Many people believe that the Temple in Israel will be rebuilt in Jerusalem, on the Temple Mount, according to the Scriptures. Is that a realistic hope?
There is an organization in Israel known as The Temple Institute (מכון המקדש). It’s “ultimate goal is to see Israel rebuild the Holy Temple on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem, in accord with the Biblical commandments.1” Whether a temple may eventually be built by this or a similar institution remains to be seen. Meanwhile, let us look at what the Scriptures say.
The Bible tells us in Rev 19:14 that just before the Millennium, Jesus comes out of heaven, riding a white horse. His eyes are like flames of fire, and on His head are many crowns. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood and out of His mouth goes a sharp sword that He will use to strike the nations. He is followed by His armies from heaven, clothed in fine white linen, following Christ on white horses.
Some interpret these armies to be the church, which is the chaste bride of Christ (2 Cor 11:2) based on the proximity of Rev 19:8 & 9. Others assume them to be angels (Rev 5:11; 12:7). It is certainly possible the armies are comprised of both. In Revelation, white is the usual dress of all who are in Heaven: elders and saints (which are believers in Christ), and angelic beings (angels, cherubim, seraphim, etc.) (Rev 3:4,5; Rev 4:4; Rev 7:9, Rev 7:13,14 & Rev 15:6).
After the enemies of Christ are killed, John describes the binding of Satan. He then tells us about the saints that remain in Rev 20:4:
And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
Let us analyze this passage, one section at a time:
And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them and judgment was given unto them
In Daniel 7:9, Scripture tells us that thrones were set up and the Ancient of Days (Yahweh) sat there. Before the throne were thousands serving Him and myriads stood before Him. Later, in Dan 7:22, the Ancient of Days pronounces judgment in favor of all the saints, and the time came for them to take over the kingdom. Jesus also said the believers, meaning the Twelve Apostles, would sit on thrones in Mat 19:28 and Luk 22:30 (another subject for another study).
and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands
This list does not include all the saints gathered here at this time. We know from other verses of Scripture that in addition to the saints listed here, all the saints from all time will also reign with Christ during the Millennium. See Dan 7:9,22; 12:1,2,3; Mat 19:28, 24:29, 30, 31; Mar 13:26,27; Luk 22:29, 30; Php 3:20, 21; 1 Thes 4:14,15,16,17; Jud 1:14,15; Rev 3:21; 5:10,11.
and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years
Some claim the Millennium is symbolic of a large amount of time. Some teach that this is the entire time from the creation until the end. Others teach that the Millennium was in the past. Some believe that there is no Millennium. Others believe it to be yet future. In this treatise we will take the futurist position.
During the thousand years, all the unsaved will be dead. They are killed by Christ with the sword of His mouth before the Millennium in Rev 19:21. In Rev 19:19, we see the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, that is, the nations, gathered together to make war against Christ and His army. In Rev 19:20, the beast and the false prophet are cast in the lake of fire. In Rev 19:21, those remaining, which are the members of the armies arrayed against Christ, are all killed. That includes kings, generals, warriors; horses, riders, and of all humanity, slave, free, minor and prominent.
There will be no one on earth then except Christ and the total number of all saints from all time, which had been raptured in Rev 14:15,16 before the bowls of wrath were poured out on earth in Rev 16:1-21.
That includes thrones and they that sat on them, which is a reference to Dan 7:9 & 22, “I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire.” And, “Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.” That includes all people that put their faith in the Lord God Almighty and His Son, Jesus Messiah since the beginning of time. We also see Christian martyrs and those who lived through the tribulation and did not worship the beast (Rev 20:4).
In Rev 20:1,2,3,4 Satan is cast into the abyss and locked in. Then John saw all Christians from all history and they lived and reigned with Christ 1000 years (Rev 20:5,6). There were no evil people there. The evil ones were all dead, the beast and false prophet were in the lake of fire, and the devil was locked in the abyss.
In 20:5 we are told these were members of the First resurrection (the rapture). The “rest of the dead,” that is those killed by Christ in Rev 19:21 and all the other unsaved peoples since creation remained dead for 1000 years (Dan 12:2). Those in the First resurrection are blessed and death has no power over them. They will live and reign with Christ 1000 years (20:6). To reign does not mean to rule, for there will be no one to rule over. Dispensationalism adds “rule with Christ” to their doctrine. Here reigning means to live with Christ in moral dignity, liberty, blessedness, and grace. In other words, perfection reigns during the 1000 years2.
After the 1000 years Satan is released and the rest of the dead are resurrected once again and they come against the camp of the saints. The camp is “the beloved city” or Jerusalem (cf. Rev 11:8). It is often called the camp, in reference to the actual camping of the Israelites in the wilderness (2 Kin 3:24; 2 Kin 7:12; 2 Chr 22:1, Joe 2:11). Jesus was crucified outside the camp (Heb 13:11,12,13). There they are sentenced to the Lake of Fire for eternity at the Great White Throne judgement (Rev 20:7-15). Nowhere in Old Testament prophecy does The Antichrist rule from the Temple.
Rev 13:1-10 describes the coming of the Antichrist. The False Prophet is in Rev 13:11-18. No mention of the temple there. The only possible mention of the temple in the Old Testament is in Daniel 9:27, where the Antichrist will come on a “wing of abominations.” Dispensationalists make the claim that the “wing” in Dan 9:27 is a wing of the temple.
Paul writes, in 2 Thes 2:4, that the Antichrist will attempt to place himself above God and try to prove he is God by sitting in the Temple of God. We must realize that this has happened in the past. This has already occurred in history and will occur again (Ecc 1:9,10,11). Antiochus Epiphanes fits this prophecy. He required worship from Israel and sacrificed a pig on the altar. In 70 AD, Titus’ armies raised standards to their pagan gods in the Temple area. We must not forget Caligula, who placed a statue of himself in the Temple. The Babylonians entered the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place and took away all the furniture and implements used for the Temple rituals.
The future Antichrist needs only to set up office in Jerusalem and/or on the Temple mount to fulfill Paul’s prophecy. He could even use one of the existing mosques there. Islamic prophecy claims the Mahdi will reign from Jerusalem. The Mahdi is the basically the Islamic messiah. He is comparable in his prophesied actions to the Christian Antichrist. The Dome of the Rock and the Mosque al Aqsa are both located in Jerusalem on the Temple mount. Satan always has a counterfeit.
Paul literally wrote that Antichrist will try to look like he is God so the he will be worshipped as God and he will sit in the Temple to do so. That does not mean the Temple will be rebuilt. Paul wrote that the church is the Temple of God. So that may mean that the man of lawlessness will sit somewhere claiming to be the leader of Christianity on earth. Additionally, the Temple had no seat or throne. God resided in the Holy of Holies above the Ark of the Covenant when he met with the High Priest; he did not sit anywhere (Ex 25:22).
There is no evidence in Scripture that the temple in Jerusalem is where Jesus or Antichrist will rule from for certain. We know the He will reign in Jerusalem and perhaps from mount Zion, but not in the temple for several reasons. The foremost is that the curtain before the most holy place was torn in half from top to bottom when Jesus proclaimed, “It is finished!” and died on the cross proclaiming that the sacrifice for all people for all time was completed.
The tearing of the curtain before the Most Holy Place signified that, “the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God” (Rev 21:3). Revelation 21:22, discussing the New Jerusalem, states specifically: “And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.” There are verses that tell us Christ will reign from Jerusalem e.g. Psalm 2:6; 50:2 & Eze 39:7.
We who are saved by the blood of Christ, the saints, are the Temple of God. Our hearts are the place where God, the Holy Spirit resides in His Temple (1 Cor 3:16, 17; 6:19; 2 Cor 6:16). Since we are the Temple of God, no earthly brick and mortar temple will succeed us. We are living stones that are fitly joined together as the Temple. (Eph 2:21; 1 Pet 2:5)
Finally, Jesus Christ was sacrificed for the atonement or propitiation for our sins once for all (Heb 10:10). In AD 70, God had the Romans destroy the temple, stopping all ritual sacrifices for the atonement of sins. Christ is the only Sacrifice needed.
The Temple Institute has procured all of the furniture and utensils necessary to reinstitute animal sacrifice in the Temple they wish to build. Dispensationalists, ever the total literalists, teach that the Temple will indeed be rebuilt and sacrifices reinstated as a memorial for Christ’s sacrifice. That is completely superfluous because we already have a memorial for Christ’s sacrifice. It is the Ordinance of Holy Communion, which is also known as The Lord’s Supper in some churches.
Though it may be rebuilt, a new Temple will be redundant. And that is why it does not matter to me whether or not the temple is rebuilt. It is not needed and if it is built, God will not be there. Remember that in 70 AD, God used the Romans as His instrument to destroy the Temple and its ritual sacrifices. That was because the Temple of God is now the church and Christ is the only sacrifice needed.
Sime maintain that Ezekiel’s Temple must be built at the time of the end. Ezekiel’s Temple requires an area that is approximately a mile square. It would not fit on the Temple mount. In addition it appears that the vision may not have meant that a physical Temple was to be built. In Eze 43:10, God tells Ezekiel to show the plans to the people of Israel to make them ashamed of their sins. That may have been to show the people what might have been had they repented and turned from their sins.
Mark Oaks 9/26/2019
Do you know Jesus Christ as your Savior? He is going to return to the world soon. Are you ready? When He does if you do not know Him as your Savior, you will join all those who do not know Him in “Outer Darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Mat 22:13-14).
- The Temple Institute Welcome Screen, https://www.templeinstitute.org/main.htm, para. 1 ↩
- Friberg’s fourth definition of βασιλεύσουσιν, basileusousin, “they…shall reign,” which is the “indicative future active 3rd person plural” verb from the root word, βασιλεύω, basileuō, “to reign,” states, “figuratively, of the dominating quality of something as sin (Rom 5:21), death (Rom 5:14), grace” (Rom 5:17 & 21). Thus, the dominate quality of the lives of the saved during the millennium will be moral dignity, liberty, blessedness, and grace; in other words, perfection ↩