Rebuilding of the Jewish Temple

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(an excerpt from Chapter 1: Pre-Tribulational Events)

Another group of prophecies which tell an astounding story are those writings which speak of the use of the Jewish temple in the tribulation as well as the millennial kingdom of Christ.  There is, of course, no temple in Jerusalem currently to give fulfillment to such forecasts.  The first temple, Solomon’s Temple, was destroyed in 586 BC by the Babylonians.  The second temple was destroyed by the Romans along with the dismantling of the nation in 70 AD.  Since Israel has become a nation again, the temple has not been rebuilt.  To some, the idea of the Jewish temple being rebuilt is as unlikely as was the re-establishment of a Jewish nation. 

While prophetic passages depict the temple playing a noticable role in tribulational events, it is unclear if the temple will be actually built prior to the beginning of the tribulation or shortly thereafter.  Thus, the inclusion of this subject in a chapter entitled “Pre-tribulational Events” is based on some amount of speculation.  While the timing of the beginning of construction on a new Temple is not certain, what is known with certainty from scripture is that the Temple will be built and will be in use by the middle of the tribulation, as is described below by Daniel.  To that end, it seems very likely that the construction on the temple will have at least begun by the advent of the tribulation, as the last temple took many decades to complete.

Daniel 9:27
27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing [of the temple] he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him”.

The “he” in this text refers to Antichrist, a world ruler and the key character of Satan’s own agenda work during the great tribulation.   This assertion will be demonstrated later when Daniel 9 will be studied in more detail, but at this time it must only be gleaned that “he” will “put an end to sacrifice and offering” in the middle of the tribulation (the middle of the seven) and establish an abomination on a wing of the temple.  Thus, a temple must be built and fully operational by the middle of the tribulation.  It must obviously be built by its very reference in the text.  Yet, it must also be operational, as Antichrist will put an end to sacrifice and offering,” which will require the temple to actually be functioning as a center for sacrificial worship.

Jesus referenced this text from Daniel as an end time prophecy in Matthew 24:15.  So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel–let the reader understand– 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.”  This “abomination of desolation” references Daniel 9:27 in the same context as the earlier observation of the Olivet Discourse, answering the questions “what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”  Thus, the abomination of desolation, which will occur in the temple, also requires that the temple must be rebuilt.

Yet another text referencing the temple in the tribulation is found in 2 Thessalonians.  While speaking of the day of the return of Christ, Paul writes, 

2 Thessalonians 2:3-4
3 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4 He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.

Paul speaks also of the man who will be known as “Antichrist,” citing the same “abomination of desolation” noted by Daniel and Jesus.  Once again, an end time prophetical text speaks of an active temple during the period of the great tribulation.  Thus, the non-existent temple must be built and operational by the middle of the tribulation.  (This timing will be demonstrated in Chapter Three.)

While much of modern Israel seems relatively unconcerned with their religious heritage, having a temple in Israel has been a long-standing desire of some modern Jews.  In existence today is an organization known as The Temple Institute, which states on its website the goal of being “dedicated to every aspect of the Biblical Commandment to build the Holy Temple of G-d on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem.”[1]  While the building of a third temple faces seemingly insurmountable obstacles, so did the re-emergence of a nation lost for 1900 years. 

The historical site of the former temples in Jerusalem is commonly referred to as the “Temple Mount”.  At that location, in roughly the exact place where the former temple stood, the Dome of The Rock now exists.  The Dome of The Rock is considered one of the most holy of Islamic sights.  It is the oldest extant Muslim building and is considered by Muslims as the place where Mohammad ascended into Heaven. 

The Temple Mount was acquired by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War, yet Israel has allowed Muslim control of it for the sake of the poor relations between the two groups.  Muslims have since forbidden Jewish prayer in that location.  The use of the temple compound is a volatile issue between Jews and Muslims on an ongoing basis.  It will be interesting to see how both Jews and Muslims will come to terms with God’s plan for a temple to be rebuilt on that site.  Both groups consider the site their most revered and holy ground.  Surely a great issue must be resolved.  It is unimaginable that Israel would desire to build their future temple on any other piece of real estate.  Nor is it fathomable that Muslims will allow the Dome of The Rock to be destroyed without a fight.

Some have suggested that the treaty between Antichrist and Israel, which will be discussed later in this work, may include the solution to this issue by Antichrist somehow negotiating the building of the temple on that site in exchange for Israel’s commitment to a peace treaty with him.  That suggestion is extra-biblical and purely speculative, however.  Moreover, it will be determined from scripture that Israel’s safety will be the primary reason for her covenant with Antichrist, rather than a peaceful resolution to the Temple Mount issue.  God will reveal his plan in due time concerning how the rebuilding of the temple will come to fruition.  But, in whatever way it is to happen, a temple must be constructed prior to the middle of the tribulation.  And, scriptural descriptions concerning the location of the Millennial Temple, which will be examined later, strongly indicate that it will be built at that very location.

[1] http://www.templeinstitute.org/about.htm


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6 Responses to Rebuilding of the Jewish Temple

  • Pastor, youre a much smarter dude than I am!

  • I don’t believe that for a minute, my friend.

  • I’m sorry but scripture does not teach a building of a third temple or any differences in salvation for the Jew or Gentile. We are all one in Christ.

    Consider the following versus:

    Luke 13:35 – Behold, your house is left unto you desolate: and verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the lord.

    1 Samuel 4:21 – And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel, because the ark of God was taken, …

    Christ is the temple. It has nothing to do with Israel. It was from the beginning that through Abraham’s seed ALL nations will be blessed. God has one purpose not two.

    All of this false teaching comes from the 19th century dispensationalist. So now all of a sudden we interpret the bible differently. The Jews thought it was about them as well. The bible teaches that a Jew is not a descendant of Abraham, but anyone who believes in Christ is considered a Jew.
    So how does all this factor in. There are numerous scripture references showing on purpose one people.

    Ed.

  • I agree that there is only one means of salvation; Christ. I have never taught contrary to that position. Nor do I disagree that the Temple was desolated and left that way in Jesus’ day. There was a clear and decisive judgment against Israel for rejecting Messiah. However, there are voluminous references to Israel’s salvation and future restoration. This article (as noted in the intro) is only a slice of a very large chapter of a larger boook. You’ve obviously made some incorrect assumptions about my position without having read the book it is taken from.

    As to your argument, instead of saying “the scripture doesn’t teach a building of a third temple,” perhaps you should instead demonstrate how the scriptures I quoted were fulfilled in the future by a metaphorical temple (Christ)? Surely you do not think Christ spoke of himself in Mat 24 when he spoke seeing the abomination of Daniel in the holy place? Surely Paul was not speaking of Christ in 2 Thes 2 as the metaphorical temple that the lawless one will set himself up in?

    I realize that the church age is characterized by the indwelling Holy Spirit in believers as the temple. That does not relegate the former temple, or a later temple, to nonexistent. Ironically, by pointing that out, you are highlighting the nature of dispensationalism, which you call “false teaching.” The temple WAS the presence of God in a building, it IS now the presence of God in the body of believers. That is dispensationalism; I’m sorry to inform you; it is God’s utilization of differing economies in differing times. You are now only missing the nature of the Temple in the next age; when Christ himself will fill it with his own glory.

    You may consider the Temple dimensions and description in Ezekiel 40-44. The Temple – articulately described in those chapters – never existed. Yet, Ezekiel speaks of God’s glory entering it in ch. 43. This must speak of a later fulfillment at the time when Christ reigns bodily on Mount Zion. Otherwise, one has to argue that Ezekiel got it wrong altogether; for nothing he describes in those chapters has ever happened in the way he depicts.

    I would guess that you’re a preterist, and would argue that all fullfilments of these prophecies happened in and around 70 ad. I appreciate your attempt to defend that position, but denegrading mine and calling it “false teaching” is not an effective way to do that. You’re going to have to actually address the text if you want to put a faithful foot forward on this.

    I’ll be happy to hear your explanation of Romans 9-11 to defend your position of there being no distinction between Israel and the church. I’ll be happy to hear your interpretation of Ezekiel 40+ and what exactly the temple described in those chapters may refer to. But, if you just want to criticize me without doing any work of your own, you’ve come to the wrong place.

    I do hope you will research those texts. They are worth your investment.

  • I agree that Christ is the temple.

    According to Romans 9-11, I believe this teaches two things; (1) about election and predestination and (2) Proof that not all descendants of Abraham are saved. Prior to this Paul is teaching that biological or ethnical decendency does not guarantee receiving God’s promises. Salvation is by faith and not by the letter. Also in the old testament, Israel is composed of both Jews and believing Gentiles (Exodus 12:48, Genesis 12:3, etc). So Israel is a foreshadowing of Christ. Romans 9-11 is teaching that not all Israel is Israel. Paul is teaching that it has nothing to do with being a descendant.
    Jesus is the final temple and gives the living water of the Spirit. Fulfillment of Ezekiel 47:1-12 has already begun in Christ and, by His Spirit, in His church. Ultimate fulfillment awaits Christ’s return and the new heaven and new earth. Ezekiel 40-48, in general, and 47:1-12, in particular, are thus best interpreted figuratively as symbolic and typical of Christ and His Church.
    Many people interpret Ezekiel’s temple vision in chapters 40-48 as a more or less literal blueprint for either the post-exilic temple or a yet-future millennial temple. The New Testament, however, points to a different kind of fulfillment– fulfillment in a person, not in a building. In Ezekiel 47, the temple to which God’s glory had returned is the source of the life-giving water. In the New Testament, we see that Christ is the new and final temple of prophetic hope. This point is particularly clear in John’s Gospel.
    In the Prologue to the Fourth Gospel we read these well-known words: “The Word became flesh and lived for a while [or tabernacled (NAS margin)] among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (1:14, NIV). Although the Greek verb behind the italicized words can mean simply “to dwell” or “to live,” its use here with “glory” strongly suggests it should be accorded its full theological sense as denoting the presence of God with His people. The glory of God, present in the tabernacle and the temple, “dwells in Jesus Christ, whose glorified body, as John will tell us presently, is the new temple” (2:21). In Christ, the Immanuel Principle of Ezekiel’s vision and prophetic hope is fulfilled. How fitting indeed is Jesus’ name, Immanuel (Matt. 1:23)!
    John 2:19-22 expressly warrants the conclusion that Jesus is the new or final temple. Following Jesus’ clearing of the temple courts the Jews demanded a miraculous sign from Him to prove His authority to do these things (2:18). Jesus’ response– “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days” (v. 19) –only confused the Jews further (v. 20). John goes on to explain to his readers what Jesus meant: “But the temple He had spoken of was His body” (v. 21). John then makes it clear that Jesus was speaking of His resurrection from the dead (v. 22). Jesus’ answer to the demand for proof of His authority was to point to His own person. As God in the flesh, He fulfills in His person and thus replaces the old temple. His death and resurrection are the sign, par excellence, of His authority.

    • Well spoken. I disagree on a fundamental level- but kudos for providing a biblical argument. Now we can have a worthwhile debate.

      Our issue will remain due to the fact that we have – as you would expect – two completely different hermeneutics. You take a metaphorical approach in texts that I do not, such as Ezekiel 40+. I stick firmly to David L. Cooper’s “golden rule of interpretation” principle: if the common sense of a text makes sense, seek no other sense. I do not metaphorize a text unless the text itself demands that I do.

      One place you and I part company is with the handling of Jesus’ metaphor of calling his body “the temple.” I agree that the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. We both understand what Christ meant by his metaphor. The question is, did Ezekiel speak metaphorically when HE spoke his prophesies of the temple? If he did, then should we also interpret ALL of his temple prophesies as metaphorical? Obviously not. In Ezekiel 10 he prophesies of the glory of God LEAVING the temple. Is that speaking of Christ? Of course not. So, the issue now becomes “how does one determine when to metaphorize a text?” Cooper’s rule represents the best – and most historically tested – approach. We treat the text literally unless the context demands otherwise. To take Ezekiel 10 as literal and Ezekiel 40 as figurative is a dishonest approach to Ezekiel’s prophetic vision. The only reason to do that is to support an argument that needs to be supported. This is the issue with preterism throughout: texts have to be “tweaked” to a metaphorical meaning in order to “fit” into the doctrine. This is exactly backward from how we should interpret scripture. We should allow the TEXT to define the doctrine – not the doctrine to define the text.

      When we interpret Ezekiel literally, we have God’s glory leaving the physical temple in chapter 10 and returning in chapter 43 – to a different – new – future temple.

      Neither is it fair to assume that Christ – in calling his body the Temple of the Holy Spirit – presumes that no physical edifice of temple worship will ever again be possible. He makes no such assertion. He calls his body the temple while Herods temple stood. He did not mandate that a physical temple and his body could not both be considered a temple – one literally, and one figuratively. He was demonstrating the nature of the Holy Spirit in the coming age; that he would depart the temple (as Ezekiel prophesied) and enter the believer – (as we all agree) as the functional temple in the age to come. Obviously, this is why the veil was torn in two. Obviously this is fulfilled in Acts 2. None of this answers Ezekiel 40, however. The temple of Ezekiel 40 is NOT metaphorical! It has profound design descriptions, a new and different form of worship that accompanies it, and the Holy Spirit’s presence.

      Your interpretation is that Ezekiel 40 speaks of the believer. My interpretation is that it does not. We will never get past that until we have harmony in our hermeneutic, which, I’m guessing is not going to happen. You interpret things through the lens of preterism. The end result is that you read the New Testament BACK into the Old Testament. This is not a valid approach. If that is the case, then God NEVER HAD a plan for Israel — it was all just a tease that pointed toward the church. Rather, the Old Testament points us toward the New Testament. The prophesies are the standard by which we understand the NT. Not the other way around. We can only understand atonement because of the OT. Christ fulfilled the law – and that only makes sense because we have the OT to refer to. We interpret the NT by the OT – not the other way around.
      This same issue is why you would attempt to isolate Israel and the church in Romans 9-11. We agree that it teaches God’s sovereignty in election. We agree that not all descendants of Abraham are saved (historically). However, the entirety of the text screams of the salvation of “ALL” Israel at a future historical moment (See Zech 12-14). This text goes into great efforts in chapter 11 to note how God’s promises to ISRAEL will be fulfilled. There is no question – if you let the text speak for itself – that Israel and the church are separate in this argument. 11:28 notes “as far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs…” Who are “they?” Very clearly, “they” are Israel in the text. He goes on,

      Romans 11:30-31 (NIV)
      30 Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, 31 so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you.

      And he firmly establishes his overall point here:
      Romans 11:25-27 (NIV)
      25 I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. 27 And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.”

      If we approach this text with a pre-defined template of belief; “that Israel and the church are one and the same” – then we have no basis by which to understand it. If, however, we allow the text to speak for itself, then we see a very clear distinction between Israel and the church. This is a fundamental necessity to truly understand prophecy. Otherwise, we spiritualize many things in OT prophecy that should not be spiritualized: the temple, the future Messianic Kingdom (as opposed to the spiritual kingdom which exists today), the nature of Christ reigning on David’s throne, & so on.

      It is obvious that you have spent time considering these things. That is to be commended. I encourage you to spend time trying to understand the other side of the issue as well. I think we all are better versed to understand opposing viewpoints on disputable matters.

      And, that is perhaps a good way to conclude. Eschatology IS – at the end of the day – a disputable and non-essential (not “non-important” mind you, but “non-essential”) doctrine. One of us is wrong; I am certain. But, it is far more important that we understand the nature of saving grace, God’s sovereignty, substitutionary atonement and the fundamentals of the faith. We both believe that Christ died for our sins, rose to demonstrate his authority over death and will raise us to glorious life in the hereafter, do we not?

      The rest, we will disagree on until He comes to prove once and for all what he meant. On the non-essentials, let’s agree to continue studying, letting the text speak for itself, and disagree with other human interests where necessary.

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