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ON THE PLAN TO BUILD THE THIRD TEMPLE (PART 6): Would Discovery Of The Ark Of The Covenant Initiate Construction?

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The peace process being foisted upon God’s chosen people, then, is likened to the minute hand on God’s prophetic timepiece. With that minute hand moving steadily toward merging at the 12 with Israel, the hour hand, it is appropriate to look carefully at the second hand, which is moving incrementally toward the final instant at the midnight hour of fulfillment of Bible prophecy.

To begin looking at developments moving toward the building of the Third Temple, consider the words of one of the foremost authorities on the subject. Dr. Randall Price, author, Bible scholar, university professor, and world-renowned biblical archaeologist, gives this brief introduction to matters involving efforts to rebuild the Temple on Moriah:

The importance of rebuilding the Temple to Orthodox Judaism lies in its conception of the redemption of the world, which they believe can only take place once the Temple is rebuilt. Gershon Salomon, Director, Temple Mount Faithful, an organization that has been trying to prepare Israeli society to accept and promote the rebuilding of the Temple through demonstrations at the Temple site, the construction of a cornerstone for the Third Temple, and the making of various Temple-related utensils, has said: “[Building the Third Temple] is an act which must be done to complete the redemption of the people of the Bible in the Land of the Bible. I cannot imagine an Israeli State or Israeli life in this country without the Temple Mount in the center of this life.”

However, many religious Jews do not support this idea because they have adopted a Diaspora mentality and a spiritualized way of thinking, which sets aside hope in a literal fulfillment of the biblical prophecies regarding a future Temple. For them, the present political situation on the Temple Mount with Muslims controlling the site is acceptable. Jewish leaders in the Temple movement understand that the Jewish people are not living on the spiritual level God intended because of the absence of the Shekinah (Divine Presence) from the world. Rabbi Chaim Richman, Director of the Temple Institute which has produced all the ritual vessels necessary for the function of the Temple and works to train priests for this future work, says there is a connection between the need for a new level of spiritual attainment and the rebuilding of the Temple: “The Shekinah is brought about only through the Temple.…in terms of our mission as a people, we cannot in any way reach our spiritual status without the Temple.” So, for Orthodox Judaism, the present problems of the world, and especially the Jewish People, can only be solved by the rebuilding of the Temple.

But, are we any closer to the rebuilding of the Temple today? The world is radically opposed to Israel’s claims in Jerusalem, much less their contested ownership of the Temple Mount. On a practical level, Jews are banned by Israeli law from praying at the site, and those who visit are daily accosted by Muslims (such as the Women in Black who maintain a constant vigil on Jewish presence at the site). In addition, the Islamic authorities officially deny that a Temple ever existed at the site. Nevertheless, recent developments have taken place that contribute to the Temple Movement’s goals and the realization of the rebuilding of the Temple in our lifetime.

Answering the charge of Temple denial, archaeologists discovered in decades old research, that the site of the Al-Aqsa mosque, believed by Muslims to have been built by Abraham, was once a place for Jewish ritual preparation for entering the Temple. The evidence for this came from a filed report by British archaeologist Robert Hamilton who had documented excavations of the mosque’s foundations after it was destroyed in an earthquake in 1927. He discovered beneath the floor of the mosque the remains of a Jewish miqveh (ritual pool used for purification). It dated to the time of the Second Temple when Jews immersed at this site before entering the Temple precincts. These findings, hidden deep in the British Mandatory archives department because they embarrassed Muslim officials, now provide evidence that the ancient Temple stood on the modern Temple Mount and was a place of Jewish presence.

Concerning the preparations for the Temple service, the Sanhedrin has taken steps necessary to reinstating the future Temple service. One project Update on the Rebuilding of the Third Temple.[i]

David, king of Israel, wanted to build a house wherein God could reside. Jehovah, who called David “a man after my own heart,” proposed the question of whether He could be contained in such a structure. The answer, of course, is no.

The Lord did appreciate the thought, though, obviously. He told David that he couldn’t build a place where God could dwell among men in that fashion. David had too much blood on his hands from all the wars he had fought to defend Israel and acquire land God had given the chosen people. Instead, God told David that Solomon, David’s son, would build God such a dwelling place. The Temple that Solomon built had at its heart the Holy of Holies, a fifteen-foot-cubed inner sanctum that housed the Ark of the Covenant, the elaborately prepared container wherein the shekinah glory, the very presence of God, would dwell.

That spot is still somewhere upon the Temple Mount—Mt. Moriah, most scholars believe. Religious Jews still are afraid to walk upon the Temple Mount grounds for fear of accidentally treading upon that one spot on earth where God chose to reside.

The Temple and the Holy of Holies constituted God’s touchstone to humanity—and particularly to the Jews. It is where Abraham went to offer Isaac before God intervened with the ram caught by its horns in a thicket, thus providing the sacrifice Abraham made to the God of Heaven.

Not far from the spot of the Holy of Holies is Golgotha, where Jesus Christ hung on the cross. When Christ died, the veil in the Temple’s Holy of Holies tore from top to bottom, giving man direct access to God the Father through that sin sacrifice, God’s only begotten Son.

Solomon’s Temple, then, was the First Temple. It was so glorious that it stunned even the queen of Sheba when her eyes fell upon its splendor.

Nebuchadnezzar destroyed it in 587 BC, and a Second Temple was completed in 516 BC, following Israel’s Babylonian captivity. This structure became known as Herod’s Temple, because it was commissioned by the king to be greatly expanded and beautified to the extent that it was considered magnificent by those who looked upon it.

This Temple was destroyed by the Roman military in AD 70, when Roman Emperor Vespasian sent his son, General Titus, to put down insurrection in Jerusalem. This fulfilled Daniel’s prophecy (see Daniel 9:26–27) and Jesus’ foretelling (as recorded in Matthew 24:1–2).

The Third Temple is foretold to be in place during the last seven years of human history prior to Christ’s return. Daniel prophesied about Antichrist: “In the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease” (Daniel 9:27b). This last, vicious tyrant will enter the Third Temple and desecrate it.

Paul the apostle says of that future Temple and Antichrist: “Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God” (2 Thessalonians 2:4).

We will take an in-depth look at things involving these prophesied matters later.

The Third Temple is mentioned in the last book of the Bible. In Revelation 11:1–2, John is told to “measure” the Temple. This, apparently, is a symbolic way to assess its spiritual status.

Exactly when the Third Temple will be built is unknown. We know only that it will exist during the Tribulation—specifically, at the three and a half-year mark of that seven-year span.

Many who study the Third Temple believe its planning and construction must be begun well in advance of the Tribulation era. Its completion, they believe, will take quite some time. Others hold that the Jews are even now considering building a tent-like structure similar to Moses’ Tabernacle. They believe that worship, with sacrifices reinstituted, could be going on in such a place while the more grandiose Temple is constructed around the temporary structure.

There are, of course, problems working against beginning the construction of the Third Temple.

Dr. David Reagan has weighed in on some details:

Currently there are two major obstacles to the reconstruction of The Third Temple. One pertains to its location. The next temple can only be built where the two previous temples stood because the Holy of Holies must be on the exact same spot. But no one knows for sure where the previous temples were located on the Temple Mount. Most scholars believe that they stood where the Dome of the Rock currently stands. That conclusion may be wrong, but there is no way to prove the exact location without conducting archeological excavations on the Temple Mount, something which is currently prohibited by the Muslims. If the Third Temple is to be built where the Dome of the Rock now stands, then that Muslim structure must first of all be removed either by Man or God. It could, of course be burned to the ground by a saboteur, or it could be destroyed by an earthquake.

The second obstacle is the attitude of the Jewish people and their leaders. Currently, there is no desire among [most of] them to build a third temple. The average Israeli is very secular. He knows that any attempt to build a third temple would result in immediate war with the Muslims. Only a handful of ultra-Orthodox Jews have a passion for The Third Temple. They are the ones who have made all the preparations. But they have no popular support. Something will have to happen to create a surge of nationalistic pride that will demand a new temple.  This catalytic event could be the discovery of the Ark of the Covenant.[ii]



Reagan’s comments about “a surge of nationalistic pride” and “the discovery of the Ark of the Covenant” are intriguing, because the original Temple built by King Solomon was to be God’s dwelling place on earth and the repository of the Ark of the Covenant. Such a discovery (or unveiling, if the Ark has already been recovered and is in safekeeping) in modern times would ignite international support for a new Holy of Holies—and thus a Third Temple—to house the gold-covered, sacred wooden chest of the ancient Hebrews.

Some argue that the Ark rests beneath the Temple Mount directly below the Dome of the Rock, where the original Holy of Holies existed. When the Babylonians destroyed the first Temple, they hauled away many of the sacred vessels. But the location of the Ark of the Covenant was unknown, reportedly because King Josiah hid it from the Babylonians who sacked the Temple. Some say this secret location remains below the original resting place of the Ark in the Temple of Solomon.

Maimonides—the medieval Sephardic Jewish philosopher who is considered one of the most prolific and influential Torah scholars of the Middle Ages—recounted from the ancient sages:

When Solomon built the Temple, he was aware that it would ultimately be destroyed. [Therefore,] he constructed a chamber, in which the ark could be entombed below [the Temple building] in deep, maze-like vaults.

King Josiah commanded that [the Ark] be entombed in the chamber built by Solomon, as it is said (II Chronicles 35:3): “And he said to the Levites who would teach wisdom to all of Israel: ‘Place the Holy Ark in the chamber built by Solomon, the son of David, King of Israel. You will no [longer] carry it on your shoulders. Now, serve the Lord, your God’”

When it was entombed, Aaron’s staff, the vial of manna, and the oil used for anointing were entombed with it. All these [sacred articles] did not return in the Second Temple.[iii]

Whether that location beneath the Temple Mount will produce the Ark of the Covenant, the ancient Jewish midrash promises, “When the Jewish people are gathered in from the exiles from the four corners of the world [officially began in 1948], they will suddenly find the holy vessels of the Temple.”[iv]

Ark Hidden at Mount Nebo in Jordan?

The late Christian genius (and my personal friend) David Flynn made an alternative argument for exactly where the Ark of the Covenant may be discovered. In chapter 8 of his masterpiece, Temple at the Center of Time, he speculated:

Most researchers consider the Ark lost from view after the narrative of Solomon’s temple in the Bible, and various theories have been proposed as to the Ark’s fate through history. Many historians speculate that because Babylon destroyed the Temple of Solomon, it also removed the Ark to Babylon. There it is said the Ark was eventually destroyed along with the other artifacts from the temple, the gold melted down and set into coins for their treasury. It is difficult to imagine that the Babylonians would have destroyed it however, if they’d even captured it at all.

The Book of Daniel makes specific mention of the golden menorah from the temple of Jerusalem in the palace of Belshazzar. The Babylonian king had preserved it, a major artifact from the Jewish temple, in an attempt to demonstrate the superiority of Babylonia’s gods to the God of the Hebrews. That the menorah was set on display in this manner underscores how unlikely the Babylonians would have been to destroy the Ark, the greatest symbol of the God of the Hebrews. It would have been considered an ultimate statement of the superiority of the Babylonians if it had been obtained. The Bible documents the menorah having remained intact until the last night of Babylonian rule. Its light illuminated the scene of the writing on the wall in the book of Daniel. After the fall of Babylon, the Medes and Persians were friendly to the Jews and allowed them to rebuild the temple. It is most likely that the menorah was returned along with the other furnishings and vessels that had been captured by Nebuchadnezzar. However, the Ark was mentioned as not existing in the second temple of Zerubbabel, the raised foundation stone was the only feature inside the Holy of Holies.[v]

Certain tracts of the Midot in the Jewish Talmud dealing with temple laws, practices and rituals allude to the creation of more than one Ark, the second made as a decoy to protect the original. It claims that certain articles of the temple furnishing including the true Ark remain in a secret vault underneath the temple mount in Jerusalem.[vi] However, it seems highly unlikely that the Ark would have been left to fate under the temple mount, open to any treasure hunter with the motivation to merely dig. It is difficult to explain how the location could remain secret, as Jerusalem remained open for excavation and plundering for hundreds of years after its fall to the Romans in AD 70. Motivated treasure seekers over the ensuing centuries have had ample time to excavate the area underneath the temple.

The recovery of the Temple treasure of Solomon was the highest goal of the Knights Templar that established their center on the Temple Mount during the crusades. The fact was documented in 1884, when the British conducted an ordinance survey of the Jerusalem and discovered Templar artifacts, left in extensive tunneling beneath the temple mount.[vii] As to the extent of the underground features, a later publication of the British survey explained:

Jerusalem, as is well known, is honeycombed with excavated caves, natural caverns, cisterns cut in the rock, subterranean passages and aqueducts…. In its underground chambers and catacombs it is richer than any known city.[viii]

Various Judaic sects of Ethiopia believe that the Ark has been guarded and kept in the city of Axum in their country for thousands of years.[ix] The legend claims that it was brought to Axum by the son of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, Prince Menelik I. It has been said that Menelik removed the Ark from the Temple at the behest of his father in order that it be kept safe after the division of his kingdom (into Judah and Israel), because Solomon knew that the dissolution of his kingdom was inevitable after his death. First Kings 11:9–12 says that the Lord Himself told Solomon that…

…the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the Lord God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice.…Wherefore the Lord said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant. Notwithstanding in thy days I will not do it for David thy father’s sake: [but] I will rend it out of the hand of thy son.[x]

Though intriguing, the legend of Menelik I is not consistent with the biblical record, as will be shown in this series. If the Ark was not moved to Ethiopia, it is speculated that after the division of the Kingdom of Solomon, Rehoboam, King of Judah, gave the Ark to the Egyptian Pharaoh Shisak (Sheshonk I, ca. 929 or 924 BC) to avoid the destruction of Jerusalem by his armies, ca. 940 BC.

So Shishak King of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, and took away the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king’s house; he took all.[xi]

Some historians believe that the Egyptians took the Ark and hid it underground in the city of Tanis, Egypt, the seat of Shishak’s dynasty. The location was lost over the course of history.[xii] Because it was written that Shishak “took all” the articles of the Temple, many researchers conclude that the Ark was among the spoils taken to Egypt. However, after Judah’s conflict with Shishak, the Temple was ransacked again seventy years later by Jehoash, king of Israel. At that time, the Temple treasures were removed to Samaria.[xiii] In this instance, as with the encounter with Shishak, the Bible again uses the phrase, “All the temple treasures were removed.” Despite these two accounts, the Ark appears again in the biblical narrative when King Josiah ordered the return of the Ark of the Covenant to the Temple.[xiv] This occurred more than two hundred years after the pillage of the Temple by Jehoash, and three hundred years after the pillage of Shishak.

And [Josiah] said unto the Levites that taught all Israel, which were holy unto the Lord, Put the holy ark in the house which Solomon the son of David king of Israel did build; [it shall] not [be] a burden upon [your] shoulders.[xv]

This one biblical passage renders the legends of the Ark’s present location in Axum, Ethiopia, or in Tanis, Egypt, completely impossible, as both theories place the hiding of the Ark several hundred years before the reign of King Josiah. It was a central feature of the Temple of Jerusalem and reinstitution of worship during the reign of Josiah.

It is noteworthy, also, that the Bible is extremely detailed concerning the only account of the Ark’s capture by the foremost enemy of Israel, the Philistines. After the vessel had been captured by the Philistines, their entire country was afflicted by God. The judgment was so great that the people begged their lords to find a respectful way to transport the Ark back to its rightful place, and it was returned. It is illogical that the same judgments would not have befallen any other country that removed the Ark from the Israelites. Although God allowed its capture by the Philistines due to the idolatry of Israel, the pagan Philistines were certainly not able to abide its presence. For that matter, either Babylon—the epitome of world idolatry—or Egypt would survive the Ark’s presence. Certainly, if one of these countries had captured it, the account would be as notable as the removal by the Philistines. Yet, no scriptural record of such an event exists.

Robert Jamieson’s biblical commentary explains the Ark’s location before its return to the Temple in the reign of Josiah, king of Judah:

Some think that it had been ignominiously put away from the sanctuary by order of some idolatrous king, probably Manasseh, who set a carved image in the house of God (2 Chronicles 33:7), or Amon; while others are of opinion that it had been temporarily removed by Josiah himself into some adjoining chamber, during the repairs on the temple. In replacing it, the Levites had evidently carried it upon their shoulders, deeming that still to be the duty, which the law imposed on them. But Josiah reminded them of the change of circumstances. As the service of God was now performed in a fixed and permanent temple, they were not required to be bearers of the ark any longer; and, being released from the service, they should address themselves with the greater alacrity to the discharge of other functions.[xvi]

An amazing story follows the reinstitution of the Ark to the Temple of God in the account of Josiah’s death:

After all this, when Josiah had prepared the temple, Necho king of Egypt came up to fight against Carchemish by Euphrates: and Josiah went out against him. But he sent ambassadors to him, saying, what have I to do with thee, thou king of Judah? [I come] not against thee this day, but against the house wherewith I have war: for God commanded me to make haste: forbear thee from [meddling with] God, who [is] with me, that he destroy thee not. Nevertheless Josiah would not turn his face from him, but disguised himself, that he might fight with him, and hearkened not unto the words of Necho from the mouth of God, and came to fight in the valley of Megiddo.[xvii]

This supports Vilikovski’s claim that the Egyptian pharaohs revered the God of Abraham in the time of the kings of Israel and Judah. Although King Josiah and the people of Judah had a strong bias for alliance with Egypt, during the reign of Manasseh, the country had become a vassal of Assyria. Josiah thought himself bound to support the interests of Assyria. Therefore, when “Necho King of Egypt” came up to fight Carchemish, Josiah went out against him. Bible commentators are not agreed whether Necho had been given a divine commission by the God of Israel, or whether he merely used the name of God as an authority that Josiah would not refuse to obey.[xviii] However, it appears likely that God was a benefactor to the pharaoh, as the Bible records Josiah’s death by Necho’s archers.[xix]

Jeremiah the prophet lamented the death of Josiah when his body returned after the battle. In 2 Chronicles 35:25, Jeremiah had been a major force in Josiah’s restitution of the Ark to the Temple of Solomon. He was also the main player in the most well documented and biblical account of the fate of the Ark and theory of its present location.

NEXT: The Mountain of the Ark

[i] Dr. Randall Price, World of the Bible.

[ii] Dr. David Reagan, “The Third Temple: When Will It Be Built?” Lion and Lamb Ministries,

[iii] “Devarim,” Chabad of the West Side,

[iv] “Has the Ark of the Covenant Been Discovered?” Israel Video Network, September 1, 2017,

[v] Talmud Yoma’ v.2. Translated by Michael L. Rodkinson. (New York: New Talmud Pub. Co.1903).

[vi] Mishnah, in Tractate Shkalim, it is written: “A priest in the Second Temple saw a section the floor which was different from the other floors and he understood that in this place there was an entrance to an underground tunnel and he came and shared it with his friend. Before he could finish sharing what he had seen with his friends, he died. They then knew very clearly that that was the place where the Ark of the Covenant was hidden.” According to Maimonides, Solomon knew that the Temple would be destroyed in the future and prepared a repository for the Ark underneath the Temple mount. Later King Josiah hid the Ark in Solomon’s secret vault. Maimonides, The Book of Temple Service, 17. also Hilchot Beit HaBecheirah 4:1 and Tractate Yoma, 53b. Translated by Michael L. Rodkinson. New York: New Talmud Pub. Co.1903.

[vii] Captain Charles W. Wilson, Ordinance Survey of Jerusalem (London: Palestine Exploration Fund, 1884).

[viii] Major Condor, Our Work in Palestine (London: Palestine Exploration Fund, 1866).

[ix] Kebra Nagast, Miguel F. Brooks, Ed., Glory of Kings (Lawrenceville, NJ: Red Sea Press, 1996) 46.

[x] 1 Kings 11:9–12m KJV

[xi] 2 Chronicles12:9, KJV.

[xii] Columbia Encyclopedia, 3rd ed. (New York: Columbia University, 1963) 453.

[xiii] Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, 1871 (Hendrickson Publishers, New Edition, March 1, 1997).

[xiv] 2 Chronicles 26:24, KJV.

[xv] 2 Chronicles 35:3, KJV.

[xvi] Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible.

[xvii] 2 Chronicles 35:20, KJV.

[xviii] Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible.

[xix] 2 Chronicles 35:22–24, KJV.

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