by Dr. Brad Black
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I have received some questions about the Temple and I answered them and thought that if one person had asked, perhaps more people would want to know, so here are my answers to their questions.
There are actually three temples that have been built. The first one is Salomon’s Temple, built after David (Salomon’s dad) died in the very late 900 B. C. Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, destroyed it around 586 B. C. The building of this temple can be found in 1 Kings 6-7.
The second Temple is often called Zerubbabel’s Temple because he was the head priest who was in charge when the second temple was built. You can see the rebuilding in Ezra. This temple was finished around 516 B. C.
The third temple is known as Herod’s Temple, because King Herod, the one who tried to kill Jesus at his birth, had repaired and updated Zerrubbabel’s Temple. The Jews point this out to Jesus after he cleanses the Temple
John 2:19-21 (King James Version)
19Jesus answered and said unto them, destroy this temple, and in three days, I will raise it up.
20Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?
21But he spake of the temple of his body.
The Romans destroyed this Temple in 70 A. D. This is the Temple that was there when Jesus was crucified.
Now, let us talk about the Temple curtain. The curtain was to separate the Temple into two parts. The first part or “The Holy,” would have the golden lamp stand, table of showbread and alter of incense. The priests would work in this part of the Temple every day, tending the lamp stand that was never to go out and the alter of incense. They also replaced the bread daily.
This should be enough for the first week. There is a lot here to digest. I will continue on next week.
Let’s pick were where we left off last week and look at the area behind the curtain.
Behind the curtain was the Ark of the Covent. This area was called “The Holy of Holies,” and was only entered once a year by the High priest in order to offer blood sacrificed for the sins of his people. This blood was offered in the Holy of Holies because God was sitting between the angels on what was called the Mercy Seat.
Ark of the Covent
The first curtain was made of wood. See below
1 Kings 6:16 (New International Version)
16 He partitioned off twenty cubits at the rear of the temple with cedar boards from floor to ceiling to form within the temple an inner sanctuary, the Most Holy Place.
Now the interesting thing is that the curtain was torn from top to bottom at Jesus death. With the curtain torn, this would allow worshipers to go straight to God in The Holy of Holies because of what Jesus did on the cross. The curtain at the time of the Jesus’ crucifixion was the thickness of the palm of a man’s hand, and so heavy that it took 300 priests to move it. The only thing this can mean is no man could do this, only God could tear it and only God could do it from top to bottom. Not only the Bible says that it was torn from top to bottom, but also Josephus, in his Wars of the Jews, and the Talmud. The Talmud says that the curtain was torn from top to bottom from an earthquake forty years before the destruction of the Temple. I love it when we have extra-Biblical proof of God’s miracles.
Now for the real meat of the question, “Was the Ark of the Covent in the Temple when Jesus was crucified.” As I said earlier, I do not believe it was in the temple at that time. I think that it was lost during the exile. My main reasons are that the Ark was not listed in the in the articles take by Nebuchadnezzar or the items returned to Ezra by the Persian King (see below).
2 Kings 24:13 (King James Version)
13And he carried out thence all the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king's house, and cut in pieces all the vessels of gold which Solomon king of Israel had made in the temple of the LORD, as the LORD had said.
Ezra 1:7-11 (King James Version)
7Also Cyrus the king brought forth the vessels of the house of the LORD, which Nebuchadnezzar had brought forth out of Jerusalem, and had put them in the house of his gods;
8Even those did Cyrus king of Persia bring forth by the hand of Mithredath the treasurer, and numbered them unto Sheshbazzar, the prince of Judah.
9And this is the number of them: thirty chargers of gold, a thousand chargers of silver, nine and twenty knives,
10Thirty basons of gold, silver basons of a second sort four hundred and ten, and other vessels a thousand.
11All the vessels of gold and of silver were five thousand and four hundred. All these did Sheshbazzar bring up with them of the captivity that were brought up from Babylon unto Jerusalem.
This is an agreement from omission, but being that the Ark of the Covent was the most important article of God, I think it would have been mentioned.
This leads to two schools of thought. The first school of thought is that the Babylonians found it and destroyed it; like killing the Jewish people’s God. The other school of thought is that the Jews hid the Ark during the invasion by Babylon, and then when the last few Jews in the land rebelled against Babylon and went to Egypt, they took the Ark with them. You find this in Jeremiah 42 and 43.
This is where Indiana Jones comes in; they take this theory and “Hollywood” it. This however is what I lean toward. In fact, I have an acquaintance, Robert Cornuke, who is called the Indiana Jones of the Bible. You may have seen him on The Discovery Channel or The History Channel as an expert on Biblical archeology. He has found the island in the Nile River that has the remnants of a Jewish temple and utensils for temple sacrifice. Then, on further south, he has found a tribe of Africans that are Jewish and have a compound that they claim has the Ark of the Covent inside. In addition, the High priest is the only one who has seen it. I do not know for sure, but I like the idea
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