God fulfilled His word to the Jews, returning them to their homeland seventy years after the exile.
Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he sent a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying: “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah.’” Ezra 1: 1 – 2
Upon their return, the Jews began to rebuild Jerusalem, including a new temple; a physical structure not as impressive as the first temple built by Solomon. The second temple’s construction took twenty years, beginning in approximately 536 B.C. Playing a primary role in the construction of this temple was Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel. In fact, the second temple is known as “Zerubbabel’s temple”.
Now in the second year of their coming to the house of God at Jerusalem in the second month, Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak and the rest of their brothers the priests and the Levites, and all who came from the captivity to Jerusalem, began the work and appointed the Levites from twenty years and older to oversee the work of the house of the LORD. Ezra 3: 8
Zerubbabel was no random person. He was of the tribe of Judah, the Messianic tribe. And he was a son of David, the Messianic line. And according to Matthew and Luke, he was an ancestor of Christ.
After the deportation to Babylon: Jeconiah became the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel
was the father of Abihud, Abihud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor. Azor was the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud. Eliud was the father of Eleazar, Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob. Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, by whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah. Matthew 1: 12 – 16
When He began His ministry, Jesus Himself was about thirty years of age, being, as was supposed, the son of Joseph, the son of Eli, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melchi, the son of Jannai, the son of Joseph, the son of Mattathias, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Hesli, the son of Naggai, the son of Maath, the son of Mattathias, the son of Semein, the son of Josech, the son of Joda, the son of Joanan, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel…Luke 3: 23 – 27
So the Lord used an ancestor of Jesus to build the temple in preparation for His first coming. The second temple stood for many years, but was replaced by Herod’s temple, the temple that stood in the time of Christ. This is the temple in which the following occurred:
And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables; and to those who were selling the doves He said, “Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a place of business.” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house will consume Me.” The Jews then said to Him, “What sign do You show us as your authority for doing these things?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” But He was speaking of the temple of His body. So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken. John 2: 15 – 22
In seven years Solomon, an ancestor of Jesus, built the first temple (using many laborers). In about twenty years Zerubbabel, an ancestor of Jesus, built the second temple. It took Herod, an unlawful king of the Jews, forty-six years to build the third temple. It took Jesus of Nazareth three days to raise up the temple of His body; a feat far more impressive, and far more important, than the building of the previous three temples.
Why is it more important and how is it more impressive? For in the death and resurrection of Jesus is the fulfillment of the temple and the temple sacrifice and the priesthood, for He is the priest and the sacrifice and the temple, all in one.
For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever. Now the main point in what has been said is this: we have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a minister in the sanctuary and in the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man. Hebrews 7: 26 – 8: 2