Some Bible teachers say a third temple is required in order to fulfill Bible prophecy. But others say it is not. Both positions cannot be correct.
Does it matter?
The truth is, it does matter. If a third temple is required in order for Bible prophecy to be fulfilled, then we can more accurately “gauge” where we are in Bible history once the third temple has been started to be built. But if a third temple is not required, then we must use some other gauge. But other gauges may not be so specific. For example, Jesus said that one of the signs of the end times would be an increase in (so-called) natural disasters, including earthquakes. We’ve certainly seen some earthquakes recently, but at best this can only give us a rough guideline of where we are at in Bible prophecy (unless, of course, the Lord provides some type of divine revelation to His people, which is also possible through dreams and visions, according to Joel 2:28-29, but we’re not including divine revelation in this article, only that which has already been revealed to us through the Scriptures).
Now 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 refers to the “man of lawlessness” who “takes his seat in the temple of God” during the end times. But some preachers (well-intentioned as they are) argue that this refers to an infiltration of church leadership by those who oppose the purposes of God. In this context, they say, the “temple” is really the church. If they’re right, then this passage does not refer to a literal temple being rebuilt during the last days. But if they are wrong, then it does. One of the arguments that is given for it not referring to a literal temple being rebuilt is that the passage clearly says, “the temple of God” and how could a rebuilt temple truly be considered the “temple of God” when it is being built by those who deny Jesus’s sacrifice? They argue, how can that be the temple of the true and living God?
When the first two temples (by Solomon and by King Herod) were built, one of the reasons they were built was to perform daily sacrifices. But the Bible tells us that all of these sacrifices were just a foreshadowing of the real sacrifice that was provided through Jesus Christ, the “lamb of God” (John 1:29). There is now no longer a need for sacrifice (Hebrews 10:18). Therefore, how could a rebuilt temple be considered the “temple of God”? This is the argument for those who say that 2 Thessalonians 2:4 refers to the church, and not a literal temple. The only real temple of God, they say, is the temple of God that is our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19) and the temple of God that is in heaven (Revelation 11:19). But those who say that 2 Thessalonians 2:4 does indeed refer to a real third temple argue otherwise. They say that the expression, “temple of God” which is used in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 is a reasonable description for a literal third temple which will be built by the Jewish people in the last days. Whether or not God actually sanctioned that temple, or approves of it, is not the question.
Another passage that is used to defend a literal temple being rebuilt is Daniel 9:27, in which we read that “he” (meaning the antichrist) “will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering” during the last days. But, once again, there are those who contest this, saying that the “he” is not clearly defined as the antichrist, and neither is the timing of this event clearly defined. Some Bible teachers contest that the “he” is Jesus, and that the sacrifice that was stopped was the daily sacrifice in the second temple, not in a future third temple. But to ascribe this passage to Jesus Christ seems to omit a proper interpretation of the first part of that same verse, “And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week”. Where was the “one week” covenant that Jesus made? Jesus did make a covenant (Luke 22:20), but not for one week (or seven years, as this reference appears to suggest). Those who say this verse is about Jesus seem to not have covered that one too well. To adequately reference who the “he” is referring to, we need to go back to verse 26. It says, “Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.” Logically, the “he” refers to the last person mentioned, which is not the “Messiah” but rather “the prince who is to come” (which in context would seem to refer to the antichrist).
Now follow me if you will, and let’s turn to Daniel 12, where I will show you that a literal third temple must be rebuilt in order to fulfill Bible prophecy. I will leave it up to you to read Daniel 12:1-13 (which is a very significant end-time passage and I’m sure will bless you if you read it in it’s entirety). First, the fact that this passage is referring to the time of the end, when Christ returns, is evident, from numerous references, including Daniel 12:2, Daniel 12:4, Daniel 12:6, Daniel 12:9, and Daniel 12:13 (I will leave it as an exercise for the reader to read these over which, again, I’m sure will help you to follow me closely on this important topic). Now check out Daniel 12:11, which says, “From the time that the regular sacrifice is abolished and the abomination of desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days.” Now this passage clearly identifies the need for a temple during the last days. “The regular sacrifice” is the sacrifice that is instituted in the temple. According to this passage, the sacrifice will be abolished. For it to be abolished, must mean that it has been established. And for it to be established, must mean that there is a temple.
Will therefore a third temple be rebuilt in Jerusalem? It will be.
Is this important to understand Bible prophecy? It is.
In fact, this same chapter establishes for us a specific time-line of some crucial end-time events, based on some other events that happen in that third temple.
This will be particularly important for all those who will be around during the Great Tribulation to know, so they will have the courage to keep on going during that time.
Stay tuned for part 2.