Will the Temple be Rebuilt?

On January 8, 2001, former Shin Bet secret service chief Carmi Gillon and former police commissioner Assaf Hefetz together with leading Israeli academics delivered a report to the then, Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, detailing their concerns regarding plots by several Jewish extremist groups, to blow up the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque. Gillon and Hefetz founded Keshev, the Centre for the Protection of Democracy, based in Tel Aviv, after the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin. Their report, entitled, ‘Target Temple Mount’ examined current threats to the Temple Mount from extreme militant and Messianic groups. It concluded,

'The Temple Mount is like a smouldering volcano that is bubbling and threatening to erupt - a threat that is liable to endanger Israel's existence.'[1]

Six months later, in July 2001, the Rabbinical Council of Judea, Samaria and Gaza reversed the position taken for nearly 2000 years. They called upon all rabbis to take their communities to visit the Temple Mount. This was the first time a group of rabbis representing a significant proportion of the religious Jewish community had ruled it permissible for Jews to ascend the Temple Mount. Previously this had been forbidden because Jews might walk on the area what used to be the sacred holy of holies.

The rabbis also called upon the Yesha Council of Jewish settlements to organise mass visits to the Temple Mount from the settlements.[2]  As a result around 500,000 secular, religious and ultra-Orthodox Jews gathered near the Temple Mount at the Western Wall ‘and swore faithfulness to the Temple Mount and Jerusalem.[3]  In the same month, July 2001, the Israeli Supreme Court made an equally momentous decision. For the first time ever they gave permission to Gershon Saloman and the Temple Mount Faithful to hold a symbolic cornerstone laying ceremony for the Third Temple near the Dung Gate adjacent to the Western Wall. Every year on Tisha B'Av (29th July), the day when Jews mourn the destruction of the first and second Temples, Salomon and his Faithful drive a lorry carrying three ton corner stones as near as possible to the Temple Mount. In 2006, despite police objections, the Israeli Supreme Court gave them permission to actually enter the area of the Haram Al Sharif on the festival of Tisha B’Av. To pre-empt a massacre, the police closed the site to Jews as well as Muslims for the whole day. Intelligence reports revealed that thousands of Muslims were planning to flock to the site to protect it.[4] On Tisha B'Av in July 2007, in 2008 and yet again this July, Salomon and his disciples have asserted their legal right to hold a ceremony nearby. Salomon’s agenda is clear and unambiguous.   

“The Israeli Government must do it. We must have a war. There will be many nations against us but God will be our general. I am sure this is a test, that God is expecting us to move the Dome with no fear from other nations. The Messiah will not come by himself, we should bring him by fighting.”[5]


Since 1967, when Israel took the Temple Mount by force, there have been no less than 100 armed assaults on the Haram Al Sharif often led by Jewish rabbis.[6]  An Israeli Arab MP, Mohammed Barakeh described the Israeli High Court’s decision as like putting ‘petrol in the hands of declared pyromaniacs.’  And it seems some Christians  too are convinced the Jewish Temple must be rebuilt. So much so, they are funding Jewish groups committed to removing the Dome of the Rock and replacing it with a Jewish Temple.

But aren’t we just dealing with a small bunch of religious fundamentalists and radical extremists? If only. Millions of Orthodox Jews worldwide pray three times a day “may the Temple be speedily rebuilt in our days”. And millions of Christians readily buy books on prophecy that predict it. And it seems, most Israelis, religious and secular, apparently agree. In 1989, Time magazine published a survey showing that some 18% of Israelis thought it was time to rebuild the Temple.[7] By 1996, when the Temple Mount Faithful sponsored a Gallup poll seeking a referendum on replacing the Al-Aqsa Mosque with a Jewish Temple, support had risen to 58%.[8]  Allowing the fact that 20% of Israelis are Arabs.

They certainly do not back the idea. So the percentage of Jewish Israelis who do so, is clearly even higher. And there’s something else that is significant about this poll. While Israeli society is deeply divided on just about every other subject, according the Gallup, this was the largest show of support any Israeli organisation has ever received on any issue.[9]

Just 500 metres by 300 metres, the Temple Mount, or Haram Al Sharif, is probably the most highly prized plot of real estate on earth. Hal Lindsey says, ‘the fate of the world will be determined by an ancient feud over 35 acres of land.’[10] Yisrael Meida, an Orthodox Rabbi, explains the significance of the Temple Mount.

It is all a matter of sovereignty. He who controls the Temple Mount, controls Jerusalem. And he who controls Jerusalem, controls the land of Israel.[1]


What on earth would unite Jews and Christians in such a provocative act that could very well start World War 3?
The Bible tells them so.  


The Case for Rebuilding the Temple

Hal Lindsey is dogmatic: ‘Obstacle or no obstacle, it is certain that the Temple will be rebuilt. Prophecy demands it... It is like the key piece of a jigsaw puzzle being found... it is a time of electrifying excitement’.[11]  What prophecy specifically ‘demands it’? 

The most frequently quoted passage used to justify a future Temple is Daniel 9:26-27:

“The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary… War will continue until the end… He will confirm a covenant with many for one “seven.” In the middle of the “seven” he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing of the Temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.” (Daniel 9:26-27)


Now, don’t get hung up over the number ‘seven’. Advocates assume ‘seven’ refers to a period of seven years. Let’s concede this for the moment. What you need to focus on instead is the fact that in verse 26 Daniel says a powerful ruler will come and ‘destroy the city and the sanctuary’ and then in verse 27 Daniel says

‘he will put an end to sacrifice’ and ‘set up an abomination’.

Between the two you have a hint of a time scale ‘War will continue until the end’.  Authors like Hal Lindsey and David Brickner believe Daniel is speaking chronologically and that ‘the end’ literally means ‘the end of the world’. Brickner puts it this way:

“Obviously the Temple has been rebuilt because Daniel tells us this ruler puts an end to sacrifice and sets up some kind of abomination … right inside the Temple in Jerusalem. Ultimately this ruler is destroyed in a final conflagration of enormous proportion.”[12]


Now you may need to make a strong coffee at this point and read the passage a few more times to understand the logic. Put simply, the question is - How can Daniel refer to sacrifices coming to an end in verse 27 when the Temple has apparently already been destroyed in verse 26? Simple - Daniel must be talking about two different Temples! So verse 26 must be describing what happened in 70 AD when the Romans destroyed Herod’s Temple and verse 27 must refer to a future Temple. To justify this interpretation, however, they must place a 2000 year gap or ‘parenthesis’ between verses 26 and 27 and argue that the prophetic clock stopped during what they call ‘Church Age’ or the ‘Times of the Gentiles’ (Luke 21:24). In fact, Hezekiah’s Temple was desecrated first by Antiochus Epiphanes in 168 BC. Then, Herod’s Temple was desecrated between 67-70 AD, first by Jewish Zealots, then by the Idumeans who double-crossed the Jews, then finally by Titus and his Roman army during the Jewish Revolt.

Apparently these don’t count. It has got to happen all over again. The argument falls to the ground, however, if you don’t believe Daniel’s vision is describing two separate events separated by thousands of years. Some commentators say Daniel is using chronography rather than chronology. He is describing future events to teach moral change. He is not foretelling future events chronologically to fuel speculation or sell books.  The other favourite passage of Temple watchers is Matthew 24:1-2, 15-16. Here it is:

“Jesus left the Temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down… So when you see standing in the holy place `the abomination that causes desolation,' spoken of through the prophet Daniel--let the reader understand-- then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.” (Matt. 24:1-2; 15-16)


In case you don’t get the plot here either, in his book Apocalypse Code Lindsey thoughtfully adds words to the biblical text to help you out. So Matthew 24:15 now reads, ‘So when you see standing in the holy place [of the rebuilt Temple] the abomination…’[13]

To be consistent with their interpretation of Daniel, those advocating the need for another Jewish Temple must again add a 2000 year chasm or parenthesis between Jesus words in v.1-2 and v.15-16. Frankly, I’d rather accept the eyewitness account of the 1st Century Jewish historian, Flavious Josephus.

He describes in great detail how Daniel’s prophecy came true before his very eyes in the destruction of Jerusalem.[14] There is nothing in the text of Daniel, Matthew, or anywhere else in the Bible, that suggests or requires a 2000 year gap between these prophetic events. Just the reverse. There are three Biblical reasons why another Temple is unnecessary.


1. The Earthly Temple was a Temporary Concession

It may come as a surprise but it was never God’s intention that a Temple be built in the first place. Like Israel’s desire for a king it was more a sign that they wanted to be like the surrounding nations than do his will (See 1 Sam. 8:6-9). Having captured Jerusalem and built for himself a palace, David’s impulse was to build a Temple for God as well. When he asked Nathan the prophet for advice, this was the reply:

“Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the LORD says: Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in? I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling. Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their rulers whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar? (2 Samuel 7:5-7)


In a play on words, God then tells David he is not to build a house (Temple) for God but instead God will build a house (dynasty) for David. Just as God gave in to Israel’s desire for a king,

so he tells David that he will reluctantly allow his son Solomon to build him a house, although the impression given is that God preferred to dwell with his people in a tent. He wanted his people to follow his lead and not get too secure or settled with this world. Ironically Herod’s Temple lasted 4 years. Not complete until 66AD it was flattened in 70AD. The sanctuary in Jerusalem, however magnificent, was only intended to be a copy, a shadow of the heavenly one. The Earthly Temple was a Temporary Concession.


2. The Real Temple is the Lord Jesus Christ
There is absolutely nothing in the New Testament about the need for another Temple in Jerusalem - just the reverse - the old Temple was declared redundant the moment Jesus died on the cross.

The curtain separating the people from the Holy of Holies was torn in two – significantly from top to bottom. That is why the writer to the Hebrews says: ‘By calling this covenant "new", he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and ageing will soon disappear.’ (Hebrews 8:13). This is the theological explanation for the destruction of the Temple in 70AD. It had served its purpose. The true Temple had arrived. This is how Jesus introduces the idea.    

Jesus answered them, "Destroy this Temple, and I will raise it again in three days." The Jews replied, "It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?" But the Temple he had spoken of was his body. (John 2:19-21)


When Jesus entered the Temple and threw out the money changers he wasn’t ‘cleansing’ it for future use. He was declaring it redundant. He himself is the one and only true Temple.

The temporary earthly replica was now beyond its ‘sell by’ date.

The real, more glorious and lasting Temple had arrived. That is why Jesus said people could now worship God anywhere:

“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23-24).


Later Jesus warned his followers to escape from Jerusalem when they saw the Roman army beginning to surround the city.
He specifically warned that Herod’s Temple, although unfinished, would be destroyed.

“Do you see all these great buildings?” “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” (Mark 13:2)


The only Temple Jesus ever promised would be rebuilt was his body – in three days. Why? Because Jesus made the Temple redundant. Jesus fulfilled the role of Temple, the High Priest and Passover lamb.  That is why the offering of sacrifices after the death of Christ became utterly futile. Only Jesus can take away our sin. Hebrews explains this:

“The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship... Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them… we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”(Hebrews 10:1-3, 8-11)


God used the Roman General Titus to destroy the Temple in the same way he had used the Babylonian King Cyrus to build it. When Jesus cried out ‘It is finished’ as he died on the cross, he did indeed ‘make perfect those who draw near to worship… [and] take away sins’ (Hebrews 10:1,4).  The Temple sacrifices, at best, provided a temporary cover for sin. The daily sacrifices, and the smoke rising from the altar were a constant reminder of the need for a Saviour. How then could God encourage the reintroduction of the sacrifices when he had sent his only son Jesus to be the ultimate sacrifice, to shed his own blood on the cross to take away our sin?  

To suggest sacrifices must be made once more undermines the New Testament’s teaching that the work of Christ is sufficient, final and complete. We have seen the earthly Temple was a temporary concession. The Real Temple is the Lord Jesus Christ.

3. The New Temple is already under Construction

After Pentecost, the Temple imagery is applied to the Body of Christ, the Church. For example, In 2 Corinthians, Paul quotes from passages in Leviticus and Isaiah, both of which refer to the physical Tabernacle and Temple, and applies them to the Church.

“For we are the Temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.’ ‘Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.’” (2 Corinthians 6:16-17)


To the Church in Ephesus, he adds:

“Consequently, you are … members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy Temple in the Lord.” (Ephesians 2:19-21)


The apostle Peter does the same thing describing the Church using Hebrew imagery associated with the Temple (Psalm 118:22; Isaiah 28:16). Christians are, he says, being made into the new house for God, in which Jesus is the ‘precious cornerstone’ (1 Peter 2:5-7).

“you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:5)


So the Temple in Jerusalem was only intended to be a temporary building, a shadow pointing to the day when the true Temple, the Lord Jesus Christ would make atonement for our sins, our ransom sacrifice and become the foundation for a new Temple indwelt by the Holy Spirit, made of living stones of all nations.  I want you to know that I consider it a great privilege to serve with you in our part of the new and holy, living, Temple of the Lord.  In the Autumn the church leaders will be introducing our new and exciting Five Year Plan and next phase of our 2020 Vision. We will be inviting you to partner with us in building God’s house for all nations in and beyond our community, as we await the blessed appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. This morning we have considered the case for rebuilding the Jewish Temple and found it wanting.

We have observed from Scripture how the Temple was redundant before it was ever completed. We have seen how the Lord Jesus Christ is the true Temple. How he fulfilled, annulled and replaced the Jewish Temple. Lastly we have seen how the Body of Christ, the Church is the new, living and holy Temple of the Lord.

 “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)





Summary Points


1.  Attempts by militant Jewish groups to destroy the Dome of the Rock and rebuild the Jewish Temple have widespread support and are taken very seriously by the Israeli authorities. Any attempt to rebuild the Temple will very likely ignite an apocalyptic war with Muslims worldwide.

2.  For some, the case for rebuilding the Temple is based on the mistaken belief that only through the reintroduction of the sacrificial system can Jewish people atone for their sins. For others, the Temple must be rebuilt so that it can be desecrated by the antichrist before Jesus returns. This is only possible by the insertion of a 2000 year gap between Daniel 9:26 and 9:27 and Matthew 24:1-2 and 15-16.


3.  Former Temples were desecrated by Antiochus Epiphanies, the Jewish Zealots as well as by Titus and the Roman army.


4.  The Temple was made redundant and obsolete when Jesus died on the cross.

5.  Jesus is the true Temple

6.  There is not a single verse in the New Testament that requires or justifies a Temple in Jerusalem. Instead Old Testament references to the Temple are applied to the Church.

7.  His Church, the Body of Christ, is the living Temple.


Passages to Review

2 Samuel 7:1-17; John 4:21-24; Hebrews 9-10; Ephesians 2:19-21; 1 Corinthians 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16; 1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 21:9-27.


Questions for Further Study

1.  What role did the Temple fulfil under the Old Covenant?

2.  Why is an earthly Temple no longer required?

3.  What or who is the Temple?

4.  Where are we to worship God?

5.  How would a future Temple in Jerusalem undermine the finished work of Christ?


[1] Yizhar Be’er,Targeting The Temple Mount: A Current Look at Threats to the Temple Mount by Extremist and Messianic Groups’ Keshev, http://keshev.org.il/siteEn/FullNews.asp?NewsID=53&CategoryID=14 [Accessed August 2006]

1                    [2] N. Shragai, ‘Rabbis call for mass visits to Temple Mount’, Ha’aretz, 19 July 2001.

2                    [3] Gershon Salomon, The Voice of the Temple Mount Faithful, 5761/2001, pp. 15-17.

[4] Palestine Media Centre, ‘Jewish Extremists of Temple Mount Faithful to Enter Al-Aqsa Thursday’, 2 August 2006, http://www.palestine-pmc.com/alerts/2-8-06.asp [Accessed August 2006]

[5] Sam Kiley, ‘The righteous will survive and the rest will perish’ The Times, 13 December 1999, p. 39.

[6] Halsell, Forcing God’s Hand, p. 71.

[7] Richard N. Ostling, "Time for a New Temple?" Time, (16 October, 1989), p. 64.

[8] Randall Price, The Coming Last Days Temple (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House, 1999), p. 26.

[9] Firas Al-Atraqchi, ‘Jewish groups: Raze mosques, rebuild Temple’, Aljazeera, 28 July 2004, http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/58087655-FE76-4764-9598-A952E08FEFC8.htm [Accessed August 2006]

[10] Hal Lindsey, ‘World's fate hangs on 35 acres’ World Net Daily, 21 February 2001,  www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=21794 [Accessed August 2006]

[11] Hal Lindsey, The Late Great Planet Earth (London, Lakeland, 1970), pp. 56-58.

1                    [12]Brickner, Future, p. 18.

[13] Hal Lindsey, The Apocalypse Code ( Palos Verdes, California, Western Front, 1997), p. 78.

[14] See Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, in The New Complete Works of Josephus (Grand Rapids, Kregal, 1999).

[1]Yisrael Meida, cited in Grace Halsell, Forcing God’s Hand (Washington, Crossroads International, 1999), p. 68.