For millennia, it was a scene that would have been unimaginable. Soldiers of the Jewish state, under the banner of the Star of David, crying exultantly, victoriously, “The Temple Mount is in our hands!”
It has been 50 years since Israel captured the Temple Mount and Old Jerusalem after brutal house-to-house fighting during the 1967 Six-Day War. Five decades later, the sacred site remains politically explosive, with even the simple act of prayer generating huge conflict.
Yet, the biggest battles undoubtedly lay ahead. Competing claims to sovereignty are always at the center of any negotiations between Israel and its Arab neighbors.
More importantly, there is a steady progression of signs indicating Jews are making real progress towards actually building the Third Temple, an act that would have profound geopolitical and spiritual ramifications.
- Passover sacrifices are being held near the Temple Mount.
- The specific breeds of animals needed to engage in the Temple sacrifices described in the Torah are being reintroduced into Israel.
- Modern DNA technology allows the identification of those who can serve as priests in the Temple once it is constructed.
- An altar, priestly garments, and other materials which would be needed to conduct services at the Temple have been created.
Many believers argue there is deep eschatological significance in how all of these unlikely events are coming together so swiftly and dramatically.
“Israel is the plumb line of prophecy,” said Joseph Farah, author of “The Restitution of All Things: Israel, Christianity and the End of the Age.” “That there is so much chatter and activity within the Jewish state about the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem represents we live in an exciting time of history – the one about which all the prophets looked with hope for restoration of the world.
“Israel is a living miracle amidst us – the one and only nation in the world resurrected from the dead after nearly 2,000 years, its language re-created, its people regathered from the four corners of the world. Had this happened to another nation, it would be amazing indeed. That it happened to the one and only nation in history about which all this was prophesied, it can only be the result of God’s direct, supernatural intervention.”
“The last days aren’t near, they are here,” said Jan Markell of Olive Tree Ministries. “We have the convergence of all of the predicted signs. The re-birth of Israel started the convergence in 1948. We see the push towards globalism as outlined in Revelation 13. We see all nations having ‘distress with perplexity’ as foretold in Luke 21:25. We see the persecution of Christians and the rise of anti-Semitism. We see the world turning against Israel as predicted in Zechariah 12. These and dozens of additional ‘signs of the times’ remind believers that the hour is very late.
“I have often said that Israel’s re-birth is the primary sign, followed by issues surrounding Jerusalem, followed by Temple Mount activity. Israel is the watch, Jerusalem is the minute hand, and the Temple Mount is the second hand. It took the recapture of Jerusalem in June of 1967 to allow this to unfold. That is why the world has tried to divide Jerusalem for decades. This is a way in which Satan can slow the end-time plan.”
Markell also believes there needs to be a literal temple rebuilt for the end times events described in the Bible to take place.
“It says in II Thessalonians 2:3-4 that the Antichrist will enter the Temple in Jerusalem and declare himself to be god,” she told WND. “This is at the three-and-a-half-year point in the Tribulation. He will demand that the Jews worship him. That means there is a Temple and there isn’t one now. So one has to be built. The Jews are making preparation to build that Temple, but they have no idea that such a ‘lawless one’ will occupy it someday and demand worship.
“They are already looking for a perfect red heifer to sacrificial purposes. Priestly robes are being prepared. Unfortunately, after the Six-Day War in 1967, they gave away the Temple Mount to the Muslim world and that is the area that is needed for this Third Temple.”
However, there are mixed views on whether there will actually be a literal, physical Third Temple in the short term. Indeed, Mark Biltz, pastor of El Shaddai Ministries, author of “God’s Day Timer” and one of the leading advocates for reincorporating Jewish practices into the Christian faith, argues a renewal of faith is more important than obsessing over details of physical construction.
“While many Christians get excited about the building of the Temple from mostly an eschatological point of view, my hope for a rebuilt Temple is based on how badly the world needs the presence of God back on Earth in a real, tangible way,” Biltz told WND.
“God asked the prophet Haggai why Israel was content to dwell in their houses while the House of God lies in waste. Today the same question is being put forth. I find the answer to be because of political reasons and a question of who will be in control, the political establishment or a Torah court. It may be a matter that will have to wait for the Messiah to establish when he rules and reigns from Jerusalem. May it happen in our day!”
Joel Richardson, the New York Times bestselling author of “The Islamic Antichrist” believes there will be something on the Temple Mount. However, what that will actually be, he cannot say.
“Certainly, we are nearing the time where biblical sacrifices will be reinstated on the Temple Mount, as the Scriptures state will take place in the acharayit yawm, or last days,” he told WND. “Personally, I believe that this will not take place until after there is some significant restructuring of geopolitical realities. I believe that we will see a few drastic Middle Eastern wars and a shifting of present conditions before any such construction will begin. But only time will tell, and God knows best.
“Now, whether the forthcoming Temple will be an actual brick and mortar structure or merely something as simple as a tent, we simply do not know. What we do know is that a physical structure of some sort will be re-established on the Temple Mount. The Scriptures make this clear. Theologically speaking, this is going to be one of the most profoundly controversial and divisive realities in all of redemptive history.”
Richardson warns the reconstruction of the Temple, or whatever structure is created, will open up a huge debate within Christianity, especially about whether “Jewish” practices should be reintegrated into the lives of believers.
“Today there is already tremendous controversy within the Body of Christ over matters of Torah observance such as whether or not Gentile Christians should keep the Sabbath, or eat Kosher, etc.,” he said. “Because there is not presently a Temple, however, we have been spared the far greater controversy of whether or not we should participate in the various Temple rituals and sacrifices, etc. Many Christians will point out that the time is coming when the Antichrist will sit in the Temple, and thus Christians should not be involved in any forthcoming Temple.
“Now, at a certain point, the Antichrist will indeed enter and defile the Temple. Before that happens, however, the Scriptures refer to this structure as ‘The Temple of God.’ One cannot defile something unless it was first considered ‘holy.’ Other evangelicals will be quick to say that Christ’s sacrifice was once and for all, and thus any Christian participation in any Temple rituals or sacrifices would be akin to blasphemy. But the Apostles themselves obviously understood the once-and-for-all nature of Jesus’ atoning work, yet they continued to take part in the Temple activities long after His crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension.”
Richardson suggested Christians excited about efforts to rebuild the Temple should think long and hard about the questions that will be raised after its construction.
“When the Temple is rebuilt – and it will be – the question will not be as simple as whether or not it is OK for followers of Jesus to participate in the Temple rituals, but rather the questions will be much more complicated and theologically nuanced,” Richardson explained. “Should only Messianic Jews participate in Temple rituals or should all Christians do so? What aspects of the Temple rituals may we be involved in? Obviously, the time will come when the Antichrist will defile the Temple and cause offerings to cease, but before that time, how exactly will we relate to it?
“Again, as I said, this will likely be the single greatest controversy to ever face the Christian movement, in all of its history. Although that time is not yet here, it is coming quite soon and it is time to begin seriously wrestling through these very real issues.”
Bill Cloud, head of Shoreshim Ministries, author of “Esau Rising” and another vocal proponent of incorporating Jewish practices into Christian worship, is excited about the prophetic environment set in motion by the Israeli capture of the Temple Mount half a century ago. However, he has mixed feelings about the legitimacy of whatever new structure emerges on the Temple Mount.
“Without a doubt, the reunification of Jerusalem and the capture of the Temple Mount in 1967 was a significant prophetic event,” he told WND. “In my view, it set in motion other situations whereby other prophecies might be fulfilled.
“As far as rebuilding the Temple, I believe the Bible suggests that it will happen; however, I’m not convinced that the next Temple will be the residence of the Sh’kinah (Presence of God). I’m of the opinion that when the next Temple is built – maybe before it can be dedicated – the one we know as Antichrist will come in and put a stop to it and kill the two witnesses (Rev. 11:7-10), thus fulfilling what Paul spoke of in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4.”
Still, Cloud said it is undeniable there is a palpable sense that prophetic fulfillment could be taking place within our own time.
“The efforts of the Temple Institute to create all the necessary components and furnishings for the Temple demonstrates the growing messianic expectations that exist in Israel today,” he observed. “That, in conjunction with the instability in the world and particularly the Middle East, has set the stage for the prophecies concerning a temple in Jerusalem to be fulfilled.”
Carl Gallups, the author of several books including his latest end times examination “When The Lion Roars,” agrees the current generation is living during an extraordinary time in history. Most importantly, the pastor told WND, events are accelerating.
“There can be no doubt that we are living in intensely prophetic times,” he said. “I maintain that these are the most prophetically significant times since the first coming of Jesus Christ. There is a particular convergence of at least a dozen prophesied events and/or elements occurring right before our eyes as chronicled in ‘When The Lion Roars.’ And we are the first generation in history to see them happening.
“I think it is no small coincidence that in this particular Jubilee Year of 2017 there is such an unprecedented upheaval in the Middle East involving major world powers. Russia, China, Iran, Syria, and Turkey are interconnected like never before. North Korea even figures into the mix with its connections to Iran and China in particular. From Brexit to the ongoing ‘Trump Factor,’ the globalist powers are in a frenzy. Now, in Israel, there is an unparalleled and renewed focus upon the Temple Mount and the potential for a much stronger Jewish control of the Mount, including the possibility of an actual Temple project.”
Gallups suggested the 50th anniversary of the Israeli capture of the Temple Mount could see extraordinary events, not just in the near future, but in the current year.
“Fifty years earlier, in 1967, the Temple Mount was finally repossessed by Israel in the Six Day War,” he noted. “And, 50 years before that, in 1917, the British Empire captured the Temple Mount from the Islamic Ottoman Empire in the Battle of Jerusalem. The last two Jubilee Years saw unmistakable ‘redemption’ moments involving the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, particularly involving some sort of ‘liberation’ from the hands of Islam. It will be interesting to see what this year might hold.”
Gallups, stunned at everything that is unfolding right in front of the eyes of contemporary Christians, urged believers to stand up and take notice: Something extraordinary is coming.
“There is no doubt that Yahweh is up to something big in our lifetime. And and the central focus is on the Middle East and Israel, with the Jubilee-Year-epicenter being right in the center of Jerusalem – the Temple Mount!” he said. “Surely the return of the Lord Jesus Christ is near, and we have been raised up for ‘such a time as this.'”