The Temple in Jerusalem
This page isn’t meant to be an extensive study, but rather an overview with some links to other more thorough studies and sites and some things to look into deeper if interested.
Prior to the existence of any Temple in Jerusalem or indeed Jerusalem itself, there was a relationship between the land of Jerusalem, Abraham and his seed.
Abraham and Isaac
Here Abraham offered Isaac and tradition places the location at the top of Mount Moriah, which is the location of the Temple Mount today.
David sinned (1 Chronicles 21 | 2 Samuel 24) and God gave him three choices for punishment. Three years famine, three months of Israel’s enemies defeating them or three days of pestulence in the land of Israel. David chose to fall into the hands of the LORD and so 70,000 men of Israel died. This was followed by David’s purchase of the threshingfloor of Araunah the Jebusite.
2 Samuel 24:16-25
1 Chronicles 21:28-30; 22:1
However, because David had shed blood and had many wars, God told him that he could not build a house in God’s name. This task was taken on by David’s son, Solomon.
The First Temple (Solomon’s Temple)
Solomon began to build the Temple in Jerusalem in Mount Moriah in the 480th year after the Exodus, which was the 2nd day of the 2nd month of his fourth year of his reign. (Spring of 967 or 966 BC - 1 Kings 6:1 | 2 Chronicles 3:1–2) It was completed 7 years later in the Autumn of 960 or 959 BC. (1 Kings 6:38)
2 Chronicles 3:1-2
1 Kings 6:1
These passage goes on to detail the size of the Temple and other details. See also 1 Kings 7:13-51
History Leading to Destruction and Exile
During the time of the first temple, Israel continued the sacrifices and daily life, but grew apart from God and sinned. (Jeremiah 2) Prior to gaining the Promised Land they were given some specific instructions from God through Moses about how to treat the land.
Leviticus 25:1-5; 8-11
Furthermore the year of Jubilee was a year of freedom for the servant and a release of debt as detailed in the rest of the chapter. But while they were given these statutes to follow and promised the increases by doing so, they were also warned of the consequences of failing to follow them.
Leviticus 26:1-4, 14-18
Israel failed to follow the statutes given to them before entering the Promised land, and for 490 years they farmed the land continually, which was equivalent to 70 land Sabbath years. During this time they also fell away from God and while God warned them again and gave them room for repentance, they did not. (Jeremiah 3-4:4)
Jeremiah’s ministry was from the thirteenth year of King Josiah in 626 BC until after the destruction of the temple in 587 BC, spanning the reigns of Josiah, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah.
Josiah was killed by Pharaoh Necho II in battle and was succeded by Jehoahaz, who was deposed after three months by Necho II, naming Jehoiakim as king.
First Siege: 606 BC (Servitude of the Nation)
In 606 BC, Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem and Jehoiakim changed allegances to prevent the destruction of Jerusalem. Nebuchadnezzar took many captives of the nobility and some treasure as tribute. One of those led to captivity was a young Daniel and several others we read more about in the book of Daniel during their captivity in Babylon.
Nebuchadnezzar kept the vassal king, Jehoiakim. After three years Jehoiakim rebelled and later died during a siege of Jerusalem by bands of the Chaldees, Syrians, Moabites and the childen of Ammon. (2 Kings 24:1-6) At that point his son Jehoiachin reigned for only three months, following in his father’s footsteps and leading to the second siege of Jerusalem by Nebachudnezzar. (2 Kings 24:8-11)
Second Siege: 597 BC
At this time Jehoiachin and his family were taken away into captivity in Babylon along with thousands of craftmen and warriors. At this time all the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the king’s house were taken back to Babylon and they destroyed all the vessels of gold that Solomon had made in the temple. Finally, Zedekiah was made king. (2 Kings 24:12-20)
Third Siege: 9th of Av, 587 BC (Desolations of Jerusalem/Temple)
Over the 19 years from the first to the third siege of Jerusalem, Israel didn’t repent and in 587 BC King Nebuchadnezzar made his final attack that lead to the destruction of the first temple on the 9th of Av. Scripture ages the first temple at about 372 years, but dates on the Exodus and Solomon’s reign are debated.
1 Kings 6:1
(~966 - 7 - 587 = ~372 years) Josephus ages the first temple at about 470 1/2 years until its destruction.
“Now the temple was burnt four hundred and seventy years, six months, and ten days after it was built.” | Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, X 8.5
According to Rabbinic literature, the temple remained for 410 years. Regardless of the exact age of the temple, it was destroyed.
Ark of the Covenant
In the descriptions of the temple instruments looted and brought back to Babylon in 2 Kings 25, one item in particular was missing, the Ark of the Covenant. Josephus recorded in 2 Maccabees that Jeremiah carried off the Ark of the Covenant prior to the sieges of Jerusalem.
2 Maccabees 2:4-5
There is also a belief that the Ark of the Covenant was hidden somewhere in the extensive cave systems beneath Jerusalem by Jeremiah somewhere, as put forth by The Temple Institute and furthermore they say there are some people who know where that chamber is. The fate of the Ark of the Covenant remains a mystery to this day.
Connecting Ancient History to Modern
It was the recognition by Daniel after 70 years of his captivity had passed in Babylon, that he was then given the 70 weeks prophecy for Israel that ties God’s promise that He is not done with Israel from ancient to modern times in its yet future fulfillment. (Daniel 9)
As a sidenote, there’s another fascinating study of a prophecy given to Ezekiel (Ezekiel’s 430 Days) that ties the first siege (Servitude of the nation) and the last siege (the desolation of Jerusalem) to the re-establishment of Israel as a nation on May 14, 1948 and the recapture of Jerusalem and the temple mount on June 7, 1967 respectively. I’ve linked some of the links to this fascinating study below.
Fulfillment of 70 Years of Servitude and Desolations
The beginning of the second temple was actually back in the fulfillment of God’s promise to bring Israel back after 70 years of captivity in Babylon. (2 Chronicles 36: 20-21 | Jeremiah 25:12 | Daniel 9:2) Some time after that fateful night when the handwriting was on the wall for Babylonian rule (Daniel 5), a prophecy of Isaiah written some 150 years earlier, was shared with Cyrus.
Servitude of the Nation (606-537)
The Servitude of the nation started at the time of Israel’s loss of independence. As God had promised that wasn’t the end for Israel and they would be redeemed from Babylon to return at the appointed time.
The fulfillment of God’s promise to Israel regarding the servitude of the nation came to pass after 70 prophetic years of captivity from the first siege in 606 BC to the decree of Cyrus in his first year after capturing Babylon. The timing of the fall of Babylon to Cyrus is around the end of the seventeenth year of the reign of Nabonidus in 539 BC. Belshazzar was co-regent of Babylon with his father, King Nabonidus and it was the celebration that both led to the handwriting on the wall in Daniel 5 and the stealthy takeover of Babylon that night while the city partied. When Cyrus released Israel from their captivity to return to Judea once again.
“In Babylonian chronicles, the year a King ascends the throne is called accession year, the following year which would begin on the New Year (1st Nisan) would be the first year and so on.” | Guy Cramer, Confirming Ezeekiel Exile Prophecies
So as rekoned in Babylon, Cyrus’s first year as king would have been in 537 BC.
2 Chronicles 36:20-23
Desolations of Jerusalem (587-518)
The desolations of Jerusalem started with the destruction of Jerusalem, the temple and loss of Jewish Rule in Jerusalem. According to Jeremiah it was punishment for not yielding to the “Servitude of the Nation” which began in 606 B.C., with the first siege of Nebuchandnezzar.
Jeremiah 27:6, 8, 11
Jeremiah 52:12-13 places this destruction 5 months into the 19th year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign. In 605 BC, after the first siege of Jerusalem, Nebuchadnezzar II returned to Babylon to ascend to the throne after his father Nabopolassar’s death. This would put the third siege at 586 BC, but 587 BC is the accepted year of the destruction of Jerusalem. It may be that Jeremiah’s rekoning of his reign was from the first siege in 606 BC when Nebuchadnezzar took Jerusalem as crown prince at the time.
The Lord spoke to Zechariah in the 2nd year of the reign of Darius, telling Zechariah the seventy years of desolation in Jerusalem are up. (Zechariah 1:7-16)
The Jews, having been released by Cyrus, began to rebuild the temple. However, the antagonists around them didn’t want this.
Darius took the throne after Cambyses II death around September of 522 BC. Counting the ascension year, that would put Darius’s second year of reign in 518 BC.
Ezra 5:6-17 is that letter sent to Darius I making sure he was aware the Jews were rebuilding the temple. They wanted Darius to double-check that the decree of Cyrus was really there. They were trying to cut the support for rebuilding the temple and justify stopping this work, likely doubting such a decree existed. Darius responded quite differently than they hoped.
Ezra 6: 1-12
Thus with the decree of Darius, was the 70 years of desolations of Jerusalem and the temple lifted and those that were working to bring a stop to the construction of the temple since the Decree of Cyrus were stopped. That didn't mean they were going to stop reaching out to successive kings regarding the rebuilding of Jerusalem. (Ezra 4:6-23) Note the chronology of Ezra 4 starts in the first few verses talking about a much earlier time than verses 6-23. See Frank W. Hardy’s The Chronology of Ezra 4.
The Second Temple
As for the temple, it was finished in 514 BC, with support from those that tried to stop them before because of fear of the king.
It wasn’t until Nehemiah that a decree was made to rebuild the walls. The Jews were having difficulty rebuilding without the protection of walls. Ezra arrived in Jerusalem in the seventh year (Ezra 7:8) of Artaxerxes I (458 BC), followed by Nehemiah, who arrived in the king’s 20th year (445 BC) Nehemiah 2:1-11 It was during this period that the walls were built and the city fortified.
Desecration and Rededication
Antiochus IV Epiphanes was a Hellenistic Greek king of the Seleucid Empire from 175 BC until his death in 164 BC. Over 160 years after Alexander the Great conquered the region, Antiochus looted the temple, massacred Jews and outlawed Judaism.
In 167 BC, he ordered an an altar to Zeus erected in the temple and the sacrificing of pigs on the altar. This desecration of the temple and a desire to reject the Hellenistic culture led to the Maccabeean Revolt a year later when Judah Maccabee led an army that successfully outlawed Hellenistic Jews, destroyed the pagan altars and beat back the Seleucid armies.
2300 Evenings and Mornings
I was referred to the following information in the Fred P. Miller study on the 2300 Day Prophecy of Daniel 8.
1 Maccabees 1:54,55
1 Maccabees 4:52,53
In 1 Maccabees, we are given a time that the abomination of desolation was setup. Later on we are given a similarly formatted time when the the first sacrifice at the rededication took place. Taking into account the 360 day prophetic year, we see the following vision of Daniel.
The 2300 Day Prophecy of Daniel 8
Given the above information, this may have been fulfilled following the abomination of desolation performed by Antiochus IV Epiphanes that is celebrated today as Chanukkah. Given that Daniel 8 seems to be a history of this time makes that possibility even stronger.
King Herod’s reign was from 37 BC to his death, whose timing is debated. Many scholars accept his death to be at the end of March or early April in 4 BC. Evidence for the 4 BC date is that Herod’s sons who took over his kingdom that was divided, dated their rule from 4 BC.
However there are some who believe the evidence of history, archaeology and astronomy is now showing that Herod died in early 1 BC and that the Messiah was therefore born in 3/2 BC (regnal dating). And that this confirms Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Africanus, Hippolytus of Rome, Hippolytus of Thebes, Origen, Eusebius and Epiphanius. (Did Herod the “Great” Really Die In 4 B.C.? by Juan Antonio Revilla and John D. Keyser)
Herod was granted the title of King of Judea by the Roman senate and was a vassal king of Rome. During his reign, Jerusalem grew and large building projects included the Second Wall, the expansive and magnificent Temple Mount and the Antonia Fortress among them. Numerous palaces as well as public buildings, such as markets, a theater and a hippodrome, enhanced the city.
In the 18th year of his reign, about 20-19 BC, Herod employed priests as masons and carpenters to comply with religious laws in the temple’s rebuilding. The temple was finished in about 1 1/2 years, but construction on outlying buildings continued for some time later.
The Magi From the East
It was this Herod who was king when the magi from the East came to meet the Messiah. What is interpreted as wise men in many English translations is magos in the Greek, meaning “the name given by the Babylonians (Chaldeans), Medes, Persians, and others, to the wise men, teachers, priests, physicians, astrologers, seers, interpreters of dreams, augers, soothsayers, sorcerers etc.”
Recall that it was Daniel who was elevated above all these magi when he interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. (Daniel 2 uses the Hebrew word chartom “diviner, magician, astrologer, engraver, writer” to refer to the magitians, or magi) Then on the night of the fall of Babylon some 70 years later, Daniel is called before Belshazzar to interpret the writing on the wall.
I feel it is highly likely that there was an understanding of Jewish prophecies within the ranks of the magi passed down from the time of the first captivity that made them aware of the promised Messiah. So when they saw the signs in the heavens, they went to go to see that promised King of the Jews.
Matthew 2:1-6, 11-16
Following Herod's death, the events of the Gospel unfolded as Yeshua grew up in Israel and Jerusalem teaching the good news of salvation by faith and living the perfect life in order to sacrifice His life for His friends. (John 15) He taught around the temple, turned over the money changers at the temple and prophesied of its pending complete destruction.
Following His death and resurrection, His disciples continued to spread the Gospel throughout Israel and beyond.
Destruction of the Temple: 9th of Av (August 5, 70 AD)
Roman oppression, and with it Jewish resistance, intensified leading to a revolt. This was triggered by the zealots, who entered Jerusalem in 66 AD and held the city until the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av, in 70 AD, when Jerusalem fell to the Roman legions under the command of Titus.
Being an eyewitness to the events, Josephus writes about many details of the fall of Jerusalem and the temple in The Wars of the Jews.
Included in Josephus' writings was the final stand of the Jews at Masada. (The Wars of the Jews VII.8) Following the destruction of 70 AD a group of almost 1,000 radical Jews called the Sicarii led by Eleazor had captured the Roman fortress Masada that was built by Herod to use as an escape for himself. During the siege, from 73 to 74 AD, almost all of those Jews that were there committed suicide rather than be captured by the Romans besieging them. Josephus wrote of Eleazor's speech to those not willing to commit suicide, confirming the complete destruction of the temple.
“And where is now that great city, the metropolis of the Jewish nation, which vas fortified by so many walls round about, which had so many fortresses and large towers to defend it, which could hardly contain the instruments prepared for the war, and which had so many ten thousands of men to fight for it? Where is this city that was believed to have God himself inhabiting therein? It is now demolished to the very foundations, and hath nothing but that monument of it preserved, I mean the camp of those that hath destroyed it, which still dwells upon its ruins; some unfortunate old men also lie upon the ashes of the temple, and a few women are there preserved alive by the enemy, for our bitter shame and reproach. ... And I cannot but wish that we had all died before we had seen that holy city demolished by the hands of our enemies, or the foundations of our holy temple dug up after so profane a manner.” | Flavius Josephus, The Wars of the Jews VII.8.7
70 AD to Modern History
Following the destruction of Jerusalem, the Roman Emperor Hadrian announced plans to rebuild on the ruins of the city in 130 AD. He planned the city to be rebuilt and dedicate it to Jupiter Capitolinus. Furthermore, he renamed the city to Aelia Capitolina and built a temple to Jupiter on the Temple Mount. The city kept this name until 638 AD when the Arabs conquered it and kept the first part of the name, calling it Iliyā'.
These plans, among other things, led to the Bar Kochba Revolt from 132-136 AD. Simon bar Kokhba, the commander of the revolt, was regarded by many Jews as the Messiah, who would restore their national independence. Over the course of the beginning of the revolt they met with success and an independent state of Israel was established over parts of Judea.
However, in 135 AD the rebellion was crushed and the city was renamed Aelia Capitolina and Judea was renamed Palestine after the Philistines. The Jews were forbidden from entering Jerusalem until shortly after Hadrian's death when they were allowed to enter once a year on Tisha B'Av.
The Nation of Israel
On November 29, 1947, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 181, the planned partition of Palestine following the end of the British Mandate. The plan was to divide Palestine into Jewish and Arab states following a withdrawal of British troops no later than August 1, 1948. While the Jewish Agency for Palestine accepted the plan, the Arab leadership and governments did not. Furthermore they made it clear that they would not accept any division of the land and any war would eliminate Israel from the land with some calling for their elimination from the earth.
On December 4, 1947 it was decided that the British Mandate would end at midnight on May 14, 1948 and that the withdrawal of British troops would be completed by August 1, 1948.
On May 14, 1948 David Ben-Gurion, the Executive Head of the World Zionist Organization and the chairman of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, declared Israel's independence and the establishment of a Jewish State to be known as the State of Israel as of the end of the British Mandate at midnight. 11 minutes after midnight, the United States recognized the provisional government as the de facto authority of the State of Israel followed by Iran and several other nations. To date most of the world has recognized Israel as a nation with a couple hold-outs that have never recognized her.
This marks the only time in human history that a nation whose people were dispursed among the nations of the world for almost two thousand years came back together with the same cultural identity and language to reform that nation in the original land from which they were dispursed.
The day after Israel's Declaration of Independence, Egypt, Jordan, Syria and forces from Iraq began their assult on Israel and after 10 months of off and on fighting, Israel held not only their land from the partition plan, but 60% of the Arab land. In the years following the war, hundreds of thousands of Jews were expelled from their Middle East nations and immigrated to Israel and it kept growing over time with Jews from around the world.
The Six-Day War and the Temple Mount
On June 5, 1967, Israel preemptively attacked Egyptian forces built up along its border with Israel. In late May of that year Gamal Abdel Nasser had announed that the Straight of Tehran would be closed to Israeli vessels, something Israel had made clear would be an act of war. In these series of attacks, Israel wiped out the Egyptian Air Forces as well as taking the Gaza Strip and Sinai in ground attacks launched at that time.
Syria and Jordan were then drawn into the war resulting in Israel taking over East Jerusalem and the West Bank from the Jordianians and the Golan Heights from the Syrians. On June 11 a ceasefire was signed and hostilities halted for a time.
Israel captured the Temple Mount on June 7, 1967. (See pictures on that day) Later, Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, upon reuniting Jerusalem, permitted the Islamic authority, the Waqf, to continue its civil authority on the Temple Mount. The Waqf oversees all day-to-day activity there. An Israeli presence is in place at the entrance to the Temple Mount to ensure access for people of all religions. However, as we’ve seen since then, it doesn't take much to incite the Muslims whenever Jews try to go up there and there’s a long list of dos and don’ts to enter the Temple Mount.
Israel Complacent - Muslims Seek to Strengthen Hold on Mount by Yechiel Spira: Israel National News (December 10, 2006) “While tenacious yearning to visit the Mount by Jews has resulted in a modicum of government acquiescence, religious Jews are often barred from the holy site, as are members of other religions, compelled to bide by the standards set by the Islamic occupiers. Jews who adhere to the strict religious requirements demanded of visitors to the site cannot visit at will, and while there are generally visitation times during which Jews and other non-Muslims may ascend the Mount, the Waqf will not ‘tolerate’ Jews praying on the site. They are backed by Israel Police who are quick to enforce the prayer ban, generally arresting those bold enough to defy it.” more...
Modern Destruction of the Temple Mount By Richard Benkin, Ph.D. (May 2003) - “In 1886, British explorer Captain Charles Wilson undertook the most comprehensive survey of Jerusalem in modern times, noting, “No one has ever questioned that the [Jewish] Temple formerly stood within the Haram-es-Sherif [Moslem name for the Temple Mount].”1 It would be difficult to think of a more absurd notion. To deny that reality denies the essence of both Jewish and Christian scripture. They both contain voluminous reference to the temples, from their construction to the events in the life of Jesus. In fact, Moslem and Arab history also confirms Warren’s declaration. Before 638 CE—a rather late date in the history of that region—there was no Islamic presence in Jerusalem. Its conqueror, the Umayyad Caliph, Umar, asked its Byzantine Patriarch, Sophronius, to show him the site of the Jewish Temples almost immediately upon entering the city. Sophronius did so and said, “Here is that appalling abomination.” Umar was indeed appalled—but not by the Temple itself. He was incensed at the accumulated garbage and debris, which he believed desecrated that Jewish holy site. He ordered the site cleansed immediately in a manner befitting its holy purpose. Soon thereafter, he commissioned The Dome of the Rock on the Mount, and his son had Al-Aqsa mosque built there as well. These edifices were not constructed to mark a Moslem holy site but to advertise Moslem hegemony over Jerusalem with its Jewish and Christian holy sites.” more...
The Third Temple
I just want to point out that the remainder of this page is pointing out some current events and Bible prophecy, but also includes speculation that may or may not be accurate. There is no doubt that there is a desire to rebuild the temple and that the Bible says there will be a temple in the last days, but where it will be exactly and how it will get there are still unknowns. I'm sharing my best guesses based on the research of others.
The third temple does not exist yet. As of November 12, 2023 we are still waiting for the fulfillment of Bible prophecy in regards to the temple. There are, however, Preparations for a Third Temple being made and a growing desire to see it built. The Temple Institute is one such organization working for the creation of the sacred vessels and priestly garments.
“...over sixty sacred Temple vessels have already been restored, including some of the most difficult and complicated projects, such as the Menorah and the precious stones of the High Priest's breastplate. The stones of the breastplate - recently created - were investigated with the help of professional gemologists, geologists and other experts. The wide range of material necessitated the examination of over 30 differing viewpoints for establishing the criteria for identifying the stones.
So why even suggest that a third temple would be built? The answer comes in several scriptures that suggest events yet to come revolve around a physical temple in Jerusalem again. That hasn't existed since after 70 AD, therefore at some time in the future a temple must be built.
The answer lies in Yeshua's reference to Daniel's 70 Weeks Prophecy regarding the last week of years determined for the people of Israel and the holy city.
Matthew 24:15-16, 21-22
These great tribulation passages that follow the abomination of desolation Yeshua spoke about are repeated in Mark 13:14-20 and that same unparalleled time of tribulation are mentioned in Jeremiah 30:4-7 and Daniel 12:1 when the restrainer leaves. These events described all revolve around the existence of a temple, including a temple that has not existed to this day.
Neither of the first two temples were without the outer court, nor was it tied to a treading of the city and place where the outer court would be for 42 months (3 1/2 years). Taking scripture at face value and not spiritualizing it this means only one thing. Whether ordained by God or not, a physical temple defined in both terms of space and time will be built in Jerusalem without an outer court and it will be central to events in the middle of the 70th week of Daniel.
Where will it be rebuilt?
The quick answer, I don’t know exactly. There is currently debate over the original location with interesting points made for each view, after all the temple was destroyed to the very foundations and the city destroyed and the people dispursed almost 2,000 years ago. I go into more detail of the various views on the Temple Location page.
However, it may not really matter in the end where the original temple was if those building it are convinced that where they build it is the right location, even if it is not. For the purpose of Bible prophecy, the fact that it exists at all is what matters. The Word doesn't speak to a requirement that God ordains and blesses a temple to be built for religious reasons and expects sacrifices, just that it will exist as a central point in pivotal end-time events. To that end, accuracy in location may be a moot point. I just find it fascinating that we have no definitive answer but tradition as to where it was located before and recent archaeological discoveries that call some of that into question.
When will it be rebuilt?
While I don’t know exactly what will happen to get to a point where Israel as a nation is focused on rebuilding the temple, there are several key points from diverse prophecies that I believe may come together to bring it to pass.
Before anything else, there must be a desire to rebuilt the temple. We’ve seen this more and more in modern history as increasing calls for a rebuilt temple are made and groups like The Temple Institute actively document and work toward providing everything that is needed to make it happen. Currently the groups pushing for a return to the Temple Mount are small, but they’re well on their way to provide all the instruments that will be needed to re-institute the temple activities. There are even rumors of the production of the blocks of stone being produced off-site in preparation so they would just need to be moved to the Temple Mount and assembled when the time comes.
The problem is that currently the political climate in the Middle East is very tense because the spiritual climate is at war. In 1967 the control of the Temple Mount was given over to the Wakf and since then denial of a Jewish Temple or any ownership of the area has been on-going. Interestingly, there is an Official 1925 Supreme Moslem Council (Wakf) Guide Book to the Temple Mount that “admits proudly to the Temple Mount’s inexorable connection to the Holy Temple built by King Solomon on land purchased by King David, complete with a reference to II Samuel 24:25.”
“The site is one of the oldest in the world. Its sanctity dates from the earliest (perhaps pre-historic) times. Its identity with the site of Solomon's Temple is beyond dispute. This, too, is the spot, according to the universal belief, on which ‘David built there an altar unto the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings.’” | Official 1925 Supreme Moslem Council (Wakf) Guide Book to the Temple Mount, Link
So not only does the desire for a rebuilt temple need to spread throughout all of the nation of Israel for it to realistically happen, but so too does the political climate need to allow it.
Modern Judaism is still awaiting their Messiah. There is a belief that the man of sin described in scripture, the antichrist, will actually be a Jew of the line of David and fitting the prophecies of the conquering Messiah. Moreover, this Jewish Antichrist will be given power to conquer and those conflicts may be depicted in Daniel 11:36-45. We've already seen in 1948, 1967 and 1973 that Israel, however small, is able to take care of herself. Now what if command of that power was handed over to one that would enforce Israel's right to the Temple Mount?
A small number of Orthadox Jewish believers hold that the temple will be built by the Messiah when he appears while others like those at The Temple Institute believe it is their responsibility to build it. It may be when one comes that appears to fit the bill, this passage speaking of "the branch" could be used to convince people when he builds the third temple. However, in reality there is a fourth temple coming that Yeshua will build for His millennial reign. Isaiah 4:2; 11:1-4 | Jeremiah 23:5-6; 33:14-16
I can see how those that don't accept Yeshua could see a strongman as the one to fulfill these prophecies, so it may be that the political issues will be brushed aside by the power given to the man of sin to forcibly take the Temple Mount from the surrounding Muslims and successfully fend off any attacks in a series of wars. In so doing, he may then rebuild the temple, confirm the Mosaic covenant and start the daily sacrifices. To the Jews, this deception would be great indeed and perhaps even to those professing Christians ignorant of scripture.
However, about 3 1/2 years later, the deception would turn when this man declares himself to be God in the temple. Likely some Jews would still believe in him and do whatever he said, including killing those who don't fall for the lie and worship him. Those Jews in Judea who reject him will either be killed or heed the warning to run to the mountains. (Matthew 24:15-22)
The Gog/Magog War?
I actually believe that the fulfillment of Ezekiel 38 & 39, the invasion of Gog/Magog, is going to be fulfilled after the millennium as the result of Satan being loosed from the bottomless pit and deceiving the world. (Revelation 20)
However it may be possible for events to be misconstrued such that people believe it is happening, even though it is not. If so, it could be the trigger event that both brings the nation of Israel together with a mind to rebuild, and also produce the kind of political climate that will cause the Muslim nations to back off, if even for only just a short while.
Given that this very distinct and clear prophecy is a part of the Jewish scriptures, it is a source they would trust and believing God intervened on their behalf would greatly increase the aforementioned desire by the nation of Israel to rebuild the temple and come back into the relationship with God that they recognize, a pre-Yeshua scriptural belief complete with sacrificial system.
I have little faith in this view as there are some specific things that would have to be brushed aside, such as Israel living in safety and unwalled villages. Then there's the great shaking of the land where mountains and "every wall" will fall as well as, hailstones, fire and brimstone that are rained down on them. Unless this is tied with the power given to the antichrist and the false prophet to call fire from heaven or something, I have a hard time believing a simple invasion being stopped would be mistaken for this prophecy.
Building The Temple
However it may come about, a temple will be rebuilt and I believe as time goes on, more and more Jews will become passionate in so building. Imagine also a discovery like the Ark of the Covenant coinciding with the rebuilding of the temple and I’m sure all of Israel would unite and do whatever was necessary to get their temple built. Not only that, but Aliyah into Israel would increase from all over the world. The Temple Institute already claims to know where the Ark is, awaiting the time to reveal it.
Israel is still blinded until the fullness of the Gentiles. (Romans 8:25) Most don’t accept Christ and find Him offensive not only because of the blindness, but also due to past experience with "Christians" throughout history. So the only way they know to serve Him is the way of their fathers, this means rebuilding the temple and beginning the daily sacrifice, a necessary event for Bible prophecy to come to pass.
There is another temple described which also hasn't existed to date yet and is much larger than the one that will be built just prior to the 70th week of Daniel. With all the destruction raining down during the wrath of God and all the earthquakes, it may very well be the third temple is destroyed during that time.
Another interesting note has to do with Christ returning to earth and the geology of Judea showing the future fulfillment of prophecy. Chuck Missler talks about the Mount of Olives cleaving in two. There’s a fault line there. “It’s waiting for the pressure of one foot.” (Ezekiel commentary: halfway through hour 4)
“It is interesting to note here, that a U.S. Geophysical survey team in 1967 analyzed the Mount of Olives. They discovered a geological fault line running from the Dead Sea behind the Mount of Olives all the way to the Mediterranean Sea. They stated a tremendous shock would cause an open fault line to appear, just as prophesied twenty-five hundred years ago in Zechariah 14:4. The split in the Mount of Olives will open an escape route allowing the defenders of Jerusalem trapped by the approaching Antichrist army a way to escape to safety.” | Homeworship101
The Fourth Temple (Millennial Temple)
Ezekiel was written in the Babylonian captivity, 591 BC - 571 BC. Solomon’s temple was destroyed in 587 BC. In Ezekiel 40:1-4, he time stamps the text as being written 25 years after their captivity and 14 years after the city was destroyed, therefore after the destruction of Solomon’s temple. Ezekiel then goes on to describe a temple in great detail with 318 precise measurements and depictions of details.
One important point to note is that this temple is too large to fit on the Temple Mount, in fact it's larger than either of the previous temples that we know existed and since the third temple will not have the outer court, it will be even smaller. This places Ezekiel's temple at some point outside of history and into the future beyond the 70th week of Daniel, the millennium.
So what are the implications if Ezekiel 37-48 are in the millennium? Did you know that during the millennium there will be animal sacrifice reinstated? I believe that we don’t fully understand the millennium and sacrifices will be a part of life, for whatever reason God intends. I believe it is explained in scripture for us. This isn’t my idea here, just to be clear, I’m taking the clear scripture and applying logic. Christians reading this need to keep in mind that during the millennium we will have already received our immortal incorruptible bodies. This is focused on those who are not the bride of Christ yet some of whom will still be in heaven for eternity. I believe it’s mostly focused on Israel though. All this description of the temple in Ezekiel 40-48 is interspersed with passages like these:
There are rules, laws, and ordinances during the millennium. Christ rules with a rod of iron. It goes on to describe the altar dimensions, then...
That’s a pretty detailed explanation of the sacrificing. Some may try to spiritualize the meaning so as to represent what feels more comfortable to their perceptions of reality, but I prefer to take the Bible for what it says.
There’s our reason. Keep in mind that the “house” being spoken of here is not the third temple because the dimensions are too large for the temple mount and the outer court is not left out of this one as Revelation 11:1-2 says. (Ezekiel 42; 44:19)
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