Will Another Jewish Temple Be Built?
NCW 17, March 1995
Q. The prophet Ezekiel saw a vision of a future temple that was to be built in Jerusalem and was even allowed to walk around it and measure it. That temple has never been built. If the Mosaic system of sacrifices has been abolished in Christ, then surely this temple isn't needed anymore? If so, why was Ezekiel shown it?
This is a most interesting and a very difficult question. It seems to me that there is only one answer to it. You are right when you say that a Jewish temple is not necessary anymore because all the ceremonial types of the coming and atonement of Christ have been fulfilled. At least for Christians. To my knowledge, the only people claiming to be Christians who maintain that the restoration of animal sacrifices is necessary as a permanent worship fixture are the Mormons. They maintain that as the House of Aaron has not as yet made an acceptable sacrifice (Jer.6:20) that before Christ returns they must do this. This is not, however, any evidence in the Bible to suggest that such a sacrifice is required in the Christian dispensation. And even if it were, it would not be a permanent feature of worship, but a one-off affair for the House of Aaron, and not something for Christians to do. There would simply be no need for it, since Christ has already fulfilled the ceremonial types.
But what of the Jewish people who have not received Christ? Is it possible that the Jews will go ahead and build the temple anyway? There have been plans to build one on Mount Moriah -- the Temple Mount -- ever since the creation of the Republic of Israel in 1948. The trouble is, the site is occupied by a large Moslem mosque, one of the holiest Moslem shrines after Mecca. And that has remained an obstacle to the building of a temple.
There is currently an enormous revival amongst the Jews of eastern Europe (even many gentiles are becoming Jews! -- Germans, Russians, Hungarians, Poles, etc..) that may point a finger together with other signs towards the possible construction of a Jewish temple in the Holy City. Many commentators believe that the building of this temple would provoke a "holy war" (Jihad) between Jews and Moslems. There is talk by Israel of a permanent separation of Jews and Palestinian arabs which would be achieved by annexing about 10% of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and making the remaining 90% an independent Palestian State. This seems to me a distinct possibility for such an arrangement would give the Jews complete control of Jerusalem and enable them, in an Arab-free Jerusalem, to build the desired temple. Possibly they might arrange for the mosque (the Dome of the Rock) to be dismantled and assembled elsewhere, perhaps in Mecca in Saudi Arabia. There would be enormous opposition to this because the site itself is holy to Moslems. Another scenario might be the actual demolition of the mosque.
Whatever the sequence of events we must believe that a Jewish temple will be built in Jerusalem because the Lord has said so. Jesus Himself said that every word of the prophets must be fulfilled. So what is the purpose of such a temple in a Messianic era? Perhaps to restore Jewish consciousness to their spiritual roots. There have been no animal sacrifices since the destruction of the temple by the Romans nearly two thousand years ago. To restore, and therefore complete, the Mosaic system is surely one scenario to spiritual awakening of the Jewish people. By returning to observance of the Law as it was in the days of Christ -- or something like it -- they will be able to re-create the spirit of the Law and thus be prepared for the Second Coming of Christ which they will suppose to be the first (and last) coming. Thus when Jesus returns they will fulfil the prophecy uttered by the Zechariah:
The apostle John records:
"And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on Me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for Him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for Him as one grieves for a firstborn son. On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be great, like the weeping of Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. The land will mourn, each clan by itself, with their wives by themselves: the clan of the house of David and their wives, the clan of the house of Nathan and their wives, the clan of the house of Levi and their wives, the clan of Shimei and their wives, and the rest of the clans and their wives. On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, ro cleanse them from sin and impurity...If someone asks Him, "What are these wounds on your body? He will answer, "The wounds I was given at the house of My friends"" (Zec.12:10-13:6, NIV).
This temple seen by Ezekiel is, in the writer's opinion, for those Jews who have not accepted Christ by the time of His Second Coming, who are gathered in Jerusalem. It will be a part of the process of awakening their spiritual conscience, perhaps even a re-enactment of His first coming, which it will be for them. This will be a time of atonement between God's covenant people and God's Son, the final redemption of the House of Israel.
"Look, He is coming in the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of Him. So shall it be! Amen" (Rev.1:7, NIV).
As of 2007, NCCG still has no official position regarding the Temple of Ezekiel and recommends the careful study of the following articles to get a detailed ovewview of the issues concerned:
There is great controversy and division in both Messianism and Evangelical Protestantism as to whether the third and millennial temple described in Ezekiel 40-47 is literal or figurative. Most Messianics tend towards a literal interpretation and believe that a variation of the Mosaic sacrificial system will be restored. Protestants either believe that it is entirely symbolic or that it pertains only to the 'Jews' whereas the 'Church' has no part of it. MLT's position has always been that the Levitical system ended with Messiah. We therefore tentatively adhere to the following doctrine which is essentially Baptist in thinking:
We acknowledge that this position is open to valid criticism and recommend further study on this subject.
"There are many persuasive Scriptural reasons for believing that Ezekielís Temple prophecy will be fulfilled in a non-literal manner.
"Ezekiel presents the priesthood of the temple as being conducted by Levite priests, Ezekiel 43:19, 44:10, 15, etc. However, we are told in Hebrews 7:11-18 that God has permanently set aside the priesthood of the descendants of Levi, in favor of the priesthood of Christ, a non-Levite.
"The system of Temple, priests and animal sacrifices was part of the Old Covenant which, according to Hebrews 8:13 was about to vanish away (which took place at the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD).
"The priests of Ezekielís temple must be circumcised, Ezekiel 44:9, but under the New Covenant, circumcision is not required, Galatians 5:6.
"We are told in Hebrews 9:11 that Christ has become the high priest of a better tabernacle, non-literal, non-corporeal, not made with hands, located not on earth but in heaven (Hebrews 9:24). Christ now ministers for us in heaven, in "the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man," Hebrews 8:2. Any temple built on earth would be phony, not the "true tabernacle" and therefore should be rejected by believers.
"The Old Testament sacrifices and temples were only shadows and figurative representations of the true heavenly Temple and once-for-all sacrifice of Christ, Hebrews 9:24, 10:1. Christ has taken away the old system of animal sacrifices, Hebrews 10:8-10. We are commanded to go forth from the camp of Judaism with its literal sacrifices, Hebrews 13:11-14, and to concentrate on the heavenly Jerusalem, not the literal one on earth, Hebrews 12:22, John 4:21, Galatians 4:25-26. To draw back to the old Temple and sacrificial system would be an act of apostasy, Hebrews 10:26-29, 38-39.
"Here is the clincher: Revelation 21:22 teaches that there will be no Temple in the Millennium: "And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it." (www.thomaswilliamson.net/temple_next_event.htm).
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