In the TV mini-series, “DIG” of last year, I found myself mesmerized wondering how the producers would handle the building of the 3rd Temple. Before the event could occur, the unblemished red heifer (Numbers 19:2 NASB) had to be ritually slain (neck broken), “outside the camp,” its carcass burned, and the heifer’s ashes used in an elaborate purification process to cleanse the Temple Mount from impurities (Numbers 19:13). How disappointed I was with the final episode when the red heifer, having been stolen away to Jerusalem, is then slipped away by the young Jewish lad responsible for “Red’s” care because he doesn’t want his pet heifer slaughtered. Before the last episode, I had envisioned the collection of the heifer’s ashes for purification, followed by some form of escalating world conflict. The only impediment to building the Temple? The Dome of the Rock (and Al Aqsa Mosque) is presently “standing where it should not be” (Mark 13:14 NASB). Before the building of the 3rd Temple can occur, the two Islamic structures must be removed. No wonder the latter part of Mark 13:14 NASB warns everyone in Judea to flee to the mountains. If the text has in mind a nuclear event, I’m not sure the mountains will be far enough. Read more.
I am aware that a prevailing interpretation of Mark 13:14 NASB (and Matthew 24:15 NASB, 21) is that it refers to the last of Daniel 9’s “seventy-sevens,” i.e., the last 7 year period before the return of Jesus, also referred to as the “time of Jacob’s troubles”(Jeremiah 30:7).1 This view holds that the seven-year period will begin with the signing of a covenant/treaty (Daniel 9:27 NASB) between the Antichrist and the nation of Israel, including permission to rebuild the 3rd Temple and the reinstitution of the sacrificial system according to the Torah. Then, in the mid-point of the seven-year treaty period (Daniel 9:27 NASB), the Antichrist will revoke the treaty and perform some act of abomination of the “type” committed by Antiochus IV Epiphanies in 167 b.c., who sacrificed a pig on the Altar of Sacrifice, renamed the Jerusalem Temple in honor of Olympian Zeus, and rendered the Temple “uninhabitable” (“be desolate”) by the Jews. Many interpreters believe this is what is referred to in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 NASB, which, once again, appears to require the Temple to be in place in order for the Antichrist to “take his seat” there.2 Following the Antichrist’s abomination and the breaking of the seven-year treaty, the last half of the seven-year period will bring in the “gathering of the nations”against Israel followed by their judgment (Zechariah 14:2-3 NASB), and concluding with the second coming of Jesus Christ ushering in the Millennium. (Zechariah 12:10 NASB, Revelation 1:7 NASB, Daniel 9:24 NASB). To add one more “subplot” to this interpretation, Rome is considered by these interpreters as the kingdom from which the Antichrist will arise (Daniel 9:26 NASB).3
I just don’t see it — not in the modern-day context, anyway. I can’t see Rome (whether the RCC or the European Union or any manifestation of the two) as being able to fulfill several key passages: Revelation 12:17 NASB, Daniel 2:44 NASB, Daniel 7:24-25 NASB. Revelation 17:14 NASB. Islam fulfills all of these but not Rome.
I want to suggest a hypothetical that avoids the rebuilding of the Temple and fulfills prophecy. Let us consider what might happen if the unblemished red heifer of Numbers 19 was actually located by Temple activists (Read more), and the process for compliance with purity laws was in place. (Read more. Read more.). This would mean that the only thing lacking for rebuilding of the Temple was the removal of the Dome of the Rock which sits upon the Foundation Stone, that place where the Ark of the Covenant once rested. We know what would happen if this were a real event. The Temple Mount is not just a hill in modern-day Jerusalem. It is the “jewel” for both Arabs and Jews and the source of near unending conflict between the two groups.4
Rabbi Chaim Richman, an expert on the Temple and an advocate for its rebuilding made this statement before Frontline Magazine:
“The Holy Temple in Judaism is so important and primary that it can really be said that Judaism as it is practiced today is not the vehicle that God intended it to be,” Richman says. “The Prophets of Israel emphasize the fact that the Temple is really much more than just a synagogue…. The Temple is actually the device through which God manifests His presence to mankind.” (Emphasis supplied) Read more.
It is not a stretch to propose that this one site has the real possibility of being the match that lights the powder-keg of apocalyptic conflict. That conflict will include not only Israel and the Palestinians, but also the Muslim peoples and nations of the Middle East, as well as their superpower allies on both sides of the Atlantic. The superpowers will avoid World War 3 with abandon because it would mean the end of civilization as we know it. The international pressure placed on Israel to enter treaty with the Arabs would be great (Zechariah 12:2-3 NASB).5
In Israel’s prior negotiations with Arabs for the end of hostilities, it has not retained sovereignty over the Temple Mount. For example, in the Six Day War of 1967, Israel removed Jordanian military from all of East Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount, but did not usurp the Jordanian control of the Temple Mount (though the trust “Waqk” set up to oversee the Temple Mount).6 Likewise, in peace negotiations with Yassar Arafat in July 2000, Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered the Temple Mount to Arafat in negotiations. Arafat refused the offer. It is my view that this will change. Both Daniel 9:27 and 2 Thessalonians 2:4 both envision the claim of Israel to the Temple Mount or at least unfettered access. The Daniel 9 passage prophesies that the Antichrist will “… put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering;” and the 2 Thessalonians 2 passage prophesies that the “man of lawlessness” (Antichrist) will “take his seat in the Temple of God.” In order for these two passages to be fulfilled, Israel will either need be granted the right to worship by treaty or it will need to exert it’s right by force. Since the 1967 Six Day War it has chosen not to use force. Will the future open the door to this right? I propose that it will. After all, it is Israel’s by Divine promise; and the promises of God may be delayed but they will never be broken.
In my hypothetical, what is the “carrot” that seduces Israel to sign the treaty? The treaty of Daniel 9:27 will end hostilities against Israel and grant Israel the right to worship on the Temple Mount (but not to build the Temple). The right to worship will include the building of an Altar of Sacrifice on the Temple Mount as well as the right for Jews to pray, to read the Torah, to celebrate the Feasts of Israel (Passover, for example), all acts which are presently not permissible (Read more). In return, the Palestinians and Jews will each be granted recognition in a “two-state” solution to the Palestinian/Israeli problem (Read more); and, Israel will agree to a pull back to its 1967 borders (Read more), thereby setting in motion the fulfillment of another significant prophetic event— the dividing of its land in the modern-day (Joel 3:2 NASB) — after its “fortunes have been restored” (Joel 3:1 NASB). In my view, the fortunes of Israel began to be restored beginning in 1948 when she was given her land by the United Nations, and, by right, claimed statehood shortly thereafter by parliamentary action.
To continue with my hypothetical, midway through the treaty period, the Muslims will break the treaty.7 Daniel 9:27 NASB envisions that this will end the right to worship granted the Jews. In addition, a “pig type” of sacrifice will occur rendering the Altar of Sacrifice desecrated, just as Antiochus had done in 167 b.c. In retaliation, Israel will destroy the two Muslim structures, the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa Mosque. The seven year treaty period began with negotiation and signed agreements. At its midpoint, it will be transformed into an act of world-wide annihilation, beginning in Jerusalem, the Temple Mount, the center-point of the world. When the trigger is pulled, we will enter the Great Tribulation, i.e., the last 3 1/2 years before the return of Christ.
If you compare the Roman view with the Islamic view which seems more probable, particularly, in light of the last 1400 years of conflict between Muslims and Jews and the last 3500 years conflict between Jews and Arabs? Further, if you look at the Scriptures closely, you will see that my only change in the traditional interpretation of prophecy is that the Temple does not have to be rebuilt for fulfillment; the Altar of Sacrifice does, but not the Temple. Consider the text one more time. Where does it require the Temple to be “standing” if the sole purpose is to worship God? The abomination of desolation must be “standing” but not the Temple (Mark 13:14 NASB). The abomination is standing — the Dome of the Rock!
And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.” –Daniel 9:27 (NASB)
I am aware that I have not reviewed 2 Thessalonians 2:4 NASB. It is next. I already covered that in my book, Islam the Cloak of Antichrist, but just one point for now. Cannot the “man of lawlessness” “take his seat in the Temple of God” without sitting in a literal chair? (2 Thessalonians 2:4 NASB) Has not the spirit of antichrist done that for the last 1400 years by Muhammad’s usurping of Jesus Christ and Christianity with the Dome of the Rock placed immediately over the Foundation Stone, that place which formerly served as the resting place for the Ark of the Covenant?
Yes, I agree, my hypothetical is pure conjecture! But if we are waiting on the Romans to fulfill Daniel 9:27 NASB, we will be waiting a very long time for Jesus to return!
Jesus come quickly.
Footnotes to post:
- I do interpret Matthew 24 and related passages in the synoptics as being fulfilled with the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in 70 a.d. This interpretation is more likely since Matthew 24:34 NASB could not be fulfilled in the lifetime of the disciples if it did not refer to the 70 a.d. Temple destruction. However, I view the destruction of the Temple by the Romans as a “pattern” in prophecy with more than one fulfillment, particularly in the end-of-days, the tribulation. Daniel 9:26 NASB requires this as well by virtue of the phrase “desolations are determined” (plural). [↩]
- There is the practical problem that I have never quite resolved in my mind– how will the 3rd Temple be reconstructed in 3 1/2 years so that worship will be reinstituted and then stopped in the mid-point of the treaty? I can only imagine how long such an event would take place with the bickering in Israel these days between different groups trying to agree on the “color of the carpet.” [↩]
- The “people of the prince who is to come” who destroyed the Temple in 70 a.d. are the Romans, so the Antichrist of Daniel 9:27 NASB must be of the same kingdom as the prince who destroyed the Temple in 70 a.d. [↩]
- No one is quite sure why the Temple Mount is of such interest to Arabs other than the fact that it is the most holy place in the world to Jews. If so, the Arabs want it only so the Jews cannot have it. Psalm 83:12 NASB. [↩]
- “In July, 2000, President Bill Clinton invited Israeli and Palestinian leaders to a summit at Camp David in the USA for ‘Final Status’ talks under the troubled ‘Oslo Accords.’ Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered to recognize a Palestinian State in 97% of the territory Yassar Arafat was demanding, which embraced most of the Old City of Jerusalem including control over the Temple Mount – all in exchange for an ‘end to hostilities.’ Arafat rejected the offer and two months later launched the second intifada against Israel.” From Hugh Kitson, Director of Hatikvah Film Trust, accessed May 23, 2016. [↩]
- The trust had controlled it since the 13th century a.d. [↩]
- I have often surmised that the “treaty” of Daniel 9:27 NASB is equivalent to the dhimma contract that Muslims entered into with its conquered subjects in centuries past. The reason is because a dhimma contract is voidable at any time — but only by the Muslim party. [↩]