Originally published in The Jerusalem Post
Since Israel re-captured the Old City of Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967, the Jewish state has maintained a fragile religious balance, and the Temple Mount is indeed the most divisive real estate in the world.
Jewish activists for decades have been leading efforts to change the status quo as a matter of religious freedom by demanding: “If Muslims can pray there, why not Jews?”
In Matthew chapter 24, Jesus was speaking to his Jewish brethren and not to the yet-to-be-formed Church. He said that in the Last Days, Israel must watch for an abomination that will take place in the Holy Place. He forewarned, “When you see standing in the Holy Place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand.”
More than a quarter of the Bible is prophetic in nature; there are approximately 1,800 prophecies in both testaments combined. God has recorded much of the future as a guide for us. Jesus also gave a major discourse on end-time events that’s recorded in all three of the synoptic Gospels. . . in Matthew Chapter 24, Mark Chapter 13 and Luke Chapter 21.
Jesus’s disciples had asked him directly: “What will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” Jesus answered with a catalogue of tumultuous signs that would lead up to His second coming, adding in Matthew 24: 34, “Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.”
What would be the major sign of that final generation?
In Jesus’s prophetic briefing (known as the Olivet Discourse), he said that Jerusalem will be in the hands once again of the Jewish people and thus Jerusalem will be the central focus of upheavals. Jesus prophesied in Luke 21: 24 that Jerusalem would be “trodden down by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”
So the sign of all signs that has not been present in any generation until now is the re-emergence of the state of Israel in 1948. The Bible said the Jews would return, and they did after nearly 1 900 years—such a return to a homeland has never happened before in history. Furthermore according to Bible prophecy, the Middle East will be in crisis in the last days. And Jesus said in Matthew 24: 34, the generation alive at that time “will by no means pass away till all these things take place.”
One of the hottest end-time prophecies at the moment is the building of a Third Temple. This is a big topic in New Testament Bible prophecy.
The very real possibility of a Third Temple is a sign that no other generation has seen. All the implements of Temple worship have already been created by industrious and devoted visionaries.
Right now we’re living in the time period between the Second Temple that was destroyed in 70 BC and the Third Temple. Hardly a week goes by without some Temple Mount controversy for fear that the Jews will build their house of worship.
The Hebrew prophets all proclaimed that in the last days, the exiles of Israel will return to the Promised Land and restoration of the Temple will be their greatest ambition.
Ezekiel chapter 37 predicted the dry bones of the nation of Israel coming to life again in their own land. Ezekiel 37:28 predicts, “Then the nations will know that I the Lord make Israel holy, when my sanctuary is among them forever.”
While Bible prophecy is unfolding before our eyes, many blind skeptics in the Church promote erroneous replacement theology and dare to believe the lie that God has rejected the Jews and that Israel has somehow re-emerged as a political anomaly.
Yet, we must ask: What does the Bible teach?
We find from scripture in both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament that God has never rejected his people Israel.
Isaiah 41:9 declares, “You, Israel, I called you from the ends of the earth. I said, ‘You are my servant’ I have chosen you and have not rejected you.”
Paul wrote the Book of Romans around the theme of how God has not rejected His people Israel.
So just as the prophets foretold, the Jewish people are returning to the Holy Land from the four corners of the earth after 19 centuries of global exile.
We’re seeing the fulfilment of Isaiah 43: 5–6, “Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, And gather you from the west. I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ And to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring My sons from afar and My daughters from the ends of the earth.”
And while all of this activity called aliyah in Hebrew is happening, preparations are well under way to build the Third Temple.
Over a decade ago, Temple activists first began holding Passover sacrifice reenactments, and actually I can remember these activities to hasten the rebuilding of the Temple were talked about for decades. The notion of reviving Temple sacrifices has been perceived in the past in Israel as extremism that might incite Muslim retaliation. And so civil authorities refused to grant permits to hold such ceremonies in Jerusalem. The police actively prohibited attempts to bring sheep into the Old City for sacrifice.
However, the mood is changing.
The police and the Jerusalem municipality now reportedly view the rehearsal as another totally acceptable public happening, an event they want to see take place. Apparently even mainstream media have begun to accept Temple preparation activities not as a fringe idea but an important aspect of Jewish culture.
A Temple spokesman reportedly said, “It seems clear one day, sooner than we imagine, that the sacrifices will happen, on the Temple Mount itself, and no one will think it is an extremist event. In truth, anyone who reads the Bible knows this is our ongoing history.”
Rabbi Moses Maimonides, known as the Rambam, a medieval Jewish philosopher and Torah scholar, wrote that the Temple has significance first of all to reveal to mankind the divine presence of God, and secondly to facilitate the offering of sacrifices. However, since the destruction of the Second Temple, the Jewish People could no longer offer sacrifices. In fact, more than 200 of the 613 commandments in the Torah cannot be performed without the Temple.
The prophet Daniel, Jesus and the apostle Paul all prophesied that the future sinister figure known as the anti-messiah will defile the Third Temple before the return of Jesus. Both the prophet Daniel and Jesus referred to the Temple’s defilement as an act called the “abomination of desolation.”
In Matthew 24, Jesus warned about the abomination that causes desolation, spoken of through the prophet Daniel standing in the holy place, and he added for the future generation that sees the defilement “—let the reader understand.”
There’s a very important prophecy by the apostle Paul in Second Thessalonians 2:4, “He [the man of lawlessness] 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.”
Christian Bible prophecy scholars say that only a man of diplomatic skill who will be accepted by both Jews and Muslims will be able to broker a plan that would allow the Jewish people to worship in a Temple on the Mount where King David originally purchased territory. But many Christian eschatologists warn that Daniel 9:27 predicts that this deal maker, better known as the antichrist, will break the peace plan. Isaiah 28:18 reportedly calls it a “covenant with death” that will be annulled.
Nevertheless there are many Israeli organisations making preparations full speed ahead for a Third Temple. One of these organisations is The Temple Institute, which has a very active Facebook page. Other organisations also have potentially viable plans.
For example, one group proposes pitching a tabernacle-style tent on the Temple Mount that would speed up the end time scenario significantly— literally overnight— because pitching a tent is obviously much easier and less intrusive than building a building.
Other proposals include constructing a synagogue in one of the corners of the Temple Mount platform.
Meanwhile, several books have been written suggesting that the original site of the Temple was in the City of David near the Gihon Spring. And so construction of a Third Temple in the City of David could conceivably begin without delay and would presumably avoid the territorial controversy surrounding the Haram al Sharif.
Regardless of its future location, the future Temple’s ritual garments and vessels have already been designed and created.
The Golden Menorah — the seven-branched candelabra — is on display in the Old City’s Jewish Quarter. Also ready are many Levitical musical instruments, silver trumpets and harps for worship, just as King David organized 3 000 years ago. The Temple Institute’s School is training certified, DNA-tested priests to perform Temple services and many of these services have been rehearsed. A final element, a red heifer, is being bred to be sacrificed in a Torah-prescribed ritual purification ceremony.
In fact, everything is ready for a Third Temple except its location. Since the liberation of the Temple Mount in 1967, Arabs have made great competitive efforts to claim the entire 37-acre platform calling it the Noble Sanctuary. The Muslim narrative has definitely changed with the times. A pre-state visitor’s guide to the area published by Muslim authorities in 1925 acknowledged that the territory was once the site of Solomon’s Temple. The guide clearly stated that the site’s identity with Solomon’s Temple is “beyond dispute.”
So, in 1925 the Muslims affirmed the Biblical history that they now trying to erase.
Are things coming to a head?
Recently Israel Today Magazine reported that “proponents of the Palestinian cause have tried to inflate the position of the Temple Mount in Islam, and thereby paint Israel’s sovereignty as an affront to their religion.”
But a couple years ago, a renowned Egyptian scholar and novelist acknowledged in a series of TV interviews that Jerusalem holds no particular religious significance for Muslims. In fact, Jerusalem is not mentioned in the Koran, and a growing number of Saudis on social media have taken to using a hashtag that translates as “Riyadh [the Saudi capital] is more important than Jerusalem.”
Furthermore, lately some Muslims leaders who are part of the Abraham Accords have admitted that the Temple Mount really belongs to the Jews and that Muslims should be concentrating on their holy city of Mecca.
In light of all of this, it’s appropriate to pray the prophetic words of Psalm 33: “The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, The plans of His heart to all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance.”
Christine Darg is founder of The Jerusalem Channel and can be contacted at www.JerusalemChannel.tv.
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