Q. You have mentioned that the temple of Ezekiel is yet to be built. I was trying to understand where the instructions are for the other temples that have already been destroyed? When was Ezekiel written with respect the other destroyed temples? How many temples have been created and were they all copies of each other or are they all different layouts?
A. The first structure God had His people build was the Tabernacle. It was a portable structure intended for use in the desert, but was also used for about 400 years after the Jews arrived in the Promised Land. You can find the directions for building it in Exodus 25-27.
After that, God had them build a permanent structure, which we call the first Temple, in Jerusalem. The description of the first Temple is contained in 2 Chronicles 3-4. It was completed in 959 BC but was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC.
The second Temple was built following the return from the 70 year period of captivity the Jews spent in Babylon. It was dedicated in 516 BC. In 20 BC King Herod begin a massive renovation of the Temple that was still underway when the Romans destroyed it in 70AD. There hasn’t been a Temple since.
The first and second Temples were very similar in their basic layout, but the first was much grander than the second. Both were built on an expanded version of the Tabernacle’s floor plan.
From Rev. 11:1-2 some Christians believe the next Temple will be similar to the first two. They believe it will be built at the beginning of Daniel’s 70th Week but will be made desolate during the Great Tribulation. They believe a fourth Temple will be built after the 2nd Coming following the instructions in Ezekiel 40-42.
Jews don’t accept the idea of four temples because the Bible only gives instructions for three. They believe the Temple Ezekiel described will be the third and final one. In any case Ezekiel’s Temple is much different from the ones that have been built in the past and will be located to the north of the current Temple mount.
Ezekiel was a priest who was called to be a prophet in 593 BC and served in that role for 22 years.