Jewish Preparations for the Messiah
Signs of the Times
End-time Bible prophecy focuses on the Jewish people and the nation of Israel. Accordingly, I have written two books about the Jews in prophecy. One is titled, The Jewish People: Rejected or Beloved? (2014). The other is titled, Israel in Bible Prophecy: Past, Present & Future (2017).
The first book about the Jewish people was written to demonstrate how evil and unbiblical are two theologies concerning Israel that dominate Christendom today — namely, Replacement Theology and Dual Covenant Theology. Replacement Theology argues that God has no purpose left for the Jewish people. Dual Covenant Theology maintains that Jews do not need Jesus because they can be saved through the Mosaic Covenant by following the Ten Commandments.
Israel in Prophecy
In the second book about Israel in Bible prophecy, I contend that between the period from 70 AD to 1900, God fulfilled four prophecies concerning the Jewish people — namely, their worldwide dispersion, their persecution, their preservation and the desolation of their homeland.
I then show how God fulfilled in whole or in part seven end-time prophecies during the 20th Century. Those prophecies were as follows:
- The regathering of the Jewish people to their homeland (Isaiah 11:10-12 and Ezekiel 36:22-28).
- The re-establishment of the state of Israel (Isaiah 66:7-8, Ezekiel 37:21-22 and Zechariah 12:2-3).
- The reclamation of the land of Israel (Isaiah 35:1-2,7 and Ezekiel 36:35).
- The revival of the Hebrew language (Zephaniah 3:9 and Jeremiah 31:23).
- The re-occupation of the city of Jerusalem (Zechariah 12:1-3 and Luke 21:24).
- The resurgence of the Israeli military (Zechariah 12:6,8 and Isaiah 41:15).
- The refocusing of world politics on Israel (Zechariah 12:3 and 14:1-9).
This is a formidable list of prophecies being fulfilled before our very eyes. We are truly once again living in Bible times — equivalent to the period of time when Jesus came into this world the first time as a baby in Bethlehem.
The Temple Sign
There is another Jewish sign that is not included in the list above and which is often overlooked. It is the preparations that the Orthodox Jews of Israel are making for the construction of their Third Temple. The First Temple was Solomon’s that existed for 360 years (957 BC to 597 BC) before it was destroyed by the Babylonians. The Second Temple (often referred to as Herod’s Temple) was built after the Jews returned from their Babylonian captivity. It existed for 586 years (516 BC to 70 AD) until it was destroyed by the Romans.
The Bible clearly prophesies that a Third Temple will exist in the end-times during the Great Tribulation. The prophet Daniel talked about this temple (Daniel 9:27, 11:31 and 12:11), as did Jesus (Matthew 24:15) and the Apostle Paul (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4). And the Apostle John should be added to the list because he mentions the Tribulation Temple in his end-time prophecies (Revelation 11:1-2).
The point I am leading up to is that the preparations being made today for the building of the Third Temple — what will be the Tribulation Temple — are a clear sign that we are living in the season of the Lord’s return.
The Modern Movement for a Third Temple
Today’s effort to build the Third Temple seems to be rooted in a non-fiction book written by the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, Herman Wouk. The book was titled, This Is My God, and was published in 1959. The book prompted Jews worldwide to take action toward the rebuilding of their temple. For example, on May 21, 1967 (before Jerusalem was liberated on June 7, 1967), the following advertisement was printed in the Washington Post:1
In 1982, after many years of disagreement about methods of approach, three groups of Orthodox Jews decided to combine their forces and cooperate with each other toward the goal of rebuilding the Jewish Temple. One of those groups is still active today. It is called “The Temple Mount Faithful,” and its dynamic leader is a former Israel Defense Force officer named Gershon Salomon.2
This organization began as a nationalistic movement rather than a religious one. Its founder argued that the building of a Third Temple was essential to Jewish identity and sovereignty over the land of Israel. But in recent years, it has developed a more religiously-oriented apocalyptic and messianic platform in order to raise money among American Evangelicals. Its efforts have been very successful, and this has resulted in the waning of its influence among the Orthodox in Israel.
The Temple Institute
The powerhouse group today that is leading the effort to build a Third Temple is The Temple Institute in Jerusalem.3 It has strong Orthodox support and has also received funding from the Israeli government.
This organization hit the ground running, and since its establishment in 1987, it has prepared all the vessels needed for the Temple ceremonies and sacrifices, as well as the necessary incenses and oils. The clothing for the priests has been prepared, including the breastplate and crown to be worn by the High Priest. Various musical instruments are being made along with furniture like the table of showbread and the altar of incense. All of these items can be seen online at the Institute’s website.
The Institute was founded by a zealous Jewish rabbi named Yisrael Ariel. (I think it is interesting that Ariel is a poetic, scriptural name for Jerusalem! See Isaiah 29:1-2,7.) Several rabbis have served over the years as the Executive Director of the Institute, the most prominent being Yehuda Glick.
The most expensive item the Institute has constructed for the temple is the golden menorah that will be placed in the Holy Place. It is covered with 95 pounds of pure gold and cost several million dollars. It is currently on display in a glass case at a site overlooking the Western Wall.
The Temple Institute has also constructed a copper laver to be used by the priests for ceremonial cleansing. Even more significantly, a temporary mobile altar for animal sacrifices has been prepared and was publicly dedicated at the end of Hanukkah in December of 2018.
The altar is nine feet square by five feet high and is made of aerated concrete. It has been ruled to be fit for use in the Temple until a more permanent one can be made. Rabbi Baruch Kahane served in the role of High Priest at the dedication ceremony held next to the Western Wall of the Old City, near the Jaffa Gate. The priests wore biblically accurate garb appropriate for the Temple. The Jerusalem municipal authorities did not permit a sheep to be killed on-site, so one was slaughtered at another location, and sections of the meat were burned on the altar.4
Rabbi Yehuda Glick
Rabbi Yehuda Glick came to Israel in 1974 at age 8 when his family made aliyah from New York. He served in the IDF between 1986 and 1989 as a combat medic (his father was a medical doctor). He then earned degrees in Torah Studies and Israeli History.
In 1996, he began working in the Israeli Ministry of Immigration Absorption. He resigned this position in 2005 due to his strong opposition to the Gaza Disengagement Plan. At that time he became the Executive Director of The Temple Institute and began his efforts to free up the Temple Mount to Jewish ascension.
In the years following, he was arrested several times for praying on the Temple Mount. In 2013, he conducted a hunger strike to protest a police ban forbidding him access to the Temple Mount. This activism established him as the foremost proponent of Jewish sovereignty over the Temple Mount, and that led to an assassination attempt in October of 2014 when he was shot four times, point-blank, by an Arab terrorist. Glick miraculously survived the attack.
He served in the Israeli Parliament (the Knesset) from 2016 to 2019 as a member of Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party. Today he continues his advocacy for Jewish control of the Temple Mount through his Shalom Jerusalem Foundation which he established in 2019.
The Ark of the Covenant
The only thing needed for the Temple that the Temple Institute has not produced is the Ark of the Covenant. The reason they have refrained from tackling this project is because they are convinced that the original Ark is located beneath the Temple Mount in a special chamber that was designed for the Ark’s safekeeping.
The last mention of the Ark in the Scriptures is found in 2 Chronicles 35:3, where we are told that King Josiah had it returned to the Holy of Holies of Solomon’s Temple. Presumably, it had been removed by King Manasseh (2 Chronicles 33: 4-5) when he desecrated the Temple by building within it altars to foreign gods.
The Bible does not reveal what happened to the Ark when Solomon’s Temple was later destroyed by the Babylonians.
There never was an Ark in the Second Temple that was built after the Jews returned from Babylonian captivity. The Orthodox believe this was due to the fact that Israel was under either Persian, Greek or Roman control during the Second Temple period (516 BC to 70 AD). Thus, the Ark was kept hidden to keep it out of Gentile hands.
In addition to preparing all the items needed within the Temple in order to revive the animal sacrifice system of the Mosaic Law, the Temple Institute has been heavily involved in preparing architectural plans for the Third Temple. In 2015, the plans were leaked to the public,5 and since that time they have been posted on the Institute’s website, together with a three-dimensional video of the Temple’s proposed interior.6
The Orthodox Jews of Israel do not have a unified view of the architectural features of the Third Temple. The Temple Institute has taken the position that the Third Temple should resemble the second one.7 Others maintain that it should follow the architectural description contained in Ezekiel 40-42. Another group believes the Temple will just descend from Heaven when the Messiah comes. Christians maintain that the Temple described by Ezekiel is the Millennial Temple which will be built after Jesus returns. They also believe that the Third Temple will most likely be destroyed during the Tribulation.
Ashes of the Red Heifer
Orthodox Jews agree that the production of ritually-pure ashes of a red heifer is required for the re-institution of Temple worship. This belief is based upon a mandate found in Numbers 19:1-10 that requires the Temple priests to be purified by the sprinkling of water containing the ashes of a red heifer.
To be kosher, the heifer has to be perfectly red, with no more than two hairs of a different color. It must be three years old and have no physical blemishes. It must never have been used for any physical labor, such as plowing.
The Temple Institute has taken on the task of breeding such an animal, using Red Angus cattle. They have produced several candidates thus far, but each has been disqualified for various reasons.8
In biblical times, it was the practice to mix the ashes of a new red heifer sacrifice with those of the preceding heifer. Some Orthodox believe this is a modern necessity, and therefore, they argue that the ashes of the last red heifer must be found. The Temple Institute has taken the position that this is not necessary.9
Priests for the Temple
The Temple Institute has established a school to train priests for the Third Temple. Only Levites directly descended from Aaron, the first High Priest, are qualified to serve as priests with sacrificial duties. These are referred to as kohanim. Others of the tribe of Levi are qualified only to care for the Temple — its vessels and furnishings.
Genetic testing is being done to determine the descendants of Aaron.10 In the process, it has been discovered that the lineage of male descendants of Aaron has been carefully preserved by God. Thus, over 98% of Jewish men who identify as kohanim (often with the last name of Cohen), have a specific genetic marker in common.11
The revival of the ancient Jewish Sanhedrin Council is another very important sign of Jewish preparations for the appearance of the Messiah.12
In New Testament times, the Great Sanhedrin was a council made up of 70 Jewish sages plus a presiding president who was usually the High Priest. The group served as the Supreme Court of Israel regarding matters of Jewish religious and ceremonial laws.13 It was the court that condemned Jesus to death as a blasphemer.
The Sanhedrin lost its power to carry out the death penalty under Roman rule, which is the reason it had to refer Jesus to the Roman governor, Pilate, in order to secure His execution.
After the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 AD, the Sanhedrin moved around the Galilee area of northern Israel for many years from town to town until 240 AD, when it finally settled in Tiberias, a city located on the west shore of the Sea of Galilee.14 It was in Tiberias that the group made its final binding decision in 358 AD when it adopted the Hebrew calendar.15
During the years between 1538 and 1949, there were five major attempts to re-establish the Sanhedrin, but none of them were successful. But in October of 2004, a group of rabbis meeting in Tiberias succeeded in reconvening the Sanhedrin and have kept it going since that time, conducting their meetings in Jerusalem.16
These modern day Orthodox shakers and movers in Israel believe it is necessary to have a Sanhedrin in order to authenticate the Messiah when He comes. But it is significant that their first order of business was to launch a research project to determine the exact location of the First and Second Temples. This is a top priority with them because they believe the Third Temple must be built on the same location.17
The “nascent” Sanhedrin (as it is usually called) has not yet been recognized by the Israeli government. But it does appear to have quasi-recognition from the secular court system as a rabbinical court.18
I think it should be mentioned that several political organizations have been formed in recent years whose sole purpose is to lobby for the Israeli government to take action toward claiming sovereignty over the Temple Mount. This action is seen as a necessary prelude to any effort to build a Third Temple.
The problem of the control of the Temple Mount was created in 1967, when the Jews conquered the Old City of Jerusalem in the Six Day War. Instead of asserting sovereignty, as they did with the rest of the Old City, the Israel Defense Minister, Moshe Dayan, who was a secular Jew, decided arbitrarily to turn control of the Temple Mount back to the Muslims, hoping this would demonstrate the desire of Israel for peace. Instead, it signaled to the Muslims that the Jews were weak in their resolution to control the ancient capital. Since that time, the Muslims have denied Jews equal rights on the Temple Mount.
One of the political organizations formed to fight Muslim discrimination on the Temple Mount, and hopefully bring about Jewish sovereignty over the Mount, is called The Temple Mount Heritage Foundation.19 It was founded by a broad spectrum of Israelis whose goal is “to end the unconscionable discrimination against Jews on the Temple Mount.” The foundation’s hope is to reclaim for Jews the basic civil rights of free access, free worship and free congregation on the Mount.
A similar organization with a high profile is The Shalom Jerusalem Foundation that was founded by Rabbi Yehuda Glick in 2019.20 It has the same goals as the Temple Mount Heritage Foundation, but Rabbi Glick has managed to gain greater attention due to his confrontational methods.
Considering all the Temple activities we have surveyed, what is the current state of readiness for constructing the Third Temple? In March of 2019, Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, founder of the Temple Institute, declared that the Temple services could be instituted within four hours after access to the Temple Mount is granted.21
That announcement amazed most people. “How could the services be implemented so quickly,” most wondered. My guess is that the Temple Institute intends to erect a temporary tent Temple, like the Tabernacle of Moses that was used by the Children of Israel during their wilderness wanderings, and which continued to exist at Shiloh for over 400 years during the period of the Judges and the early kingships of Saul and David. Its last resting place was at Gibeon during the final years of David’s kingship (1 Kings 3:4).
So, most likely, the Orthodox will erect a temporary tabernacle on the Temple Mount and use it while the Third Temple is being built.
What is likely to be the event that will ultimately launch the rebuilding of a Jewish Temple? Many have speculated that it will be the discovery of the Ark of the Covenant. That could well be. But the discovery of the Ark will not solve the problem of locating the new Temple on the same site of the ancient Temples. Any attempt to tear down the Dome of the Rock would launch an all-out war with the Arabs.
I think the most likely scenario is that the Dome of the Rock will be destroyed during the War of Gog & Magog that is described in Ezekiel 38 & 39. These chapters state that Russia and all its Muslim allies will be destroyed supernaturally by God on the mountains of Israel, and that one of the methods God will use is “a great earthquake” that will cause “every wall to fall to the ground” (Ezekiel 38:19-20).
I suspect that this earthquake will destroy the Dome of the Rock. And with its destruction and the annihilation of Muslim forces, the way will be open for the Jews to rebuild their Temple on the site of the Dome. Their intention to do so will be protected by the Antichrist when he signs a treaty guaranteeing his protection of Israel — a treaty that will initiate the Tribulation. Thus, I believe the War of Gog & Magog is most likely to occur during the time between the Rapture and the launching of the Tribulation.
All of this activity in behalf of the construction of a Third Temple — both religious and political — is clear evidence of a move of God on Jewish hearts to motivate them to prepare for the end-time events revealed in the book of Revelation. They think they are getting ready to build the Temple for the soon coming Messiah. But the Bible reveals that it will not be the Messiah’s Millennial Temple. Rather, it will serve as the Tribulation Temple that the Antichrist will desecrate.
Just as God touched the hearts of Jewish people all over the world at the beginning of the 20th Century, motivating them to return to their homeland, He is now touching the hearts of Orthodox Jewish leaders, motivating them to build the Third Temple.
When the Jews conquered the Old City of Jerusalem on June 7, 1967, Rabbi Shlomo Goren (the Chief Rabbi of the IDF and later the Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi of Israel) rushed to the Western Wall, blew a shofar and shouted, “We have taken the City of God. We are entering the Messianic era for the Jewish people.”22 He said that because he knew from prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures that when the Jews are back in the land and back in their capital city, the Messiah will come.
More recently, Rabbi Yosef Berger — the Rabbi of David’s Tomb on Mount Zion — echoed Rabbi Goren by declaring that “we are today living in the beginning of the Messianic era.”23 Accordingly, he called for the creation of a golden crown to be given to the Messiah when He arrives in Jerusalem.
In like manner, in February of 2020, Rabbi Shlomo Amar — the former Shephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel — proclaimed that “all the great rabbis of this generation are saying that the Messiah is about to reveal Himself.”24 Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, who is today considered to be one of the leading Torah scholars in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish world expressed the same viewpoint by declaring succinctly that “the Messiah is standing at the door.”25 And Rabbi Avner Efghin, one of the world’s leading Kabbalist rabbis stated recently that “what has happened over the past year is most definitely a sign of the coming Messiah.”26
In summary, the Orthodox rabbis are reading the signs of the times and calling their people to prepare for the Messiah’s immediate appearance. Meanwhile, the Church is asleep, ignoring God’s Prophetic Word and refusing to pay attention to the Signs of the Times.
What an irony! The first time Jesus came, it was the Jews who refused to believe. Today, it’s the Church that is caught up in unbelief while the Orthodox Jews are anxiously watching for the Messiah while making fervent preparations for Him. The Lord’s Second Coming is not going to catch the Orthodox Jews by surprise. What is going to surprise them is His identity.
Can there be any doubt that the current Jewish preparations for the Messiah are just one more important sign that we are the terminal generation that is going to witness the Lord’s return in the heavens for His Church?