(The following is excerpted from the new edition of Understanding Bible Prophecy, one of the courses of the Advanced Bible Studies Series published by Way of Life Literature.)
“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).
Another sign of the end times is the preparation for the building of the Third Temple. The Temple is mentioned in prophecies pertaining to the antichrist. See Daniel 9:27; Matthew 24:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:4.
The first temple was built by Solomon and the second temple was built by Nehemiah and later enlarged by Herod the Great.
A visitor is reminded of the Temple on every hand in Israel today. It is even on their coins. The 1/10 shekel features a menorah. The 1/2 shekel has a 7th-century lyre of the type that was used in the Temple. The menorah is also the symbol of the Israeli Knesset or Parliament. There is a large one right outside the Knesset’s main gates and another one in a little garden at the entrance from the main road.
Since the 1980s, the idea of building the Third Temple has gained rapidly in popularity among the Jewish citizens of Israel. In 1986, David Shipler wrote in his book Arab and Jew, “During my five years in Jerusalem [1979-84], the idea of building a Third Temple in place of Al-Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock evolved from a wild notion held by a very few fringe militants into a goal embraced and legitimized by parts of the established right wing.” By 2003, a poll by the Jerusalem Post found that 80% of Jews in Israel want to see the Temple rebuilt.
Since 1994, the Women in Green movement has organized a march around the Temple Mount in recognition of Risha B’Av, the day of mourning over the destruction of the Jewish temple. The march begins with the reading of the book of Lamentations in front of the American Consulate and then proceeds to circle the walls of the Old City. Thousands joined in the march in July 2012. Nadia Matar, the leader of Women in Green, told Arutz Sheva TV, “We walk around the Old City to say that Jerusalem is ours. The Temple Mount is ours. Like a bride going around the groom we go around the Temple Mount, showing our loyalty and our love to Jerusalem. … Altogether we are saying the land of Israel is ours, Jerusalem is ours, and we pray for the day that Tisha B’Av will turn from a fast day into a day of holiday when we can all dance to the Temple Mount.”
In March 2010 posters calling for the building of the Third Temple appeared on buses plying eastern Jerusalem routes. The posters, sponsored by Our Land of Israel, featured a depiction of the Temple occupying the place of the Dome of the Rock mosque and a Hebrew phrase that translates, “May the Bais Hamikdosh [Jerusalem temple] be rebuilt speedily and within our days.” A leader of Our Land of Israel, Baruch Marzel, said, “We’re representing the truth, in front of everyone, and saying out loud what every Jew believes. That the Third Temple needs to be built immediately on the Temple Mount and that the mosque should not be there” (Jerusalem Post, May 29, 2010). Predictably, the posters caused a storm of protest from Muslims and were removed after a couple of days.
In the late 1960s the Temple Mount Faithful (the full name is the Temple Mount and Land of Israel Faithful) was established to rebuild the Temple. Its leader, Gershon Salomon, is a descendant of Rabbi Avraham Shlomo Zalman Zoref, who in the early 1800s was one of the pioneers of the modern movement to prepare for the rebuilding of the Temple. Zoref even sent one of his sons overseas to locate the “ten lost tribes” of Israel, but the rabbi’s life was cut short when he was assassinated by Arabs. The great grandson Salomon is a military officer who has fought in most of Israel’s modern wars, beginning with the War of Independence. During a battle in 1958 on the Golan Heights, a battle in which his company of 120 Israeli soldiers was ambushed by thousands of Syrians, Salomon was run over by a tank and seriously injured (he claims he actually died). When the Syrians were about to shoot him to make sure he was dead, they suddenly ran away, leaving the battlefield in the hands of the little company of Israelis. The Syrians later reported to UN officers that they had seen thousands of angels around Salomon. He says that during that experience he saw the light of God and he knew he still had work to do, which was the rebuilding of the Temple and the preparation of the “coming of Messiah ben David.” Salomon was one of the soldiers that liberated the Temple Mount in 1967.
The Temple Mount Faithful has prepared plans for the Temple and is constructing articles for its operation. Since 1989, they have been trying to place a large stone on the Temple Mount as the cornerstone of the Third Temple. (The first stone was stolen and was replaced in 2001 by two stones.) Each year they parade the stones through Jerusalem on a truck to stir up support for their objective.
In 1986, the Temple Institute was founded with the goal “to see Israel rebuild the Holy Temple on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem.” The founder and director of the Temple Institute, Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, was a member of the paratrooper unit that liberated the Temple Mount.
Like the Temple Mount Faithful (but with competing plans), the Institute is preparing articles to be used in the new Temple. At much expense ($20 million has been donated so far) and based on extensive research, they have fashioned priestly garments, the high priest’s golden crown costing $30,000, the high priest’s breastplate with its 12 precious stones inscribed with the names of the tribes of Israel, a copper laver, an incense altar, silver trumpets, gold- and silver-plated shofars, harps, and many other things.
Of special interest is the large menorah that has been fashioned from 95 pounds of pure gold, valued at $2 million. In December 2007 the menorah was moved to an outside location on the Western Wall Plaza across from the Temple Mount. Prior to that it had stood in the old Roman Cardo. The plan is to move the menorah ever closer to the Temple Mount itself and ultimately to place it in the Third Temple. The Temple Institute compared the 2007 dedication of the menorah in its new location to the dedication of the Arch of Titus in Rome 1,900 years ago. Then, the menorah was moving away from the Temple, whereas today it is moving back toward the Temple.
The Temple Institute is constructing a full-scale model of the Temple (covering 269,000 square feet) near the Dead Sea to use for training priests.
In July 2012 the Temple Institute published a video entitled “The Children Are Ready,” depicting children building a model of the Third Temple on an Israeli beach.
Both the Temple Mount Faithful and the Temple Institute have received support from Christians, particularly from charismatics. The Temple Mount Faithful, for example, has been heavily promoted by Pat Robertson’s 700 Club. Even though the Bible says it is the Antichrist who will occupy the Third Temple, these gullible, emotionally-led Christians have given millions of dollars toward the project. The Apostle Paul was persecuted by the Christ-rejecting Pharisees, but these modern Christians join hands with the descendants of the Pharisees in spiritual projects. We believe that Christians should bless and not curse Israel, but this does not mean that we should support their apostasy. The best way to bless the Temple Institute is to preach the Gospel to its members.
In Jewish tradition, the rebuilding of the Temple is associated with the coming of the Messiah. According to Maimonides (also called Rambam), the highest rabbinical authority, any Jew that starts rebuilding the Temple is a potential Messiah. Shimon ben Kosiba was considered a Messiah in the second century when he led a revolt to recapture Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple. He was named Bar Kokhba (“Son of the Star”) based on the Messianic prophecy of Numbers 24:17, and a coin was struck depicting the Temple with the Ark of the Covenant inside and the Messianic star on the roof.
By this tradition, it is simple to see how the antichrist will be looked upon as the Messiah.