Rebuilding the Temple




John Hoole – February 17 & 24, 2013





Today we will look at one of the really hot issues in the world today.  It has to do with the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.


Early in our series on End Times Prophecy, we established that God isn’t yet through with Israel.  When God made a covenant with Abraham, and later with the nation of Israel, I believe God made some promises that are unconditional and eternal.


When Isaiah 60:21 says,  “They shall inherit the land forever,” I believe this tells us that the promise made by God does not end.  Or, listen to what Isaiah says in Isaiah 11:11-12 NIV


11     In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the remnant that is left of his people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Upper Egypt, from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonia, from Hamath and from the islands of the sea.

12     He will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel; he will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four quarters of the earth.


I take the position that when Israel, as a nation, was reestablished in 1948, it literally fulfilled prophecies like that which we just read in Isaiah.  I believe the migration of millions of people, by boat, by plane and on foot, back to their Jewish homeland, was a fulfillment of what God said would happen in the last days.


I do not take the position that when Israel rejected Christ as their Messiah, God withdrew all the promises He made to them, and transferred them to a new body, under a New Covenant, called the Church.  I do not believe that God has set the Jews aside.  God still has much in store for Israel.  Romans 11:25 tells us that today Israel is in a state of partial and temporary blindness.


God has made a covenant with the nation of Israel, some of which is yet to be fulfilled.  God still has promises to keep with regards to this nation.  Some of these have unfolded and are unfolding right before our eyes, and what happens to Israel is important to all of us.  Israel serves as one of the timepieces on our Christian prophetic plan.  This includes what God said about Jewish worship and their Temple in the last days.


Someone has said:  “The center of Bible prophecy is the nation of Israel.  The center of Israel is Jerusalem, and the center of Jerusalem is the Temple.”  God considers Israel, according to NIV translation of Ezekiel 38:12, as the center of the earth.  And in Ezekiel 5:5, God calls Jerusalem the center of all nations.


It is appropriate to consider Jerusalem when studying prophecy, for according to the Bible, it is the only city on earth that is guaranteed a long future.  People who in years gone by never gave Jerusalem a thought, are now asking, “What is going to happen to Jerusalem.”  They now recognize that peace and stability in the world revolves around a small nation in the Middle East.


The Israeli government has declared that they will never again allow Jerusalem to be a divided city, and will fight all foes to retain sovereignty over the entire city.  On the other side, however, Mahmoud Abbas has announced a Palestinian state at the U.N. with Jerusalem as its capital, and will continue the conflict until the city is theirs.


The big question is:  “How are these seemingly irreconcilable issues going to be resolved?”  While human wisdom and plans will not easily solve these lines of conflict, God, who can see infallibly into the future, can make sense out of contrary concerns.  So that is where we must start – with God’s Word.


The Bible reveals that there are two Jerusalems that should occupy the thoughts and prayers of God’s people.  These two cities should also be in the minds of students of prophecy.


Not only on this earth is there a Jerusalem, called in Hebrew Yerushalayim Shel Matt – Jerusalem the Lower.  But there is also in heaven a city, Yerushalayim Shel Maalah – Jerusalem the Upper.  One Jerusalem is an earthly city……and the other is a heavenly Jerusalem.  And both are part of our promised future.  In Galatians 4:25-26, Paul reveals both of these when he speaks of the present Jerusalem” and “the Jerusalem above.”  Likewise, the book of Revelation mentions both “the holy city…given to the nations”…to ... “tread under foot,”…….(Revelation 11:2), as well as “the holy city, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven.” (Revelation 21:2)


What is impressive is that a city that most people of the earth will never visit, has such a place in our interests, so much so, that the daily news is often relaying something that happens there.


In the United States alone, there are more than 30 cities that bear the name of Jerusalem in one form or another.  Say the word “Jerusalem” to almost anyone – even in our geographically challenged American culture – and it is instantly recognized.  Whether in a Sunday school lesson or on the evening news, the name Jerusalem regularly appears.


The most volatile 35 acres of land on the earth are undoubtedly those comprising a near-rectangular platform in East Jerusalem that is called the Temple Mount.  This land mark is known elsewhere in the Bible as Mount Moriah.  Several meaningful Jewish events occurred on this mount, not the least of which was Abraham offering his own son to God.


The Temple Mount is surrounded by a wall.  The south wall measures about 910 feet.  The north wall is about 1025 feet in length.  The east wall extends 1,520 feet.  And the Western Wall, part of which is used by orthodox Jews as a location to pray, is 1,580 feet.


The Temple Mount’s mostly-level platform is about 2,400 feet above sea level.  Most of the buildings and surface features are Islamic, and there is no visible traces of the First or Second Temples found on the platform today.  The area is park-like in its settings with plants of trees and shrubs and many ancient buildings and monuments have been added over the past 1,300 years of Moslem control of the site.


Mount Moriah is the site David purchased from a Jebusite man named Araunah (2 Samuel 24:21-22).  Araunah is called by the name, Ornan, in 1st and 2nd Chronicles.  Immediately after the purchase, David built an altar and offered a sacrifice to God.  King David begins to prepare the area in order to build a permanent House of God to replace the Tabernacle of Moses which accompanied the Jews from Egypt to the Promised Land.


David had the plans drawn up for a building whose dimensions were twice that of the Tabernacle.  And David amassed great quantities of building materials, stone, cedar, and much gold and silver.


It is on this mount that the orthodox Jews believe they must rebuild their Temple.  In writings, it is often referred to as Temple #3.  For Jews who have not yet accepted Christ as their Messiah, the 3rd Temple is for them the final one.  For the Christian, the third temple will not be the final one.  A fourth, and much larger temple, will be built during the Millennial reign of Christ.


The Bible speaks of two previous Jewish Temples.




The First Temple was constructed by Solomon, who reigned from about 970 to 930 B.C (1 Chron., 22:14-15; 28:11-20).  In 1 Kings 6:1, we are told that the construction of the Temple began in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign as Israel’s king.  It was completed 7 years later, in 959 B.C.  It was laid waste by a Babylonian siege in 597 B.C..  11 years later (586 BC), the Babylonians burned it to the ground.


The Second Temple, known as the temple built by Herod the Great was operational during the time when Christ was here.  Its actual construction began more than 500 years earlier, by Zerubbabel, after the end of the Babylonian captivity, in about 520 B.C.  This Temple was completed in 4 years, in 516 B.C.


The Second Temple was modest in size and furnishing.  Later, Herod the Great remodeled and greatly expanded this temple.  To a great extent, he actually dismantled much of the temple, and, according to John 2:20, it took 46 years to build.  This would make the construction to have completed about the beginning of the public ministry of Jesus.  Herod did not live to see the project finished.


It was in this enlarged and expanded Second Jewish Temple and its grand courts where Jesus was circumcised at the age of 8 days (Luke 2:21-39).  Later, Jesus astonished the religious leaders here with his understanding and insight as a 12-year-old boy (Luke 2:41-50).  It was also here that Jesus entered and cleansed the temple by throwing out the money-changers and commercial vendors (John 2:12-25).


It is this temple about which Jesus prophesied in Matthew 24:2, where he said not one stone here will be left on another.  Everyone will be thrown down.  True to Jesus’ prophecy, this temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D.


In earlier lessons, we studied what the Bible says about the Mark of the Beast.  We examined the number 666.  There are other places in the Bible where the number 666 comes up, although they probably have no relationship with the Mark of the Beast.


1 Kings 10:14  (NIV) speaks of how rich Solomon was, and it speaks of his lust for more, even though he already had so much. 


14     The weight of the gold that Solomon received yearly was 666 talents,


That indeed is an ominous number.  666 talents translates to 803,000 ounces of gold (@$1650/oz. = $1,325,000,000).


In Ezra 2, we find a list of the people who returned from Babylon to their homeland with Zerubbabel.  Verse 13 tell us that from the Family of Adonikam, 666 children returned.


Let me bring your attention to another place where “666” is part of the picture, although, in this case, the Bible does not specifically mention the number.  When discussing the first two Jewish Temples, I find it at least interesting, although probably insignificant, that the years between the destruction of these two temples is about, if not exactly 666 years.  I lean towards it being exactly 666 years. Here’s the math.  As I mentioned earlier, the First Temple was besieged in 597 B.C.  And the Second Temple was destroyed by Rome in 70 A.D.  If you add those two numbers, you get 667 years. However, most chronologists believe the Gregorian Calendar allowed only one year between 1 b.c. and 1 a.d, when there would normally have been 2.  As a result, all calendars are off by one year.  That reduces the 667 by one to 666.  Again, probably only interesting, not significant.


As noted earlier, there have been two temples in Jerusalem.  The Bible also teaches there will be two future temple as well.


The Third Temple will be built – or at least in existence –  during the first half of the 7-year Tribulation.


The Fourth Temple will be built for the Millennial reign of Jesus Christ.  The plans and design for Temple #4 are given in Ezekiel, chapters 40 – 45.  Some have calculated that the millennial temple will be 40 times larger than the other 3.  The biblical instruction for the 4th temple implies 3rd temple has a limited life time.


It is the 3rd Temple that I want to address today.


For more than 19 centuries since the destruction of the second temple, the Jews have prayed daily for their temple’s rebuilding.  Since the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans in AD 70, temple sacrifices, offerings, and worship have ceased, in accordance  with what God says to us through the prophet Hosea.


Hosea 3:4-5  (NKJV) writes in about 746 B.C.


4       For the children of Israel shall abide many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar, without ephod or teraphim.

5       Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. They shall fear the Lord and His goodness in the latter days.


                   The last phrase, in the latter days, gives us the timing of this prophecy.


The story is told of Napoleon walking through the streets of Paris.  As he passes by a synagogue, he hears the sounds of people weeping inside.  He turns to his assistant and asks, “What’s going on with the Jews?”  “Today is Tisha B’Av,” came the reply, and the Jews are mourning the loss of their Temple.”  Napoleon looked toward the synagogue and said, “if the Jews are still crying after 1800 years, then I am certain the Temple will one day be rebuilt!”


All prophecy teachers who interpret the Scriptures literally agree that the Jewish temple in Israel will be rebuilt.  While there is no specific Scripture that says Temple #3 will be built, it is implied in a number a Passages.  It is known by Christians as the Tribulation Temple.  But both the Old and New Testaments allude to this temple’s existence.


The prophet Daniel, Jesus, Paul and John all refer to the temple in the last days.


Daniel 9:27 NIV


27     He will confirm a covenant with many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put an end to sacrifices and grain offerings.  And on a wing [of the temple] he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until his end that is decreed is poured out on him.


For the Jewish sacrificial and offerings system to be reinstated, a Jewish temple is required to be there.  And in order for the sacrifices  to be performed, the articles and equipment used, need to be in place, including bowls, forks, pitchers, altars and more.  This verse also says that the Antichrist (the one who enacts a treaty with the Jews) will step into the temple and desecrate it.


The apostle Paul says it this way.


2 Thessalonians 2:4 NIV


4       He [the Antichrist] 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.


This passage assumes the existence of the Temple by at least the mid-point in the 7-year Tribulation.  It is at this time that we find the Antichrist taking over the Temple, and he defiles it, proclaiming himself to be God.


Here are a couple of additional Scriptures implying the existence of a temple during the Tribulation.


In Revelation 11:1-2  (NIV), John says

1       I was given a reed like a measuring rod and was told, "Go and measure the temple of God and the altar, and count the worshipers there.

2       But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months.”


The mention of the 42 months, as well as the context in which we find this Passage, tells us that the last half of the Tribulation is in view here.  A temple has to exist at that time in order for it to be measured.


Daniel 12:11  NIV


11     From the time that the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination that causes desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days.


                   Only a properly consecrated temple can be defiled or desecrated.


Matthew 24:15 NIV


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 -


The Lord had in mind the Passage in Daniel 9:27, which we read just a moment ago.  Later in Daniel, the abominable act of the Antichrist is again reiterated.


Daniel 11:31 NIV


31     His armed forces will rise up to desecrate the temple fortress and will abolish the daily sacrifice. Then they will set up the abomination that causes desolation.


                   This implies a functioning, dedicated 3rd Temple and priesthood in existence.


All of these Passages make it clear that the Jewish people will rebuild the temple in Jerusalem before the mid-point of the Tribulation.  Five of the six Scriptures we have just looked at link the rebuilt temple with the Antichrist.  All of these 5 speak about his desecration of this sacred place.


Daniel, John and Christ all place the timing of desecration in the middle of the Tribulation.  It is the event that leads to what Christ calls the Great Tribulation.  The second half of the 7-year Tribulation is more severe than the first, and the first half is no picnic.  Clearly, if the temple is to be desecrated at that point, it must have been built earlier.


Zechariah 1:14-16 NIV


14     Then the angel who was speaking to me said, "Proclaim this word: This is what the LORD Almighty says: `I am very jealous for Jerusalem and Zion,

15     but I am very angry with the nations that feel secure. I was only a little angry, but they added to the calamity.'

16     Therefore, this is what the LORD says: `I will return to Jerusalem with mercy, and there my house will be rebuilt. And the measuring line will be stretched out over Jerusalem,' declares the LORD Almighty.


                   Yes, there will be a Third Temple built prior to the middle of the Tribulation.


If we are living in the End Times, and I think we are, my question is: Are you ready?  If you are not sure, please don’t wait any longer.  Pray a prayer like this:


Dear Jesus, I do believe Your death on the cross paid for my sins.  I want to live with You forever in heaven.  Help me find people who can help me grow in my understanding of You.  Protect me from false teachings and give me discernment to know You Truth.  Teach me how to live for You from this moment forward.  Thank you, Jesus.  Amen.