Is Israel Ready to Rebuild the Temple? – Program 3
| October 2, 2013 |
|By: Dr. Randall Price, Dave Hunt, Dr. Dave Breese; ©1993|
|Some in the Church today say that Israel has no role to play in future prophetic events? Why have they reached that conclusion?|
Is Israel Included in Prophecy?
- 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.
- 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 talking about world events and biblical prophecy, and specifically, one event that seems to be coming into being: the rebuilding of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. It hasn’t been started yet, but is there talk? Are people making plans? How long would it take? Do they know where they should put the temple? If they put it there, what would happen? What would be the ramifications? What does the Bible say will eventually take place even if we can’t figure it out? These are the things that we’re talking about.
- Dr. Breese, let me start with you again, and let’s talk about those Christians that, when we are referring to the rebuilding of the temple and actually including Israel in prophetic end-time results and so on, they’re saying it doesn’t matter. Israel is not really included. That really, somewhere along the line the promises that were made to Israel were switched over to the Church. And therefore Israel, it doesn’t matter what’s going on there, that doesn’t have anything to do with biblical prophecy. Maybe give us a couple of examples of that and then tell us why you disagree with that line of thinking.
- Breese: It is true that we have within Christianity today a view that’s emergent as of now that says God is entirely finished with Israel and all of those promises that God made to Israel now devolve upon the Church. This question: “Has God cast away His people?” was treated head-on by the apostle Paul in Romans 11, because he knew that this would be a question of terrific importance to the nation of Israel Paul had to deal with in the New Testament, and we must deal with it today. So, the proof of God’s continued program with the nation of Israel, Paul beautifully spells out in three chapters, Romans 9, 10 and 11. So, I believe we must reject the view as being scripturally insufficient that the Church is Israel and that’s the end of it and there’s a kind of a spiritual transmigration of the physical promises God made to Israel.
- And, by the way, in connection with the actual physical things of the temple as I’ve been listening and participating, it occurs to me that that must have been an awesome moment when the Roman army broke through in 70 AD and destroyed the city and the sanctuary. They burned the temple, and when they came back to examine it, to sack it after the burning, they discovered to their chagrin that the fires had melted the gold and made it run down in between the large stones and even into the aqueduct beneath the temple. And so they had to pull it apart to get the gold that would be lost otherwise. So there came to pass in precise fulfillment the words of Christ when He said, “I tell you, there’s coming a day when [concerning this temple] there will not be one stone left upon another.”
- Now, the Jews looked back at that as being the end of that era of blessing and the beginning of their time of desolation; therefore, in my opinion, they will anticipate with an inconsolable longing, with a feeling beyond describing, the day when that will be reversed and the temple will be rebuilt; and then they can use this and know that this is evidence of God’s renewed program with them, and by them, blessings to all the world. If the casting away of Israel meant salvation to the Gentiles, what shall their restoration be but life from the dead? That new temple will be significant to the nation of Israel, but it will also be to the whole world the evidence of life from the dead that comes from God.
- Ankerberg: Okay, Dave Hunt, what we’re doing is, we’re talking about the reality of the temple being built, possibly in our own day. People are planning for it in Israel; they have now nailed down the actual place where it ought to be rebuilt. We’ve talked a little bit about the Ark of the Covenant. They’re talking about, they think they know where that’s at. They could bring that forth. This would be a great motivating item to Israel, because that was supposed to be placed in the temple. You don’t put the Ark of the Covenant into a museum. But the fact is, if all of that’s not really what Scripture is talking about, then it’s just kind of interesting news. Go back to some of these chapters and verses in the New Testament that are being reinterpreted. Give us some examples why it’s absolutely not correct to interpret it the way they are, that Israel is the Church. Why can the Church not be Israel in certain passages?
- Hunt: Well, John, I’d like to even go back farther than that to the Old Testament. I would just like to say that God has made certain promises, and if He doesn’t fulfill those promises, He’s a liar. If He doesn’t make good on these promises, how can you trust Him on anything else?
- You asked for the New Testament. Let’s take a New Testament promise. When the angel Gabriel came to Mary, he said, “That holy thing that shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” and what? “and upon the throne of his father David I will establish him forever.” Now, that goes back to 2 Samuel 7, and God says, verse 10, “Moreover, I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them that they may dwell in a place of their own and move no more, neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more.”
- Now, you can’t get away from that. I mean, I can give you all kinds of such scriptures in the Old Testament. Ezekiel 38 and 39 where He says, “They will be known as my people and I will be in their midst.” One of the reasons why I believe Ezekiel 38 and 39 are talking about Armageddon is because He says, “They will never disobey me, they will never dishonor my name from that time forth.” If God says the time is coming when He’s going to put Israel in their land and they will never ever be removed, then that hasn’t happened yet, and you can’t say that they’ve been cast off as he (Dave Breese) quoted from Romans 11, “Hath God cast off his people?” No.
- Then he says in the verse that he quoted—and he kind of went over it fast; I don’t know if people caught it—but if the falling of Israel was the salvation of the Gentiles, what will be their fullness? So he’s talking about a day when there will be the fullness of Israel once again. And Israel is the earthly people. You’re going to have to have the Messiah ruling on His throne and the temple is going to be there, I believe. Ezekiel talks about a temple and maybe Randy can tell us something about that.
- Ankerberg: Okay, Randy.
- Price: Even beyond Ezekiel, in chapters 40 through 48, talking about the temple that would be restored in the future, Zechariah 14 speaks of the fact that all of the nations of that time will be brought up to Jerusalem to worship the Lord at the Feast of Booths or the Feast of Tabernacles, which is one of the festivals that must take place in conjunction with the temple. And then it goes on to talk about how, if they do not do that, there will be a punishment that follows upon those nations. So that in the future, all nations will be included within some type or form of temple worship with the Lord Jesus Christ present. It’s a very fascinating thing.
- Hunt: If I could just interject for a second. As Hal Lindsey sometimes humorously says, “You’ve got to go through spiritual alchemy to make that mean the Church.” I mean, this involves the land of Israel, Messiah reigning, and the temple there.
- Price: Let me say something. We’ve been talking about Romans 11. In Romans 11:28, Paul is explaining about the distinction between Gentiles—who we have to say make up the majority of the Church, the believing Church—and Jews. And he says, from the standpoint of the Gospel, they’re enemies for your sake. But from the standpoint of God’s choice, they’re beloved for the sake of the fathers. His point is that God made promises, as Dave said, to Abraham. It was an Abrahamic covenant that must be fulfilled entirely in a land. And those promises are not made to a church and a church cannot fill those out. There’s no spiritual way that that could be translated. Only Israel can fulfill those promises. And then the passage goes on to say, just as Gentiles have been brought into the present time and shown mercy, so they will be brought in at a later time and also shown mercy. So we have two peoples and two purposes, and not fulfilled within the Church but fulfilled separately from it.
- Ankerberg: Alright, if the Scripture is clear that Israel has certain things that is going to happen to that nation and it’s still up ahead; and one of them is that their temple is going to be rebuilt and certain events are going to take place in that temple. What I want you to share with them, Randall, is the fact of, being over there in Jerusalem, you have found out that they have got blueprints basically for the temple. You’ve got some plans right on you there that are in Hebrew. You’ve also told me some fascinating things about how long it would take for the Jews, once they decided to put up a temple, how long would it take them to get it up? Talk to that.
- Price: Let me say, it would be presumptuous to say that all of the problems have been solved and that the temple could be built tomorrow. But we see how quickly events in this world come about—the collapse of the Soviet Union, the fall of the Berlin Wall—these type of things could be resolved very quickly.
- We have a Temple Institute in Jerusalem which has a team of researchers and architects who are working at computers trying to establish all of the accurate plans for the rebuilding of the temple. They’ve commissioned these architects at great expense to prepare these blueprints. Now, some of the plans I have in my hand are simply more simplified plans, but they’re preliminary work showing that the directions for the building of the temple, how they would put up a temporary edifice, if not ultimately the temple that Ezekiel had in his vision. And that, of course, is the temple they expect.
- The quarries for the stones for the temple are right there on the temple mount. That’s where all the stones were brought from, so there’s no distance to haul the stones. There’s no need to bring them from Indiana or someplace like this.
- The technology for doing this is already in place. They figured out how to use electricity within the temple, which was something that didn’t exist when the temple stood in the days of Christ. All of these types of problems have been worked out. When the temple can be rebuilt, I am told that, for a temporary edifice, the type of thing they’re looking at for a functioning temple, they could put up within six months.
- Ankerberg: Why is it okay to put up a temporary temple? What basis in Jewish history do we have for saying that?
- Price: Well, in Jewish rabbinical theology there is the understanding that the temple must descend from heaven with fire and be established by the Messiah. And this is something that will happen ultimately as the kingdom is established by Messiah. And the temple for that kingdom is also brought.
- But at the same time, in Jewish tradition, Maimonides, who is one of the codifiers of the Jewish Mishnah, one of their important law codes, said that it’s the responsibility and the obligation of Jews whenever it is possible to build the temple to build it. And so we cannot wait for a Messiah to appear, we must put some kind of intermediate structure up until the time He Himself comes.
- There are others who feel very strongly that He will not come unless this is done. In a sense, they will force the hand of Messiah, and their purpose in doing so is to in a sense provoke heaven to act on their behalf. They go back to statements in Midrash, which is interpretation of Jewish stories, and they say, “The Red Sea didn’t part for the Israelites until they put one foot into it. When they set that foot there, then God parted it.” Well, in the same way God will not send the Messiah; the ultimate temple of Ezekiel’s vision which will be a house of prayer for all nations will not come about until we do our part. And so the research and so the preparations at the present time.
- Ankerberg: Dave Breese, we have, for people that have just joined us this week, they don’t know why we are spending so much time talking about the rebuilding of the temple, where it should be built, what this would mean to the Jews. Let’s go back and briefly summarize for biblical eschatology, for end-time events, why is this so crucial? What’s going to take place if the temple is up?
- Breese: The story of the Bible generally is that God has attempted to reveal Himself through various progressive ways. He revealed Himself through the judges, and He revealed Himself through the patriarchs in the early days of the Old Testament. And then He chose a nation, and that nation was to be a great testimony as to the reality of God, the fact that He blesses those that serve Him. And to this, the nation of Israel was commissioned. And God said, “You are the apple of my eye.” And the promise in a hundred places in the Old Testament was that God would pour upon Israel the capability of witnessing to His name for the whole world. Israel fell into a time of blindness when the Messiah came to redeem Israel and the world and rejected Him.
- So, the current age in the midst of which we are living is the time in which God’s program with Israel has been set aside until a particular time. I think to answer the question, “Where is Israel today, and what is this whole situation about?” Paul explains this by saying, “For I would not, brethren, that you be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own conceit: that blindness in part has happened to Israel until”—that means it’s within a time frame—“blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.” So, as we see the maturing of God’s program with the Gentiles—calling out of the Gentiles a people for His name: the Church, which is the Body of Christ—then we can sense that we are approaching that moment also described by Paul when he says, “And so all Israel shall be saved. As it is written, there shall come out of Zion the Deliverer.”
- Now we mean by that, of course, “all” believing Israel. Israel will be given the opportunity, seeing their Messiah, to receive Him. They will say, “Whenst are these wounds in thine hands?” He shall say, “These are the wounds with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.” And the Bible says, Zechariah 13, “There shall be a fountain of cleansing open to Israel.” That’s a beautiful moment.
- So, the construct of prophecy for the end-times particularly revolves around the nation of Israel; and that revelation that God will make to Israel particularly revolves around the restoration of Jewish worship, the temple. And I concur that a tremendous trigger mechanism to all of this would be the discovery of the Ark of the Covenant, but the ultimate reality will be when Christ the Messiah returns. Israel, in my opinion, needs to beware of three princes: the prince of Rosh, “the prince that shall come,” and particularly, Messiah the Prince. When Messiah the Prince comes, it will be a cause for infinite rejoicing for the nation of Israel and for the whole world in the process.
- Ankerberg: Dave Hunt, there are still some that say, “I don’t believe that Israel is part of end-time events.” What can you say to those folks?
- Hunt: John, if that’s true, then Satan has a stalemate with God. That’s the reason why he would like to destroy Israel. In my opinion, that’s a form of anti-Semitism. The ultimate anti-Semitism is to destroy Israel. If Israel could be destroyed, then God can’t fulfill the prophecies. I quoted one earlier in Luke. Let me just read it again. The Angel Gabriel said, “He shall be called the Son of the Highest and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David. And He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever and ever and of His kingdom there shall be no end.” You can’t escape that! It says that the Messiah will come and physically rule over Israel in Jerusalem.
- Now, if we’re going to say, “No, Israel is finished; the Church is Israel,” I mean, is the Church then going to occupy Palestine? Is Christ going to rule over us on the throne of His father David in Jerusalem? No. And if you could destroy Israel, then Satan has a stalemate with God, because God can’t fulfill His prophecies He promised.
- And I read the Scripture again, and let me just give you another one here, Ezekiel 38 and 39. For example, He says in verse 22 of chapter 39: “So the house of Israel shall know that I am the Lord their God from that day forward.” Verse 7: “I will make my holy name known in the midst of my people Israel and I will not let them pollute my holy name any more.” This hasn’t happened. “Neither shall I hide my face any more from them. They will know that I am the Lord.”
- And He goes on and talks about how the heathen will come to Israel and Israel will be established in its land; they will never disobey Him again. And the Messiah will rule over them. That has never happened.
- And you can’t possibly fulfill that in a church of Gentile believers who have nothing to do with Israel and nothing to do with that aspect of the Messiah. So, on the one hand you’ve got the Hitlers who want to destroy the Jews, kill them; and the PLO and so forth right in their charter the destruction of Israel; and the thing that binds all the Muslims together is to destroy Israel; then on the other hand you have people who say they are Christians, and they say, “Israel is destroyed! They’re wiped out.” They’ve got nothing… In my opinion, it’s one and the same thing, it has the same result, and it will not allow God to fulfill His Scriptures. But He will fulfill His Scriptures.
- Ankerberg: Okay, next week, we’ve been talking about the temple and we’ve been talking about a period of time when certain events would take place, namely, the Antichrist would have some business that he would do in the temple and blaspheme it, desecrate it. Before that takes place, though, if we can see signs of that coming, we believe in scripture there are other things that are going to take place before that takes place. And we want to talk about the rapture. We want to talk about this period of time that Jesus called the tribulation period. We want to define terms: Who is the Antichrist? What is he going to do and how does he relate to this Jewish temple that we’ve been talking about that Israel is getting excited about building? All of that. Dr. Breese, in a quick summation, what should this mean to the folks that are listening?
- Breese: To everyone who is listening, this should be a cause of great excitement. In the world, the Bible says, there will be deterioration, evil men and seducers shall become worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But when we read the Scripture, we read that when one trusts Jesus Christ as personal Savior, he has God’s gift of everlasting life; he is delivered from this present evil world. And given the set of events that are breaking upon us now, in my judgment looking at these, we should be greatly constrained to look up for a redemption that draws nigh. The Bible says, “When you see these things BEGIN to come to pass”—not end, begin to come to pass—“lift up your heads and look up because your redemption draws nigh” (Luke 21:28). My, if there’s a person within the sound of our voices who does not know Christ, they should say “Yes” to Jesus Christ now while there is still time. And for every one of us as believers, seeing what’s happening in our present world and seeing it to be so consonant with what the Bible teaches, we should be earnest witnesses for Christ as never before. Then we’ll get the chance when we stand before Jesus to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of thy Lord” (Matthew 25:21).
- Ankerberg: Next week we’re going to talk about the events that are transpiring around biblical prophecy concerning the temple, and I hope that you’ll join us.