Note; I wrote this blog several years ago, but have updated it because of the recent interest in a Third Temple and the arrival here in Israel of five red heifers.
There is quite a bit of chatter about the rebuilding of the Third Temple. Five red heifers (as reported here) have been shipped to Israel from a group of US-based Christian farmers, to be used in a potential Third Temple. It has concerned me for a long time that many believers obsess over the Third Temple when there is something far better to come! I can see no instruction in the New Testament where believers should assist in bringing forth a third Temple.
Years ago, a group of Orthodox men in Israel claimed to have reestablished the Sanhedrin. They believed that a Third Temple would bring world peace as all religions would come to the "house of prayer for all nations." I wrote about it because many Christians (even pastor friends of mine in the US) were rallying to support them. Of course, we always encourage Christian support of Israel and the Jewish people, but seeing God's hand in a Yeshua-less, multi-religion movement, is counter to the Great Commission. To my surprise, the blog made it to the movement's leader, who labeled me an antisemite.
The Third Temple is the Temple of the Antichrist!
The Third Temple is absolutely part of End Time prophecy, but that doesn’t make it a blessing. The Antichrist is part of End Time prophecy, but I am not praying for his appearance! And I am certainly not excited about it, or giving money to his campaign, as many believers are to the Third Temple Institute. The Third Temple will be a Temple of deception, leading Jewish people back to a pre-Yeshua sacrificial religion.
How the Third Temple is Built
You see, I am excited about the Fourth Temple. I’ll address that in a minute. First, how will the Third Temple come about? Well, looking through a glass darkly, this is how I see things.
1. A world leader will arise, possibly out of the massive Israeli military victory prophesied in Ezekiel 38 and 39, and bring peace to the Middle East—beginning the seven-year tribulation. This leader will make provision for the rebuilding of the Temple. My guess is that the Muslim mosques on the Temple Mount are destroyed in this war. (If you are not aware, there is a Muslim mosque present in the Temple Mount, in addition to the Dome of the Rock.)
[The antichrist] will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven’ (seven years). In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him. (Dan. 9:27)
Refer also to Daniel 11:31 and 12:11, which seems to speak of the antichrist putting an end to sacrifices in the Third Temple.
In order for him to “put an end to sacrifice,” there must be a Third Temple. This rebuilding will lead to a Jewish revival and, probably, the persecution of Messianic Jews in Israel.
2. The second part of the verse says that he will defile the rebuilt Temple, “he will set up an abomination that causes desolation.” We see this confirmed by Paul.
[The antichrist] will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God. (2 Thess. 2:4)
3. The antichrist will suffer (or fake) a fatal wound, but will rise (or appear to) from the dead at this time (Rev. 13:3). This will give him the cred to simply declare himself to be God. He will compare himself to Yeshua, I assume, and will defile the Temple and take it over, causing the Jews at the Temple to flee.
4. This is when the Two Witnesses of Revelation 11 show up. They will literally drive the Antichrist out of Jerusalem, as they breathe fire, for the next three and a half years. This will be a time of great harvest and great deception. The two witnesses will prophesy and preach the gospel from Jerusalem, and the Antichrist will continue to proclaim himself as God and persecute the Church. (Yes, I believe the Church will be here.)
So, you can see why I am not encouraging people to get behind the restoration of a Yeshua-less revival in Judaism. I am looking for the end-time prophecies that speak of the Jewish people turning to Yeshua (Rom. 11:26; Matt. 23:39), not to the blood of bulls and goats!
Some have argued that we should get behind the Third Temple because it will lead us closer to the coming of Yeshua. Personally, I find that disingenuous. That is like loving the Jewish people, just because you know that Jewish acceptance will lead to the Second Coming (Rom. 11:15). Yes, we should long for the Second Coming, but our love for the Jewish people should stand alone, being grateful that the gospel came from Israel to the nations.
Avner Boskey, a respected messianic leader and theologian here in Israel wrote this week a dire warning.
For followers of Yeshua to aid in the construction or purification of the Third Temple, in cooperation with Orthodox groups who are zealously opposed to Messianic Jews and the Messiahship of Yeshua, is not helping to fulfill prophecy. To the contrary! It is doing fundraising and public relations for the anti-Christ’s ministry.
I do not know of one Messianic leader in the entire country who supports Christian support for a Third Temple. It is deception. We "provoke Israel to jealousy" not by supporting an antichrist agenda, but through love and good works. Helping someone jump off a cliff is not love—even if they seek your help. Yeshua is the only Messiah of Israel, and we should never point away from Him.
As Temples go, there is a better one coming! But it is not the Third Temple. The Bible speaks of one that will be built in the millennial kingdom. Scholars refer to it as the Fourth Temple or the Millennial Temple. It will be constructed only after the Messiah returns, while the Third Temple is clearly built before the return of Yeshua. (Dan. 9:27; 2 Thess. 2:4)
The most detailed description of the Messiah’s Temple (as I call it) is in the last eight chapters of Ezekiel. Ezekiel who witnessed the destruction of the First Temple is taken captive to Babylon. There, he has prophetic visions. He is given a tour and instructions.
In chapters 40–48, ... Ezekiel describes an enormous new temple (chapters 40–42). The glory of God returns (chapter 43), sacrifices are resumed (chapters 44–46), and the land is restored to the people of Israel (47–48). The hearts of the people will have been changed (Ezekiel 36:26–27), and even Gentiles have a place in the restored kingdom (Ezekiel 47:22). The land will be ruled by a Davidic Prince(Ezekiel 44:3; see also 37:24–25; 34:23–24). (Source)
Nations Will Come
It appears that this Fourth Temple will be a learning center for the nations to be discipled. Isaiah speaks of this:
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths. The Torah will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 2:3)
The gospel will be preached during the Millennium. The “survivors” from the nations will need to learn the Word of God. From Jerusalem, the Word will go back to their communities. People will be born during this time and need the message of salvation!
The Dead Sea Lives
Last week, I was at the Dead Sea. It is drying up. It is stunning to see the former shoreline and how far you must now walk to get to the water. However, when Yeshua comes back and builds the Fourth Temple, the Bible speaks of a river coming out from under that Temple that will flow all the way to the Dead Sea, making it live! There will even be fishermen!
“This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah (desert next to the Dead Sea), where it enters the Dead Sea. When it empties into the sea, the salty water there becomes fresh. Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live. Fishermen will stand along the shore; from En Gedi to En Eglaim there will be places for spreading nets. The fish will be of many kinds—like the fish of the Mediterranean Sea. But the swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they will be left for salt. Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear fruit, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.” (Ezekiel 47:8-12)
I have a theory: the more the water evaporates at the Dead Sea, the closer we are to the coming of Yeshua.
What happens to the Third Temple? How do we know we will not simply convert it or renovate the structure? I don’t think Yeshua will use the Antichrist’s leftovers. The Temple will have been utterly desecrated. It is what the Bible calls, “the abomination that causes desolation.”
Furthermore, we see many references to a massive earthquake in Jerusalem at the time of His coming. One passage (Zech. 14:4) says His touchdown will cause the Mount of Olives to be split in two. The Mount of Olives faces the Temple Mount. Revelation 16 speaks of Jerusalem dividing into three parts.
It is reasonable to assume that the Antichrist’s Temple will be destroyed along with him, making way for Messiah’s Temple.
It is this author’s belief that the Third Temple is the Antichrist’s Temple–even though it will be built at the place of the previous Temples. It will begin with a Jesus-less Jewish revival and is then taken over by the Antichrist. At no time do I see where this Temple is used to honor the Lord. Therefore, I cannot see why any believer would send money or pray for its construction. It would be far better to sow those funds into feeding the poor or evangelism. Supporting it is misguided religious zeal. It is the Fourth Temple, the Messiah’s Temple, for which we should be longing.
Footnote: End Times prophecy is never crystal clear. After writing this there was one thing that troubled me. In both 2 Thessalonians 2:4 and Revelation 11:1, the Temple is called “the Temple of God.” How can it be of God when it is erected by anti-Yeshua unbelieving Orthodox Jews and then taken over by the Antichrist?
I could not find much written on this. One theory is that even though the Temple will not have much to do with real worship, it is built in the place where both previous Temples stood, on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem—thus making it the Temple of God. And how would we know to what Paul is referring if he did not say "Temple of God" or "Temple in Jerusalem"?
Or, just as the Bible says in Romans, Orthodox Jews are enemies of the Gospel and yet beloved on account of Abraham. So too the Third Temple can have this dual sense of divine destiny, and yet, corruption. Remember, Paul speaks of the Jewish people having a true zeal, but missing the key component (Rom. 10:1-2)
Either way, it will be the Fourth Millennial Temple to which the nations will stream in the age to come. I am longing for that!