Recently, I saw a religious television program, discussing the fact that the Jews will soon begin to bring sacrifices in Jerusalem. The presenter then postulated that no temple will be built prior to Christ’s return. Although it is true that a temple is not required for animal sacrifices, the Bible nevertheless strongly indicates that a temple WILL be built.
We discussed this question in a Q&A in one of our previous Updates (#185–“Will the Jews build a temple, prior to Christ’s return?”). We are also addressing this question in the Q&A in this Update (#317–“A new Temple?”). In this editorial, I’d like to re-emphasize key passages and focus on additional Scriptures which point at the strong possibility of a new temple prior to Christ’s return. This will show us what to watch for–lest we are found unprepared!
Christ said in Matthew 24:15-16: “Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the HOLY PLACE, then… flee…” (In the parallel account in Luke 21:20, Jesus speaks of armies which will surround Jerusalem and make it desolate.)
One key to understand these passages is the reference to DANIEL. When Daniel spoke of the abomination of desolation, he referred, as a forerunner, to Antiochus Epiphanes who conquered Jerusalem, discontinued the sacrifices and placed a statue of a pagan god in the HOLY PLACE of the temple of God–requiring the Jews to WORSHIP that statue. Christ said that something very similar will occur just prior to His return, strongly implying that a terrible idol of some sorts will be found in a re-built TEMPLE.
Paul confirms this in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 where he says that “the man of sin”–the false prophet, mentioned in the book of Revelation– “sits as God in the TEMPLE of God, showing himself that he IS God.” At the time of Antiochus, a STATUE was placed in the temple of God. In the near future, a HUMAN BEING will sit in the TEMPLE of God, pretending to be God; in fact, he will, most likely, claim that he is Jesus Christ, as we will see.
In Revelation 11:1-2, an angel instructs John to measure the TEMPLE of God when the holy city–Jerusalem–is occupied by the Gentiles for 3 1/2 years. The reference is to the final resurrection of the Roman Empire which–under the leadership of the “beast” and the “false prophet”–will occupy and desolate Jerusalem. Psalm 79:1 seems to be talking about this same time, saying that the nations have “defiled” God’s “holy TEMPLE.”
Recently, I spoke in several sermons about the tabernacle in the wilderness and the tent, which separated the sanctuary or HOLY PLACE and the Holy of Holies, pointing out that the temple, which replaced the tabernacle, had an inner court (Ezekiel 8:16), a sanctuary or HOLY PLACE and a Most Holy Place. In light of my sermons, Dave Harris called me to discuss an interesting passage in Matthew 24:26, where Christ warns us not to believe those who will claim that Christ will return “in secret.” The passage reads, in the Authorized Version: “Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.” Christ explains that He will return visibly–for every eye to see–“as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west” (verse 27).
According to Christ’s very own words, some will claim that Christ will return for His people and live with them “in the desert”–perhaps at a special “place of safety in the wilderness.” Christ warned us not to believe such a claim. But He also said that some will claim that Christ will return secretly to reside in the “secret chambers”–a false claim which must equally be rejected. What “secret chambers” was Christ referring to? The temple had “secret chambers”–and it appears that Christ was warning us not to believe those who will claim that the “man of sin” will be CHRIST, sitting in the secret chamber of the HOLY PLACE–in the temple of God.
The commentary of John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible explains that the term “secret chamber” refers to a place within the temple, stating, “… should others say behold, or for certain, the Messiah is in some one of the secret and fortified places of the temple; where, during some time of the siege, were John and Eleazar, the heads of the zealots… do not believe them. Some reference may be had to the chamber of secrets, which was in the temple… for in the sanctuary [or HOLY PLACE] there were two chambers; one was called… ‘the chamber of secrets’, and the other the ‘chamber of vessels.”’
Understood in this way, Christ’s warning in Matthew 24:26 would require the existence of a temple during the time when the false prophet deceives the whole world, pretending to be Jesus Christ (compare Revelation 13:13-14). Most people WILL BELIEVE this deception, and it will be so convincing that only the “elect” will understand the truth (compare Matthew 24:24).
As you can see, all these passages strongly suggest that we will soon witness the beginning of the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem, which will occur apparently at the same time that the Jews will commence to offer animal sacrifices there.
It is exciting to me to see how God, step by step, opens our eyes to more and fuller understanding. We ARE to grow in the knowledge of Christ, and as long as we are and remain His obedient and faithful servants, we can and should expect increased understanding. Those who are content with what they have–or what they think they have–will stay still–frozen in time–incapable and unwilling to grow in God’s knowledge. Those who reject parts of the knowledge that they have received from God over the years will not grow in knowledge, either–rather, as so many have done before, they will “exchange the truth of God for the lie” (compare Romans 1:25). And because they have not maintained the love of the truth, “God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie”– including the lie of worshipping the “man of sin” AS Jesus Christ (compare 2 Thessalonians 2:11).
I am excited and deeply thankful that God is leading us into more and more understanding of His precious truth. Aren’t you?