Today I’d like to talk about a topic that you may or may not be familiar with: the Third Temple. The Temple that I am referring to is the Jewish Temple spoken of in the Bible that God commanded His people, the Israelites, to build where sacrifices and offerings were to be made to atone for their sins.
Presently, this Temple does not exist. The first Temple, constructed by King Solomon was destroyed in 587 B.C. by the Babylonians at the hand of King Nebuchadnezzer II. The second Temple, built under the governance of Zerubbabel, was destroyed in the year 70 A.D. at the hands of Roman Emperor Titus.
Since the destruction of the second Temple, there has been no other Jewish temple built on what’s known as the Temple Mount, in Jerusalem. However, what does sit atop the Mount where the temple once stood are two Islamic structres: The Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. As such, this location has become arguably one of the most hotly contested and debated pieces of real estate on the Earth, thus becoming the source of much conflict between Jews and Muslims.
So, why am I writing about this subject? As a Christian, there is no need for there to be a Temple in order to worship and have a relationship with God. My relationship with God has been made possible through the work of and my faith in Jesus Christ. I have no need to give sacrifices and offerings for the forgiveness of my sins; Jesus Himself is my sacrifice by which my sins have been forgiven and atoned for once and for all. So, why should a Jewish Temple matter to me at all as a Christian?
Well, the reason why it matters has to do with Bible prophecy. The vast majority of Christians across alomst every denomination believe that one day in the future, Jesus is going to return to Earth to establish His Kingdom as prophesied in the Bible. (Matt. 16, 24, 25, Lk. 12, 17) However, before Jesus returns, it is also prophesied in the Word of God that another Jewish Temple, a Third Temple, will exist. Because of this, the idea of a third temple instantly takes on significance for Christians. It’s significant because it is a signal of the soon return of Jesus.
In the Book of Matthew, Jesus makes referece to a Third Temple when He states:
Matthew 24:15-16 “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” whoever reads, let him understand, “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.
The term “Holy Place” is a reference to the inner most room of the Jewish Temple which housed the Ark of the Covenant (you know, that thing you see in Indiana Jones) and where the presence of God used to reside. Given that the Second Temple was destroyed, for Jesus to make the statement above, it means He was actually speaking of a Third Temple.
Another place where a Third Temple is predicted in the Bible is in the Book of Daniel. An angel speaking to Daniel tells him:
Daniel 9:27 Then he (“the prince who is to come”; that is, the Antichrist) shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate.”
In order for the Antichrist to “bring and end to sacrifice and offering”, there first has to exist a Temple where sacrifices and offerings are taking place, which as I stated earlier, has not been the case since 70 A.D.
So, hopefully by now you can see how the Bible prophesies the construction of a Third Temple and how its existence will show just how close we are to the return of Jesus. But just how close are we? How soon could a Third Temple be built? There a lot of factors that must be consiered for this to occur:
- A design and blueprints are needed
- Items & clothing for use at the Temple are needed
- A perfect Red Heifer is needed for purification purposes
- Priests must be selected and trained to work there
- The Temple must actually be constructed
In considering all of these factors, it should lead us to believe that we are a long ways away from seeing the Third Temple built and thus a long ways away fro the return of Jesus, right? Wrong! Let’s look at each of these items in a little more detail.
In Israel, there is an organization known as The Temple Institute that is agressively working to prepare for the construction of the Third Temple. They are keenly focused on overcoming all of the perceived challenges in the list above. With regards to a design and blueprints, check out their short but amazing video:
What about artifacts and clothing? Well, as it turns out the vast majority of these items have either alreay been made are are quickly nearing completion. Here are a few brief examples:
The Silver Trumpets
The Gold Shofar
With regards to the perfect red heifer, over the last few years there have been a handful of candidates found throughout the world. One of the most recent occurences was in 2014 where it was believed one of these spotless cows was found in America. See this article from Israel Today. However, a new joint initiative between the Temple Institute and Israeli cattle farmers has begun in Israel to start a breeding program for Red Heifers so that when this perfect cow is found, it will be native to Israel and not from another country. See this article from the Jewish Press.
When it comes to identifying and training of priests to work at the Third Temple, this too is another ongoing initiative. For years now, there have been Jewish men identified with Levitic (descendants of Levi) lineage, who have been trained in accordance with strict Jewish Law in the practices of Temple service, work, and rituals. See this article from US News & World Report.
The last item on the list above is the most challenging of all. There are many Jews who want to see the Third Temple constructed; but as I stated before, there is a major problem. There are two buildings considered by Muslims to be holy, sitting on top of the site where the Third Temple would be built. As such, it would seem that the Third Temple could not be constructed unless one of two things were to occur – either the Islamic structures would have to be moved to make way for the Third Temple, or the Third Temple would have to be constructed right next to the existing Islamic buildings. Again, this has led to tremendous controversy, debate, and conflict. However, as time passes by, more and more Jews have been rallying for the construction of the Third Temple and even Muslims have been feeling more threatened by its looming possible construction. Either way, it seems to point to just how close we really may be to seeing the Third Temple actually built.
And this is where I bring the focus back to Christianity. For followers of Jesus like me, a Third Temple in and of itself doesn’t have any meaning and is not necessary. However, given that this structure is an indicator of just how close we might be to seeing Jesus return, a Third Temple takes on a tremendous amount of significance. There is nothing I want more than for Jesus to return and put an end so sin, evil, and wickedness. Thus, the idea of seeing the Third Temple being constructed brings a tremendous degree of excitement. And considering all of the pictures, articles, and video I have shown above, it would appear that we are closer than ever before to this happening. From this perspective I rejoice and look forward to Christ’s return. Yet, I also know that a Third Temple is an indicator of the nearness of the Seven Year Tribulation prophesied in the Bible which will bring unparalleled levels of death and destruction before the Lord’s return. From this perspective, my excitement about the construction of a Third Temple is greatly diminished because I long for as many people as possible to put their faith in Jesus for their salvation.
The Third Temple…it’s an exciting, yet bittersweet prophetic sign. In the end, all I can say is, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus!”