Preparations for the construction of the Third Temple in Jerusalem have begun in earnest. This event is among the surest signs that Christ’s return is imminent…very imminent.
The following article contains opinions and quotes from various media and the literature of various groups who have been involved one way or another in plans for the rebuilding of the Temple. The author does not necessarily endorse nor condemn these statements; they are merely offered in the interest of giving a broad picture of the activities revolving round preparations for the construction of a Third Temple.
There are three Temples in the lives of faithful Jews today. The First Temple, built by Solomon was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE – about 400 years after the Temple was constructed. Some seventy years later, approximately, Jewish exiles were allowed to return to Jerusalem to build an altar, the ‘Second’ Jewish temple, and finally the walls of the city. Although modest in comparison to the First Temple, the Second Temple was later greatly enlarged and expanded by Herod the Great. This latter temple was the Temple in which Jesus was dedicated, and where He taught and cast out the money changers on two occasions. The Second Temple was built on the site of the First Temple and was completed in 516 BCE. This Temple was also destroyed, this time during the Roman siege of Jerusalem in 70 CE.
The destruction of the two Temples took place about 656 years apart, but on the same day in the Hebrew calendar – 9th Av. These two events were so tragic in the history of the Jewish people that the ancient rabbis declared the anniversary of the Temples’ destruction a day of mourning and fasting. This anniversary is known as Tisha B’Av, (meaning ‘9th of Av’), which is observed to this day in Israel. But there is another tradition that Jews have been observing daily up to the present day. They pray three times a day for the restoration of the Temple. Which means, the Jews as a nation are eagerly awaiting the construction of the Third Temple in Jerusalem.
When I first received the news, about 12 years ago, that serious efforts were going on in Jerusalem to build the Third Temple, I was shocked. It seemed incredible news, that a certain pivotal prophecy in the Bible should begin to be fulfilled in my lifetime; for the building of the Third Temple is prophesied to occur just before the return of Christ. It was not the preparations for building the Temple itself that was the most incredible news to me, but the fact that this is probably the greatest of all signs that Jesus Christ is very probably coming in my generation, or surely in my children’s lifetime.
The New Testament contains one reference to a Third Temple in Jerusalem at the end of the present age.
‘for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.’ Thes 2:3-4
In the Old Testament, there are several references to a future Temple in Jerusalem. In Ezekiel chapters 40 to 47 is given a detailed description of the architecture and dimensions of this temple. The new temple, which measures about 875 feet square, is much too large to fit on the present Temple Mount site. Ezekiel’s temple is also very different in many details from the previous two temples.
Some Jewish and Christian scholars think that the coming Third Temple will be followed by a Fourth or ‘Millennial’ Temple, which will be built by the Messiah when he comes.
‘Only a small number of Orthodox Jewish believers in Israel today believe that the coming Third Temple will be built by the Jewish Messiah when he appears. Groups such as The Temple Institute believe it is incumbent upon them to make all possible preparations in advance – and to build the Third Temple when the freedom to do so is gained…whether or not the Messiah arrives before or after a Third Temple is erected.’ The Temple Of Ezekiel’ by Lambert Dolphin – ldolphin.org
Now, how far have the preparations been made? Almost everything is ready to take off, including the foundation stones! All that is required now is for the Israeli government to give the green signal. Even the cornerstones for the temple are hewn and kept ready. Here are some media reports about what’s going on with regard to such preparations:
‘In l982, after years of disagreement about methods of approach, three groups of devout Jews, The Jerusalem Temple Foundation, To the Mountain of the Lord and The Faithful of the Temple Mount combined their forces to plan for and build the Third Temple. More recently The Temple Institute has begun to build the sacred vessels to be used in the Third Temple.’ templemount.org
‘Next week Israel’s Ministry of Religious Affairs will sponsor a first-ever Conference of Temple Research to discuss whether contemporary Jews are obligated to rebuild the Temple. However, several small organizations in Jerusalem believe the question is settled. They are zealously making preparation for the new Temple…Two Talmudic schools located near the Western (Wailing) Wall are teaching nearly 200 students the elaborate details of Temple service. Other groups are researching the family lines of Jewish priests who alone may conduct sacrifices‘ Time for a New Temple?’ Time, Oct. 16, ‘89
‘Has a red heifer been born in Israel? Israeli television and Hebrew newspapers recently reported that a red heifer was born at a village in Kfar Chasidim. The heifer, currently a year and a half old, has been meticulously checked by the local Jewish religious authorities with a magnifying glass in order to see if she is completely red…Ultra-orthodox have accepted this animal as a possible candidate for being the red heifer…A red heifer must be three years old before it can be sacrificed. After another year and a half, the heifer will be rechecked… Orthodox Jews strongly believe the birth of this red heifer is another definite sign that points to the soon coming of the Messiah and the rebuilding of the Temple.’ Southwest Radio Church letter May, 1997
‘One of the most exciting and very important finds was the recent discovery of a small golden bell that hung on the High Priest’s beautiful robe that he wore when he entered into the Holy of Holies inside the Holy Temple of the G-D of Israel…Together with the Golden Bell of the High Priest and other holy discoveries from the Temple that have been found, it is direct archaeological evidence of Jewish activity in the Holy Temple on the Holy Temple Mount in Jerusalem during the Second Temple Era. [The discoveries are] considered another clear call and timely message from the G-D of Israel to His People Israel: “Build my Temple on My Holy Temple Mount in Jerusalem now with no delay!” ’ templemountfaithful.org
What does the Scripture say about the Third Temple, and does it say anything about yet another, a Fourth Temple?
The Bible says that when Christ comes, there would already be a temple existing in Jerusalem. And to this Third Temple he will make a sudden appearance.
“Behold, I send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple’ Mal 3:1
But prelude to Christ making his sudden appearance in the temple, the Beast (the coming ruler of the resurrected Roman Empire) will invade Jerusalem and place his ‘abomination of desolation’ in the holy place. He will place his pagan emblem in the temple, probably in the Holy of Holies, and stop Jews from offering their daily sacrifices..
‘And forces shall be mustered by him, and they shall defile the sanctuary fortress; then they shall take away the daily sacrifices, and place there the abomination of desolation.’ Dan 11:31
‘Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation’, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place’ Mat 24:15
The forces of the Beast will surround Jerusalem and make it a desolation.
‘But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near.’ Mark 21:20
Great will be the suffering of the Jews once again at the hand of their enemies.
‘The end has come upon My people Israel; I will not pass by them anymore. And the songs of the temple shall be wailing in that day,” says the Lord GOD—“Many dead bodies everywhere, they shall be thrown out in silence.” ‘ Amos 8:2-3
It is while this suffering in desolated Jerusalem is happening that the Messiah will make his sudden appearance to save his people. (Malachi 3:1)
A great and devastating earthquake accompanies Christ’s landing in Jerusalem. (Zachariah 14:4-5) Some Bible commentators think that this Third Temple will be destroyed by this earthquake or at the desolation of Jerusalem by the invading forces. But I have not found a single scripture that gives even a hint of the destruction of the Third Temple. It is my understanding of the prophesied endtime events that before the Beast could destroy the temple, as his predecessors did to the First and Second Temples, the Messiah will intervene and stop any further devastation by his enemies.
‘For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem…Then the Lord will go forth go forth and fight against those nations, as He fights in the day of battle.’ Zec 14:2-3
Once the Messiah returns to his temple and establishes his throne in Jerusalem, he will begin to expand the Third Temple according to the plan in Ezekiel chapters 40 to 47. This could actually be considered as the Fourth Temple, for the original structure of the Third Temple will pale to insignificance compared to the awesome new edifice that will built from it. I think perhaps only the Holy of Holies will be preserved from the old structure.
‘Behold, the Man whose name is the BRANCH!…he shall build the temple of the Lord; Yes, he shall build the temple of the Lord.’ Zec 6:12-13
But whether the Third Temple will be destroyed or not, and an entirely new Fourth Temple will be built by the Messiah, the Bible speaks of yet one more, a Fifth Temple that will be located on the very spot of the previous four temples. This final Temple will be very different from all the preceding Temples. For it will comprise not just one location – the whole of Jerusalem will be the Temple of God. And this city-temple will no more be constructed with human hands. God himself will personally do every bit of its construction work. Nor will it be constructed on earth, but in heaven. And when the construction is complete, it will make a glorious descent on earth, and the Throne of God will be located on the very spot where the Holy of Holies was located in the previous temples.
‘Then, I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men…But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.’ Rev 21:2,3,22
God’s people in all the nations should pray that if the Third Temple will be built in our generation, it may be done so in peace, and that any construction of the Temple would not offend the people of other faiths in Jerusalem. In this regard, it may be relevant to note that the Second Temple was not a unilateral decision of the Jews, but was sanctioned by a non Israeli world power, Babylon. Similarly, a unilateral decision by Israel could lead it to severe conflict with the rest of the world. Perhaps, we may see the United Nations playing a pivotal role in the sanctioning of the construction of the Temple, after an agreement is made with the leaders of other faiths that have key interests in Jerusalem. Keep your eyes daily open to media news of what’s happening in Jerusalem. I don’t think we will have to wait much longer to find out how exactly the Temple will be built.