The building of a temple upon Mt. Zion is a sign of the Lord’s eminent return. Jesus said in Matthew;
Mat_24:15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)
It is understood that the Holy Place means the Holy of Holies which was the center of the Temple. In order for this prophecy to come to pass it is necessary for a temple to be built first. In Mark we see the additional comment that those who are in Judea at that time are urged to flee.
Mar_13:14 But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains:
The Daniel prophecy reads thus:
Dan 11:31 And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.
There are scholars who believe the Daniel prophecy had already been fulfilled, As Albert Barnes says;
From this verse, however, to the end of the chapter, there is no little diversity of opinion. One portion suppose that the description of Antiochus and his deeds continues still to be the design of the prophet; another, that the Romans are here introduced, and that a part of the predictions in the remainder of this chapter are yet to be fulfilled;
The book of Maccabees tells us that Antiochus Epiphanes did, indeed, slaughter a pig on the altar, which is considered an abomination. Likewise, when Titus destroyed the Temple in 70 AD he set up an altar in the place of the temple to Zeus. But Jesus came after these events, and he speaks of a future time when he returns, so another temple needs to be built.
The Dome of the Rock Hindering Temple Construction
This is the main obstacle to building a temple. Some think the Dome will be destroyed first in a war of some kind. Others suggest that a temple and the dome could stand side by side.
At this time in my understanding, however, the temple has to be built in the exact same spot, and this remains unknown. Some think a peace treaty will be signed between Israel and Islam before a temple can be built.
Three Temple Eras
God never wanted a temple built in the first place. When the Mosaic Covenant was made, God had a mobile tent system called the Tabernacle for which Israel could meet with God.
It was King David who wanted to build the Temple. Consider, what Nathan the prophet, speaking on behalf of the Lord says to David.
2Sa 7:4 And it came to pass that night, that the word of the LORD came unto Nathan, saying,
2Sa 7:5 Go and tell my servant David, Thus saith the LORD, Shalt thou build me an house for me to dwell in?
2Sa 7:6 Whereas I have not dwelt in any house since the time that I brought up the children of Israel out of Egypt, even to this day, but have walked in a tent and in a tabernacle.
2Sa 7:7 In all the places wherein I have walked with all the children of Israel spake I a word with any of the tribes of Israel, whom I commanded to feed my people Israel, saying, Why build ye not me an house of cedar?
As can be seen by the last line, God is giving David a rhetorical question, because David knows the answer: No, God never asked for a house of cedar [i.e., a temple]. Instead, God wanted David to take care of His people as a good shepherd. Because he had “blood on his hands” God permitted the project to be carried out by his son Solomon, hence the 1st temple is called, “Solomon’s Temple”.
Solomon’s Temple was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar’s army when Judah went into captivity in Babylon for 70 years. The Persian king Cyrus conquered Babylon and let the Jews return to Israel. Ezra the priest oversaw the construction of a second temple which became known as Ezra’s temple.
Herod the Great wanted to gain favor with Israel (he was Idumean married to a Hasmonean Jewess a descendant of the Maccabeans). So he expanded the compound of Ezra’s Temple. Because the expansion was so significant, the temple was later called Herod’s Temple, but it was still the temple Ezra built.
Regarding our prophetic sign of the times, another temple will be built, but it is still considered part of the second temple era. It will be in this rebuilt temple upon Herod’s foundation that the man of sin will set up the “abomination of desolation” that Jesus referred to when asked about the sign of his return.
Third Temple Era
There are many who believe that the temple described in the book of Ezekiel from chapters 40 to 43 will be the temple built before the Lord returns since the temple of God, according to the Gospels and the New Testament, is the human heart, not buildings of stone. Also, since the Lord offered up his life as the ransom for our sins, and the book of Hebrews states that it was done once and for all, there can not be a resumption of animal sacrifices. But this conclusion is not based upon a close reading of the book of Ezekiel. After chapter 43 the text is clear that God has filled the sanctuary with his glory and that Israel is redistricted around the new temple complex. So, if Christ offered his life once and for all, why should there be a resumption of animal sacrifices and the Aaronic priesthood when Christ returns to rule for the millennium?
Because there will be many left over that survives the Great Tribulation who never accepted the Mark of the Beast, nor had accepted the new birth salvation of Christ at his return. So they will live without the immortal glorified bodies that believers will have. The resumption of animal temple sacrifice will be used as it was before the first advent of Christ: i.e., as an object lesson of sin in their lives that needs redemption. At the end of the 1,000 years, Satan will be released to test those had lived in paradise yet are sinners. Those who understood the lesson will reject Satan’s temptation, and be saved in some other form, but the majority will yield to temptation and succumb to Satan.
The design of Ezekiel’s temple is huge. The amount of space that the new complex will take is 4 times as large as the Herod complex.
This temple can be built because we are told in Zechariah that when the Lord returns, he will land on the Mt. of Olives causing the hills to split in half, opening up the underground water.
Zec 14:4 And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.
In other words, in this valley will be the space for the new temple area to be constructed. The Temple Institute had created a model of what the temple will look like.
The new temple will be a skyscraper! Here is another artist’s rendition of the temple in a painting.
For our concerns regarding prophetic signs, a building will be put on Herod’s foundation in which the “abomination that makes desolation” is placed.
But ultimately, there will be no building. After the White Throne Judgment a new Heaven and a new Earth will be ushered in which will be gigantic. The book of Revelations says that the New Jerusalem will come down from the sky and it will be almost the size of the United States! This means that the new Earth will be so much bigger than it is now!
And the book of Revelations tells us there will be no temple because God Himself, and the Lamb (Jesus and his body) are the temple.
Rev 21:22 And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.
Rev 21:23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.
Rev 21:24 And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.
Rev 21:25 And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.
Rev 21:26 And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it.
Part 2 will address the true temple of God.
For more information on what the Temple Institute has done and is doing please visit their website.