(Read Part 1)

The distinctly dispensational examination of the chronology of the temples in Jerusalem draws attention to the dramatic contrast between living under the Mosaic Law during the First and Second Temple periods, the gospel of the grace of God during the current church age and the renewed temple worship scenarios during the future seven-year tribulation period as well as the 1,000-year millennial kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. This entry examines the devastating issues that occurred under the previous dispensation during the First Temple period, and the contrast with how God now deals with His people under the current dispensation.

Devastating Denial
God provided His protection and provision for His chosen Jewish people from their inception under the patriarch Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3). Despite God’s overwhelming love and care for His people, they chose during the First Temple period (960 B.C.—586 B.C.) to reject God’s commandments that required strict adherence to the land Sabbaths. Every seventh year God required the Jewish people to rest the land for one year. In addition, God declared every 50th year a land Sabbath, forbidding the planting of the crops (cf. Ex. 23:10-11; Lev. 25:1-6, 20-22; Deut. 15:1-3; 31:10-13; 2 Chron. 36:21).[i] The Jewish people had to exercise faith in God that He would provide sufficient crops to cover the Sabbath year and the period after the Sabbath year before they once again experienced a harvest. The Jewish people failed to place their belief in the God who had always provided for them, and instead denied their Lord by planting crops during the Sabbath year, thereby demonstrating their lack of faith.

Devastating Departure
Unlike the present dispensation where the Holy Spirit dwells in the bodies of true believers in Jesus Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 3:16-17; 6:19), God chose, during the First Temple period, to have His Shekinah glory (from the Hebrew verb shakan, meaning “to dwell”) in the Holy of Holies (2 Chron. 7:1-3).[ii] The glory of the Lord consistently dwelt among His chosen people of Israel in the temple. However, based on the demonstrated lack of belief by the Jewish people in the living God, His glory departed the First Temple (Ezek. 10:4-18). The devastating departure of the shekinah presence of God marked the impending end of the First Temple. Scripture clearly states that God’s glory will not return to the Temple Mount and enter a yet future eschatological temple until after the rapture of the church age saints (cf. 1 Thess. 4:13-18; 1 Cor. 15:50-54), the seven-year tribulation period (cf. Dan. 9:27) and the subsequent physical return of the Lord Jesus Christ to earth to set up His theocratic Millennial Temple (cf. Ezek. 43:2-7; Rev. 19:11-16 ; 20:1-7).

Devastating Destruction and Diaspora
God warned the Jewish people that failure to obey His commandments would result in punishment, including the destruction of the temple (cf. Deut. 29:24-28; 1 Kings 9:6-9). Shortly after the departure of God’s glory from the First Temple, the Babylonians, under the leadership of King Nebuchadnezzar, plundered the city of Jerusalem during three invasions. The invasions occurred in 605, 597 and 586 B.C.[iii]

Schmidt chart 3-3-16

(See footnote [iv].)

God removed the Jewish people from the Promised Land of Israel strictly based on their disobedience to serve the Lord and follow His commandments. God promised that disobedience would result in severe judgment, and God made good on His promise. The deportations resulted in thousands of Jews being taken in captivity to Babylon (Jer. 52:28-30; 2 Kings 24:14-16), including Daniel and his three companions Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah during the first deportation (Dan. 1:6) and the prophet Ezekiel during the second deportation (Ezek. 1:1-2; 8:1). The Babylonians utterly plundered and destroyed the First Temple during the final invasion.

Dispensational Doctrine
The First Temple period, and the devastating results, emphasizes the distinctively different pattern that God used when dealing with His people under the dispensation of law as contrasted with the current dispensation of grace, or the church age. Failure by the Jewish people to follow rigorously the commandments of God resulted in a catastrophic national judgment. For the past nearly 2,000 years, God allowed the body of Christ to exist with the continuous indwelling of the Holy Spirit in each true believer in Jesus Christ (cf. 1 Cor.12:13; Eph. 4:30). Based on the love of Jesus Christ, and our extreme gratitude for His daily provisions, each Christian should be compelled to tell others the greatest news ever given to humanity—”that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,” a distinctly dispensational truth (1 Tim. 1:15; cf. 2 Cor. 5:14). Scripture further charges every Christian to serve as God’s ambassadors in lovingly and vigorously sharing the gospel of Christ (cf. 2 Cor. 5:20).

Here we stand; we cannot, and must not, be moved from this distinctive dispensational doctrine.

(To be continued)

Dr. Richard Schmidt is the founder of Prophecy Focus Ministries, having previously served as a pastor and church planter. His love for the prophetic Scriptures resulted in writing a doctoral dissertation on a dispensational perspective on the mystery church age existing between the 69th and 70th weeks of Daniel. Dr. Schmidt offers seminars on a variety of prophetic topics to local churches and conferences. We are very excited to involve him as a contributing author to Dispensational Publishing House.

Copyright © 2016 by Dr. Richard Schmidt. Used by permission of the author.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®.
Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

[i] Harold W. Hoehner, “Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ Part VI: Daniel’s Seventy Weeks and New Testament Chronology,” BSac 132 (January 1975): 48.

[ii] Randall Price, The Temple and Bible Prophecy (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2005), p. 37.

[iii] Ibid., 72.

[iv] This chart is adapted from T.S. Potwin, “The Composition and Date of Deuteronomy,” BSac 51 (January 1894): 17-18. This reference notes the land Sabbaths were missed at least 490 years, and potentially longer (cf. 2 Chron 36:21).