealth and magnificence given to King Solomon by God. By the time Zerubbabel was tasked with rebuilding Jerusalem, the Ark of the Covenant had been lost. Also, God did not repeat the miracle of lighting the altar with fire from heaven. Even so, Haggai prophesied that the second temple would one day have a magnificence to outshine the glory of the first (Haggai 2:3-9). Haggai’s prophecy was fulfilled five hundred years later when Jesus Christ entered the temple, first as a baby to be presented to the Lord (Luke 2:22); then at age 12 when Jesus was found sitting with rabbis in the temple listening and asking questions (Luke 2:46), and again when Jesus cleansed the temple in anger seeing that the moneychangers had made His house of worship “a den of thieves,” (Luke 19:45). Zerubbabel’s temple was not as outwardly impressive as Solomon’s, but it had a greater glory: the Messiah Himself walked the courts of the temple that Zerubbabel built. (Paraphrased)
Zechariah lived during Zerubbabel’s rebuilding of the temple. Zechariah’s name means, Yahweh Remembers which is fitting as he was tasked with speaking these words of encouragement to Israel, “Return to Me,’ says the Lord of hosts, “and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts. Do not be like your fathers, to whom the former prophets preached, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts: Turn now from your evil ways and your evil deeds.’ But they did not hear nor heed Me, says the Lord.'” (Zechariah 1:3).
God living among them; what a blessed hope to the remnant of Israel. Zephaniah, another prophet, had said 30 years earlier that the people would sing, and that God would sing over them. “In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: ‘Do not fear; Zion, let not your hands be weak. The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.'” (Zephaniah 3:16, 17.)
When King Herod ruled, he refurbished the second temple, beautifying and adding structures so that by the time Jesus Christ walked the courts of the temple, the structure was once again grand. Yet, when He came to King Herod’s magnificenct temple in Jerusalem, Jesus found that most of God’s religious leaders dwelling, worhsiping, and teaching in the temple were evil and had turned away from spiritual truth and devotion to God. Seeing this, Jesus the Messiah, wept over Jerusalem, saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you…” (Luke 19:41). Seventy years later, King Herod’s temple was completely destroyed. To this day, no other temple in Jerusalem has been raised in which to worship God.
During and after COVID, large numbers of modern day churches were closed and many of us had no place to corporately worship God. The ekklesia (church) found creative ways to get together, including staying in their cars like at a drive-in movie, or viewing live church services online and chatting by text (even during the sermon, to my dismay), or simply watching the televangelists and Christian talk shows and critiquing them by phone with close friends. I wondered what God was doing then, and even now when churches are still struggling to regain membership.
Are we being prepared for the end times that is described by the words of Jesus in Matthew 24? And have we been forced out of our comfort zones by God to better meet people where they live – to offer them hope in despair and the Gospel of salvation? This burden to spread the Gospel may well be igniting the holy fire forging the reconstruction of what we call ‘the Church.’ A church not built with hands, “for do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you,” I Corinthians 3:16. Christ lives in us and is working through us, as he is building us up through His Holy Spirit. Worship is louder than ever because we have learned to shout and sing outside of the sanctuary walls. Praise Jesus Christ with all your heart and be expectant in this movement of God!
Dear Lord Jesus, we should not forsake the gathering together to worship you, to support each other, and to combine our strengths for the benefit of others. Yet, we should not depend on the structures, the programs, and the few who lead in our churches. Show each of us where You are leading, teach us what to pray and say, and let us not miss an opportunity to spread the Gospel to those near and far. Thank you for dwelling in our hearts and showing us mercy and grace each day. Amen.
*”What was Zerubbabel’s temple/the second temple?” GotQuestions.org. https://www.gotquestions.org/
All Scripture quoted from The Nelson Study Bible, NKJV. Trinity Fellowship Church 25th Anniversary Commemorative Edition, circa 2003.