(1) In the first year of the reign of Cyrus, which was the seventieth from the day that our people were removed out of their own land into Babylon, God commiserated the captivity and calamity of these poor people, according as he had foretold to them by Jeremiah the prophet, before the destruction of the city, (2) that after they has served Nebuchadnezzar and his posterity, and after they had undergone that servitude seventy years, he would restore them again to the land of their fathers, and they should build their temple, and enjoy their ancient prosperity; and these things God did afford them; (3) for he stirred up the mind of Cyrus, and made him write this throughout all Asia: “Thus saith Cyrus the King:—Since God Almighty hath appointed me to be king of the habitable earth, I believe that he is that God which the nation of the Israelites worship; (4) for indeed he foretold my name by the prophets; and that I should build him a house at Jerusalem, in the country of Judea.” 2. (5) This was known to Cyrus by his reading the book which Isaiah left behind him of his prophecies; for this prophet said that God had spoken thus to him in a secret vision: “My will is, that Cyrus, whom I have appointed to be king over many and great nations, send back my people to their own land, and build my temple.” (6) This was foretold by Isaiah one hundred and forty years before the temple was demolished. Accordingly, when Cyrus read this, and admired the divine power, an earnest desire and ambition seized upon him to fulfill what was so written; so he called for the most eminent Jews that were in Babylon, and said to them, that he gave them leave to go back to their own country, and to rebuild their city Jerusalem, and the temple of God, (7) for that he would be their assistant, and that he would write to the rulers and governors that were in the neighborhood of their country of Judea, that they should contribute to them gold and silver for the building of the temple, and, beside that, beasts for their sacrifices. 3. (8) When Cyrus had said this to the Israelites, the rulers of the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin, with the Levites and priests, went in haste to Jerusalem, yet did many of them stay at Babylon, as not willing to leave their possessions; (9) and when they were come thither, all the king’s friends assisted them, and brought in, for the building of the temple, some gold, and some silver, and some a great many cattle and horses. So they performed their vows to God, and offered the sacrifices that had been accustomed of old time; I mean this upon the rebuilding of their city, and the revival of the ancient practices relating to their worship. (10) Cyrus also sent back to them the vessels of God which king Nebuchadnezzar had pillaged out of the temple, and carried to Babylon.1The destruction of Solomon’s Temple and the subsequent building of the Second Temple did not require a purification ceremony, as was done later following the subsequent defilement of Antiochus IV (Epiphanes). “Foreigners who enter the Temple generally bring about only desecration, not defilement, and for this reason the Second Temple could be rebuilt after its desecration and destruction by the Babylonians without requiring a purification ceremony (Ezra 3:2-13). However, the Second Temple later required purification (channukah, ‘dedication’) because an apostate Israelite priest sacrificed an unclean animal (a sow) on the altar (under orders of the Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes) and thereby brought defilement. In addition, the presence of idols or idolatrous practices is an ‘abomination’ (shiqqutz) that brings both desecration and defilement to the Temple and the Land, which has harbored such abominations.”2 Sacrifice was resumed at the site of the Second Temple while construction was in progress:
Temple sacrifices were renewed on the first day of the month of Tishri 538 B.C.E. at a festival known as the Feast of Trumpets. . . Seven months later, work began on building the Second Temple itself, using cedarwood ordered from Lebanon.} . . . The king’s treasury even helped to finance the cost of the rebuilding of the ruined Temple, which was finally completed on the 3rd of Adar (February-March) 515 B.C.E.3After the Jews rebuilt the Temple, there is no indication that God’s presence ever dwelt there as it had in the Tabernacle or Solomon’s Temple. God’s presence would eventually come to the Second Temple (see below), but in a form which the Jews would fail to recognize (John 1:14).
Since these verses [Eze. 43:1-7] on the return and restoration of God’s glory to the new Temple are one of the strongest evidences for the eschatological interpretation of chapters 40-48, it is important to give closer attention to this event. Nowhere in Scripture nor in extrabiblical Jewish literature is it stated that the divine presence filled the Second Temple as it did the Tabernacle (Ex. 40:34-35) and the First Temple (1K. 8:10-11; 2Chr. 5:13-14; 2Chr. 7:13). Rather, Jewish sources made a point of its absence (see Tosefta Yom Tov) and relegated such a hope to the eschatological period known as ‘the period of the restoration of all things’ (Acts 3:21).4During the Second Temple period, there was a great deal of political upheaval, both before and after the birth of Christ. Perhaps the two most significant events involving the Second Temple prior to the birth of Jesus were the defilement of the Temple at the time of Antiochus IV (Epiphanes) and the entry into the Holy of Holies years later by Pompey of Rome. The first event was predicted by Daniel and serves as a model—which Jesus pointed to (Mat. 24:15)—of the future desolation by Antichrist:
Antiochus further desecrated the Temple by sacrificing an unclean animal (a pig) on the Temple altar and by erecting a statue of Zeus Olympians in the Holy of Holies in 168 B.C. This action had been predicted by the prophet Daniel (Dan. 8:23-25+; Dan. 11:21-35+) and served as a partial fulfillment of the type of desecration the Temple would one day suffer under the Antichrist (Dan. 7:24-26+; Dan. 9:24-27+; Dan. 11:36-45+).5This grievous event precipitated the Hasmonean Revolt and the rededication of the Temple, which came to be celebrated as Hanukkah, also mentioned in John’s gospel (John 10:22):6 “On the twenty-fifth day of the month of Kislev—then October 16, for the Hebrew lunar calendar had not been intercalated since 167 B.C.E.—in the year 164 B.C.E., the Jews celebrated the rededication of the temple sacrificial service.”7 Thereafter, Judea enjoyed a period of independence, albeit a politically turbulent one. This came to an end in 63 B.C. with the triumphal entrance of Roman general Pompey into Jerusalem. It appears that the priests were prepared for his arrival for the Temple articles had been removed:
Not only did [Pompey] enter the Holy Place, but he also tore away its veil of separation and marched into the Holy of Holies itself. A record of the event was preserved by the Roman historian Tacitus: ‘By right of conquest he entered their Temple. It is a fact well known, that he found no image, no statue, no symbolical representation of the Deity: the whole presented a naked dome; the sanctuary was unadorned and simple.’8After Herod was proclaimed King of Judea by the Roman Senate (40 B.C.), he returned to the “Roman Palestine” and began to reconquer the country while liquidating the Hasmonean dynasty. During this period, he began a project to rebuild the Second Temple. “Herod began rebuilding the Temple in 19 B.C., and the work was dedicated ten years later, although detail work continued on it for the next 75 years.”9 It was the rebuilt Second Temple, “Herod’s Temple,” to which the glory of the Lord would return.During the ministry of Jesus, He recognized the Second Temple as being the “Father’s house” (Luke 2:49; John 2:16). It was in the days of Jesus that the glory of the Lord (John 1:14) returned to His Temple (Mat. 12:6; 21:23), yet once again sin resulted in the departure of the glory—as Jesus left the Temple for the Mount of Olives, retracing the steps of the departure of the glory in Ezekiel’s day (Mat. 23:38-39; Mat. 24:3; Luke 13:35). Although Jesus had previously indicated the Temple was the house of the Father (Luke 2:49; John 2:16), in His final departure from the Temple He referred to it as “your house,” indicating it was being left desolate (Mat. 23:38)—an indication that it would be destroyed (Mat. 24:2).10 At the crucifixion, when the Lamb of God (Isa. 53:7; John 1:29; 1Pe. 1:19; Rev. 5:6+) was offered on the cross, God created a new and living way for man to approach Him. See Temple of the Believer. Yet the Temple remained standing with sacrifices continuing to be offered for almost another four decades: “On August 6 [70 A.D.] the daily sacrifice ceased in the temple. It had been offered every morning for more than five hundred years save for the period of the Syrian persecution when an abomination had occupied the Holy of Holies.”11 Price relates several historical indicators of divine disfavor during the period following the crucifixion of Messiah Jesus and the subsequent destruction of the Temple at the hands of Rome:
Josephus (Jewish Wars 6:293-96) noted that at the time of the Passover c. A.D. 66, as the Roman siege was about to begin, the huge Nicanor gate that secured the inner court of the Eastern (Shushan) Gate was observed at the sixth hour to open of its own accord. This event was ultimately interpreted negatively as evidence of divine displeasure. . .This interpretation is also given in a story told in the Babylonian Talmud (Yoma 39b), along with another concerning the Temple service, which reflected the problem of divine favor: “Our Rabbis taught: During the last forty years before the destruction of the Temple the lot ‘for the Lord’ did not come up in the right hand; nor did the crimson-colored string [suspended in the Temple to show the acceptance of the pascal sacrifice] become white; nor did the western-most light shine; and the doors of the Temple would open by themselves, until R. Yohanon b. [ben] Zakkai rebuked them, saying: ‘Temple, Temple why will you yourself be the alarmer? I know about you that you will be destroyed, for Zechariah b. [ben] Ido has already prophesied concerning you: “Open your door, O” Lebanon, that the fire may devour your cedars’ ”12
1 Flavius Josephus, The Complete Works of Josephus (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1981), s.v. “Antiquities X, xi 7 - XI, i 3.”
2 Randall Price, The Coming Last Days Temple (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1999), 495.
3 Martin Gilbert, The Illustrated Atlas of Jewish Civilization (New York, NY: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1990), 32.
4 Price, The Coming Last Days Temple, 526.
5 Ibid., 75.
6 “Dedication” translates the Aramaic word hanukkah.
7 Chaim Potok, Wanderings (New York, NY: Ballantine Books, 1978), 248.
8 Price, The Coming Last Days Temple, 76.
9 Thomas Ice and Randall Price, Ready to Rebuild (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1992), 65.
10 “But the nation had rejected Him; and as He leaves this temple, it is no longer named “my house” (Mat. 21:13) but ‘your house’ (Mat. 23:38). And by reason of His rejection and withdrawal, Israel’s house is left ‘desolate.’ ”—Alva J. McClain, The Greatness Of The Kingdom (Winona Lake, IN: BMH Books, 1959), 361.
11 Potok, Wanderings, 285.
12 Price, The Coming Last Days Temple, 82.