Rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem
Christianity has fixed its gaze on the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem which is expected to fulfil prophecies around the Antichrist and the end of the world. Many Christians expect the Temple in Jerusalem to be rebuilt because it is from there that the expected Antichrist will offer a peace treaty to the Jews and mark the middle of the Great Tribulation period, according to the most popular eschatological view.
This message is written about in books, preached from the pulpit and publicized in magazines around the globe, but I sometimes wonder if Christians actually know how to interpret the prophecies in the book of Daniel for themselves in order to verify this message? If we would do a study on this topic, would we also come to the same conclusion as what is preached all over the world?
The theological position that a future Antichrist will reign from the Temple in Jerusalem and be involved in a peace treaty 3 1/2 years before the return of the Lord, 3 1/2 years after the rapture (according to the most popular interpretation) and right in the middle of the Tribulation period, is assumed from the 70 weeks prophecy in Daniel chapter 9. Let us verify this popular teaching for ourselves and examining the evidence step by step.
Before we continue, please read my articles about the 70 weeks prophecy of Daniel 9 in order to have a better understanding of what is presented here. Click here to open the articles in a separate page… or read my summary below.
70 Weeks Prophecy summarized
1. The 70 week prophecy was given to the nation of Israel in 538 B.C.
2. The 70 weeks period started in 457 B.C. when Israel was given permission to rebuild Jerusalem, the walls and the Temple
3. A prophetic day accounts for a literal year therefore these 70 weeks is 490 years
4. The Messiah would appear after 69 weeks: “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks” Daniel 9:25
The Messiah did appear after the 69th week in the year 27 A.D. when Christ started ministering. His ministry lasted for 3 1/2 years before He was crucified.
5. The final and 70th week describes the ministry years of Jesus Christ untill 3 1/2 years after His crucifixion when Stephen was stoned. “And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.” Daniel 9:27
The middle of the week marks the end of Christ’s 3 1/2 year ministry.
6. Paraphrazed: In the middle of the week Messiah will cause sacrifice and oblation to cease. The middle of the week is 3 1/2 years into His ministry, when He died, and as a consequence caused animal sacrifice to end as He is the Perfect Lamb of God.
Now that we have a brief overview of this prophecy that was given to the nation Israel and the ultimate fullfilment thereof over the course of 490 years, I would like to emphesize a few points:
1. The prophecy did come to fullfilment as Jesus Christ, the awaited Messaih, did appear on the scene in the exact year that was prophecied – after the 69 weeks, which was 27 A.D. according to our modern calendar.
2. This prophecy is also referred to as Daniel’s Messianic prophecy and some Jewish traditions forbids the reading of this prophecy, as it predicted the coming of the Messiah and the precise fullfilment thereof.
3. A prophetic timeline cannot be interupted. What I mean by this is that the 70 weeks prophecy cannot be broken into two pieces, one of 69 weeks and one of 1 week with an unknown amount of years in between. A prophetic timeline must be seen as sequential and not interupted, in order to be hermeneutically correct.
4. No mention is made of the Antichrist in this prophecy, but only the Christ.
5. No mention is made of a peace treaty but only of a Savior that made an end to animal sacrifice due to His body that was crushed as the Perfect Lamb of God.
6. No mention is made of Jerusalem, nor of the Temple in Jerusalem.
The Temple in prophecy
The Christian world is looking towards Israel, and specifically the Temple Mount, in anticipation for the appearance of the Antichrist which is said to reign from the rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem. The only problem is that we haven’t yet seen any evidence in prophecies that points in that direction, even remotely.
Consider the following verse: “Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” 2 Thessalonians 2:4
This verse is used as evidence that the Antichrist will one day sit in the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem and claim to be God. Although it is correctly assumed that this verse speaks about the Antichrist, a few problems still arise:
1. This verse says nothing about Jerusalem or the temple in Jerusalem but rather of the temple of God.
2. This verse does not say that Antichrist will reign from the temple of God, but rather that he will metaphorically exalt himself above God as he takes the place of God on this earth.
3. This verse is also silent about a peace treaty
4. This verse is also silent about a Great Tribulation which should be transpiring during the reign of Antichrist
For an in-depth study on who the Antichrist is, please click here…
Connecting the dots
Let’s connect the dots and see how modern-day interpretation can be challenged with proper exegesis. So where does modern-day interpretation miss the mark? Why do I say it is modern-day interpretation?
1. It is modern-day exegesis as this interpretation was made popular by movies like Left Behind, although meant to be largely fictional.
2. This interpretation, which is Futurism, dismembers the 70th week of Daniel 9’s 70 Weeks prophecy and places it into the future as the final 7 years before Christ’s second advent.
3. Daniel’s Messianic prophecy is left unfullfilled and “the anointed one” in Daniel 9, which is Christ, is interpreted as the Antichrist.
4. The Antichrist character is now placed in the setting of the Temple in Jerusalem, which is assumed from 2 Thessalonians 2:4 “…so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.”
5. Antichrist is then said to reign for 7 years. This idea is assumed from Daniel 9 as the final week of the 70 weeks prophecy is dismembered from the first 69, which ended in 27 A.D. when Christ’s ministry started: “And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week…” Daniel 9:27 (In this interpretation Antichrist is literally taking the place of Christ…very interesting)
6. It is assumed that Antichrist will cause global havoc so the 7 years of his reign is now said to be the Great Tribulation.
7. All eyes are now fixed on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount to follow any news regarding the building project for the Third Temple.
8. Futurism conveniently accounts a prophetic week for seven years, which is the correct interpretation. When it comes to other prophecies in Revelation 13 which says that Antichrist will reign for 1260 days, then 3 1/2 years is interpreted instead of 1260 years. Interpretations should always be consistent.
Exegesis is the critical explanation or interpretation of a text, especially of scripture, according to Wikipedia. Modern-day eschatology (study of end time events) are built around a framework of assuptions which implies that all relevant texts should be interpreted to fit around the framework.
These assumptions are roughly as follows:
1. The Antichrist is in the future
2. Israel will play a major role in end time events
3. Antichrist will reign with terror and lead the world into the Great Tribulation
4. The Great Tribulation is in the future
As can be seen, this resembles a futuristic framework and all relevant texts should logically be applied to some future event. The key to Futurism is the modern-day interpretation of Daniel’s 70 weeks prophecy, which dismembers the final week from the rest of the prophecy and throws it into the future. With the correct interpretation of Daniel 9 the Messianic prophecy would be fulfilled and the whole futuristic framework would collapse.
The expectation that the rebuilding of the Temple plays a major part in end time events is due to the application of the futuristic framework, which does not stand with proper exegesis.
The Christian world is focussing a lot of its attention on Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the Third Temple which might be an interesting topic but which is eschatologically unbiblical. The Antichrist is already in this world and he is advancing against us every day. We wouldn’t see the Antichrist rise to power in the Third Temple for a number of reasons mention in this article, but also for the following reason:
The Antichrist comes from within Christianity and the Temple in Jerusalem will be Jewish!! – The Antichrist is paralelled with Judas who betrayed Christ with a kiss.
Probably the single largest reason why the Third Temple might never be built is because the Temple Mount is under Islamic control and that will not change any time soon. Now that we know the Temple does not have to be rebuilt for prophecy to come into fullfilment I hope that this news brings you peace. Let us set our focus on Christ and what He has done and not on the Antichrist and what he might do.