I know many Baptist and Pentecostal Christians who believe that before the Coming of the Lord, the Temple of Jerusalem will be rebuilt, based on the second epistle to Thessalonians 2:4. It seems unreal, because, nowadays, in that place there is a mosque where Muslims worship. Construction can be delayed for many years because of this. Thus, one may misunderstand that the coming of the Lord is not near, because the Temple has not yet begun to be built. In this verse, it is not written that this Temple is in Jerusalem. What do you think?
It is true that the views of Christians regarding the way how the events from the time of the end will follow, are divided. Some believe that the Temple of Jerusalem will not be rebuilt, because they spiritualize excessively about what is written in the Bible. Indeed, many figures of speech are used in the Bible. However, every figure of speech finds its interpretation in the context of the Bible. Many Christians believe that the Church is the New Israel, therefore God can not have a plan with the people of Israel, and for this reason neither do they accept the idea of the rebuilding of the Temple.
Still, before God made the Old Covenant (the Law) at Mount Sinai with the people of Israel, He made an everlasting Covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob on the basis of which He had promised the land of Canaan as an eternal inheritance. This is an unconditional Covenant: Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness, and God made a Covenant with him, on the basis of which He had promised a descendant that would come out of him (Isaac), a seed like the stars of heaven (according to Galatians 3:16, this seed is the Lord Jesus) and the land of Canaan as an everlasting heritage (Genesis 15). After about 400 years, God made another Covenant with the people of Israel (the descendants of Abraham) at Mount Sinai, at the departure from Egyptian bondage and before entering the promised land. I want to remind you that the land for an everlasting possession was promised on the basis of Abrahamic Covenant, which is an unconditional covenant. But the Covenant at Mount Sinai would offer the people of Israel a special position among all peoples on the face of the earth:
Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation… (Exodus 19:5-6a)
This covenant is also known as the Covenant of the Law, and it is a conditional Covenant. If they were to keep the laws and commandments of God, they would have many and blessed days in the promised land (Canaan), but if they were to break the laws and commandments of God , they would be cursed, and the earth would spew (vomit) them out of the land (the blessings and the curses are written in Deuteronomy 28). The Jews broke the laws and commandments of God and, according to the Old Covenant (the Law), they had to be expelled from the land, which, according to Abrahamic Covenant, was promised forever. The question arises: Does the Law (or the Old Covenant) abolish the promise made by God to Abraham? Certainly not! The apostle Paul writes in his epistle to the Galatians, “the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise” (Galatians 3:17). For this reason, God did not destroy this people, even if they were not faithful to Him, “For I, the Lord, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed” (Malachi 3:6).
The Old Testament is full of prophecies regarding the return of the people of Israel to the land at the end time, and we are witnesses at the marvelous way God took care of this people and returned the country to them after nearly 2000 years, not minding all the opposition of the surrounding countries! Who would have believed 100 years ago that the Jews would receive their country back? However, the people of Israel received their country back according to the promise of God, and in 1984 an organization “The Temple Institute” was founded, that works intensely to restore the worship according to the Covenant of the Law. The Internet is full of information about the work that is being done to restore the worship according to the Law (the Old Covenant). They have already found people from the tribe of Levi who can serve at the Temple; the tools necessary for the temple worship have been restored; and they have been gathering materials for the rebuilding of the Temple. The only obstacle for the construction of the Temple is the mosque that is on the Temple’s place, for according to the law, the Temple must be built in that place. A poll commissioned by the Knesset Channel, and quoted by Arutz Sheva (IsraelNationalNews.com), showed that 49% of Jews would like to have the temple rebuilt, 23% opposed and 28% undecided. When they were asked about the chances that this event may take place, 42% said it may be possible, while 39% are certain. So, 81% of Jews believe in the possibility of rebuilding of the Temple.
As you can see, irrespective of the Christians’ opinions, the Jews are working hard to restore the worship according to the Law, the Temple being the main element in this worship!
The text from 2 Thessalonians 2:4 is not the main text on which the concept of the rebuilding of the Temple of Jerusalem was formed. The main text is in Daniel 9:24-27. According to this text, God decreed 70 weeks for the people of Israel and the city of Jerusalem until the anointing of the Most Holy Place and the strengthening of David’s throne, that is until Israel will be strengthened as an independent state. In accordance with this prophecy, the anointed Ruler, Messiah the Prince, would come after 69 weeks that began with the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem after the Babylonian captivity but would be cut off (killed) and would have nothing (he would not be anointed as an emperor). This indeed happened: The Lord Jesus, at His first coming, was not accepted by the people, was crucified, and did not take the kingdom. In verse 26, it is said that after Messiah’s cut off, the Temple and Jerusalem would be destroyed, and its end will come with a flood; this happened in 70 AD. The last week (the seventieth) decreed by God for the people of Israel and Jerusalem remains to be fulfilled. In that week, according to verse 27, a prince, who follows (draws) from the people who destroyed the holy city and the temple after Messiah’s cut off, will make a firm covenant with the many, but in the middle of the week will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering. The Jews were not allowed to bring these sacrifices except at the place established by God: that is, at the Temple of Jerusalem. It implies that the Temple will be rebuilt and the worship according to the Law will be restored. And the book of Revelation, which beginning with chapter 4, describes the last week of Daniel, tells about the Temple that will be in Jerusalem and not elsewhere:
Then there was given me a measuring rod like a staff; and someone said, “Get up and measure the temple of God and the altar, and those who worship in it. Leave out the court which is outside the temple and do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations; and they will tread under foot the holy city for forty-two months. (Revelation 11:1-2)
So, we see that the worship at the Temple will be restored because there is an altar in it and there are worshipers. According to the text from Revelation 11, in the first half of the seventieth week of Daniel, two prophets will prophesy at Jerusalem, and in the middle of the week, they will be killed by the Antichrist, and the nations will tread under foot the holy city in the second half of the week.
“And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.” …When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, and overcome them and kill them. And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. (Revelation 11:3, 7-8)
So, at the time of the end, after the fullness of the Gentiles will come in, all Israel, who is in a blood Covenant with God, will be saved (Romans 11), that is when its power will be shattered completely (Daniel 12: 7) by the Antichrist who will wear them down in the second half of the week (Daniel 7:21, 25).
As long as the Temple of Jerusalem is not yet rebuilt, we know that there is still time until the end of the days. But, considering that everything is prepared for the rebuilding of Temple and the restoring of worship in it, we realize that the time is very close. If God maintained Israel as a nation, not minding that they had no country for almost 2,000 years and now their country is returned to them, to the great wonder of the entire international community, He will make certain that the Temple also will be rebuilt at the time decided by Him as it happened after the departure from the Babylonian captivity. Then it seemed impossible to rebuild the Temple. And what was the message of God to Zerubbabel by the prophet Zechariah?
‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts! (Zechariah 4:6)
Translated by Marcela Tasca
Read this article in Romanian.