Is Israel Ready to Rebuild the Temple? – Program 7

By: Dr. Randall Price, Dave Hunt, Dr. Dave Breese; ©1993
The Ark of the Covenant was very important to the Jews. What would it mean if the Ark was rediscovered? What about the red heifer?


A Review of the Evidence


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. Those who read their Bibles know that in that terrible time called the tribulation period, a world ruler called the Antichrist will surprisingly go to Israel and visit the Jewish temple and commit blasphemy there. The apostle Paul describes what that blasphemy will be in 2 Thessalonians 2, when he writes, “He opposes and exalts himself over everything that is called God or is worshipped, and even sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.”
Notice that the Bible talks about a Jewish temple being in existence when this event takes place. Today, Jews from around the world have congregated in Israel and formed a nation. They have recaptured their holy city, Jerusalem, and amazingly, they are now planning to rebuild their temple in Jerusalem. Through archaeological excavations they now know where they are to rebuild it. It must be built exactly where the Dome of the Rock, the Muslim mosque, now sits. But if the Muslim mosque went down and the Jews started to rebuild their temple, this could cause World War III. So how will it come about?
One very important catalyst could be the Ark of the Covenant. What would happen if the Ark of the Covenant were brought out of secret and into the public limelight? This brings us to the question: Do Jewish rabbis in Israel today know where the Ark of the Covenant is? Have they seen it? That’s what we’re going to find out in today’s program. For those of you who have not seen our previous programs, we will begin with a short summary and then, we’ll conclude with the questions that people in our audience asked concerning this important topic. Let’s begin.

Ankerberg: Randall, bring us up to date from what we said last week and primarily that these prophecies in the Scripture that surround the temple, we were talking about 2 Thessalonians 2. A lot of Christians know that that portion, Paul says that someday the Antichrist is actually going to come to the Middle East. He’s going to go into the Jewish temple. So there’s got to be a Jewish temple there. And he’s going to blaspheme and claim that he’s God, alright? So it’s got to be there if that’s going to take place. And you were talking about last week that not only is there a lot of interest in Israel concerning the rebuilding of the temple, but the fact is, now a couple of key questions have been answered that there’s been speculation on before, namely the Jews now know for sure, absolutely certain, where the temple should be rebuilt. Just summarize that for the folks last week that missed the program.
Price: Well, based on the archaeological results of Dr. Leen Ritmeyer who recently released his work based on his doctoral dissertation, they concluded that the Dome of the Rock, that Islamic structure that sits just to the southwest of the temple mount, is the exact location where the temple, both in the time of Jesus and in the time of Solomon, stood. Based on that kind of information, now there’s the possibility of building the temple on the correct place. The difficulty is that that cannot be carried out at the present time due to the very presence of the Islamic structure.
Ankerberg: Okay, so the bad news is that the whole Arab World is watching what could take place there. Yet, Israel now knows where the spot is at. Now, if it’s there, we’re at a stalemate, it would seem. How in the world could the Jews ever rebuild when you’ve got the whole Arab world watching and this could just spark off World War III if that was somehow started to be destroyed and they started to build the temple? So the question is, what’s going to motivate that to take place? One of the sleepers, as I call it, that’s out there that people have speculated a lot about, which I find fascinating, is this thing of the Ark of the Covenant. Talk about this, first of all, from Scripture. Why is the Ark of the Covenant important to the Jewish people, and if this comes forth in our day, what will it mean to Israel?
Price: We go back in Scripture to 1 Kings 8 where Solomon dedicated the temple. He gives us a little bit of the idea from the theology of the temple why the Ark of the Covenant is so important. In 1 Kings 8:27 he said, “But indeed shall God dwell on earth? Behold, heaven and highest heavens cannot contain Thee much less this house which I have built.” His point is that an earthly structure, how can it contain the eternal God? And yet that was the very purpose for that structure. God’s presence was manifested in that place.
In the very beginning when the tabernacle was erected, the term for tabernacle, mishkan, means a dwelling place, and even the word temple itself means a house. And so it’s looking at a structure which housed this Ark which was the place where God’s visible presence was manifested. The Ark itself was simply a box within which was contained three elements: the tables of stone which were broken at Sinai which have on it the commandments of God; a pot of manna, one of the last remnants of that particular provision of God to the Israelites in the wilderness; and then the staff of Aaron which had budded because it was a competition between he and Korah over who was actually the priest of God. Each of those elements represented some sort of defiance against the will of God—as a result, represented human sin.
Above that was a flat area called the Mercy Seat, and upon that the blood was poured. And it was that beautiful picture to all of Israel of the redemption that God would provide. As those cherubim, these angelic creatures that were represented over the Ark, looked down into that box, all they saw was human sin. But when the blood covered that over the Mercy Seat, why God’s presence which dwelt above it, it was hidden, covered by the blood. So it became a beautiful picture of what God intended to do as He sent the Messiah.
So that becomes a very important object for Israel in terms of worship. And wherever the Ark was, God seemed to be present, whether it be in warfare or it be there at the tabernacle or the temple itself. Now, as we move forward in history, particularly for history as we looked at 2 Thessalonians 2, it says that the Antichrist will seat himself in the temple displaying himself as God. Well, the Ark of the Covenant was the place where God’s presence was displayed, and to seat himself in that place and display himself as God might require that the Ark of the Covenant be present, so that he would seat himself in relationship to that, not be harmed in any way, and that would be one of the greatest testimonies to Israel that indeed a God was present with them.
As we go back to the Old Testament, there may be an expectation of this in one of the Prophets. In Jeremiah 3:14-17. It’s written in the context of the time period of the establishment of the kingdom of God, Messianic rule, when Christ has returned already physically to this earth and set up His earthly reign. Verse 17 says, “at that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord, and all the nations will be gathered to it [Jerusalem] for the name of the Lord, nor shall they walk any more in the stubbornness of their evil heart.” And so we have that picture of Israel re-gathered, regenerated, and now brought to that place to worship the Lord who now Himself physically is present in Jerusalem. :
But the verse before that has been very cryptic to a lot of interpreters. It says, “And it shall be in those days when you are multiplied and increased in the land, declares the Lord, that they shall say no more the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord, and it shall not come to mind, nor shall they remember it, nor shall they miss it, nor shall it be made again.” Because with the Lord physically present, there is no need for an Ark to represent that presence. He has fulfilled all of its types, and so He takes its place. And so there’s no need to remember it or to miss it or to search for it. But the verse implies that the time just prior to that there would be a great bevy of activity of people searching for the Ark, concerned with the Ark, expecting the Ark, and that would be the period of the tribulation. But the Ark is there and all of the concern for it.
And we see in our present time an excitement over the Ark of the Covenant, whether we go back to Indiana Jones and all of the search for the lost ark or look at some of the things in the paper today with Vendyl Jones and excavations at Qumran, all of these things together show that throughout the papers and throughout the media there’s a concern over this historical object.
Ankerberg: Yes, in brief what you’re saying is that the Scripture sets it up that those that will live in those last days, there’s going to be talk, maybe the Ark itself will show up and be present, alright? Now, bring us to what you’ve heard in Israel because we’ve only got a few minutes left in this program. Is that the case?
Price: If the Ark came, it couldn’t be put in a museum; it would have to be housed in within a structure such as the temple—the only proper place for it; the only sanctified place for it.
Ankerberg: So basically—let’s stop right there—what you’re saying is that if somehow the Ark was discovered, the Jews couldn’t keep that in a museum, you’d want to have the temple. And all of a sudden you’d have a grand motivating factor for rebuilding the temple, at least among in Israel, right?
Price: Yes. It would exacerbate tremendously the Arab-Israeli conflict, because now you would have the historical verification to the right of Israel to that particular spot, and beyond that, of course, would unite world Jewry and bring them together.
Ankerberg: Okay, we’ve got three minutes left, now what have you found out?
Price: Okay. What we found is that in 1981, when excavators were doing their work at the Western Wall, underneath, right where the Wailing Wall is but down underground along the original line of that wall, that two of the chief rabbis of Israel, Yehuda Getz and Shlomo Goren were involved with students and clearing some of that rubble. And discovered a passageway that had been discovered a hundred years previously but had been lost through time, and found this gateway that led originally to the temple mount near to the Holy of Holies. As they went through this passageway, they described that they came to another chamber that led to a secret room in which they believe from historical Jewish tradition and documents the Ark of the Covenant lay deposited. They had not said that they actually physically saw it, but they said, “We were close to it. We could have touched it. We wanted to go in but it was not the time.” But they say, “We know where it is without any hesitation.” So that is what has been said today by leading figures in Israel, and there seems to be good historical and archaeological confirmation of it.
Ankerberg: Now, after listening to this information about the Ark of the Covenant, what questions come to your mind? Here’s what the folks in our audience asked.
Audience: My question is for Randall Price. They were afraid to go into the chamber that the Ark was in. In light of what Jesus did on the cross, do they need to fear God’s presence dwelling there over the Ark.?
Price: I don’t think God’s presence is dwelling over the Ark. I think simply two things: first, a reverence for the object and no suitable place to put it. The rabbis told me, said, “If we brought it out, what would we do with it?” Second thing is the act of ceremonial cleansing. They are not ceremonially pure. No one in Israel is ceremonially pure. There’s no one who can act and officiate as a priest in temple worship today because they’ve not been cleansed. That’s why the temple cannot be built, because this means of cleansing is not available. And so to touch the Ark would be to defile that which is a holy object, and so they have to leave it where it is until this means is presented.
Audience: Dr. Price, when the ashes of the red heifer are discovered, are they used for some act of cleansing in the temple?
Price: As Acts 19 tells us that these ashes of the red heifer, this special, particular red heifer, was mixed with water and then used for cleansing for all the vessels and for the priests who offered the sacrifice. So it was absolutely necessary. Now, the interesting thing is, the original ashes do not have to be discovered. It was a perpetual statute that this ordinance be enacted, but those particular ashes were not perpetual. In other words, there’s no connection between the ashes that were originally used and we don’t have to find those original ashes. Some people believe that’s why the search for the ashes today. It’s the Israeli belief that they can develop a strain of red heifer. They have actually, on the Mississippi ranch of Clyde Lott, found candidates that would be suitable. They’re looking in other places as well and could develop these heifers in Israel themselves and begin from that point.
Audience: My question is to Randall. The story about the Ark of the Covenant, the son of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba who was visiting his father for his education and wanted to take the Ark back with him to protect it because the country was in unrest, and Solomon made a duplicate supposedly according to the legend or whatever, and the son went and took the original Ark to Ethiopia with him, leaving the duplicate there. I would like you to comment on that. And also, if that is true, then if they do take the Ark that’s under the temple mount that is possibly the fake Ark up, then no one would be struck dead from touching it because it wouldn’t be the real Ark.
Price: It’s my opinion that the real Ark is under the temple mount and the replica is the one that was taken by Menelik I to Ethiopia. The Ethiopian legend is just that; it’s legendary. I don’t discount that Ethiopians came in contact with Jews and that there was certainly a connection here that brought Judaism to Ethiopia because we see a great deal about it. Even a temple was perhaps built at Elephantine by Ethiopians on their way back to Ethiopia. But the accounts themselves talk about these people who left Israel with Menelik coming back floating above the waters and floating, as it were, above the clouds. And it’s a very legendary account as contrasted with the Jewish records and the Talmud.
In the Mishnah we have Middot, which means measurement since it has direct measurements which we can verify historically archaeologically. In the tractate called Shekalim, which deals with where the Ark is located and how in the past that was uncovered by people right after the time of Jesus when the temple was still standing. It has directions and it’s basically borne itself out as being a much more accurate and authentic document.
The thing is that nowadays it’s been said—and I mention Grant Jeffries, a friend of mine—and Grant is the one who popularized this thought even though Bloomfield and others published it before that. He has said now that the Ethiopian Falashas returning to Israel have brought the Ark of the Covenant with them and it now is in Jerusalem. And I don’t have any documentation on that. I’m not entirely sure of his. But in any case, there is an Ark in Israel. If it was a replica, if it was authentic, I have no idea how they would know that. But my feeling is that the true Ark is in the temple mount as history records.
Breese: Maybe one detail should be mentioned. Under the laws of evidence in any legal situation, evidence, a given entity must be in the hands of certified custodians from point A when it was taken to point B when it is used as evidence in the trial. If there is a period of time in which it is not in the hands of the certified custodians and its whereabouts is unknown, it loses its value as evidence. Is this the same gun as this one? And therefore I concur that there’s going to have to be if there is a real Ark some miraculous thing that will certify that as being the real Ark; otherwise, how would we know it’s not a counterfeit or something like that?

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