THE REBUILDING OF THE TEMPLE
As we move into chapter 11, I want to slow down just a bit and think about a particular Bible prophecy that is found several times in the Bible and finds its fulfillment in this chapter. The prophecy of which I am speaking is the future rebuilding of the Jewish Temple.
In our studies in Revelation, we are in the interlude between the sounding of the 6th and 7th trumpet. That interlude begins in 10:1 and goes through 11:14. In this interlude, as we saw in our last study, God has announced that there will be no more delays in His judgments. His foot is now off the brake and on the gas pedal. It is full speed ahead.
For John, this revelation both gladdened and saddened his heart. As instructed, he took the little book from the angel’s hand and ate it. It was as sweet as honey in his mouth, but when he swallowed the book, it turned very bitter. The sweetness of the book came from the realization that the hour is very near when the Lord will take back that which belongs to Him. The sourness of the book came from the realization of what was lying ahead for those who were not saved.
As we move into the 11th chapter we are still in this interlude. Again, John is more than an observer but an actor in this prophetic drama. He is given instructions to “measure the Temple of God” (Vs. 1). John sees a rebuilt Temple.
Let’s consider the rebuilding of the Temple by first thinking about:
1. THE PAST DESTRUCTION OF THE TEMPLE
Let me at the very beginning give you a little history lesson about the Temple. First, let me say a word about:
A) The Temple's Glorious Consecration
For close to 500 years, from Moses to David, the Tabernacle had served as the place where man met God and God met man. It was David’s dream to build a more permanent and glorious house for God, but he was forbidden by God to do so. The privilege fell to his son Solomon.
We read in 1 Kings 5:5, “And, behold, I (Solomon) purpose to build an house unto the name of the Lord my God, as the Lord spake unto David my father, saying, Thy son, whom I will set upon thy throne in thy room, he shall build an house unto my name.” Solomon purposed in his heart that he would bring his father David’s dream to fruition.
We read in 1 Kings 6:1, “And it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon's reign over Israel, in the month Zif, which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the Lord.” Then we read in 1 Kings 6:14, “So Solomon built the house, and finished it.”
According to 1 Kings 6:38, the construction time of the Temple was seven years. It was a glorious structure. Back in 1925, the Illinois Society of Architects set out to make estimates of the cost of rebuilding the Temple. The cost of the building alone, without the vessels and other furnishings was estimated at $87 billion dollars. Considering how costs have skyrocketed since 1925, it would no doubt cost over $500 billion dollars.
Once the Temple was finished, there was a glorious consecration of the building unto God. We read of its consecration in 1 Kings 8:63, “And Solomon offered a sacrifice of peace offerings, which he offered unto the Lord, two and twenty thousand oxen, and an hundred and twenty thousand sheep. So the king and all the children of Israel dedicated the house of the Lord.” There were 22 thousand oxen and 120 thousand sheep offered as sacrifices and the day the Temple was consecrated to the Lord.
The Bible says that when they brought the ark from the Tabernacle and brought it into the new Temple, “the glory of the Lord…filled the house of the Lord.” The glory of the Lord was a sign of God’s presence, power, and protection. It was a glorious consecration. It was one of the greatest days in Jewish history. The Temple would be and remain the most cherished building in Israel.
However, the history of the Temple has not all been glorious. Think with me of:
A) The Temple's Grievous Desecration
Throughout history the Temple has had a tragic history. The magnificent Temple of Solomon was destroyed in 538 BC by Nebuchadnezzar. This was when the children of Israel were carried into Babylonian captivity.
In 490 BC, the Temple was rebuilt by Zerubbabel when the Jews came back from their Babylonian exile. This Temple was not as magnificent and elaborate as the first. The prophet Haggai said, “Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? and how do ye see it now? is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing?” (Hag. 2:3). In Ezra 3:12 we read, “But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy.” The young people who had never seen the Temple shouted for joy. But the older people who had seen the first Temple wept because the new Temple was not as magnificent as the first. However, it was greatly revered by the people.
The second Temple would have as tragic history as the first. In 168 BC the second Temple was destroyed by Antiochus Epiphanes. It was rebuilt and replaced by King Herod around 6 BC. It was Herod’s Temple that existed during the time of Jesus. Herod’s Temple was a very large and beautiful Temple. It was primarily built by Herod to gain favor with the Jews. As with the previous Temple’s, this one was destined for destruction as well. Jesus Himself had prophesied of the destruction of the third Temple. Jesus said in Matthew 24:2, “See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” Jesus was speaking of the destruction of Herod’s Temple. Just as Jesus predicted, the third Temple was destroyed by Titus in 70 AD. The only part of the third Temple that remains is what is known as the Western Wailing Wall where devout Jews go everyday to pray.
However, the Bible tells us that a fourth Temple is to be built. Notice with me secondly:
2. THE PROPHETIC CONSTRUCTION OF THE TEMPLE
The Bible describes how the Temple will be rebuilt in the future. Notice with me:
A) A Rebuilt Temple Indicated In Prophecy
There are several Bible prophecies that indicate the Temple will be rebuilt. We read in Daniel 9:27, “And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.” Daniel prophecy describes how the anti-Christ will make a covenant – peace treaty – with Israel for one week (seven years), but in the middle of the week (3 ½ years) he will break his covenant. When he breaks his covenant, Daniel said that he would “cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease.” The stopping of the offering of sacrifices and oblations ( free-will offerings and gifts without blood) indicate that the sacrificial system has once again been reestablished which would also indicate that the Temple had been rebuilt.
Jesus spoke of this in Matthew 24:15, “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:)” The Lord Jesus not only foretold the destruction of the Temple but also indicated that it would be rebuilt and the sacrificial system would once again be reestablished.
Notice with me also Daniel 12:11, “And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.” Notice carefully that Daniel foretold how the “daily sacrifice shall be taken way,” which indicates the Temple being rebuilt.
Notice one final verse in 2 Thessalonians 2:4, “Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” Paul spoke of the anti-Christ and described him sitting in the “temple of God” and declaring “himself that he is God.” For the antichrist to sit in the Temple means nothing less than the rebuilding of the Temple.
All these prophecies tell of how at the beginning of the Tribulation Period, the antichrist is going to make a treaty with Israel, and allow, as well as enable them to rebuild the Temple. The priestly function will be reinstituted and the sacrificial system reestablished. No doubt, this is one of the reasons why the antichrist will be so widely accepted. He will be a person who brings peace to the Middle East and enables Israel to once again rebuild their Temple. He will do what no other person or leader has been able to do. Again, it is no wonder that the world so quickly and willingly falls under his sway. However, in the middle of the Tribulation Period, he will break his covenant and will even enter into the Temple and proclaim himself to be God.
We not only have the rebuilding of the Temple indicated in Bible prophecy, but there is also:
B) A Rebuilt Temple Illustrated In Prophecy
In Revelation 11:1-2 we see the Temple rebuilt. John actually gives us a picture or illustration of a rebuilt Temple. We read in verse 1, “And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.”
The “reed like unto a rod” that John was given to measure the Temple, altar, and the worshippers refers to a reed like plant that grew in the Jordan Valley to a height of 15 to 20 feet. It had a stalk that was hollow and was used at times as a walking stick and even shaved down and used as a pen. Because they were long and lightweight, they were ideal for use as measuring rods.
The purpose of measuring the Temple was not to determine it dimensions. This act of measuring was often symbolic of ownership. The Lord Jesus was claiming His ownership of the Temple and the people.
The entire Temple complex is not included in the measuring. The altar no doubt refers to the brazen altar which was located in the courtyard where the people who worship would have gathered. It was this area that John was to measure.
In verse 2 we read, “But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.” This is a reference to what was known as the “Court of Gentiles.” This was an area in which Gentiles could enter, but were limited to this area. For a Gentile to go pass this court would be considered a defiling of the Temple. In New Testament times, the Romans had given the Jews the right to execute any Gentile who went beyond the court of the Gentiles.
The explanation for this limited measurement is that this area “is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.” This 42 month period speaks of the last 3 ½ years of the Tribulation and the time dominated by the anti-Christ. The Lord lays no claim to these for they are destined for judgment.
John, on his trip through the future, sees a rebuilt Temple. Everyday, thousands of people visit the Wailing Wall to pray. As well, thousands of prayers are sent via email. Each one is printed out (albeit in a very small font) and each day a yeshiva student places the messages into the cracks of the Wall. The Talmud teaches that all prayers ascend to heaven through Jerusalem. So writing a prayer on a piece of paper and sticking it in the Wall is like having a continual prayer linked to the prime source.
Today, with millions of people visiting the Western Wall each year (plus all the people using the internet service), the cracks can sometimes get pretty packed with notes! You can sometimes see one person standing on another's shoulders to get their note into an available crack. Because of the great volume, every so often, all the notes are removed from the Wall and buried, along with other holy objects that are not being used anymore. For many of the Orthodox Jews, their prayers include the rebuilding of the Temple. For them, the rebuilding of the Temple will mean the return of the Messiah.
In closing, let me say a word about:
3. THE PRESENT PREPARATION FOR THE TEMPLE
It may interest you to know that even now there are certain Jews and Jewish organizations that are making preparations for the rebuilding of the Temple. In my opinion, this growing interest and the intensity of this interest is a sign that the stage is being set for the future events we have been describing being fulfilled.
Think with me about:
A) The Problems That Are Elminated
For years there were several obstacles to such a prophecy being literal and being fulfilled. One was the absence of the Jews in their homeland. There are many who in their own lifetime who have seen one of the greatest prophecies in the Bible fulfilled. On May 14, 1948 Israel became a nation. The Jews once again had their homeland and a great immigration began. So, one obstacle was removed.
The second had to do with Israel’s control of old Jerusalem. I can remember when in 1967, in what is known as the six-day war, Moshe Dayan and the Israeli army conquered enough territory to more than triple the size of area it controlled from 8,000 square miles to 26,000 square miles. Even more significant, it once again took control of old Jerusalem.
With two obstacles removed there leaves one final obstacle and that is the Mosque of Omar or the Dome of Rock that sits on the present Temple site. This Moslem Dome, with its blue tiles and gold dome is one of Islam’s most holy sites. It is believed that it was from that area Mohammed ascended to heaven.
This is the most contested piece of real estate in the world. It is at the heart of the problems in the world today. Contrary to what many believe, the problems in the world today are not political. It is religious. Our war against terrorist, or rather their war against us, is a religious war. It is not political. That is why politicians can’t solve what is happening in the world. It is largely a war to exterminate the Jews and who controls the land of Israel, especially the old part of Jerusalem.
For many years it was believed that the Dome of the Rock would have to be removed for the Temple to be rebuilt (You can imagine what would happen if Israel suggested removing the Dome of the Rock). The Temple has to be rebuilt on the exact location of the past Temples and the Holy of Holies on the exact location of the former. In order for that to be done, the revered Moslem Mosque would be to be torn down. That has been considered the major obstacle to a rebuilding of the Temple.
However, in recent years, studies and excavations have found that the site of the Holy of Holies is not actually the site of the mosque but an adjacent site and the Temple could be built without disturbing the Moslem Mosque. No doubt the antichrist will arrange an agreement which will allow Israel to once again rebuild their Temple.
Will there be a rebuilding of the Temple? Absolutely! Are there obstacles? Yes, but most solved and one yet to be settled. All it will take is someone to help arrange an peace treaty and the final obstacle will be removed. With all the things happening in the world today, the world will gladly accept one who can bring such a peace. The door is open wider than it has ever been before for the arrival of the anti-Christ.
Lastly, let me say just a word about:
B) The Plans That Are Existing
If you were to travel to Israel today you would find what is called “The Temple Institute.” The web page of Institute reads: “Shalom and welcome to the official website of the Temple Institute in Jerusalem, Israel. The Temple Institute is dedicated to every aspect of the concept of the Holy Temple of Jerusalem, and the central role it fulfilled, and will once again fulfill, in the spiritual wellbeing of both Israel and all the nations of the world. The Institute's work touches upon the history of the Holy Temple's past, an understanding of the present day, and the Divine promise of Israel's future. The scope of these activities includes education, research, and development. The Temple Institute's ultimate goal is to see Israel rebuild the Holy Temple on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem, in accord with the Biblical commandments.”
One of the activities of “The Temple Institute” is the weekday morning aliyot, (lit: going up; making a pilgrimage). This is when visits are made to the Temple Mount. These aliyot are conducted in accordance with halachic requirements, and take place during weekday mornings, as these are the only hours that Jews are presently allowed to frequent the Mount. The aliyot are led by Rabbi Chaim Richman of the Institute.
On the website you will find the following statement by the institute:
Let me close in simply saying, “Look up, for your redemption draweth nigh!”