Blaine Robison, M.A.
Bibliographic data for sources cited may be found at the end of the article.
Published 4 October 2012; Revised 18 December 2017
"But when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION standing where it should not be (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains." (Mark 13:14 NASB)
A rebuilt temple in Jerusalem is not an impossibility, but obviously only an extraordinary series of events could bring it about. David Brickner, Executive Director of Jews for Jesus, reported in 1999 that Jewish groups have set up yeshivas to educate and train priests for the day that the Temple is restored and that many Arab homes in the Old City of Jerusalem near the Temple Mount have been purchased in anticipation of an extensive building project. Another group, the Temple Mount Faithful, have cut a massive 4.5-ton limestone cornerstone to be ready to commence building at any moment (Brickner, Future Hope, 62f).
While this activity sounds relevant and energizes Evangelical Christians anticipating a pre-tribulation rapture, the fact remains that there is no divine directive in Scripture for the Jews to rebuild the temple. The Israelis are not anticipating the return of Messiah Yeshua. Even if the Israelis could build a temple their unbelief in Messiah Yeshua and the lack of the Sh'kinah glory of God in the temple (cf. Ezek 43:1-5) would make it an abomination. Herod's temple was destroyed because Israel's leaders refused to recognize their Messiah (Luke 19:44). How should we expect God to react to a new temple built by unbelieving Israelis? If there is a rebuilt temple, then it may be the one John was told to measure:
"Then there was given me a measuring rod like a staff; and someone said, "Get up and measure the temple of God and the altar, and those who worship in it. 2 Leave out the court which is outside the temple and do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations; and they will tread under foot the holy city for forty-two months." (Rev 11:1-2 NASB)
Because the temple John saw was an abomination he was informed that judgment would fall on it through the occupation of a foreign army (cf. Zech 14:2). The prophet Ezekiel explained that there would be no sanctuary with the glory of God until the Davidic prince was installed. In fact, God will provide the holy house.
"My servant David shall be king over them; and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall follow my ordinances and be careful to observe my statutes. 25 They shall dwell in the land where your fathers dwelt that I gave to my servant Jacob; they and their children and their children's children shall dwell there for ever; and David my servant shall be their prince for ever. 26 I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; and I will bless them and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. 27 My dwelling place shall be with them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 28 Then the nations will know that I the Lord sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary is in the midst of them for evermore." (Ezek 37:24-38)
I personally don't view a man-made rebuilt Temple to be a good thing. Collectively the followers of Yeshua are the Temple of the Living God (1Cor 3:16-17; 2Cor 6:16; Eph 2:21). Of interest is that Paul made that claim while the Jerusalem Temple was still standing. However, it had lost the Sh'kinah glory when Yeshua died on the cross and the veil into the Holy of Holies was torn in two (Mark 15:32).
Jewish literature explains that the Sh'kinah glory of God left the Temple forty years prior to its destruction (which confirms A.D. 30 for the crucifixion). The Talmud says that four signs occurred to show evidence of this: (1) the lot for selecting priests did not come up in the right hand; (2) the westernmost light of the menorah refused to burn continually; (3) the doors of the Temple would open of themselves; and (4) the red wool no longer turned white supernaturally (Yoma 39b).
The fourth sign was the most grieving. Jewish tradition states that a cord of red wool was tied on the horn of the scapegoat, before it was let go in the wilderness. When the red wool turned white, it was a sign that God forgave the people’s sin (cf. Isa. 1:18). In a similar fashion the priests used to bind a shining crimson strip of cloth on the outside door of the Temple. If the strip of cloth turned into the white color, they would rejoice; if it did not turn white they were full of sorrow and shame (Yoma 67a). After the crucifixion of Yeshua, the people began to realize more and more that the sacrifice of Yom Kippur did not have the power to cleanse them from sin.
To rebuild the Temple with all that it implies for atonement is ludicrous. The sacrifice for atonement has been made by the perfect Lamb of God, and that at Passover time. Do the Israelis actually believe they can just put everything back in place as it was and God will respond with mercy? And, why would Evangelicals even consider encouraging or supporting such a venture when it will only bring judgment?
Rather than getting excited about a man-made temple I think all disciples of Yeshua should focus their passion on increasing the true Temple of the Living God by increased outreach to Jews in Israel and around the world. All Jews need to know of Yeshua as their High Priest, King, Redeemer and Messiah.
Brickner: David Brickner, Future Hope. Purple Pomegranate Productions, 1999.
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