At some point in the future, the temple will function as a place where Gentile rulers will bring their tribute offerings to the LORD. The pattern for this is laid out during the reign of Solomon. As background for those who may not completely understand where I’m coming from, the reign of David pictures Messiah’s triumph over his enemies. The reign of peace during Solomon’s years pictures the Messiah’s kingdom established here on earth. In essence, David’s reign symbolizes Armageddon while Solomon’s reign symbolizes the millennium. After the reign of peace was established, the queen of Sheba travels to Jerusalem to offer Solomon tribute offerings. Gold was the standard currency that every nation used, but other offerings were indigenous to her native country. Solomon could not get the spices that she brought from anywhere else in the world.
Now let’s turn to Psalm 72. Here the picture of Solomon’s reign is what sparks the prophecies of the Messianic reign. The vision pictures the perfect King, one day ruling over the entire earth. The admonition in verse 10 is for the kings of the earth to render tribute unto Him. Turning to Isaiah 60:1-7, we see the same type of prophecy with Gentile kings (verse 3) bringing the wealth of the nations (verse 5) in order to make the house of the LORD beautiful (verse 7). This same type of language is used of the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21:24-26. The glory of the nations is brought by the kings into the New Jerusalem, but nothing unclean can enter.
So how does a future temple play into the millennium if the New Jerusalem specifically does not contain a temple? See Revelation 21:22 for this detail. I’m going to turn to the enigmatic Psalm 68 for some help here. This Psalm really gives me problems, well, I guess it’s not really a problem if you don’t understand it. You just don’t understand it. In spite of what I don’t understand, allow me to pluck out verse 29 to show what the future holds.
Because of your temple at Jerusalem
kings shall bear gifts to you.
As much as this psalm gives me fits, I have to concede that some portions of it have not yet been fulfilled. If God’s Word is true, these things will come to pass, including the temple functioning as a house of tribute for the nations. Later in the same psalm, the nations of Egypt and Ethiopia are seen corporately worshiping the God of Israel. Notice how princes, or nobles, travel from Egypt to the temple at Jerusalem. The idea here is that of emissaries which has a strong parallel in Zechariah 14:16-21. This brings up the question, why does God want the money of the Gentile nations brought to the temple at Jerusalem? Remember that Jerusalem will be the capital city of the world. We pay taxes now to sinful government structures, how much more to the King of kings ruling over the kingdom of God here on earth. This economic structure will accomplish great things much like the economic structure of Solomon’s day brought peace to the surrounding nations. Yet some things that are indigenous to the Gentile nations will enhance the very kingdom of God, much like the spices from Sheba enhanced Solomon’s kingdom.
I haven’t really dealt with the contradiction of there being no temple in the New Jerusalem, and the idea that this future temple is at Jerusalem. I can honestly say I don’t completely understand all of this. I have two answers. The first is that the New Jerusalem (as the bride of Christ) functions as the temple of the living God, but there is no temple within the walls of the New Jerusalem patterned after the physical temple. The second idea is that perhaps there is a New Jerusalem, the city from heaven, which descends to the area of Jerusalem, sort of like an old Jerusalem which is described in Isaiah 65:17-25. It would be difficult for me to conceive that inhabitants of the New Jerusalem might someday die, yet there is the very real possibility in Isaiah 65:20 that death is only diminished not completely defeated. So Isaiah 65:17-25 pictures a Jerusalem here on earth where people still die, and this is in the new heavens and new earth; while Revelation 21 pictures a new heavens and new earth with a new, heavenly Jerusalem with saints who will never die. Either way, I believe this is somewhat of mystery which will be revealed at the physical presence of our LORD Jesus Christ here on earth.
This second idea deserves more consideration. The New Jerusalem would be the place from which Jesus and His bride reign. Yet a temple would be present on earth outside of that New Jerusalem that the Messiah would visit on specific occasions. This discussion would not be complete without turning to Ezekiel’s temple described in Ezekiel 40-48. There is an entrance to Ezekiel’s temple that only the prince is allowed to enter, Ezekiel 44:1-4. This prophecy of the prince would have held out hope that the Davidic lineage would one day rule again, and the Levitical system would remain in place. The prince can be seen to be a Messianic title, in some ways intertwining both King and Priest in the same office. Where would the prince be the rest of the time that he is not in the temple? In my view, the prince, the Messiah, will be in the New Jerusalem, making duly appointed appearances to this temple that Ezekiel envisions. In this temple, offerings are made, but not just the blood sacrifices. There are grain offerings that the people are required to give, specifically presented to the prince, Ezekiel 45:16. So here in Ezekiel the temple is seen to be a house of tribute as well. Psalm 68:29 must be fulfilled at a future point in time here on earth.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman