Much of the book of Zechariah has to do with the coming reign of Christ on the earth. In the New Jerusalem there will be the temple of God. But I’m thinking we should not think of it as a temple similar to what the Israelites had in the Old Testament. Zechariah 6:12-13 reads, “And say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Behold, the man whose name is the Branch: for he shall branch out from his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord. It is he who shall build the temple of the Lord and shall bear royal honor, and shall sit and rule on his throne.” It was in Matthew 16:18, that Jesus made it clear that “he” would be the builder as Zechariah said. It reads, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Now, i’m pretty confident that the old testament phrase the “Temple of the Lord” is taken over by the New Testament writes to speak of a spiritual structure consisting of all believers in Jesus. It won’t be just a Jewish temple. It will contain all believers alike. Paul says this in Ephesians 2:19-22, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”

Notice that the Zechariah passage calls the builder “The Branch.” It’s a mixing of metaphors I know but that’s not bad grammar in this case. It’s intentional. Jesus is going to be the fulfillment of both images. He’s the builder and he’s the Branch. Thus, the two figures of speech both point to Jesus. The agricultural imagery can be confusing at times because when Jesus speaks of it, he calls his followers the “branches.” In John 15:4-5 he says, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches.” Jesus is the “root” of Jesse as well as Isaiah says and Paul quotes in Romans 15:12, “And again Isaiah says, ‘The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.” The root of Jesse, the main branch from the house of David, will grow naturally as it spreads across the earth. But the product is seen as the “abiding place” of God. The builder then constructs the temple consisting of human branches that are referred to as stones. There is no doubt that it’s the Lord Jesus, himself, who is building his house! He is building his holy temple out of spiritual stones that are imperfect but he makes them perfect. He promised a greater Builder and a greater Glory, One who would far surpass in workmanship any of the structures erected by man. Living stones cut from the quarries of human nature and polished to excellence and perfection by the Spirit of God were to be built by Him into a holy temple in the Lord. The temple Christ builds is constructed from perfected lives, every stone bearing evidence of the character and nature of the Builder Himself. Both images are appropriate.

The Psalmist, David who long to build a temple for God but was denied that privilege says in Psalm 127:1, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” But the building of the “dwelling place” (Temple!) of God was not to be out of stone stones! He would use living stones and that’s what Peter says in 1 Peter 2:4-5, “As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” Rolls concludes, “The temple Christ builds is constructed from perfected lives, every stone bearing evidence of the character and nature of the Builder Himself. The inter-relationship of redemption is to be centered in eternal fellowship. The dedication of this temple when completed will mark the brightest and most blessed day that ever dawned; for it ushers in a reconstituted kingdom (Zechariah 6:13), a reconfirmed victory (14:4) and a regenerated world (14:9). Then we shall rightly adore the Builder for His wisdom, will and work, while angels wonder and worship (Ephesians 3:10).”1

1 Charles J. Rolls, The Indescribable Christ: Names and Titles of Jesus Christ: A-G (Loizeaux Brothers, 1984).