This is just a question that has intrigued me and I can't think of a definite answer.

I understand that the presence of God dwelt first in the Tabernacle and then in Solomon's temple in Jerusalem. God promised to dwell with His people as long as they were faithful to Him, but Israel rebelled.

God allowed them to be taken captive by the Babylonians who then destroyed the temple as well. Also, Ezekiel talks about God's presence leaving the temple due to Israel's unfaithfulness.

Israel is eventually restored and the priesthood continues, as well as the temple and sacrificial system. God promises countless times about the full restoration of the temple, obviously pointing forward to Jesus.

So my question: Did God's presence ever return to the temple in post-exile Israel?

If so Was God's presence still dwelling in the temple while Jesus was on Earth?

I'm sorry my Scripture references are lacking, I hope this question makes sense.

  • For what it's worth, there wasn't a "cloud of glory" like when Solomon first built it, or like Moses and the tabernacle. If God was "there", it wasn't nearly the same level of obvious presence. – khaverim May 2 '14 at 20:43
  • Your question is perfectly understandable. The first part of your question is good, the second part could present difficulties in answering but where is the third part? – gideon marx May 3 '14 at 8:56
  • Third part? What do you mean? What specifically is unclear? – Nathan Foss May 3 '14 at 13:18
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    Okay. Now I get it. Nice question. But surely the answer will depend on who you ask. – gideon marx May 7 '14 at 9:03
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    And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves. - Matthew 21:13. Jesus cleansed the temple because He recognised God's presense in it – One Face Apr 12 '16 at 9:24

If I read this passage in the Book of Exodus correctly, the presence of God was not connected to the Temple, but rather to the Mercy seat, which appears to be the top of the Ark of the Covenant.

All Scripture is quoted from the King James translation.

Exodus 25:10 through 22And they shall make an ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof. And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, within and without shalt thou overlay it, and shalt make upon it a crown of gold round about. And thou shalt cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in the four corners thereof; and two rings shall be in the one side of it, and two rings in the other side of it. And thou shalt make staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold. And thou shalt put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, that the ark may be borne with them. The staves shall be in the rings of the ark: they shall not be taken from it. And thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee. And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof. And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat. And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof. And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be. And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee. And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.

Also if I am reading this passage correctly:

1st Kings 8:1 through 10 Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes, the chief of the fathers of the children of Israel, unto king Solomon in Jerusalem, that they might bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of the city of David, which is Zion. And all the men of Israel assembled themselves unto king Solomon at the feast in the month Ethanim, which is the seventh month. And all the elders of Israel came, and the priests took up the ark. And they brought up the ark of the LORD, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and all the holy vessels that were in the tabernacle, even those did the priests and the Levites bring up. And king Solomon, and all the congregation of Israel, that were assembled unto him, were with him before the ark, sacrificing sheep and oxen, that could not be told nor numbered for multitude. And the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the LORD unto his place, into the oracle of the house, to the most holy place, even under the wings of the cherubims. For the cherubims spread forth their two wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubims covered the ark and the staves thereof above. And they drew out the staves, that the ends of the staves were seen out in the holy place before the oracle, and they were not seen without: and there they are unto this day. There was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone, which Moses put there at Horeb, when the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt. And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the LORD,

The Lord's presence in Solomon's Temple began with the Mercy seat upon the Ark of the Covenant being placed in its spot in the Temple, and the exit of the Priests.

As to the question about God being in the Temple during Jesus lifetime the answer is not definitive, but Since that presence appears to be firmly attached to the Ark of the Covenant; and the incidents taking place in the Temple of Baal while the Philistines were in possession of the Ark of the Covenant, seem to validate that; the answer would appear to be no.

The basis for that assumption lies in the fact that the whereabouts of the Ark of the covenant including the Mercy seat, has not been known since the Ravaging of the Temple, when Israel went into exile in Babylon.

At any rate neither the Ark of the covenant nor the Mercy seat were in the Temple when Jesus was alive, and since if the basic idea that Jesus is a part of the triune God held by many Christian denominations is true there would be no need for the voice of God in the Temple since the word of God was living among man in the form of a man. And since Jesus we have the word of God in the form of the Bible.

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    Great insights. But it's actually MORE accurate to say that after Jesus we have the Holy Spirit 1 Cor. 6:19-20 and there's no need for God to dwell in a physical temple. – Nathan Foss May 5 '14 at 13:45
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    @Error404 God does not dwell in temple made with hands. He never dwelt in tabernacle or Solomon's temple, rather a symbol of His presence was in the Holy of Holies - the Shekinah glory. Also Holy Spirit was working with men and residing in the hearts of men in the old testament times too. – One Face Apr 25 '15 at 9:12

2 Chronicles 5:13-14. The Glory of God Fills the Temple:

In unison when the trumpeters and the singers were to make themselves heard with one voice to praise and to glorify the LORD, and when they lifted up their voice accompanied by trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and when they praised the LORD saying,"He indeed is good for His lovingkindness is everlasting," then the house, the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of God. (NASB)

Matthew 23:37-39. Lament over Jerusalem:

"Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. "Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! "For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, 'BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!'" (NASB)

From the scriptural context that Ezekiel declares the Temple is without God, that Jesus found it a den of thieves (Matthew 21:12-13), and from Matthew 23:38, that when Jesus left there was no presence there except when He was there, now gone.

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    Welcome to Christianity.SE. For a quick overview of what this site is about, please take the Site Tour. Thanks also for offering an answer. The quote from Matthew 23 is very much on point. May I suggest that you register an account to take full advantage of what this site has to offer? – Lee Woofenden Jan 17 '16 at 19:12
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    I've edited your answer to improve the formatting. I also added the implied reference on the temple as a den of thieves. What particular passage in Ezekiel are you referring to? – Lee Woofenden Jan 17 '16 at 19:20
  • I assume Ezekiel 10 and 11, which describe the Glory of God departing from the temple. – Paul Chernoch Feb 21 '19 at 16:14

Gods presence was at least symbolically still in the Temple during Jesus time since the curtain ripped in two upon Jesus yielding His Spirit on the Cross.

This is huge and while explained away by many in different ways, its still a mystery in others.

No longer was Gods presence to be housed in a temple or any of the old forms. Now it was to be in the new body that is be transformed to look like the risen Jesus on earth. Those who have died and been born again with Christ in our temples of flesh!

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I agree with the position that God did not indwell the Second Temple with His presence manifested the Second Temple as it was in the First.

Being that there was no cloud of glory associated with the dedication of the second temple, and that the ark of the covenant was long gone, there's no evidence that God indwelt the second temple. Additionally, had God indwelt the second temple, it would have meant that when Jesus, who is God incarnate, entered the temple, God would have been double present there - present twofold.

I disagree with those who say God did indwell the second temple and cite as evidence the temple veil rending in two, claiming that indicates God's departure from the second temple. The counter to this argument or reasoning goes back to Ezekiel 9 & 10, where there is no mention of, or association with the temple veil renting when God clearly departed the temple then.

Rather, taking the temple veil at it's basic purpose, we realize the veil's purpose was not to "hold God in" the holy of holies, but rather to keep man out, lest anyone who enters dies. Even the chief priest, selected once a year by lottery, had much ritual cleansing (ablution) to perform so he would not be killed by entering into God's presence with any uncleanness.

So the temple veil rending upon Jesus' uttering "It is finished" better indicates that

  1. the prescribed system of going through a priest and sacrifice for the symbolic removal of sins is over

  2. that a torn veil now gives all men direct access to the throne.

    Consider that we are a royal priesthood ourselves now (1 Pet 2:9) and thus we no longer need a priest for the removal of our sins. That's been accomplished by Jesus, meaning we now have one mediator also between God and men, not a priest or anyone, but the man Christ Jesus, (1 Tim 2:5) who has risen and is now seated at the right hand of God(to do what?) He also intercedes for us (Rom 8:34). Neither temple, priests nor veil are needed any longer.

    The temple veil being rent in two is like saying "the old way of doing business is over." It would be tantamount today to when a brick & mortar business gets boarded up and the sign says we've now gone online.

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  • Welcome to Christianity.SE. For a quick overview, please take the Site Tour. For more on what this site is about, see: How we are different than other sites. Meanwhile, I hope you'll browse some of the other questions and answers here. – Lee Woofenden Apr 20 '17 at 17:15
  • I have edited your post for a bit of format and to get out of the "wall of text" presentation. Please add the Ezekiel citation from 9 and 10 that supports your point, and edit it again to make sure your meaning was not lost during my edit of the text. – KorvinStarmast Apr 20 '17 at 20:33

Consider God's words to Haggai the prophet (2:7) "Then I will fill this house with glory" says YHWH of the heavenly armies. The context is God admonishing the people for settling in their own houses but leaving His house in ruins. But when God commands them to rebuild His house he promises to fill it with glory. Perhaps this is a figurative future promise but it sure seems attached to the literal building of Zerubbabel's temple.

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When the angel appeared to Zacharias, who executed the priests' office--he burned incense in the Temple of the Lord--the angel appeared on the right side of the altar of incense

I am Gabriel who stands in the Presence of God

Gabriel does not speak of the Holy of Holies or the Ark or Gods' Presence. Also, the Holy Spirit would not be in it when Antiochus burned a pig on the altar of the Lord as did Titus. Further, after ripping it down Hadrian burned his offering to Zeus on the altar of the Lord in the place of the Zeus Temple. He replaced Gods' Temple with the Temple to Zeus and replaced with his statue of his horse on the altar place.

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    what scripture are you citing? – KorvinStarmast Feb 22 '19 at 0:55

God's visible presence as His Glory is the cloud and the brilliant glow that looked like a fire but did not consume. I think it is a spiritual glow interpreted as a physical fire. When Jesus came, he assumed the function of the temple, as per N.T.Wright. God promised His visible return to Zion, and did so when Jesus was baptized. Just as looking like a fire, God's Glory descended "as a dove", a fluttering white brilliance. The onlookers had never seen God's Glory. But it suddenly came to the Temple, Jesus. It came again to all believers on Pentecost, a bright glow settling on believer's heads which was "like a flame", but I would conclude it was God's Glory coming to who now are each temples of the Holy Spirit.

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    What about just before the incarnation? Did God dwell in the Second temple then? – curiousdannii Aug 27 '18 at 1:43

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