The same Hebrew words which we translate as, “Let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them,” could be translated, “Let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell within them” (Exodus 25:8). Had Israel been worthy, no Tabernacle would have been necessary. The same Divine Presence which came to rest in the Tabernacle would have rested within each individual.
Messiah fulfills this passage literally. While He was among us in the flesh, the physical body of Yeshua created a perfect sanctuary for God to dwell among His people. This is why Yeshua spoke of Himself as the Temple of God. He warned, “Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up again” (John 2:19). His body was a spiritual Temple, the holy dwelling place of God: “He was speaking of the temple of His body” (John 2:21).
These words hint toward a connection between the physical body of Yeshua and the holy Temple in Jerusalem. Yeshua’s suffering and death corresponded to the destruction of the Temple. His resurrection corresponds to the rebuilding of the Temple in the Messianic Era. In this regard, the holy Temple and the person of Yeshua share a mystical connection. That which befalls one befalls the other.
Because the body of Messiah corresponds to the Temple, and because His disciples are metaphorically called “His body,” they are also collectively called the Temple of the Holy Spirit. Paul repeatedly symbolized the congregation of believers as the “Temple of God” with the Holy Spirit dwelling within (eg. 1 Corinthians 6:19, 2 Corinthians 6:16).
This does not mean that we are a literal building in which God is to be reverenced and worshipped. It does not mean that we are a geographical location where He has placed His name. As believers, our “temple-ness” does not supplant the legitimacy of the Temple in Jerusalem. Our status as a temple is metaphorical. Nevertheless, the presence of the indwelling Spirit of God within us is no less real than the presence of the Shechinah in the actual Temple. Perhaps this is what the Master alludes to when He says:
An hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. … But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. (John 4:21-23)
In the world to come, there will be no Temple. Messiah Himself will be the Temple in the New Jerusalem: “I saw no temple in it, for the LORD God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (Revelation 21:22).