Why Must There be a Third Temple?

 

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Model of the Proposed Third Temple in Jerusalem

 

President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has sparked much talk of the third temple. The people of Israel have already shown great support for a new temple; now the excitement for this is even stronger than before in light of President Trump’s announcements.

Is this renewed anticipation in itself prophetic? Yes it is. Scripture tells us there will be such a temple at least by the midpoint of the coming tribulation. As such, the indicators pointing to its construction tell us that this time is getting closer.

We will start with the prophecy and then explain what it means.

The Prophecy

In Matthew 24 Jesus said this about an event that will take place during the tribulation, “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place . . .” (v. 15). Here Jesus refers to another prophecy where Daniel tells us that the antichrist will put an end to sacrifices at the temple for the second half of the seventieth week, or the time of tribulation (Dan. 9:27).

Revelation 11:2 records the instructions the apostle John received to measure the temple during the time of the tribulation. It’s curious that the voice tells him not to measure to outer courts of the temple because “it has been given to the Gentiles.” This fits perfectly with the proposed placement of the temple on the temple mount with the Al-Aqsa Mosque currently occupying the place where the outer courts would be.

Based on these prophecies, the Jews will build their third temple before the half-way point of the seven year tribulation. This will happen to fulfill the prophecy of Jesus regarding the antichrist’s desolation of the temple.

Has Jesus’ Prophecy Already Happened?

Some believe the prophecies of Matthew 24 happened in 70 AD when Titus and the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the temple. They claim this event fulfilled Jesus’ prediction regarding the “abomination of desolation” (v. 15) regarding the temple as well as His second coming, which they believe also happened at that time.

However, this does not take into account the writing of five books of the Bible after 70 AD that do not mention anything about the Lord’s return. The book of Revelation, written in about 95 AD, describes in detail the Lord’s return and the tribulation as future events. This date comes primarily from Irenaeus, who grew up in the church at Smyrna and was mentored in the faith by a disciple of the Apostle John. This timeframe is also confirmed by many internal evidences in Jesus’ messages to the churches in chapters 2-3.

In addition, both the apostle Paul and John refer to Jesus killing the antichrist when He returns (2 Thess. 2:8; Rev. 19:20). Titus, the Roman general, not only survived destroying the temple, he eventually became emperor over Rome.

There is no mention in history or in church history for that matter of Jesus’ return happening in the first century AD.  How could this happen without reference to in the first few centuries of the church? It’s impossible. When Jesus returns to earth, it is something the entire world will witness (Rev. 1:7).

The Preparation for the Third Temple

If the tribulation were to start today, could Israel finish the huge task of constructing the temple in three and a half years? Yes. This is truer today than a decade ago because of all the work that a group in Israel has already done in preparation for its construction.

The Temple Institute spent the last thirty years researching all the many facets of the temple. Consider a few of their preparations:

  • They spent $100K on the architectural drawings for the temple; one can even take a virtual tour of the temple design at the Temple Institute website.
  • They started a school to train Levites to serve as priests in the new temple.
  • They located the perfect red heifer for the purification sacrifice.
  • They have constructed several of the furnishings for the temple including the altar.
  • After years of research and finding the proper dyes, they have prepared the required garments for the priests and high priest.

A newly constituted Sanhedrin has also appointed a high priest to serve in the new temple. The picture at the top of the post shows him offering a sacrifice on the streets of Jerusalem.

In addition, the transportation department within the government of Israel recently announced it is planning the infrastructure to deal with the large crowds they expect will be coming to the newly constructed temple.

The Significance

What does this mean in terms of the nearness of the tribulation? It signifies that everything is ready for the building of the third temple as never before in history.

Many believe that the building of the temple will come about as the result of a peace treaty with Israel, perhaps the one initiated by the antichrist. If the covenant were to grant Israel permission to build its temple, t’s a reasonable assumption it could be ready within three and a half years. The Temple Institute recently boasted that once they have the necessary access to the temple mount, they could begin offering sacrifices on the Temple Mount within a matter of weeks.

The early church father Irenaeus wrote about the antichrist defiling a future temple in Jerusalem.  In his book Against Heresies, written about 180 AD, he wrote, “But when this Antichrist shall have devastated all things in this world, he will reign for three years and six months, and sit in the temple at Jerusalem.” Isaac Newton, after studying the books of Daniel and Revelation, came to the belief that God would restore Israel as a nation someday and that the antichrist would defile their temple after that.

We now see prophecy coming to life before our eyes. If after all these years we see so much progress toward the building of the temple, can the tribulation be very far away?

And if that is getting ever closer, how much more so Jesus’s return for us!

Temple Update, Part Two

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The newly selected High Priest for the future temple offers a barley sacrifice on the streets of Jerusalem.

This time the story jumped out at me; I did not initially overlook it as I did with the last temple news item, not even for a moment.

Last week, I posted a story about the Temple Institute starting a school to train Levites to be priests in the temple. Yesterday, August 29, I saw another news report regarding the temple that again spoke to me regarding the nearness of Jesus’ return.

The Breaking Israel News website reported yesterday that the Sanhedrin has appointed the high priest to serve in the new temple. Here is an excerpt from the opening paragraph of the story from the website:

“A significant step was recently taken towards reinstating the Temple service when the nascent Sanhedrin selected Rabbi Baruch Kahane as the next Kohen Gadol (high priest).  . . If the political conditions should change, allowing the Jews access to the Temple Mount, they will be required by Torah law to bring the sacrifices. Rabbi Kahane is confident that if that should happen, Temple service could begin in less than one week.”

The picture above is of the newly selected high priest offering a barley sacrifice to God on the streets of old Jerusalem. Just think, if the temple is built anytime soon, this man is headed for an encounter with the antichrist who will defile the temple halfway through the tribulation.

The training for the priests, the selection of a high priest, the formation of the Sanhedrin, and the sight of sacrifices offered in Jerusalem all represent significant events and raise many questions in my mind. The first question that comes to my mind is, “What am I missing?”

News reports out of the Middle East lead us to conclude that Jewish access to the Temple Mount is years away at best and likely will never happen. Yet under the radar of most news media we see intensifying of preparations for the third temple. That they could be ready within a week to start temple services surprises me. Why are the Temple Institute and the new Sanhedrin so dedicated to preparing for the temple and its services when they do not even have access to Temple Mount?

Do those making all these intense preparations know something we don’t? Is there a secret agreement already in place that allows future Jewish access to the Temple Mount and the construction of the third temple? Is this just wishful thinking on the part of those forming the Sanhedrin and selecting the high priest? Or, do they have a basis for their optimism in making such preparations?

I have more questions than answers. But I can’t help thinking all this activity points to something we do not know. I think they have a reason for their optimism; I believe their careful planning represents much more than wishful thinking.

My speculation regarding the temple is just that. Yet, the preparations for temple worship represent the fulfillment of prophecy right before our eyes or at least its beginning. Way back in AD 180 a prominent church father named Irenaeus spoke of the antichrist defiling a future temple in Israel (the Romans destroyed the one of Jesus’ day in AD 70). Yet we are the ones seeing all the preparations for this long-awaited temple referenced in both Matthew and Revelation. Will we also be the ones to meet Jesus in the air before we die?

We cannot know the day or hour that Jesus will return. However, as we see the world setting up exactly as we would expect before the beginning of the tribulation we cannot help but thinkthe rapture is getting close.

At times I get the sense everything is set and already in place for the tribulation to begin. Yet the Lord is holding it back, delaying its start, to give more people the opportunity to trust Him and find salvation in Him. Someday, however, the waiting will be over and in the “twinkling of an eye” we will be with the Lord.

A Sign of Jesus’ Soon Return

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A drawing of the third temple as designed by the Temple Institute.

It happens with such frequency we sometimes miss it. We see a news story that speaks to our living in the last days and we pay little attention to it. Twenty years ago we might have fallen off our chairs reading it in the newspaper; now we quickly scroll past it on our smartphones.

That happened to me earlier this month when I first came across a news item from the Temple Institute in Jerusalem. On August 4, the Institute announced the creation of a school to train Levitical priests for eventual service in the future temple in Jerusalem.

Could you have imagined this headline twenty years ago? A school for Levites to train for service as priests in the temple! Many of us would have been looking up for the Lord’s return upon reading that, now we almost miss it amidst so many other signs of Jesus’ soon return.

So is the training of Levitical priests significant in terms of prophecy? Yes, I believe it is!

Scripture tells us Israel will have a temple during the tribulation. A study of Daniel 9 and Matthew 24 reveals that the antichrist will defile the temple half way through the tribulation. Jesus referred to this as the “abomination of desolation” in Matthew 24:15. The Apostle John received instructions to measure this temple during one of his visions of the tribulation (Rev. 11:1-2).

Building the third Jewish temple in Jerusalem, however, is not like building a home or even a school or church, far from yet. It’s so much more than simply a physical structure.

Consider all the Old Testament passages that speak to the design of the temple, its furnishings, the order of worship, the sacrifices, and the functions of the priests. Add to that centuries of tradition and rabbinical writings that also need to be carefully researched so that everything in the new temple, including the color of the priests clothing, exactly matches the temples of the past. This is a huge task! I have just begun to describe all that needs to be done in preparation for the Jewish third temple.

Since 1987, the Temple Institute has worked feverishly to prepare for the building of this temple. In 2015 they spent $100,000 on architectural designs for the future temple and earlier in 2016 announced the completion of the huge golden altar for sacrifices. Over the past three decades the Institute has extensively researched everything relating to the construction of the temple, its consecration, and the order of worship and crafted many of the furnishings for the temple. The school for training Levitical priests further demonstrates Israel’s readiness for the building of the temple.

With all the advance work completed by the Temple Institute, the temple can be constructed, furnished, and staffed with priests in a relatively short amount of time. This makes it possible for the rapture to occur even before Israel even has permission to build its temple. Twenty years ago, this might not have been nearly as feasible, especially if Israel wanted the third temple and its observances to match that of the past two temples.

Do you see it? This current intense preparation for rebuilding the temple culminating with the training of Levitical priests is just one more flashing arrow pointing to the nearness of Jesus’ return for His church.

Prophecy speaker J D Farag compares this to seeing Christmas decorations in the stores. When we begin to see these displays in the stores we not only realize Christmas is coming soon, but also know Thanksgiving is even closer. If we see signs pointing to the nearness of the tribulation, we know the Lord’s appearing is even closer because of His promise to return for His church before the time of tribulation overtakes the world.

The Christmas lights are brightly shining, are we ready for Thanksgiving? Jesus is coming soon!

Addendum for Prophecy Nerds:

If you are a prophecy nerd like me, you may find this added note interesting.

Some today suggest the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem will be part of the agreement Israel agrees to with the antichrist. Daniel 9:27 tells us about the covenant the antichrist will make with the “many.” If the temple is a part of this deal, it would explain how Israel could build the temple even though the Al-Aqsa Mosque currently occupies much of the Jewish temple mount.

At this point, it seems impossible that the Muslims would ever let Israel build its temple there.

The antichrist, however, may be the one to persuade the Arab nations to go along with the construction of the temple particularly if they get something in return for the concession. Would they be able to sense his deceitful motives?

The building of the temple alongside the Al-Aqsa Mosque appears to correspond to an interesting instruction John received regarding the measuring of this future temple (Rev. 11:1). The angel told him not to measure “the court outside the temple” since it was “given over to the nations.” Could the presence of the Muslim mosque explains this curious exception to the measuring the temple? I think it’s possible, maybe even likely!