by Ron Rhodes


The Beginning of the Tribulation: The Temple and Signs of the End


The Jewish Temple Is Rebuilt       

The Signs of the Times    


The Jewish Temple Is Rebuilt

The temple has long played a prominent role in Jewish history. In fact, Israel has had three different temples.

The First Temple

David wanted to build the first temple for God, though it was not to happen, for David was disqualified for being a warrior. His son Solomon eventually built the temple (1 Kings 6—7; 2 Chronicles 3—4).

Like the tabernacle, Solomons temple had a Holy Place and a Most Holy Place. The Holy Place (the main outer room) contained the golden incense altar, the table of showbread, five pairs of lamp-stands, and utensils used for sacrifice. Double doors led to the Holy of Hohes, in which was found the ark of the covenant. The ark rested between two wooden cherubim angels, each standing ten feet tall. God manifested Himself in the Holy of Holies in a cloud of glory (1 Kings 8:10-11).

(This temple—the heart and center of worship for the kingdom of Judah—was eventually destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians in 587 B C. (586 B.C. to be exact - Keith Hunt)

The Second Temple

Following the Babylonian exile, many Jews returned to Jerusalem and constructed a smaller, leaner version of Solomons temple. King Cyrus of Persia had allowed them to return and rebuild the temple, and he sent along the temple vessels Nebuchadnezzar had looted.

The returned exiles started out well in 538 BC but soon ran out of steam. The prophets Haggai and Zechariah worked hard to encourage them, and the second temple was finally completed in 515 BC. However, it was not nearly as magnificent as Solomons temple (see Ezra 3:12). It had little of its former glory and was a dim reflection of the original. This temple was without the ark of the covenant and had only one seven-branched lampstand. The ark and Solomons ten lampstands were never recovered. This temple lasted about 500 years.

The Third Temple

Israel's third temple in Jerusalem was built by King Herod the Great. Herod believed this ambitious building program, which he began in 19 BC, would be a great way to earn favor with the Jews of his time (that is, his subjects) and impress the Roman authorities.

Completed in AD 6A, it was much larger and more resplendent (with more gold) than Solomons temple. It was an enormous, cream-colored structure that shone exceedingly bright during the day. It measured 490 yards (north to south) by 325 yards (east to west).

This magnificent temple was destroyed along with the rest of Jerusalem by Titus and his Roman warriors in AD 70—a mere six years after the project was completed. How ironic that those Herod sought to impress in Rome were the instigators of the temples destruction.


The Tribulation Temple

Scripture reveals that yet another temple will be built during the tribulation period. In terms of prophetic chronology, there are a number of important factors.


First and foremost is the prerequisite that Israel be back in her homelandas a nation. This has been a reality since 1948. The Jews have been streaming back to the holy land from around the world ever since (see Ezekiel 36—37). 


Obviously the Jewish temple cannot be rebuilt unless a reborn nation of Israel is in the land.


Second, we know that the temple must be rebuilt at least by the middle of the seven-year tribulation because Jesus in the Olivet discourse warned of a catastrophic event that assumes the existence of the temple: "When you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains" (Matthew 24:15-16). This abomination of desolation is the desecration of the Jewish temple by the antichrist, who will set up an image of himself within the temple at the midpoint of the tribulation. The temple must be built by this time.


It is significant that Jesus says this because just previously (in verses' 1-2), He positively affirmed that the great temple built by Herod (the Jewish temple of Jesuss day) would be utterly destroyed: "Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that -not be thrown down." This prophecy was literally fulfilled in AD 70 when Titus and his Roman warriors overran Jerusalem and the Jewish temple.


The only possible conclusion is that the temple of Jesuss day would be destroyed and that the abomination of desolation would occur in a yet-future temple. This latter temple would be built at least by the middle of the tribulation period (see also Daniel 9:27; 12:11).


Jewish Sacrifices Reinstated

Scripture is clear that there will be animal sacrifices in the Jewish temple sometime during the first half of the tribulation, but then the antichrist will stop them. We read in Daniel 9:27 that the antichrist "shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering." This "week" refers to the seven-year tribulation period that precedes the second corning of Christ. For half of the week—that is, the last three and a half years—sacrifices in the temple will cease. John F. Walvoord explains it this way:

This expression ["for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering"] refers to the entire Levitical system, which suggests that Israel will have restored that system in the first half of the 70th seven. After this ruler gains worldwide political power, he will assume power in the religious realm as well and will cause the world to worship him (2 Thes. 2:4; Rev. 13:8). To receive such worship, he will terminate all organized religions. Posing as the world's rightful king and god and as Israel's prince of peace, he will then turn against Israel and become her destroyer.


Preparations in the Present Day

Even today we hear reports that various Jewish individuals and groups have been working behind the scenes to prepare various materials for the future temple, including priestly robes, temple tapestries, and worship utensils. These items are being prefabricated so that when the temple is finally rebuilt, everything will be ready for it.


I reiterate that the temple does not need to be rebuilt until the midpoint of the tribulation period. This makes the fact that many items are already being prefabricated all the more exciting to many prophecy enthusiasts. The day of the rapture may be drawing near.




To Be  continued