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.
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.” 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.
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