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ON THE PLAN TO BUILD THE THIRD TEMPLE (PART 17): Tribulation and the Third Temple

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Accusations come in hot and heavy diatribe that those who hold to a literal interpretation of Bible prophecy want a Third Temple built on Moriah to bring on Armageddon and the return of Christ. This, of course, is nonsense. No true students of biblical eschatology from the literalist viewpoint have any these ambitions. Those who hold such a prophetic worldview simply watch with studied interest the developments leading toward Christ’s Second Advent. They understand that what has been given by the Old Testament and New Testament prophets will come to pass. The question is only when.

There is no wish on the part of these observers for suffering to begin and Armageddon to come. But, it will all happen exactly as God’s prophetic Word has foretold. The faithful Bible student’s heavenly firective is to faithfully and accurately do his or her best to discern the signs of the times during these—as the late Dr. Chuck Missler once put it—“times of the signs.”

Nevertheless, the truth of God’s Word cannot be changed. The Third Temple will be the edifice the most despicable tyrant of history—Antichrist—will invade and desecrate as he declares himself to be God. This will begin the most terrible time in Jewish—and human—history, according to Jeremiah the prophet (Jeremiah 30:7) and the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 24:21).

It is the Christian’s purpose to lift the holy name of Jesus Christ so that men, women, and children of all races will be drawn to him by the Holy Spirit for salvation. This must never be lost on us while things prophesied unfold during these times so near Christ’s return to make all things right on Planet Earth. The Tribulation is something all Christians should warn the world against being a part of, regardless of whether Gentile or Jew. As has clearly been established, the Tribulation—the last seven years of human history also known as “Daniel’s seventieth week”—is prophesied to be the most terrible time that human beings will ever endure. The event is based on the prophet Daniel’s prophecy of 490 years that will culminate with Christ’s Second Advent (Second Coming). Israel (the remaining Israelites who believe in Messiah, Jesus Christ), will then enter the Millennial Kingdom and a thousand-year period of rest and plenty.

The seventy weeks are actually based upon 490 years divided by seventy. Each of the seventy weeks contains seven 360-day Jewish calendar years. The last seven years are a time of unprecedented trouble.

Dr. Thomas Ice writes the following:

We know from the beginning of chapter 9 (verse 2) that Daniel had read about “the number of years which was revealed as the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years.” The two passages which Daniel surely studied were Jeremiah 25:11–12 and 29:10–14. Both texts clearly speak of Israel’s Babylonian captivity as limited to a 70-year period. Both passages also blend into their texts, statements that look forward to a time of ultimate fulfillment and blessing for the nation of Israel. This is why Daniel appears to think that when the nation returns to their land, then ultimate blessing (the millennial kingdom) will coincide with their return.

Ice goes on to write that Daniel’s error was pointed out to the prophet.

“Daniel appears to think that when the nation returns to their land, then ultimate blessing (the millennial kingdom) will coincide with their return. Daniel’s errant thinking about the timing of God’s plan for Israel occasioned the Lord’s sending of Gabriel “to give you insight with understanding” (Dan. 9:22).

God was not yet ready to bring history to its destined final climax. Thus, He told Daniel that He was going to stretch out history by seventy times seven years (i.e., 490 years).

Study, and history proves to those who believe in these judgments as literal, and accept God’s dealing dispensationally with Israel, in particular, and with mankind in general, that 69 of the prophetic weeks (483 years) have been fulfilled. The last week of 7 years will begin…with the confirming of the covenant by “the prince that shall come” (Dan. 9: 27).[i]

From Moriah to Millennium

Mount Moriah is the centerpiece of the wrap-up of the age, according to Jesus Christ.

Before He sat upon the Mount of Olives, just prior to His crucifixion, the Lord told His disciples to “see all these things,” meaning to look upon the Temple and its vastness and beauty. As they did so, He said that all of it would be torn down. Not one stone would be left upon another. He then launched into a series of end-times prophecies after answering their question: “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3).

Moriah was to become a barren surface. And, history shows that the Romans indeed inundated that surface with salt so that nothing would grow there. They intended for the Jews to never have a house of worship there again. They wanted to assure that no further rebellion would arise from that promontory.

Rome, for a time, looked at the Second Temple as a possession of the empire and as an asset of sorts. But, with Jewish rebellion, the Roman soldiers under Titus became enraged. The Temple was set on fire—some believe due to an accident—and the destruction began.

The Roman soldiers were allowed to take whatever booty they could find from victory, so they took the Temple apart stone by stone. This is because the Temple walls and nooks and crannies of the building was adorned with gold and silver, and in some places, with precious gemstones. Thus, the soldiers took the building apart to get every last bit of these materials they could find.

Jesus’ words to His disciples were fulfilled in AD 70, thirty something years later.

Yet, in that same Olivet Discourse, Jesus indicated that the Temple Mount would one day be occupied by a Jewish Temple again:

When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)

Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:

Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house:

Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.

And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!

But pray that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:

For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. (Matthew 24:15–21)

Let us now look at what rolls out, prophetically, from that Olivet moment until the glorious, millennial reign of Christ comes into human history.

The Temple of Ezekiel

In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be the excellent and splendid for those who are escaped of Israel.

And it shall come to pass, that he who is left in Zion, and he who remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem.

When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from its midst by the spirit of justice, and by the spirit of burning.

And the Lord will create upon every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for upon all the glory shall be a defense.

And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain. (Isaiah 4:2–6)

Locations have been found of where two temples stood in the past on the Temple Mount. The “First Temple”—Solomon’s Temple—was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar’s forces, the armies of Babylon. The destruction took place on the 9th of Av in 586 BC. Jewish exiles, approximately seventy years later, were allowed to return to Jerusalem to build an altar, the Second Jewish Temple, and finally the walls of the city.

The Second Temple, although much less grand, was later greatly enlarged and expanded by Herod the Great. This Second Temple was the one in which Jesus was dedicated, and where He taught and cast out the money-changers on two occasions.

The Day of Pentecost following the resurrection of Jesus found Jewish believers assembled for prayer in the Temple courts (Acts 2). There the Holy Spirit came from Heaven to begin the calling out of a new group of believers (both Jews and Gentiles)—a body now known as the church of Jesus Christ. Preaching by the apostles and public miracles recorded in the book of Acts took place in the courts just outside this structure. But the now-magnificent Second Temple was destroyed by General Titus and besieging Roman armies on the 9th of Av in AD 70. This destruction had been predicted by Jesus earlier (see Matthew 24 and Luke 21). Since that time, no Jewish temple has been built on the site, therefore no blood sacrifices for sin have been possible for religious Jews up to the present day.

There are three references to a Third Temple standing at some point on Mount Moriah. Additionally, there are scriptural references to a Fourth Temple that will one day be the edifice at which all people will pay homage to the King of all kings, Jesus Christ.

Jews have an intense interest in the place where the First and Second Temples stood because this is where they await the building of the Third Temple. That structure must be placed upon the hallowed ground where the Holy of Holies once sat. The problem, of course, is that the entire Temple Mount is under the control of the Muslim Waqf. This site has been under such control since it was allowed by Israeli General Moshe Dayan to go into Jordanian hands following Israel’s victory in the 1967 Six Day War. It is still a mystery to many why Dayan agreed to such a thing.



The Third and Fourth Jewish Temples

Although the number is growing, only a small portion of Orthodox Jewish believers in Israel believe the Messiah will build the coming Third Temple. Groups like the Temple Institute, however, are dedicated to preparing for every aspect of Temple worship. They believe it can be restarted at first opportunity. Their constant planning, of course, causes great angst among those opposed to such an eventuation. And, the opposition comes from the Islamist factions in and around Jerusalem, Islam in general, and almost the entire so-called international community.

Christians, of course, believe that the Messiah who was promised to the Jewish people, Jesus the Christ (Yeshua,) came to Earth already. He will come a second time to establish His millennial kingdom on the Earth, ruling for a thousand years in Jerusalem from the throne of His forefather, King David.

Although the New Testament speaks three times of the existence of a Third Jewish Temple in Jerusalem at the end of the present age, the fate of that Third Temple is not presented in the New Testament.

An immense and devastating earthquake is predicted for when Jesus’ foot touches down on the Mount of Olives at His Second Coming. Most of Jerusalem will be destroyed when that quake occurs. There will be great topographical changes. A valley will rip through the region, and water will flow from the holy mountain to the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea. These changes in the entire land when Messiah comes are spoken of in numerous passages of the Bible.

Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.

Speak ye tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned; for she hath received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill be made low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain.

And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. (Isaiah 40:1–5, quoted in Luke 3:5; emphasis added)

And it shall come to pass…saith the Lord God, that my fury shall come up in my face.

For in my jealousy and in the fire of my wrath have I spoken, Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel;

So that the fish of the sea, and the fowls of the heavens,, and the beasts of the field, and all creeping things that creep on the earth, and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall quake at my presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground. (Ezekiel 38:18–22, emphasis added)

And the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done.

And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.

And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell; and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.

And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.

And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent; and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague was exceedingly great. (Revelation 16:17–21)

For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled and the women ravished; half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.

Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle.

And his feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives shall cleave in its midst toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley;  and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.

And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach untio Azel; yea, ye shall flee, as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days Uzziah, king of Judah; and the Lord my God, shall come, and all the saints with thee.

And it shall come to pass, in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark,

But it shall be one day which shall be known to the Lord, not day, nor night; but it shall come to pass that, at evening time, it shall be light.

And it shall be, in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea; in summer and in winter shall it be.

And the Lord shall be king over all the earth; in that day shall there be one Lord, his name one.

All the land shall be turned like the Arabah from  Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem; and it shall be lifted up, and inhabited in its place, from Benjamin’s gate unto the place of the first gate, unto the corner gate, and from the towar of Hananel unto the king’s winepresses.

 (Zechariah 14:2–10)

From all the carnage that will come from this devastation, it is easy to presume that the Third Temple sitting atop Moriah will be destroyed. When Christ’s foot touches down, the land will be shaken so hard that the very mountains of the world will fall flat. The very topography will certainly have to be rearranged greatly. This is because the Fourth Temple—the one Jesus will Himself have constructed on the Temple site at that time, will be enormous—much larger than the previous structures.

The prophet Ezekiel, in chapters 40–48, presents in great detail a future Temple in Israel that is much too expansive to fit on the present site that is believed to be where the Temples once sat. The Temple of Ezekiel proper measures about 875 feet square, and it sits in the middle of a large consecrated area. Bible scholar Lambert Dolphin writes:

Ezekiel’s temple is also very different in many details from any previous temples that have existed in Israel (or elsewhere). Therefore most Bible scholars believe there will one day exist in the Holy Land a Fourth or “Millennial” Temple.

Ezekiel also describes the reapportionment of the land in specific lots during the millennial kingdom. The temple and the temple district are not part of the rebuilt city of Jerusalem according to the details of this reapportionment. Note that the Temple area will be located to the North of rebuilt Jerusalem:

“When you allot the land as a possession, you shall set apart for the Lord a portion of the land as a holy district, twenty-five thousand cubits long and twenty thousand cubits broad; it shall be holy throughout its whole extent. Of this a square plot of five hundred by five hundred cubits shall be for the sanctuary, with fifty cubits for an open space around it. And in the holy district you shall measure off a section twenty-five thousand cubits long and ten thousand broad, in which shall be the sanctuary, the most holy place. It shall be the holy portion of the land; it shall be for the priests, who minister in the sanctuary and approach the Lord to minister to him; and it shall be a place for their houses and a holy place for the sanctuary. Another section, twenty-five thousand cubits long and ten thousand cubits broad, shall be for the Levites who minister at the temple, as their possession for cities to live in.”

“Alongside the portion set apart as the holy district you shall assign for the possession of the city an area five thousand cubits broad, and twenty-five thousand cubits long it shall belong to the whole house of Israel.”

“And to the prince shall belong the land on both sides of the holy district and the property of the city, on the west and on the east, corresponding in length to one of the tribal portions, and extending from the western to the eastern boundary of the land. It is to be his property in Israel. And my princes shall no more oppress my people; but they shall let the house of Israel have the land according to their tribes.” (Ezekiel 45:1–8.)

Adjoining the territory of Judah, from the east side to the west, shall be the portion which you shall set apart, twenty-five thousand cubits in breadth, and in length equal to one of the tribal portions, from the east side to the west, with the sanctuary in the midst of it. The portion which you shall set apart for the Lord shall be twenty-five thousand cubits in length, and twenty thousand in breadth. (Ezekiel 48).[ii]

Many Bible scholars hold that the purpose of the Fourth Jewish Temple (Ezekiel 40–45) will be to serve as a memorial to the holiness of God. It will apparently be a teaching center to instruct men about proper worship during Christ’s millennial reign on earth.

Because the bloodline of humanity will still be tainted by the original sin from the Fall in the Garden of Eden, people born during the thousand-year reign of Christ will have to be redeemed from sin if they are to go to Heaven. The Temple will, in part, be in place to remind everyone of the substitutionary death of Jesus on the cross, as the “Lamb of God,” more than two thousand years earlier.

NEXT: Fourth Temple Thoughts

[i] Dr. Thomas Ice, “Daniel’s Seventieth Week.”

[ii] Lambert Dolphin, “Ezekiel’s Third Temple,”, Lambert Dolphin’s Library, The Temple Mount Web Site, Revised May 31, 1995, April 19, 1996, January 18, 1997, November 7, 1997. March 1, 2000. December 4, 2001. July 14, 2002. July 13, 2004.

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