A recent poll in Israel showed almost half the citizenry wants the third Jewish temple built, the Levitical priesthood established and animal sacrifice resumed. Amazing, considering the high-degree of animal-rights sensitivity today. But even more amazing (to me) is how many Christians also want to see the temple up and running.
Jews obviously want it so they can again worship in the way God instructed them through Moses. But most Christians see the temple as just a temporary edifice needed to fulfill a handful of Scriptures for Antichrist to “take his seat” and declare himself God. Or to be the “holy place” where the abomination of desolation can stand.
But does the New Testament actually say a third Jewish temple will be built? Or can those few Scriptures that imply the presence of an end-time tabernacle be understood in some other way? I believe they can. I believe all should be understood as carrying the alert Matthew attached to the so-called “holy place” mentioned by Jesus - “Let the reader understand” (Matt. 24:15).
Oh, there surely will be a third temple that will be more glorious than Solomon’s. But it won’t be a building! How can God allow another stone temple to arise when the entire New Testament is an argument against the reestablishment of an animal sacrificial system? I have no doubt the reason God allowed the Muslim Dome of the Rock to be sitting where it is today was to block the temple’s rebuilding. Or it would already be up.
With the New Covenant, God moved into a new kind of house. The Mosaic Law permitted His presence to dwell with us, but now he could dwell in us. The body of Messiah is now His only official place of residence on earth: “Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Cor. 3:16).
Didn’t Isaiah tell us, “Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool, where then is a house you could build for Me?” (Acts 7:48,49).
But that still begs the question: Will God allow even a false or temporary temple to be built for end-time purposes? And should Christians (or Jews) expect to see it as a sign of Messiah’s coming?
My advice is to scratch that sign off your list. God can’t allow another physical temple to be built or it would be a denial Messiah has already come. The author of Hebrews explained it this way: “The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the first tabernacle is still standing, which is a symbol for the present time.” (Heb. 9:8,9)
In other words, the very existence of the Mosaic Temple meant God’s presence could only be accessed through the Levitical priesthood and the blood of animals. But when the curtain in front of the Holy of Holies was supernaturally torn from top to bottom at Yeshua’s death it signified we could now go directly into His presence by “a new and living way” (Heb. 10:20). And there was no going back.
Let’s not become so distracted looking for a red heifer we miss the completion and coming of God’s true temple in Yeshua…”in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord” (Eph 2:19-22).
“Yes, it is he who will build the temple of Yahweh, and he who will bear the honor and sit and rule on his throne.” (Zech 6:12,13)