By Nathan Jones
How close are we to the construction of the Third Temple in Jerusalem?
I was recently interviewed by Vic Batista, senior pastor of the Miami-based Calvary Chapel Aventura on his radio program "The Truth Will Set You Free" via TWave Radio. "Pastor Vic" (as he likes to be called) was born in the Dominican Republic and is as active in planting churches and helping orphans there as he is in southern Florida, reaching out with the Good News of Jesus Christ to both the English and Spanish speaking audiences.
In this "The Truth Will Set You Free" episode, we'll marvel at Jesus' prophecy concerning the destruction of the Temple.
Vic: Today's subject matter will be that of the destruction of the Second or Herod's Temple found in Matthew 24. Nathan, in our last segment regarding the destruction of the Temple, you gave us some incredible insights that were really eye-opening and educational. We'll look here at that in more detail. Would you read for us Matthew 24:1-3 and give us a recap of those verses as we move forward in talking about the destruction of the Temple?
Nathan: I'd be happy to. Matthew 24 is also parallel to Luke 21 and Mark 13. They're all the same account of Jesus' ministry, but from different points of views of some different Apostles. They're also some of the most prophetic chapters in all of the Bible.
Matthew 24:1-2, "Then Jesus went out and departed from the Temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the Temple. And Jesus said to them, 'Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.' Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, 'Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?'"
Vic: In there is a three-part question, right?
Nathan: Yes. The disciples had been under Jesus' teaching for a while now and this happened near the end of His ministry. Jesus and His disciples are at the Temple. The Second Temple was considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It's where all the Jews would flock to worship God and to make sacrifices for their sins. It's supposedly the place where God dwells with man.
Then Jesus says in summary, "Do you know what? This Temple is going to be destroyed. As a matter a fact, it's going to be so destroyed that not one stone will be left upon another." You can imagine the Apostles' shock. They were so in shock, we later read they'd gone up to the Mount of Olives before they finally got the gumption up to ask Jesus why He had said that.
The Apostle asked Jesus three questions: One, "When will the Temple fall?" They're like, "So, when is this going to happen?" Number two, "What will be the sign of the end of the age?" That age they hadn't yet understood they were talking about is the Age of Grace — the Church Age — which is the age that we're living in now. And, number three, "What will be the sign of your coming?" They want to know what will be the sign of Jesus' Second Coming. They presented Jesus with three separate questions.
Destruction of the Second Temple
Vic: In an earlier segment, you told us about the building of the two Temples and how that temple of Herod's time was destroyed by the Romans. General Titus came in, as you told us, with the Roman soldiers and they desecrated the Temple and took everything, leaving not one stone left upon another as Jesus foretold.
Nathan: You can imagine after three years of laying siege to Jerusalem, the Romans were ready to get paid. They got paid with plunder. They marched in and burned Jerusalem to the ground. Then they went into the Temple and set it on fire and melted all the gold inlay. The gold dripped down in between the stones, so the soldiers had to pry up all the stones to get at it. They threw the stones over the walls to get to the gold. And, Jesus' prophesy, "Not one stone was left upon another," came true.
By 70 AD, Jerusalem was destroyed, the Temple was destroyed, and the Jewish people were cast out into the four corners of the world, which was prophesied many times in the Old Testament. It was prophesied that because of their rejection of God, this time being Jesus as their Messiah, that Israel would be exiled out into the world until Jesus was ready to regather them back into a nation again. We are seeing that very regathering happening today. Israel has become a nation again, and that event would indicate the time just before Jesus' return.
Vic: Wow, that's amazing! Daniel prophesied that this regathering will take the world into the time of the Tribulation and into the last days regarding the Temple. That means there would have to be another Temple built, right?
Nathan: Sure, a Third Temple will be coming.
Preparing the Third Temple
Nathan: The first question the Apostles asked, "When will the Temple fall?" has a two-part answer. The first Temple was Solomon's Temple. He built it in 1,000 AD, and it lasted until 586 BC. That's when the Babylonians destroyed it.
Ezra about 50 or so years later came back and started the reconstruction of the Second Temple. The Second Temple was enhanced and added on to much greater by Herod the Great the decades before Jesus' First Coming. Herod was known as a great builder. He came in and added all sorts of porticoes. He's the one who made it as amazing as the Apostles saw. But, the Second Temple was destroyed a mere 40 years later in 70 AD, just as Jesus said it would be.
Now, here's the truly amazing thing about Jesus' answer. Jesus also answered their question by saying the Temple will fall again.
We'd talked a little earlier about how many prophecies have a near fulfillment and a far fulfillment. So, when the Apostles asked Jesus those three questions, they were actually addressing three different time periods — a near, a far, and even a father.
Pastor Vic, as you said earlier, there's no Temple in our time. I've been up to the Temple Mount three times and all you see there is the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. There's also a little portico that kind of denotes were the Holy of Holies might have been, but other than that it's just all stone and some grass and trees. Although Israel controls the Temple Mount there on Mount Moriah, the Muslims really have control over it. They have their own guards up there. Kids play soccer and families picnic. You can actually go right up and touch the Dome of the Rock, even though the mosque has a gold covered roof. You can go up and touch it and the Muslims won't get mad and start shooting at you or anything like that. Though, if you hold hands with your wife or you start praying to Jesus or have Bibles, then they get upset.
Knowing there are only the two mosques up on the Temple Mount, we then read in Daniel 9 how the Antichrist — the one-world ruler who is coming — will one day come to Jerusalem and desecrate the Temple. So, people are like, "How can that be? There's no Temple there today."
Nathan: For many years the Temple Institute has wanted to rebuild the Temple on the Temple Mount again. I've visited their headquarters and they have the priestly garments and the Menorah and all the other ceremonial items all ready to go. The only thing they are missing is the red heifer, which is a red cow that has to meet a certain purity, but they've been breeding them. The reason they need a red heifer is to use its ashes to dedicate the Temple. So, other than the Ark of the Covenant, which the priests didn't even have in the Second Temple, the Jews are ready to build the Temple at any moment.
Should anything happen to the Dome of the Rock and the Jews have full control over the Temple Mount, they will build the Third Temple. We know Israel will be successful because we read in Daniel 9 that the Antichrist will desecrate the Temple. So, there has to be a Third Temple that will exist for the Antichrist to desecrate. We know from Scriptures that it will exist during Daniel's 70th Week, which is also known as the Seven Year Tribulation.
Vic: Excellent point! I pray that people will take to heart what we're sharing here. These prophesies are amazing. Seeing prophesies being fulfilled over 2,000 years ago make us certain that the prophesies for the future will also be fulfilled.
Nathan: Exactly! Jesus Christ fulfilled all 300 general and 109 distinct prophesies about the coming of the Messiah. There are 500 verses in the Old Testament and one in every 25 verses in the New Testament that talk about Jesus' Second Coming. The third question the Apostles asked, "What will be the sign of Jesus' Coming?" well, that's what the rest of Matthew 24 is all about. Jesus gave us ten signs that reveal when He is coming by telling us what happens the years before He arrives. That includes how we know there will be a Third Temple there one day.
Removing the Dome of the Rock
Nathan: Pastor Vic, have you ever given any thought as to what would get rid of the Al-Aqsa Mosque up there on the Temple Mount so that the Temple can stand there once again?
Vic: There's always been a lot of speculation, right? I often times think maybe Israel will just blow it up and put something else there, but we know that's probably not going to be the case.
Nathan: You're right. For the Jews to control the Temple Mount and destroy the Dome of the Rock would have tremendous political ramifications. Muslims consider Jerusalem to be their third-most holy site, though they didn't when Muhammad was alive. Years later they made the story up that Muhammad ascended up to heaven as Elijah did, but from Jerusalem. That's why they claim Jerusalem as their third-most holy place.
The Muslims having the Dome of the Rock is their way of saying, "We are the dominant religion over Judaism and Christianity. We've got the most holy site. We control it, so therefore we are the dominant religion." And yet, according to Bible prophecy, at some point the mosques will not be there anymore.
Some people theorize that the Dome of the Rock's location could be where the Gentile Court used to be, but I really and truly believe that when the Jews rebuild the Temple on the Temple Mount, Islam won't be there to compete with them.
In the fifth and last part of this discussion with Pastor Vic on the prophesied destruction of the Temple, we'll explore what conditions are needed to allow the construction of a Third Temple.