Is Israel Ready to Rebuild the Temple? – Program 1

By: Dr. Randall Price, Dave Hunt, Dr. Dave Breese; ©1993
What is the significance of the third Jewish temple in biblical prophecy?

Contents

When Will the Third Temple Be Built?

Introduction

John Ankerberg: Today on the John Ankerberg Show, are the Jewish people ready to rebuild their temple in Jerusalem? If they were to begin building this year, what political shockwaves would it cause the nations in the Middle East? And where would the erection of the third temple place us on the prophetic calendar of events predicted in the Bible? In a previous program, I asked this question of Dr. Gleason Archer, one of the premier Hebrew teachers in our country.

[Excerpt]

John Ankerberg: If you heard, Dr. Archer, that they were going to start rebuilding the temple next week, according to your Bible chronology, what would that say to you?
Dr. Gleason Archer: I’d say that the tribulation is very near.
Ankerberg: Gershon Salomon is the leader and chairman of the Temple Mount Movement in Israel. On October 8, 1990, he led a procession of Jewish people and attempted to bring the cornerstone for the third temple to the temple mount. It caused a riot that drew worldwide attention and resulted in the United Nations condemning Israel for this event and Saddam Hussein firing SCUD missiles against Israel during the Gulf War. But, concerning the rebuilding of the temple, Gershon Salomon confidently states:
Gershon Salomon: And I have no doubt that you and I, we shall see the Ark of the Covenant in the middle of the third temple on the temple mount in Jerusalem very soon—in our life.
Ankerberg: Randall Price is one of the authors of the new book, Ready to Rebuild. He has worked many years in Jerusalem and is finishing his PhD in Hebrew studies at the University of Texas. This is what he warns:
Randall Price: The rebuilding of the temple, and even the temple mount itself, has the potential to ignite a conflagration in the Middle East of proportions of a third world war.
Ankerberg: When will the third Jewish temple be built? What problems lie ahead for Israel? What significance does this event have to biblical prophecy? My guests who will be answering these questions are: Dr. David Breese, Dave Hunt, and Randall Price. We invite you to join us.

Ankerberg: Welcome! We’re glad that you joined us. And we are talking with three biblical scholars concerning world events and biblical prophecy. My guests tonight are Randall Price, Dr. David Breese, and Dave Hunt. And gentlemen, I’d like to start off with going to one of the amazing signs in prophecy that God has given to us. Let me read the verse, and it goes like this from 2 Thessalonians: “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day” —namely, the coming of Jesus Christ—“will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshipped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.”
What I’d like to zero in on is that this person that we refer to theologically as the Antichrist who is going to come. He’s going to proclaim that he’s God. But what I’d like to zero in on is the biblical statement here and in other places that there’s going to be a Jewish temple that he’s going to do this in.
Now, right now we don’t have that in terms of the place that the Bible is talking about, but if we were, what would be the implications? Are we building up to that any place in the world today? Do we see signs that this might come about? Very interesting and controversial topic.
And Dr. David Breese, let me start with you tonight in terms of this kind of sign of prophecy. This is just one place. You might point out a few other places where God talks about this temple being there. Tell me about it.
Breese: John, first of all, thank you again for the opportunity of being with you and it’s a great thrill to talk together about that “sure word of prophecy unto which we do well to take heed as to a light that shines in a dark place” (2 Peter 1:19). And I’m sure that this time together will be a blessing and benefit to us all and I’m sure to all of those who are looking on in many places.
Now, in answer to the question, we live in a period of time called “the day of grace.” During this day of grace, God is working particularly to take out of the world a people for His name. He is producing a wonderful entity called “the Church,” and the Church is the Body of Christ. And when we get to heaven, we shall discover how much the Church was also the Bride of Christ, and we’ll meet at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. But, when the day of the Church is finished and it will be concluded by the rapture of the Church spoken of in the verse preceding the one that you have mentioned, there will then succeed this period of time an era called “The Day of the Lord.”
The first section of the Day of the Lord is a 7-year period called the tribulation. Now, back in those days, the people at Thessalonica were concerned that maybe they had moved into the Day of the Lord, and so Paul wrote them and said, “Now, we beseech you brethren, by reason of the coming of our Lord Jesus and by reason of our gathering together unto Him that you be not soon shaken in mind either by word, spirit, letter as from us as that the day of the Lord is present.”
But then he talked about the Day of the Lord and said, “That day shall not come except there come the apostasia”—the falling away first—“and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped so that he as God sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.”
So Paul tells us that there will be an apostasy that will be one of the characteristics of the era of the rise of Antichrist, and the Antichrist will set up a different system of worship. And the day will come when he will actually sit in the temple of God and declare himself to be God. So we know from this that there will be a temple rebuilt.
Now, Daniel refers to this as well. Daniel says that the leader of the emergent Roman Empire, the prince that shall come, will make a covenant with the nation of Israel. And he will break that covenant in the midst of the years, and “he will cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease” (Daniel 9:27). So we have the Scripture—both in the Old and the New Testament—telling us that at the time of the rise of Antichrist, which is that period of time called the great tribulation, there will be a temple rebuilt. That temple will be, first of all, the object of great rejoicing on the part of the people of Israel, because after 2,000 years the reality of their religious worship has come to pass. They will be grateful to this leader of Europe for having helped them build this temple; but then, when he breaks the covenant with them, this will be dashed to pieces.
But the point is that—for our purposes here—the Bible does teach that there will be a reconstituted Jewish worship, the certified religion of the world, characterized by the temple. And that temple will be the object, first of all of the approval, the approbation of the Antichrist, then it will be the focus of the great offense that he produces against the nation of Israel by putting in that temple a clever devise called “the abomination of desolation” (Matthew 24:15). Should we look for this to come to pass? Yes, we should. And in my opinion, when we hear from the existing nation of Israel today interest in rebuilding a temple, even the production of some of the appointments of the temple, a great word going out that this will be a great fulfillment soon to come, we should consider this very provocative and in my opinion, a telling prelude to the existence of that reality. That is a subject that should quicken every one of our minds in this day and age.
Ankerberg: Randall, you’ve spent a lot of time in the Holy Land, and you know Hebrew and you converse in Hebrew. And you have written a book, Ready to Rebuild. And it’s a very controversial book in the sense that a lot of people are saying, “Listen, the Jews are not ready to rebuild the temple. People that say that are just making this up.” You have spent time there and you know many of the leaders. Bring us up to date right now. What’s happening in the Holy Land? Is it true or false that for the first time, we are now having Jews in Israel that are… Are they really looking forward to, are they planning to rebuild the temple?
Price: John, for the first time in my life, I’m amazed at how quickly these things have moved and really how extensive they are. When I began the research on my book, I was of the opinion that this was simply a grassroots radical fanatic movement that was taking place in Israel. But the more I got behind the scenes and I saw that it was not only the secular Jews who were interested in the temple as a national monument to solidify their purposes and somehow reunite the Jewish people, it was also the religious leaders and also this more radical fringe who were very activist. But now we see in Israel implements being prepared for the actual conduct of sacrificial worship; we find vestments being made for the priests; a training school called Ateret Cohanim where young men are being prepared for the actual function in priesthood.
Ankerberg: And this is going on right now.
Price: At the present time. And they declare that they expect in their lifetime to actually fulfill that kind of function. We see that a site has been located for the temple. We also see, very interestingly, that there are settlements being established all around the temple mount. Some of the things that are in the news about establishments of settlements in the City of David and in the Muslim Quarter all have behind it the intent of bringing a Jewish presence to the temple mount so that when the temple is constructed, people will be in place.
Ankerberg: Why, Randall, have we heard other writers in America saying that nothing’s going on truly? What are the politics involved here? Why would some people want to downplay what is happening in Israel?
Price: I think the primary reason is because of the great sensitivity connected with this issue. The rebuilding of the temple, and even the temple mount itself, has the potential to ignite a conflagration in the Middle East of proportions of a third World War. We’ve already seen, October 8 of 1990, the temple mount incident in which there was a stoning of Jewish worshippers and retaliation by Israeli police. Seventeen Palestinian Arabs were killed. The UN condemned Israel, and as a result of that, Saddam Hussein used that as justification to say, “Israel is the real occupier. They’re the real aggressors in the Middle East.” And he launched the SCUD missile hoping to divert attention from his occupation of Kuwait and then draw the United States away from their Arab allies. And this kind of thing has that kind of potential. So on the Israeli side, there’s a desire to squelch any type of interest in this and downplay it, because they know that the Arabs take it very seriously and it could result in that kind of conflict.
Ankerberg: In order for the temple to be built, the Jews need to know exactly where it should be built. And this has been a matter of controversy for a number of years. And Randall, tell us first of all about the kind of history behind this search for where the temple should be at, what the speculation has been, and then now the bottom line is known. How did they come to discover exactly where the boundaries are at and where it should be built.
Price: Let me say first that, as we go back in the Old Testament to the original statements concerning the temple, as God promised that when His people were planted in the land that He had chosen for them and in the land of their inheritance, He would show them the place where He would establish His name. That was a particular place and that place in the providence of God became Mount Moriah where Abraham went and gave the sacrifice of his son Isaac and then eventually later David came to that same spot, knowing this history and the Scriptures, and there on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite established first erected the tabernacle and then later, through his son Solomon, built the temple. So, because of this precedent in Scripture, it has always been the understanding that the temple would always be on that site chosen by God.
So there’s no question that the temple needed to be on the temple mount. The question was, where on the temple mount? Because of the destructions of the temple, first of the temple in 586 BC and then again in 70 AD, there were a lot of destructions that caused rubble and things to fill in valleys and fill in landmarks. Fortunately, however, the platform, the raised platform called “Azarah” where the temple stood, remained intact—fortunately, because Byzantine Christians preserved that site. They did it because of their feeling that the Jews were disinherited by God, that He had cast them away; that when Jesus cursed the temple or at least said the temple will be left desolate, that was a curse and so that the temple should never be rebuilt. And they left that site in a state of ruins and built nothing on that site and in the providence of God actually preserved that site.
Later, when Islam came in in the 7th century, it also preserved that site by commemorating the site of the temple by building a little cupola that now today is called The Dome of the Rock. And that also has kept that site free from any building, so that in one sense the location of that platform is known. But the exact location of the temple on that platform was unknown.
Now, a hundred years ago, British excavators going to the Holy Land began to do different types of probes around the temple mount. They still had to work with the Turkish authorities at that time, but they were able to establish some details about where the temple might be. There were a number of conjectures about the temple being in the south or being to the west or being to the north.
Ankerberg: And one of the latest ones that I remember, even last year, was one fellow said, “Look, it’s a little bit away from the Dome of the Rock and so therefore we could have the Muslim Dome of the Rock there; we could still have the Jewish temple and we could even put up a Christian church there.” That sounded like the way we were going, but now that’s been disproven, and tell us what the bottom line is.
Price: Well, this was Dr. Asher Kaufman who is a physicist at the Racah Institute in Israel. And from his computations, not as an archaeologist, because no excavation could be done on the temple mount, but simply as a research physicist, he determined that the temple was probably about 330 feet north of the Dome of the Rock. And that would allow them possibly a temple and the mosque to remain standing.
Ankerberg: Why was he wrong?
Price: Well, he was wrong, primarily because not being an archaeologist he had no actual details to work with, no actual excavations that could be conducted. Neither did he have some of the clues that were there that he could use in his favor. Also, problems he had with where he wanted to place the temple, it was a deep valley, a fossa, that that temple would have actually fallen into, and also the difficulty that that temple was really not leaving room for some of the other structures we know accompanied that temple courtyard. So there were numerous problems. But archaeologists, also the chief architect of the temple mount excavations, Leen Ritmeyer, was doing research for a number of years and just published his doctoral dissertation at the Hebrew University. And his conclusion is that, after not doing excavation on the temple mount but determining the actual dimensions of that platform, where the walls were and from that, from the actual historical sources, knowing where the temple was located in relationship to those walls, came to the conclusion it was exactly on the site of the Dome of the Rock. So the Holy of Holies was over that rock itself called as-Sakhra, and the temple then was built around that. So it’s the first time in history that we have archaeological confirmation of the location of the site.
Ankerberg: Alright, for people that don’t know what the Dome of the Rock is, Dr. Breese, what is the Dome of the Rock?
Breese: The Dome of the Rock is a present Islamic worship center, sometimes called the Mosque of Omar, but its correct name is The Dome of the Rock. And it has quite a history. It is the object of a very, very deep passion on the part of the Muslim world. In fact, when the Crusades took place, this area was defended by Saladin, the Muhammad general. And the city of Jerusalem was lost to the Crusaders and the remaining Islamic fighters took refuge in the Dome of the Rock. And it is said that there was such a slaughter in this place that the blood ran out perhaps 18 inches deep from the doors. So it’s a place of blood and passion and worship, and it’s also ascribed by the world of Islam to be the place from which Muhammad ascended into heaven.
In fact, when you visit the Dome of the Rock you can put your hand in one of those places, and it’s purported that you are actually feeling the footprint of the horse that Muhammad was riding when he ascended into heaven.
So, it is perhaps the second most sacred site in all the Muslim world, second only to Medina, the birthplace of Muhammad. And therefore I think that it’s very difficult for us to comprehend the passion with which this area is contemplated, looked upon, both by the world of Islam as well as by the world of Israel. There is not going to be a satisfactory answer to the question of the temple, its location, until these passions are resolved and one point of view must triumph in order to bring that to pass.
Ankerberg: Randall, can you explain to the folks why this is an upper and a downer at the same time to know exactly where the spot is that needs to be built. Take either one.
Price: Well, it’s an upper because now there is the evidence that would allow for the rebuilding of the temple. And the downer is, there’s no way the rebuild the temple. The obstacle, one of the main obstacles to this time to rebuilding, is we didn’t know where. Unless one knew where the altar was, the Holy of Holies, really couldn’t begin that process. Now, with that information apparently confirmed, that could take place. Main obstacle, however, is that Muslim presence, that Dome of the Rock; because if it stands in the same place that the temple stands, one will have to go.
Ankerberg: Alright, now, we’re going to save till next week the impetus that could actually cause the Jews to rebuild the temple. And one of those things is besides the archaeological research that they’ve done to find out the foundations of exactly where the temple was at. You have had contact with some of the chief rabbis. And without letting the cat out of the bag here, the fact is, they’re talking about, they are saying they know where the Ark of the Covenant is actually at, okay? And we’ll save that till next week and the implications of that coming forth would have. But, Dave Hunt, summarize the importance of the temple and what does this mean in terms of prophecy. And why should a person that is listening to us consider biblical prophecy seriously and invest his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ if he hasn’t done that?
Hunt: Well, John, I’m just sitting here listening. This is fascinating to me for a number of reasons, one of them being, I’m almost laughing inside.
What in the world are we talking about temple for? And when you consider that Israel has a little postage stamp size of land, I think they have one-sixth of one percent of all the Arab land that the Arabs have around them. They don’t have any oil. Arabs have the oil. What in the world is the big struggle and all the importance of this? And not only that, this temple, this ancient thing and the Jews are New Agers, they’re atheists, about 80% of them you know, they don’t believe in God. Is that it? Got to be something more than that. And they can’t just stick this temple up in any old place. It’s got to be where the Holy of Holies was? It’s incredible. And yet the Bible said it would happen. I mean, this is actually happening in our modern world! It’s insane on one hand. It doesn’t sound like anything that intellectual Jewish people and not only Jewish people, the whole world, the world of Islam, the Christian world, and the Russians, everybody—atheists. You know that this controversy over this little area where this temple is and what it means to these people isn’t something you can just slough off and say, “Okay guys, hey, we’ll roll the dice and cut the cards and you know we’ll work it out this way.” This is a vital concern to the whole world! And it’s a fulfillment of prophecy and we better believe what God has said in every respect.
Ankerberg: Okay, next week we’re going to continue to talk about what the Bible says is going to happen in this fascinating area of Jerusalem at the temple. And we’re also going to talk about, if we’ve got a brick wall in the sense of this is where the Muslim mosque is at, how in the world could this ever be rebuilt? And we want to bring into play one item that is very, very important: the ark of the covenant. You saw it in The Raiders of the Lost Ark, and you saw Spielberg depict this, but we’re going to talk about what the Bible has to say about it. And does it really exist? And what’s the importance of it? And what would it mean to Israel if it’s found? Please join us next week.

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