Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 4 October 2012; Revised 26 March 2019
Scripture Text: Unless indicated otherwise the Scripture quotations used in this article are prepared by Blaine Robison. The essentially literal translation seeks to reflect the Jewish character of the author and writing. Scripture quotations may be taken from different versions. Click here for abbreviations of Bible versions.
Sources: Bibliographic data for works cited may be found at the end of the chapter commentary. Works without page numbers are cited ad loc. Important early sources include the following:
Syntax: Unless otherwise noted the definitions of Greek words is from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009). See the Greek Guide for the meaning of grammar abbreviations. Definitions of Hebrew words are from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981). The numbering system of the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance is identified with "SH" (Strong's Hebrew number) and "SG" (Strong's Greek number). Strong's Online.
Vocabulary: To emphasize the Jewish nature of the apostolic canon and its central figure I use the terms ADONAI (for 'LORD' when quoting a Tanakh source), Yeshua (Jesus), Messiah (Christ), Tanakh (Old Testament), and Besekh (New Testament).
"But when you see the abomination of the desolation standing where it ought not be (let the one reading understand), then let those in Judea be fleeing to the mountains." (Mark 13:14)
A rebuilt temple is not an impossibility, but obviously only an extraordinary series of events could bring it about. According to Brickner, Executive Director of Jews for Jesus, 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 (62f). Another group, the Temple Mount Faithful, have cut a massive 4.5-ton limestone cornerstone to be ready to commence building at any moment.
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'khinah 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:
"And a measuring rod like a staff was given to me; one saying, "Arise and measure the sanctuary of God and the altar, and those worshiping in it. 2 And leave out the court outside the sanctuary and do not measure it, because it has been given to the nations; and they will trample the holy city for forty and two months." (Rev 11:1-2)
Not considered by Bible commentators is that the "sanctuary of God" could refer to the Islamic shrine situated on the historic site of the Jewish temple, itself an abomination on holy ground. It would be a fitting location for the image of the beast (2Th 2:3f; Rev 13:14). Because the sanctuary 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 will be king over them. They will all have One Shepherd. They will walk in My ordinances and observe My rulings and do them. 25 They will live in the land that I gave to My servant Jacob, where your ancestors lived. They will live there—they, their children and their children's children, forever, and My servant David will be their prince forever. 26 I will cut a covenant of shalom with them—it will be an everlasting covenant with them. I will give to them and multiply them. I will set up My Sanctuary among them forever. 27 My dwelling-place will be over them. I will be their God and they will be My people. 28 Then the nations will know that I am ADONAI who sanctifies Israel, when My Sanctuary is in their midst forever." (Ezek 37:24-28 TLV)
I personally don't view a man-made rebuilt temple to be a good thing. Collectively the followers and disciples 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 Shekinah 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 Shekinah 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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