Torah Portion for week 25: Leviticus 6 – 8
Is a third temple needed? There are many controversial subjects in the world today, and without doubt, one of them is the issue of the third temple. While there are many different opinions on whether or not a third temple should be built, there are some who are wasting no time and are making preparations for the construction of a third temple and the reestablishment of the sacred biblical priesthood and temple service with all its rituals. A corner stone for this purpose has already been placed and consecrated by ceremony.
In 1987 a temple institute was founded by Rabbai Yisrael Ariel with the following goal, which I quote from their official website:
“The Temple Institute is dedicated to every aspect of the Holy Temple of Jerusalem, and the central role it fulfilled, and will once again fulfill, in the spiritual wellbeing of both Israel and all the nations of the world. The Temple Institute’s ultimate goal is to see Israel rebuild the Holy Temple on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem, in accord with the Biblical commandments.”
To fulfill the spiritual wellbeing of Israel and the nations?! This is very serious and may explain why so much time, effort, and money has been spent on planning the rebuilding of the third temple. But, wait a moment! This means that the spiritual wellbeing of Israel and the nations has been in a terrible state for almost two thousand years, since the destruction of the temple in 70 C.E. made atonement for sin impossible.
It is interesting that this week’s Torah reading portion continues the very crucial chapters that deal with all the mandatory and free will sacrifices and offerings Israel was commanded to establish. In last week’s portion we saw that these sacrifices were nothing less than revolutionary because they made it possible, for the first time in the history of mankind, for sinful people to receive forgiveness and enter into a right relationship with the Holy God of Israel. In our portion this week, the words “law” or “command” and the phrase “throughout all generations” are repeated numerous times, indicating that the sacrificial service is critical to approach God and that it will be forever. But how can this be since the temple has been out of service for centuries?
In John 2 we find the answer to this crucial issue:
Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken. (John 2:19-22)
Yeshua’s revolutionary statement not only explained the shifting of God’s dwelling from the holy temple to his Son who came as the promised Messiah, but also shows us that God has been true to his Word and commandments by providing Yeshua as the way for atonement ever since his death and until this very day. Sadly, Yeshua has been the best kept Jewish secret for these past two millennia – the religious leaders over the centuries have deprived Israel of her spiritual wellbeing, but now many are coming to see this truth as stated in Hebrews 9:24-26:
For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
Something deep down still convicts people of the need for a temple. Praise God that the temple is alive, and sacrifice for sin is available for us today!