“This is what King Cyrus of Persia says: “The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth. He has appointed me to build him a Temple at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Any of you who are the LORD’s people may go there for this task. And may the LORD your God be with you!”
2 Chronicles 36:23 NLT
“Look! I am sending my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. Then the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to his Temple. The messenger of the covenant, whom you look for so eagerly, is surely coming,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. Malachi 3:1 NLT
Not only is the Temple prominent in Exodus and 1 Kings, it continues to appear in 2 Kings and the books of Chronicles. In 2 Kings it appears again and again as being renovated after it had been neglected as a result of apostasy. Joash renovates it; Hezekiah renovates it; Josiah renovates it. What this says is that when the heart grows cold, the temple deteriorates.
The worst of all of these was under Josiah’s grandfather, Manasseh. 2 Kings 21:3-9 tells the sad story of his bringing pagan worship right into the temple. But in some ways, sadder still, after Josiah had cleaned it all out, Josiah’s sons, as reported in Ezekiel, brought it all back. As a result, a large part of the last chapter of 2 Kings is given over to a report of the destruction of the Temple even to the extent of repeating some of the same descriptions of chapter 5 and 6, but now in destruction rather than construction.
1 and 2 Chronicles look at the history of the Israelite kingdoms from the perspective of a king’s attitude toward the Temple and Temple worship. The historians, writing after the return from exile, are saying that it was not the kingdom that built the temple, but the other way around. Thus, if Judah after the exile no longer had a kingdom, they could have what was foundational to the kingdom, the presence of God in his Temple. It is thus no accident at all that the last verse of 2 Chronicles, the verse that ends the Hebrew canon, reports the command of Cyrus, the Persian emperor, for the rebuilding of the temple. Neither is it an accident that Malachi, the last book in the Greek (and English) canon speaks of the Lord suddenly coming to his Temple (Mal 3:1).
What is the Old Testament about? It is about God’s desire to dwell in the midst of his people!