Rev. Mark Robinson
The spring day was typical in many ways for Jerusalem. The sun was shining and the air was crisp, but there was one notable difference. Hundreds were anxiously awaiting the sacrifice. It was April, and the celebration of Passover was at hand. There were voices of anticipation as the lamb was brought for the slaughter. A couple of men tied the offering=s legs so as not to kick or struggle. A gold goblet filled with wine was given to the lamb. As he drank the wine, the alcohol would act as a sedative. The neck was carefully shaved to remove all hair so the knife, as it came down, would quickly, cleanly, and as painlessly as possible, take the lamb=s life.
In Hebrew, the priest offered the blessing, ABlessed are you, LORD our God, King of the world, who has sanctified us with his statutes and commanded us concerning the [ritual] slaughtering.@ The knife was raised. Swiftly and cleanly the cut was made and the blood of the lamb was spilled.
Perhaps you are thinking this was a scene in Jerusalem some 2,000 years ago when the Temple was still standing. If so, you are mistaken. The year was 2008. For the first time in almost 2,000 years, Jewish people in Jerusalem offered a Passover sacrifice. The event can be viewed on the internet (http://il.youtube.com/watch?v=Hv4Ks_5YgIQ). You need not fear about watching the slaying of the lamb. The film stops as the knife is brought down.
The offering of this Passover lamb was in a grassy area in the old city of Jerusalem. There is no Temple to bring the lamb. There is no altar where the sacrifice can be offered. There is, though, a desire in the heart of many ultra orthodox Jewish people to re-build the Temple, re-establish the priesthood, and re-institute the sacrificial system.
The Temple Institute
In the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem there is a small shop that, I am sure, many pass by and don=t have a clue about the work that takes place inside. Located on Misgav Ladach Street, the small sign proclaims, ATreasures of the Temple.@ A visit to their website, www.templeinstitute.org, tells of their work. ASHALOM AND WELCOME to the official website of the TEMPLE INSTITUTE in Jerusalem, Israel. The Temple Institute is dedicated to every aspect 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 Institute’s activities include 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.
The offering of the Passover lamb in April, 2008 was coordinated by the Temple Institute. The rebuilding of the Temple Menorah, the Table of Shewbread, the vessels and instruments for sacrificial worship, priestly garments, harps for the Levitical choir have been, or are being prepared, under the auspices of the Temple Institute. These religious Jewish people not only expect, but are preparing for the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem and the resumption of the sacrifices as described in the Jewish Scriptures.
The years of work the Temple Institute has done should be encouraging to Bible believing Christians. Although the supporters of the work of the Temple Institute are relatively small in number, their ultimate goal, Ato see Israel rebuild the Holy Temple on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem,@ is in line with the promises of Scripture, both Old and New Testament concerning the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. I believe the Temple Institute=s work is preparation for the fulfillment of promises of Scripture that there will be a re-built Temple in Jerusalem one day. Perhaps sooner than we realize.
Future Temple Promises in the Old Testament
There are two future Temples promised for Israel and Jerusalem. The second one will be built by Messiah when He returns. We see this promise in Zechariah 6:12-13, AAnd speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD: Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.@ The BRANCH is a designation of the Messiah. This prophecy regarding the Messiah rebuilding the Temple will be fulfilled when Jesus returns.
The re-building of the first future Temple is possibly being prepared for now by the Temple Institute. There are two passages from the Jewish Bible to consider in regard to the first future Temple. This Temple is often referred to as the Tribulation Temple by Bible teachers because the Scriptures tell us it will be standing during the coming seven year Tribulation period. Specifically, the prophecy is that in the middle of the Tribulation period the Temple will be standing.
The first scripture is Daniel 9:27, the conclusion of the amazing A70 weeks@ prophecy that started in verse 24.
"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."
The prophecy is that he, the Anti-Christ, will stop the sacrifice and the oblation in the middle of the seven year Tribulation period. The place sacrifices were offered to God was on Mt. Moriah. Although this verse does not say there has to be a rebuilt Temple, it at least implies there could be one, because sacrifices, which in biblical days took place in the Temple, are stopped.
Jeremiah, also speaking of the last days, gives us additional information about a possible Temple existing in the Tribulation period.
And it shall come to pass, when ye be multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, saith the LORD, they shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of the LORD: neither shall it come to mind: neither shall they remember it; neither shall they visit it; neither shall that be done any more. At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the LORD; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart. Jeremiah 3:16-17
These verses reference the coming reign of Jesus in the Millennial kingdom because "Jerusalem [is] the throne of the LORD and all the nations shall be gathered unto it." Verse 16 tells us that in the kingdom no one will visit the ark of the covenant of the Lord anymore as they once did. The inference of this passage is that previous to the millennial kingdom, i.e. the Tribulation period, people visited the ark of the covenant. For anyone to visit the ark of the covenant requires a Temple be standing to house the ark of the covenant.
Future Temple Promises in the New Testament
In the Olivet discourse Jesus addresses issues that will take place in the Tribulation period. In Matthew 24:15-16 we are told:
When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso breadth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:
The abomination of desolation is the same type of event that took place with Antiochus Epiphanes in 167 B.C. Antiochus desecrated the Temple by offering a pig on its altar. We are told there will be another desecration in a future Temple, "the holy place," in the Tribulation period.
A final passage in the New Testament, 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, tells of the Anti-Christ, here known as "the man of sin, the son of perdition," sitting in the Temple and proclaiming himself God.
Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 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.
Coupled with the previous scriptures, this takes place in the middle of the Tribulation period. This demands a Temple standing on the Temple Mount no later than the middle of the Tribulation period. Logic tells us that the Temple will have to be constructed before the middle of the Tribulation period, for it to be standing by the middle of this period.
The Temple will be Rebuilt!
The Scripture is clear there will be another Temple in Jerusalem. The Tribulation Temple has to be standing by the middle of the Tribulation period. We don’t know when this Temple will be built. It could be at the beginning of the Tribulation period or anytime in the first 3½ years of the seven year Tribulation period. It could also be built before the Tribulation period starts. There is nothing in the scripture that precludes the building of the Temple before the start of the Tribulation period.
I believe we are living in the time of the return of the Lord. The establishment of Israel as a nation in 1948 is the key component in end time prophecy (Ezekiel 37:1-14; Isaiah 11:1-12). The rapture of the church could happen any time. The desire of the Temple Institute to rebuild the Temple and re-institute the sacrificial system just might be one of the instruments God will use in seeing that the Temple is rebuilt. The desire and work to rebuild the Temple is another "shadow" of the Tribulation period.
How close are we to the start of the Tribulation period? Perhaps we are very close. The rapture precedes the start of the Tribulation period. Are you ready to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)?