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The Messianic Temple
By Elmer A. Josephson

"Let them make me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them" (Exodus 25:8).

On our return from Israel, a disc jockey for a CBS affiliate radio station, whose show we shared, asked questions about The Temple. We found a similar curiosity in the minds of high school and college students. Some of these questions are:

Where and how did the plan of the Temple begin?
Why was the present site chosen?
What is the significance of the Eastern Golden Gate?
Will the Mosque of Omar (the Dome of the Rock) be destroyed?
If so, when and how?
What are the essential purposes of the Temple?
Why will sacrifices be resumed?
Is anything being done to accomplish fulfillment?

How & Where The Temple Began

When the Lord told Abraham to offer up Isaac as a sacrifice "on one of the mountains I will tell thee of" (Gen. 22:3). It was Mount Moriah. This is the spot where the Dome of the Rock, the Mosque of Omar, stands today. God instructed King David to buy Ornan’s (Araunah’s) threshing floor, the present Temple site, for the place of sacrifice in Jerusalem (II Sam. 24:18-25; I Chron. 21:18-30. David gave the Temple pattern (which incorporated the Tabernacle ordinances given Moses in the wilderness) to Solomon (I Chron. 28:11-21). King David, gave of his personal wealth comparable to $100,835,000 (before inflation).

The First Temple was destroyed by the Babylonian army in 606 B.C. (II Kings 25; II Chron. 36:11-21; Jer. 39 and 52). The Almighty chose a pagan world dictator, the Medo-Persian King Cyrus, to build the Second Jerusalem Temple under Ezra in 536 B.C., after 70 years captivity in Babylon (II Chron. 36:22-23; Isaiah 44:28; 45:1-13; & the book of Ezra).

Jerusalem, the City of David, symbolized by the harp. 
- Photo by Vera Ezion

King Herod considered his crowning life’s work was to rebuild the Second Temple which was "forty-six years in building" (John 2:20). Jesus foretold the destruction of this Temple (Matt. 24:1-2; Mark 13:1-3; Luke 21:20-24). This was fulfilled in 70 A.D. by the Romans.

When Will the Messianic Temple be Built?

It appears that Ezekiel chapters 36 through 39 are in chronological order in their remarkable fulfillment thus far. Therefore, according to these passages, we can expect the Messianic Temple to be built near the time of the attempted invasion of Israel by "Goy" and allies (chapters 38-39). Ezekiel describes the measuring and building of this Temple in chapters 40, 41 and 42.

The Eastern sealed gate of the old walled city

The Eastern Gate

In chapters 43 and 44, Ezekiel relates the appearance of Messiah:

"Afterward he brought me to the gate, even the gate that looketh toward the east; and, behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east; and his voice was like a noise of many waters; and the earth shined with his glory" (Ezk. 43:1&2).

The following significant true story, which happened during the Six Day War, was told to us by the eminent Israeli historian, Zev Vilnay, while we were visiting in his home in Jerusalem:

When Jordan suddenly attacked Israel from the Arab eastern sector of Jerusalem, Israel had no thoughts or plans of taking the old walled city. Now, they were forced to fight for it. After capturing the outside approaches, the Israeli officers met on the Mount of Olives (east of the city) and planned their strategy. In wars through the centuries the city had always been taken from the north since fighting is easier ‘down hill.’ One of the officers suggested they surprise the Arabs by coming from the south through the ‘Dung Gate.’ Another retorted, "And have it go down in history that Israel took Jerusalem through the garbage gate?" Then one of the commanding officers reminded the caucus that redemption must come from the east. This is what they did, entering Jerusalem through "The Lion’s Gate" (also called St. Stephen’s Gate). This triumph brought about a sudden 2,000 year longed-for fulfillment, and united Jerusalem under Israeli administration.

It is also significant that the eastern "Golden Gate" which leads directly onto the Temple Mount area, is sealed and will remain so until the coming of Messiah who will enter Jerusalem there according to Ezekiel chapter 44:1-3: "...It is for the Prince; he shall sit in it to eat bread before the Lord; he shall enter by the way of the porch of that gate, and shall go out by the way of the same."

Many believe the third Temple will be built before this happens. If so, the Temple’s solid construction will need to be earthquake-proof since the ‘Zechariah quake’ takes place as Messiah’s feet touch the Mount of Olives (Zech. 14:4).

When and How will the Dome of the Rock be Destroyed?

This will take an act of God, for the Israeli government will not destroy the Mosque of Omar. They are protecting all sights and rights of worship: Moslem and Christian, as well as Jewish. Some believe that when the time comes in God’s providence, it will be destroyed by a ‘prior quake.’ Some think planes in the attempted invasion may bomb it by mistake. ‘God works in mysterious ways, man’s blunders to reform.’

Called the Dome of the Chain, this miniature Mosque of 
Omar is located just East of the Dome of the Rock. When we first visited the area, we were shown the Star of David embedded in its floor. The guide told us that even the Moslems believed the Messiah would judge the world from that spot. Recently research has produced the theory that this was the spot where the brazen altar stood.

Temple Purposes

The Almighty declares the primary purpose of the Temple: "Let them make me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them" (Exodus 25:8). It was to be a memorial and constant reminder of His presence. After Solomon’s dedication prayer (I Kings 8 and II Chron. 6) the Eternal answered, "I have hallowed this house...and put my name there forever and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually" (i.e., to all eternity — I Kings 9:3).

The Temple was also the only place where blood sacrifices for transgression could be made. Since the destruction of Herod’s Temple in 70 A.D. by Roman Emperor Titus and Gentile domination of Jerusalem until June 7, 1967, there has been no place where such sacrifices can be Biblically offered. Christians believe that since God’s "Lamb, slain before the foundation of the world" was manifested at Calvary, and put away the sins of the world once for all, there is no longer a need for animal sacrifices. According to the Scriptures, however, the resumption of offering animal blood sacrifices will be made. Animal sacrifices cannot actually take away sin, but were always symbolic of the grace of God according to Leviticus 17:11; "The life of the flesh is in the blood...upon the altar, an atonement for your souls," showing God’s substitutionary redemption plan. This also sets forth the purpose of the Temple.

Temple Preparations

It has been reported that Temple plans are drawn up, and when prophetic providences and conditions permit, construction will begin. All the world will observe and acknowledge it as the divine order and understand that it will be for the benefit of all mankind.

Prior to the Six Day War, King Hussein of Jordan had erected the scaffolding to build a miniature Mosque of Omar over a mosaic of the Star of David imbedded in the Temple area pavement immediately east of the Mosque of Omar–which he never finished. Many believe this marks the spot where the Messiah shall sit on His throne to rule over Israel and all the world. Whether this be true or not, it is certain that He will come and God will fulfill every promise to all His people and answer the famed prayer, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."

But if the nations fail to take note and not only have no concern but turn against Israel, then God’s judgment will be pronounced:

Haggai 2:22; "And I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the nations [governments]; and I will overthrow the chariots [military vehicles, planes] and those that ride in them; and the horse [power driven] and their riders shall come down, every one by the sword of this brother," which means wars, turmoil, disorder and divine chastisement.

This world-scale prophecy does not preclude the literal fulfillment of rebuilding the coming Messiah’s Temple. The Temple area is within the domain of an Israeli government for the first time in 2,000 years. "Let’s Get on With It."

It is by divine design that "Haggai" in Hebrew means, "My feast." It will be that, proverbially, for all who observe his message and have a part, as the Almighty gives each one of us to see our duty and privilege in supplying the building blocks for God’s Redemptive Temple by acts and deeds and by every practical material means. This will be instrumental in bringing God’s feast of love, joy, peace and prosperity to perfect fruition when "the desire of all nations" Messiah, shall come to reign over all the earth forever and ever.

Haggai continues in V.9: "The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of hosts. In this place will I give peace [shalom] saith the Lord."