The people of Israel have already built two temples on Mount Zion in the past. Both were built during times when Israel walked in obedience to a covenant relationship with God. Both were destroyed when Israel violated their covenant. The rise and fall of both temples were determined by the condition of their covenant relationship with God.
Since the second temple was destroyed in 70 AD Israel has been without a temple for 1945 years and counting. To make matters worse, the prospects for building a new temple appear impossible because the Islamic Dome of the Rock now stands in the way. It would have to be torn down before a new temple could be built in its place. However, ancient prophecies from the Bible tell us the third temple will be built before the Lord returns, but not until Israel first enters into a different kind of covenant relationship, not with the God of their fathers, but with the antichrist.
God inspired construction of the first two temples, but a sinister trick of the antichrist will be the catalyst for construction of the third temple. Under the pretense of a deceitful covenant, he will allow Israel to build the temple and restore their ancient practice of sacrifices and offerings, but soon after its completion he will violate the covenant by putting a stop to all sacrifices and offerings (Daniel 9:27). He will trick them into building the temple so he can have it for himself. Then he will enter the temple and take his seat there (2 Thessalonians 2:4), which is another way of saying he will establish his throne there.
Why would the antichrist want to establish his throne in the temple on Mount Zion? It is because he is filled with the spirit of Satan and inspired by him to make himself like the Most High. Satan knows the plans of God, which are recorded in the scriptures, to rule the earth from Mount Zion (Isaiah 24:23, Micah 4:6). So Satan intends to imitate the Most High God by ruling the earth from Mount Zion through his anointed Messiah, the antichrist.
In the same way that Jesus the Messiah was determined to go to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51), the false Messiah, is also determined to go to Jerusalem. But whereas Jesus went there to lay down his life, the false Messiah will go there to exalt himself and commit the ultimate abomination, displaying himself as God (2 Thessalonians 2:4, Daniel 8:11). For he is just like his father, Satan, who has said in his heart:
“I will ascend to heaven. I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds. I will make myself like the Most High.” (Isaiah 14:13-14)
Jesus warned us the antichrist would do this. He quoted the prophet Daniel when He referred to it as the “abomination that brings desolation”
“Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains.” (Matthew 24:15-16)
The true Messiah brings blessings, but the antichrist brings desolation because he commits abominations against God. When he takes his seat in the temple displaying himself as God he causes destruction to come upon the whole earth, including himself. Because of his abomination the whole earth will enter into a time that Jesus called the great tribulation.
“For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.” (Matthew 24:21-22)
The antichrist’s evil plot against Israel will backfire when the Lord Jesus Christ returns to the earth to destroy him and rescue Israel. Instead of being like the Most High, his true fate will be the same as Satan, which was revealed to the prophet Isaiah.
“Nevertheless you will be thrust down to hell, to the recesses of the pit. Those who see you will gaze at you, they will ponder over you, saying, ‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms, who made the world like a wilderness and overthrew its cities, who did not allow his prisoners to go home? ’ All the kings of the nations lie in glory, each in his own tomb. But you have been cast out of your tomb like a rejected branch, clothed with the slain who are pierced with a sword, who go down to the stones of the pit like a trampled corpse.” (Isaiah 14:15-19)
So now we need to back up to see how the third temple will come about. A brief history of the first two temples is provided below . Then prophecies from the Bible are presented to prove the third temple will be built and to show how it will happen.
The First Temple
King Solomon built the first temple (1 Kings 8). His father, King David, had wanted to build it, but the Lord sent this word to him through Nathan the prophet:
“Are you the one who should build Me a house to dwell in? For I have not dwelt in a house since the day I brought up the sons of Israel from Egypt, even to this day; but I have been moving about in a tent, even in a tabernacle. Wherever I have gone with all the sons of Israel, did I speak a word with one of the tribes of Israel, which I commanded to shepherd My people Israel, saying, ‘Why have you not built Me a house of cedar?” (2 Samuel 7:5-7)
“When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (2 Samuel 7:12-13).
Solomon began construction 480 years after the Israelites came out of Egypt (1 Kings 6:1). Construction began in the fourth year of his reign and was completed in the eleventh year, so it took seven years to complete. Jewish rabbis estimate it was completed in 832 BC.
The Lord had warned the people of Israel there would be severe consequences if they ever turned away from Him. He warned they would be cut off from the land and the temple would become a heap of ruins.
“But if you or your sons indeed turn away from following Me, and do not keep My commandments and My statutes which I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel from the land which I have given them, and the house which I have consecrated for My name, I will cast out of My sight. So Israel will become a proverb and a byword among all peoples. And this house will become a heap of ruins; everyone who passes by will be astonished and hiss and say, ‘Why has the Lord done thus to this land and to this house?’ And they will say, ‘ Because they forsook the Lord their God, who brought their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and adopted other gods and worshiped them and served them, therefore the Lord has brought all this adversity on them.” (1 Kings 9:6-9)
Israel eventually forgot this warning. They turned away from the Lord and neglected to observe the Sabbath day of rest. Just as the Lord has warned, great destruction came upon them. 410 years after it was completed, the temple was destroyed by the Babylonian armies of King Nebuchadnezzar in about 422 BC. The people who were not killed by the sword were carried out of the land to allow the land to enjoy all of the Sabbath rests that had been ignored.
“He (Nebuchadnezzar) carried out from there all the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king’s house, and cut in pieces all the vessels of gold which Solomon king of Israel had made in the temple of the Lord, just as the Lord had said. Then he led away into exile all Jerusalem and all the captains and all the mighty men of valor, ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and the smiths. None remained except the poorest people of the land.” (2 Kings 24:13).
All the articles of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king and of his officers, he brought them all to Babylon. Then they burned the house of God and broke down the wall of Jerusalem, and burned all its fortified buildings with fire and destroyed all its valuable articles. Those who had escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon; and they were servants to him and to his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia, to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its Sabbaths. All the days of its desolation it kept Sabbath until seventy years were complete. (2 Chronicles 36:18-21)
The Second Temple
After the seventy years of rest were completed the Lord stirred up the spirit of King Cyrus of Persia so that he sent a proclamation throughout his kingdom saying,
Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, “The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. 3 Whoever there is among you of all His people, may his God be with him! Let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah and rebuild the house of the Lord, the God of Israel; He is the God who is in Jerusalem.” (Ezra 1:2-3)
So the Israelites returned to their land. In the second month of the second year after their return they began construction of the second temple in the same location as Solomon’s temple (Ezra 3:8). Rabbinic sources estimate they began construction in 352 BC and completed it in about 350 BC.
This temple stood for 420 years, including the days of Jesus’ ministry on earth. However, by that time Israel had strayed so far away from the Lord that they did not recognize the day of the Lord’s visitation. Jesus was so grieved over Jerusalem that when He saw the city he wept over it and gave this prophetic warning:
“If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” (Luke 19:41-44)
Rather than heed His warning they rejected Him, arrested Him, and turned Him over to the Romans to be crucified. About 37 years later the disaster He warned about came to pass. In 70 AD the Roman armies, led by the future Emperor Titus, surrounded Jerusalem and killed 1.1 million people. Another 97,000 were captured and enslaved. Just as Jesus warned, Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed.
“The slaughter within was even more dreadful than the spectacle from without. Men and women, old and young, insurgents and priests, those who fought and those who entreated mercy, were hewn down in indiscriminate carnage. The number of the slain exceeded that of the slayers. The legionaries had to clamber over heaps of dead to carry on the work of extermination.” (The History of the Jews, book 16, Josephus)
After the temple was destroyed, the Romans built a temple to Jupiter on the same site where the temple had stood. The Romans believed Jupiter was king over all the gods. The Greeks called him Zeus. In both cases he is known as the god of the sky and lightning.
Jesus revealed his true identity is Satan when he told his disciples, “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning” (Luke 10:18). Lucifer is the fallen angel who fell from the sky like lightning. Then another time Jesus referred to the altar of Zeus as the throne of Satan (Revelation 2:13). In those days the altar of Zeus was located in Pergamum, which is in modern Turkey. According to Jesus, the altar of Zeus was just another name for the throne of Satan. So the true identity of Jupiter and Zeus is Satan.
It was no coincidence that the Romans built the temple of Jupiter on this same spot as the temple of God. This was Satan’s attempt to foil the plan of God. He pulled this same trick again 619 years later with the construction of the Islamic Dome of the Rock in 689 AD. It is still standing there today.
Islamic Dome of the Rock
The Third Temple
Evidence that the third temple will be built comes from at least four witnesses who saw it in visions and recorded what they saw in the scriptures.
- The Apostle John was given a vision of the end-times in which he was given a measuring rod and told to measure the temple and the altar, but not the court, which is outside the temple because it has been given to the nations, and they will tread under foot the holy city for 42 months (Revelation 11:1-2). How could John measure the temple and the altar if there was no temple? How could the court outside the temple be given to the nations for 42 months if there was no temple?
- The Apostle Paul was also shown the third temple. He saw the man of lawlessness, the son of destruction, which is the antichrist, enter into the temple and take his seat there, displaying himself as being God (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4). How could the antichrist take his seat in the temple if there is no temple?
- The Prophet Daniel saw the temple would be used for regular daily offerings and sacrifices until the antichrist puts a stop to those things in the middle of a seven-year covenant (Daniel 8:11. 9:26-27). Daniel saw the offerings and sacrifices would be stopped for exactly 2,300 evenings and mornings. During that time the people of the antichrist will trample the holy place, but at the end of that time the holy place will be properly restored (Daniel 8:13-14). The Jewish people have not offered daily offerings and sacrifices since the destruction of the second temple in 70 AD. The only way they can resume them is if they have a new temple. Based on what Daniel saw, these services will be resumed because otherwise it would be impossible for the antichrist to put a stop to them. These services cannot be resumed or stopped until the third temple is built. Also, the temple must be built before the people of the antichrist can trample the holy place of the temple.
- The Prophet Isaiah heard a voice of uproar from the city of Jerusalem specifically coming from the temple. It was the voice of the Lord rendering recompense to His enemies (Isaiah 66:6). There must be a third temple before the voice of the Lord can come from the temple.
So the third temple will be built, but how will it happen?
The Antichrist cannot seat himself up in this Temple unless it has already been rebuilt. The consensus is that in the first three and half years of the Tribulation, the Antichrist will establish some kind of peace treaty or covenant with Israel.
He will then allow the rebuilding of the Temple, and once that is completed, he will then break his pact with Israel and seat himself up in the Temple proclaiming himself to be God.
Remember, it will only take two years to rebuild the Temple, so this could easily happen in the first half of the 7 year Tribulation.
I am sure this event will be televised throughout the whole world due to the conceit and arrogance of the Antichrist. He will want the whole world to know what he has just done.
Think about this. The devil has always wanted to be like God and to have His throne for his own. Now he will get his one and only chance to be able to rule this entire world through this coming Antichrist.
The Antichrist will be under the guidance and influence of Satan. Satan, through the Antichrist, will now be able to seat himself up in God’s Holy Temple for the next three and half years – and from that position, start the greatest mass slaughter of Jews and Christians that the world has ever seen.
He will literally kill two thirds of the Jewish people. Believe it or not, this persecution will be worse than the German holocaust where 6 million Jews were killed. More on this under its own caption below.
Bottom line – the Jewish Temple has to be rebuilt so the above event with the Antichrist can take place. It will also serve as a main key event for the rest of the world to lock in on as it will literally tell us exactly how much time we will still have left before Jesus returns back to us for His second coming – 42 months!