The Third Temple

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The Third Temple

Q. 
My question is  about when the original Heavenly Tabernacle returns to earth. I wondered your thoughts on the rebuilding of the third Temple.

Louise


A. 
Dear Louise,

What an intriguing question.

Although I have not made an extensive study of the subject, it is my understanding that there may be as many as three more Temples to be constructed.

In order for Anti-Messiah to stand “in the Holy Place” and declare himself to be god, there must be a Third Temple during the Tribulation Period, and this is an interesting study all in itself.

I believe that the archaeological evidence shows that the Muslim Dome of the Rock is in fact not standing on the site of the Second Temple as most suppose, but nearly 50 yards to the south of that spot. Two of the major evidences to that opinion are the location of the Golden (Eastern) Gate and the Dome of the Tablets, which is also known as the Dome of the Spirits.

The Dome of the Rock is situated approximately 50 yards south of a direct east-west line from the middle of the Golden Gate. If you were designing a Temple to the God of the Universe with a surrounding security wall, and you wanted visitors to the Temple to be totally awe-struck as they see it for the first time, does it not make sense that you would locate that Temple in a direct line with the main entrance to the enclosure? You would want people entering through the main gate of the city to be immediately struck with a view of the magnificent Temple itself the instant they enter the gate. If the Temple were located at the position of the Dome of the Rock, then worshippers would have to enter the city through the Golden Gate, turn left and travel 50 yards south along the inside of the city wall, make a hard right turn and climb the stairs to the main platform, then enter through the main gate of the Temple grounds into the court of the Gentiles, where they would finally actually see the Temple for the first time. Much less dramatic!

It makes more sense to me, then, that there would be a direct east-west line from the center of the Golden Gate, through the main gate of the Temple proper, through the door to the Holy Place, directly into the Most Holy Place. That being the case, the Most Holy Place, and the Ark of the Covenant within it, would logically be located due west of the Golden Gate. Interestingly enough, that is the exact location of the Dome of the Tablets (marked by the red arrow), as shown in the photograph below.

Location of the Dome of the Tablets on Temple Mount

Temple Mount looking due west from above
the Golden Gate, showing the alignment of
the Dome of the Tablets
 

The Dome of the Tablets (red arrow, above) is a small Islamic cupola on the bedrock of the Temple Mount, approximately 50 yards north of the Dome of the Rock (to your left as you look at this picture). Nobody knows for sure why it is called “the Dome of the Tablets” but conjecture is that “Dome of the Tablets” traces back to the “Dome of the Tablets of the Covenant inside the ark in the Holy of Holies,” and that “Dome of the Spirits” traces back to “Dome of the Spirit of God that dwelt in the Holy of Holies.” Archeologist Asher S. Kaufman claims that it marks the exact spot where the Tablets of the Torah sat within the Ark of the Covenant in the Most Holy Place. (“Where the Ancient Temple of Jerusalem Stood. Extant ‘foundation stone’ for the Ark of the Covenant is identified.” Biblical Archaeology Review, 9:02, Mar/Apr 1983.)

Detail of the Dome of the Tablets
Detail of the Dome of the Tablets with the Dome of the Rock in the background
and the Al Aqsa Mosque in the far left background behind the Dome of the Rock

 
Aerial view of the Location of the Dome Of the Tablets
Arial view of Temple Mount showing locations of
     (A) Dome of the Tablets and
     (B) Dome of the Rock

The following diagram from Kaufman’s article shows the location of the Dome of the Tablets and the Dome of the Rock, with the proposed location of the First and Second Temples superimposed. This places the Dome of the Tablets and the Holy of Holies in a direct east-west line with the Golden Gate (as I feel sure that it must be).

Temple location chart

The reason that this is so important is that as long as the Dome of the Rock stands, the Third Temple cannot be built on that location, and it is completely unreasonable to think that the Muslim world will allow the Dome of the Rock to be torn down for a Jewish Temple to be built. HOWEVER, if the true location of the first two Temples is in fact marked by the Dome of the Tablets and not by the Dome of the Rock, then the Third Temple can be built alongside the Dome of the Rock (below)!

Location of the Compromise Temple
Arial view of Temple Mount showing a possible “Compromise Temple” location
with the Holy of Holies situated where the Dome of the Book now stands. The
Golden (Eastern) Gate is in the lower right corner. Note that this arrangement
creates a direct line from the Golden Gate through the main Temple gate and
into the Holy of Holies.

Scripture tells us that Anti-Messiah will either “make a firm/strong covenant” (NAS/RSV/CJB) or “confirm a covanant” (KJV/NIV) or treaty for one week (literally, “one seven”) of years (Daniel 9:27) which will allow Israel to live in peace with her Muslim neighbors. Is it not conceivable that one of the major provisions of that treaty will be that the Third Temple will be built on Temple Mount next to the Dome of the Rock?? And is it not likewise conceivable that the man who could negotiate such a treaty would be accepted by Israel as the Messiah? Many within traditional Judaism believe that (a) the Temple will not be rebuilt until Messiah comes, and (b) one of the identifying signs of Messiah is that He will build the Temple Himself or cause it to be built.

However the construction of the Third Temple comes about, Daniel tells us that “in the middle of the week” of that covenant (three and a half years into the covenant or treaty), Anti-Messiah will “put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering.” In order for this to be fulfilled, the Third Temple and the entire Levitical service must be in operation at the time. I therefore conclude that, by whatever means, the Third Temple will be standing and full operation during the Tribulation period.

At the end of the Great Tribulation when Messiah returns and His feet touch down on the Mount of Olives, Zechariah 14:4 tells us “the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south.” I believe that this event will cause the Golden Gate, which has been sealed shut since the first Muslim invasion, to be opened by that violent earthquake. Since HaShem is a God of miracles, it is possible that the Third Temple will survive that earthquake. But since the Scriptures specifically tell us that “all the nations” will be going up to worship in Jerusalem during the Kingdom Period, that obviously will require a Temple. So if the Third Temple does not survive the earthquake caused by His return, then Messiah will need to construct a temple, which would be the Fourth Temple.

At the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Period, following the Great White Throne Judgment, we see “a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. ... And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He shall dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among them” (Rev. 21:1-3) [Presumably the Millennial Temple will have been destroyed when the “first heaven and the first earth passed away.”] This sentence is a particularly interesting grammatical construction which leaves room for two interpretations.

The first interpretation (certainly the most obvious) is that “the tabernacle of God” (the Fifth Temple — or maybe fourth, if the Third Temple survived the earthquake) comes down as part of New Jerusalem, and then God “shall dwell among” His people in that Temple as He did in the original Tabernacle and First Temple, as the visible Shekinah.

There is a possible second interpretation that I think is a bit more interesting (though possibly not more accurate, certainly).

John 1:14 tells us that “the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us.” The word here translated as “dwelt” is literally “tabernacled” (skenoo skenoo) in the Greek text. This would make John 1:14 a direct parallel with Rev. 21:3, thus suggesting the following interpretation: “the tabernacle of God is among men, and He (the tabernacle of God) shall dwell among them.” This interpretation would allow the idea that Yeshua HaMashiach is Himself the literal “tabernacle of God” Who then dwells among His people. If this interpretation is correct, then the “tabernacle of God” of New Jerusalem is not a building, but rather is HaShem Himself in the person of Yeshua HaMashiach dwelling visibly and physically with His people eternally in the new heaven and new earth, as suggested by Gan Eden, where Messiah literally walked with them “in the garden in the cool of the day” (Genesis 3:8). — B"H

I truly hope you got as much enjoyment out of reading this brief study as I had writing it!

Shalom, b'Mashiach,
Ari

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