Do we need the Temple?
By: William J Jackson
Do we need a Temple? In order to answer this question we need to know the purpose of the Temple . The Temple (which first started off as a Tabernacle*) was a Holy place to meet G-d (Exodus 25:8). It also was the place where the leaders and people came together to worship and offer sacrifices (1).
Sacrifices seemed to have been a major component of the Temple. So lets explore this understanding. The word used in the Hebrew that is usually interpreted as sacrifices and offerings is Karbanot. The root of this word means “to draw near” which implies this is an act of drawing nearer to G-d. The Karbanots (Sacrifices) could be for (2):
a. Communing with G-d and becoming closer to Him
b. Expressing thanks to G-d, love or gratitude.
c. Used to cleanse a person of ritual impurity
Not having the Temple would appear to be a huge obstacle for those of us who are Torah centric.
In my earlier walk I assumed the Christian Messiah fulfilled the role of the Temple and that’s why he predicted its destruction in 70 CE (Mark 13:2, Luke 21:6, Matthew 24:2). Why have a Temple if it’s purpose has been replaced? This was one of my sticking points when I was battling with purifying my walk by leaving the NT and moving towards G-d’s word the Tanakh (OT).
Thankfully I found many of my answers in 2 Kings 8 where King Solomon first dedicates the Temple. Here Kings Solomon tells G-d’s people that they can pray towards the Temple and their prays would be heard (2 Kings 8:30). Also Solomon brings up incidences that would cause G-d’s people to be separated from the Temple. Always he gives the same answer; G-d will hear their voice and forgive their sins.
This is echoes again and again throughout the Tanakh (Old Testament):
Psalm 50:23 One who slaughters a confession sacrifice honors Me, and [I will] prepare the way; I will show him the salvation of God.”
Psalm 51:19 (17) The sacrifices of G-d are a broken spirit; O G-d, You will not despise a broken and crushed heart.
Hosea 6:6 For I desire loving-kindness, and not sacrifices, and knowledge of G-d more than burnt offerings.
Isaiah 1:11 (G-d) “Of what use are your many sacrifices to Me? says the Lord. I am sated with the burnt-offerings of rams and the fat of fattened cattle; and the blood of bulls and sheep and hegoats I do not want” (Isaiah then goes on to verse 20 explaining what G-d truly wants from us).
And let us not forget the Prophet Jonah:
Jonah spoke on G-d’s behalf to Nineveh. His message was to repent from sin and change their ways. Nineveh did not go to the Temple and offer sacrifice, they repented as G-d said and were forgiven (Jonah 3:5-10).
I offer as a final point both Noah and Abraham. These men were considered righteous (Genesis 6:9, 15:6), something G-d wants us to strive towards. What did these two men possess that gave them this status, it wasn’t a Temple. It was being in Commune and adhering to the will of G-d.
(1) What is the Tabernacle of Moses?, The Tabernacle Place http://the-tabernacle-place.com/articles/what_is_the_tabernacle
(2) Jewish Practices & Rituals: Sacrifices and Offerings (Karbanot), Jewish Virtual Library http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/qorbanot.html
* Refer to the article posted 23 February 2015 titled: The Tabernacle becoming a Temple.