Divinely Planned Obsolescence

Why the Temple in Jerusalem will never be rebuilt and how the Sacrifice of the Mass is “the source and summit of evangelization”.

Immaculate Conception Church, Millhousen, United States (Kenny Stier/Unsplash.com)

As we begin a new liturgical year, Sunday’s Gospel reminds us not simply to prepare for the commemoration of Jesus’ birth, but also for Christ’s Second Coming and thus our own ultimate purpose to help make disciples of all nations (Mt. 28:18-20) and reign with our Lord and his Church Triumphant forever in heaven:

Jesus said to his disciples: “Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time will come. 34 It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Watch therefore—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning— lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: ‘Watch’” (Mk. 13:33-37; Gospel, First Sunday of Advent, Year B).

The Church understands Jesus’ Second Coming will be precisely that: A Second and Final Coming in which Christ will definitively judge the living and the dead at the Last Judgment (CCC 1038-41). This doctrine is sometimes called “amillennialism,” which recognizes that the reign of Christ the King began with his earthly ministry, including the founding of his Catholic Church, and that Jesus continues his reign through his Church until he comes again at the climax of the world. The Church’s teaching stands in stark contrast to the popular, latter-day Protestant view of premillenialism, which holds that Jesus will return to earth and have a literal 1,000-year reign. Included in that proposed reign will be the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem, which was destroyed in A.D. 70, and the accompanying reinstitution therein of Old Covenant sacrifices.

This premillennial perspective was prominently promoted in Hal Lindsey’s 1970 mega-bestseller The Late Great Planet Earth, as well in the Left Behind books and movies of more recent vintage.

But Lindsey and likeminded Christians, who continue to preach the rebuilding of the Temple, are, along with some well-meaning Jews, mistaken. The great and sad irony is that these Christians undermine the biblically based, New Covenant work of Jesus, who in his one Sacrifice of Calvary fulfilled and thus made obsolete the Old Covenant sacrifices (Heb. 8:6-7, 13), which had to be offered at the Temple in Jerusalem.

In the Old Covenant, only the high priest could go beyond the great Temple curtain to have intimate communion with God in the holy of holies, and only once a year on the Day of Atonement (see Lev. 16). When Jesus dies on the Cross, this Temple veil is torn in two—from top to bottom (Mt. 27:51)—signifying that humanity can now draw near to God as partakers of his divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4), beginning at Baptism and continuing through the regular reception of his glorified Body and Blood at Mass (1 Cor. 10:16-17; 11:23-32; Jn. 6:47-59).

The Letter to the Hebrews makes clear that Jesus definitively ended the need for the repetitive animal sacrifices of Temple worship, when he suffered and died once for all (Heb. 7:27). In doing so, he culminated his one Sacrifice of Calvary in everlasting glory in the heavenly sanctuary, not a mere earthly one, (Hebrews 8:1-3; 9:11-12, 23-24); and he makes that Sacrifice present on earth “as a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek,” (Heb. 5:6; see Heb. 5:5-10; 7:23-26;), i.e., under the appearances of bread and wine (see Gen. 14:18-20; Mt. 26:26-29). (I explain all this in greater detail in both The Biblical Roots of the Mass and What Did Jesus Do?: The Biblical Roots of the Catholic Church.)

So to think that God would authorize the reinstitution of Temple sacrifices is to misunderstand his salvific work and also, unwittingly, blaspheme Jesus, who rendered void the need for such inferior sacrifices (Heb. 9:11-12, 23-28).

Been there, done that

Many Christians mistakenly believe that the biggest obstacle in rebuilding the Temple is the major international conflict that would result from having to destroy the Islamic Dome of the Rock. While some Jews and Muslim argue that the Dome of the Rock could be spared in rebuilding the sacrificial heart of the Temple, the whole argument is—charitably stated—moot.

In short, there is something much greater to fear than mere human opposition, however formidable, in attempting to rebuild the Temple, as a Roman emperor dramatically learned one day. As noted, the Temple had fulfilled its prefiguring purpose in salvation history, and its destruction by the Romans within a generation of Christ’s Ascension sorrowfully fulfilled Jesus’ prophecy that the Old Covenant sacrificial system would come to a cataclysmic end (see Mt. 24:1-2).

Almost 300 years later, the Roman Emperor Julian set out to refute Jesus and his New Covenant. He had developed a burning hatred of Christianity, apparently initiated at age six when a previous Christian emperor had directed the killing of most of the male members of his family. The young man subsequently repudiated Catholicism and thus became known in history as “Julian the Apostate.” As the Roman emperor, Julian decided to discredit Jesus Christ and his Catholic Church once and for all.

His plan? Rebuild the Temple and reinstitute its Old Covenant sacrifices, thus nullifying Jesus’ words in Matthew 24:1-2 that the Temple would be destroyed and be replaced by worshipped centered on him (see Jn. 2:18-22; 6:47-59). The “gates of hell” would thereby not only prevail against Jesus’ Church (see Mt. 16:18-19), but against Jesus himself.

As one historian describes the emperor’s attempt, “The high priest of the Hellenes would embarrass the God of the Galileans on His own terrain, making Him out to be a charlatan.”1 The Church could do nothing but invoke God’s aid. As Joseph Stalin once asked derisively, “The Pope! How many divisions does he got?”2 A rather omnipotent army of One, as Julian would soon discover. Historian Giuseppe Ricciotti retells the dramatic story as it unfolded:

After he made his decision, Julian entrusted its execution to Alypius, a trustworthy individual. . . . The events which followed would be almost incredible if they were not attested with substantial agreement by Julian’s pagan friend Ammianus, by the Arian Philostorgius, and by orthodox Christians such as Rufinus, Socrates, Theodoret, [and the Church Father] Gregory Nazianzen. . . . According to Ammianus, Julian allotted enormous sums for the enterprise. . . .

Toward the close of 362, however, violent earthquakes occurred along the Palestinian coast [and elsewhere]. . . . Jerusalem also suffered from these great tremors. Recently cleared portions of the temple area were at times littered with ruins caused by the earthquakes. On one occasion a violent tremor caused the collapse of a portico upon a large number of workmen, some of whom were killed, though others found refuge in a neighboring church.

Despite this, the project was pursued vigorously. Here we must leave the account to our neutral witness, Ammianus: “But though Alypius pushed the work forward energetically, and though he was assisted by the governor of the province, frightful balls of flame kept bursting forth near the foundations of the temple, and some were even burned to death. And since the elements persistently drove them back, Julian gave up the attempt.”3

Profiting from our Jewish brothers and sisters

Some have argued that petroleum has infrequently seeped to the surface of the Dead Sea, as has been recorded in history, and that this would provide a natural explanation to the admittedly unusual events of 362 in Jerusalem. But those who argue thus must realize that the Dead Sea lies 1,290 feet below the Mediterranean Sea, while the Temple Mount is 2,500 feet above the Mediterranean and also more than 25 miles from the Dead Sea!

And the remarkable events of 362 regarding the Temple were so stunning that the most powerful man in the world decided to give up his zealous enterprise, and these wondrous happenings have never been replicated since.

The events of A.D. 70 and 362 serve as covenant exclamation points that the New Covenant has indeed fulfilled the Old (see CCC 66-67). Still, Catholics should not view these events as reason to celebrate Israel’s downfall, lest they endure a much harsher divine judgment themselves.4 Nor should they invoke events of nearly 2,000 years as justifying virulent prejudices today. Anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism are, in fact, invariably anti-Catholic. As Pope XI noted about Jews and Catholics, “Spiritually, we are all Semites,”5 the beneficiaries of God’s covenant plan to make a universal blessing of the nation of Israel (Gen. 12:1-2; 22:18)6 through his Jewish Son (Mt. 1:1). Jesus himself reminds us that “salvation is from the Jews” (Jn. 4:22), and the biblical story of the Mass incontrovertibly testifies to the privileged role that the Jewish people have played in salvation history (see Rom. 9:3-5).

While the Church speaks of herself as the restored “Israel of God” (Gal. 6:11-16), God has certainly not abandoned those Jews who continue to profess the Old Covenant, even though its sacrifices cannot be offered. He desires them, as he desires all men and women, to freely embrace Christ and his New Covenant as members of his Catholic Church (see CCC 836, 839-40). The Messiah came to save all mankind, particularly those who share his heritage as an Israelite (see Mt. 1:21; 10:6, 15:24; CCC 438; 528).7

To participate fruitfully in this saving mission to both Jews and the world in general (Mt. 28:18-20), Catholics en masse must make knowing, living, and sharing their faith the unambiguous, number-one life priority it should be. They must truly seek God’s kingdom first in their lives (Mt. 6:33), setting aside soul-sapping modern distractions so they can understand well and passionately convey the biblical story of the Mass. While Mary, the Pope and the Eucharist are typically the three major obstacles that prospective converts must overcome, the roles of the Mother of God and the Vicar of Christ are more easily negotiated when seen in light of the foundational, saving work of our Eucharistic Lord. As Pope St. John Paul II reminds us, the mission of Christ and his Church is primarily conveyed and carried out in the celebration of the Sacrifice of the Mass, implicitly reaffirming the pointlessness of trying to rebuild the Temple:

From the perpetuation of the sacrifice of the Cross and her communion with the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist, the Church draws the spiritual power needed to carry out her mission. The Eucharist thus appears as both the source and the summit of all evangelization, since its goal is the communion of mankind with Christ and in him with the Father and the Holy Spirit.8

If people come to know and believe in Jesus Christ, and how his saving work is profoundly continued in the Mass, the rest of the doctrinal dominoes will follow. Yet, testifying to the Truth in word must be coupled with witnessing to the Incarnate Word in deed. The example of ancient Israel bears emulating. Ancient Israelites yearned to pierce the veil of the Temple’s most holy place, consistently approaching God with reverential fear. Today, Catholics pierce that sacred veil on a regular basis, yet frequently commune with the Real Presence of the Eucharistic God-man in a casual and sometimes irreverent manner.

As St. John Paul II has exhorted, Catholics must become more like the One they worship, reverently offering themselves with Christ’s Sacrifice to the Father at Mass; receiving frequent Holy Communion; spending time with their Beloved in Eucharistic adoration; and making regular spiritual communions, 9 so that the world might better know that Jesus is truly Lord. If Catholics begin to see the Mass as the most profound and intimate communion with almighty God that is possible on earth, unworthy reception of the Eucharist will end overnight, liturgical abuses will cease; and the world will be won over to Christ, who will lead us to our ultimate and everlasting Communion in the heavenly sanctuary, when the sacramental veils of bread and wine will be removed and we will love our Lord, face to face, forever:10

Almighty God, help us to live the example of love we celebrate in this Eucharist, that we may come to its fulfillment in your Presence. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.11

Endnotes:

1 Giuseppe Ricciotti, trans. by M. Joseph Costelloe, S.J., Julian the Apostate (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Company, 1960), 224.

2 Winston S. Churchill, The Gathering Storm: The Second World War, Vol. 1 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1948), 121; emphasis original.

3 Ibid. 224-25. Ammianus Marcellinus was the major Roman historian of his time. One could also argue his credibility is enhanced because his ultimate boss, Julian the Apostate, had a proverbial “dog in the fight.” Ammianus seemed to resolve any ambivalence he may have had by writing a very brief, though candid, account of the extraordinary historical events.

4 See Vatican II, Lumen Gentium (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church), 14. In addition, as Fr. Arthur Klyber, C.Ss.R., wrote in his book, Once a Jew. . ., “Looking back to the Jewish War against the Romans in 70 A.D., we might recall that only the Jewish Nation was destroyed then, and not the Jewish Religion. That Religion remained, and still is the Divine, but ‘unfinished symphony’ which God Himself had composed. We call it ‘unfinished,’ not as though God had failed to compose its beautiful Finale, but because [many of] the Israelites did not relish the charming nuances of that Finale which is Christianity” (New Hope, Kent.: Remnant of Israel, 1973), 20-21, emphasis original). Fr. Klyber referred to himself as a “completed Jew.”

5 Pope Pius XI, as cited in Pinchas Lapide, Three Popes and the Jews (New York: Hawthorn Books, Inc., 1967), 114. Pius XI made his remark on September 6, 1938, when he received an ancient and valuable prayer book from Belgian pilgrims. Fittingly, the Pope’s words are intimately connected to the biblical story of the Mass, for they were inspired by reading a passage from what we today call Eucharistic Prayer I. As Lapide notes, “Opening it on the second prayer after the elevation of the host, the Pope read out to them the passage in which God is besought to accept the altar gifts with the same graciousness in which He once received Abraham’s sacrifice. ‘Whenever I read the words: “The sacrifice of our Father Abraham,’” the Pope said, ‘I cannot help being deeply moved. Mark well, we call Abraham our Patriarch, our ancestor. Anti-Semitism is irreconcilable with this lofty thought, the noble reality which this prayer expresses.’ And, with tears in his eyes, he concluded: ‘Anti-Semitism is inadmissible; spiritually, we are all Semites.’”

6 See Acts 3:25-26.

7 As a Jew who became a Catholic, Fr. Arthur Klyber, C.Ss.R., has written a cogent response for Catholic leaders who discourage evangelization efforts toward Jews: “By what strange Christ-spirit do we suddenly cut off the Lord’s own people from the love of their Lord?” (Klyber, He’s a Jew, [New Hope, Kent.: Remnant of Israel, Inc., 1969], 70).

8 St. John Paul II, Ecclesia de Eucharistia 22, footnote omitted.

9 Ibid., 10, 13, 25, 34, 42.

10See 1 Cor. 13:12.

11 The Roman Missal, 2nd Edition (The Sacramentary) (New York: Catholic Book Publishing, 1985), “Prayer after Communion,” Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, 289.

About Thomas J. Nash 5 Articles

Thomas J. Nash is a Research Associate at Ave Maria Radio, a Contributing Apologist for Catholic Answers and a Contributing Blogger for the National Catholic Register. He is the author of What Did Jesus Do?: The Biblical Roots of the Catholic Church and The Biblical Roots of the Church. He has served the Catholic Church professionally for more than 30 years, including as a Theology Advisor for the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN).

21 Comments

  1. We believe the remnant of the Jewish people will turn to Christ as true Messiah in accord with The Apostle’s conviction. Whether the seeming providential cataclysmic events that prevented the Roman scheme to rebuild the Temple and discredit Christ still holds as rationale that it will not be rebuilt is simply conjecture. Certainly in accord with the truth of the Catholic faith, the preeminence of the Holy Eucharist and the priesthood established by Jesus of Nazareth that began when the Jewish priesthood ended and has never revived since destruction of the Temple seems futile. But not to a strong minority of ultra orthodox Israeli Jews known under the general title as Haredi Judaism. Plans for the rebuilding are already completed according to many sources. Jews however will predictably return to the God of Abraham in turning to Christ during End Times and the Advent of the Antichrist. Some Evangelicals and many Protestant groups believe Jesus Christ’s Second Coming will occur at a newly rebuilt Jerusalem Temple, which is a reason why these Protestant groups and pols give strong support to Israel v Arab nationalism and a two state solution. Today the Pres may decide on US support of recognizing Israel’s intent to move their capital from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which would facilitate a new Temple construction. If they do The Apostle’s apparent reference to the Antichrist ensconced in “God’s Temple” 2 Thess 2 may indicate Jerusalem. If the Temple is not rebuilt it leaves only one logical place. Rome. Is it possible that the liturgical Advent we now celebrate coincides with that dreaded Advent?

    • Charitably stated, Father Peter, it’s not simply conjecture. It’s biblically sound, otherwise conforms with Church teaching, and has additional historical affirmation, as noted. And planning to rebuild the Temple and actually doing so are two quite different things. And so the harvest can be great, including with our Jewish friends, we need to be vigilant.

      • Sacrifices went on in the 2nd Temple even after the Resurrection and the institution of the Eucharist, though even Jewish sources say they were not ACCEPTED for 40 years before the Temple’s destruction — in other words, since the Crucifixion and Resurrection. There is no unambiguous biblical prophecy as to whether the Temple will ever be rebuilt, but there IS a clear prophecy that “not one stone will remain atop another”. The Wailing Wall is evidence that that prophecy was not completely fulfilled when the Romans sacked Jerusalem. It was apparently on THIS basis that St. Cyril of Jerusalem warned Julian that he would be unable to finish the Temple. As for what might happen AFTER the destruction of Jerusalem is completed — or at least, after the destruction of the Temple is completed (it requires no particular faith to conclude that the destruction of the Wailing Wall would result in all hell breaking loose) — that is less clear, but it is misleading to suggest that the idea is the invention of American Protestants. Have you never read Soloviev’s “A Short Tale of Antichrist”, written in 1900?

        • “Then Paul took the men, and the next day being purified with them, entered into the temple, giving notice of the accomplishment of the days of purification, until an oblation should be offered for every one of them. But when the seven days were drawing to an end, those Jews that were of Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the people, and laid hands upon him, crying out ….” Acts 21:26,27 (Douay-Rheims) Not only did the Temple continue to exist alongside the early Church, the Apostle Paul deemed it fitting to worship there, and even planned “oblations”! Was this a “great and sad irony” that “undermine[d] the biblically based, New Covenant work of Jesus, who in his one Sacrifice of Calvary fulfilled and thus made obsolete the Old Covenant sacrifices”? (A great, but not sad, irony is that the book of Hebrews, which you cite for this sentence, has been traditionally, though not unanimously, attributed to St. Paul.)

        • Again, thank you for taking the time to respond, Howard.

          No doubt that the Temple continued to exist during a period of covenantal overlap until its destruction in 70 A.D. In this regard, I think we need to read the Acts of the Apostles in proper context. St. Paul and others were trying to bring their Jewish brothers to the fullness of Judaism, i.e., Catholicism, so there was no need to place needless stumbling blocks in evangelizing them. There obviously was nothing intrinsically evil for them as Jews to Temple sacrifices, provided they weren’t doing so as a repudiation of their New Covenant faith.

          St. Paul also avoided stumbling blocks for his Jewish brethren re: new Gentile converts (Acts 15:28-29).

          In addition, St. Paul drew the line when some tried to say the Gentiles should be circumcised (Gal.2),pointing instead, along with St. Peter (Acts 2:37-38) to the need for Baptism as the fulfillment of circumcision (Col. 2:11-15).

          Regarding Paul, I actually like to think he was the author of Hebrews, or one of his disciples. It’s a deep theological work that would’ve been right up the erudite apostle’s alley.

          Further, after the Temple falls, it’s a different story. In addition, I was careful to note that Christians, not Jews, unwittingly blaspheme in their desire to rebuild the Temple, if they see these sacrifices as necessary for the Jews to offer to God.

          Again, as noted in an earlier reply, could the Temple be rebuilt? Yes, I concede that it could. Will it? I don’t believe so, for the reasons I stated in my essay.

        • Thanks again, Howard. I’m answering this comment second.

          I would argue that “not one stone will remain atop another” could be a metaphorical description for the basic destruction, including the sacrificial heart, i.e., the tabernacle, including the bronze altar in its courtyard.

          Yet, I also recognize that St. Cyril of Jerusalem spoke about the possible rebuilding of the Temple and its subsequent annihilation as the ultimate fulfillment of Christ’s words.
          http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/310115.htm

          So I concede that the Temple could be rebuilt. I don’t think it will, based on reasons noted in my essay, including the miraculous events of 362. The redoubtable Jimmy Akin of Catholic Answers will be responding to my essay with one of his own in the next day or so at Catholic.com, citing similarly how the early Church Fathers argued the Temple could be rebuilt.

          I look forward to Jimmy’s essay and will post it here.

    • Blessed John Henry Newman comments in his 2nd Lecture on ANTICHRIST:
      « At first sight, I suppose, we should not consider that there was much evidence from the Sacred Text for Antichrist taking part with the Jews, or having to do with their Temple. It is, then, a very remarkable fact, that the apostate emperor Julian, who was a type and earnest of the great enemy, should, as he did, have taken part with the Jews, and set about building their Temple. Here the history is a sort of comment on the prophecy, and sustains and vindicates those early interpretations of it which I am reviewing. Of course I must be understood to mean, and a memorable circumstance it is, that this belief of the Church that Antichrist should be connected with the Jews, was expressed long before Julian’s time, and that we still possuuess the works in which it is contained. In fact we have the writings of two Fathers, both Bishops and martyrs of the Church, who lived at least one hundred and fifty years before Julian, and less than one hundred years after St. John. They both distinctly declare Antichrist’s connexion with the Jews.
      The first of them, Irenæus, speaks as follows: ‘In the Temple which is at Jerusalem the adversary will sit, endeavouring to show himself to be the Christ.’
      And the second, Hippolytus: ‘Antichrist will be he who shall resuscitate the kingdom of the Jews.’ »

    • (corrected)
      Blessed John Henry Newman comments in his 2nd Lecture on ANTICHRIST:
      « At first sight, I suppose, we should not consider that there was much evidence from the Sacred Text for Antichrist taking part with the Jews, or having to do with their Temple. It is, then, a very remarkable fact, that the apostate emperor Julian, who was a type and earnest of the great enemy, should, as he did, have taken part with the Jews, and set about building their Temple. Here the history is a sort of comment on the prophecy, and sustains and vindicates those early interpretations of it which I am reviewing. Of course I must be understood to mean, and a memorable circumstance it is, that this belief of the Church that Antichrist should be connected with the Jews, was expressed long before Julian’s time, and that we still possess the works in which it is contained. In fact we have the writings of two Fathers, both Bishops and martyrs of the Church, who lived at least one hundred and fifty years before Julian, and less than one hundred years after St. John. They both distinctly declare Antichrist’s connection with the Jews:
      The first of them, Irenæus, speaks as follows: ‘In the Temple which is at Jerusalem the adversary will sit, endeavouring to show himself to be the Christ.’ And the second, Hippolytus: ‘Antichrist will be he who shall resuscitate the kingdom of the Jews.’ »

  2. There are several references to the temple and events that will happen there in the Book of Revelation. I have heard other Catholic theologian’s argue that we can know we are not in the end times because there is no temple and therefore those events cannot happen. I am no theologian so I have no idea. I have studied Revelation and read many books about it and have come to the conclusion that it is not fully understandable by man. If we put ten Catholic theologians around a table I suspect we would get ten different interpretations of it. Therefore, how you can be so sure that the temple will not be rebuilt?

    I mean no disrespect. I am simply curious. I think all of us would like to know more about what the end times will look like so we can determine if they are approaching. I have no idea how to explain things to my daughter that I cannot grasp myself.

    • Robert: Much could be said, but the Church has long taught, based on Christ’s own words and the logic of divine pedagogy, that Jesus himself is the New Temple (see http://www.catholicworldreport.com/2014/11/08/jesus-christ-is-the-new-and-everlasting-temple/). There is no need for a physical temple, and that is precisely why Jesus foretold the destruction of the Jerusalem temple. The Book of Revelation very clearly patterns its presentation of the New Temple after the vision of Ezekiel (Ez 40-48), and both of those passages make the most sense when it is understood that 1) Jesus is the new and everlasting Temple (CCC 1197), 2) those who are baptized into Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit are living temples (CCC 776), and 3) the Church itself, as a whole and as the Mystical Body of Christ, is also a realization of the new Temple.

      • Jimmy Akin has posted his essay in response to mine. It’s well done and fraternally expressed. He rounds out well the prospective possibilities for the Temple.

        I concede Jimmy’s “not yet” point re: the Emperor Julian, and add that Julian’s chutzpah, if you will, didn’t aid his case. 🙂 Of course, in one scenario, the Antichrist will have more chutzpah, but the time of prophetic fulfillment will have arrived.

        I like to think St. Paul’s prophecy re: the Antichrist applies to the Church, and should’ve noted that. If it does, that could become particularly harrowing for the Catholic faithful, as it might involve the death or displacement of a valid Pope.

        But that is why we trust in Jesus Christ, realizing it’s his Church and so we are never abandoned, including during a perceived or real interregnum. Further, if Jesus returns imminently following such a calamity, we might not need another Pope. 🙂

      • That could be an issue if it were suggested that Christians would be the ones rebuilding the Temple because they felt a need. Usually, though, the suggestion is that either the Antichrist will build it in order to curry favor with Jews, or Jews will build it with the support of the Antichrist, or Jews will build it shortly before the Antichrist comes to power.

  3. The status if the Jerusalem temple was a continuous issue ling before the (first) advent of Christ. Not that it’s place within Israel was in doubt, but it’s centrality was consistently evaluated over questions of purity of legitimacy – usually involving the priesthood. This is starkly illustrated by the Qumran “sect” (Essene & Enochian). They refused to worship in Jerusalem, transcending Temple worship (and authority) to a “realized eschatology” understanding: true worship can be had outside a polluted Jerusalem as the community waits for the perfect temple in the Last Days.

    The debate regarding true (Temple) worship was a heated one before the appearance of Jesus. One could say that Jesus took up the debate and “perfected” it, he did not iniate it.

    It is somewhat an historical “surprise” that the Jewish people (Judaism) easily (with little sense if loss) embedded itself in synagogue worship after the destruction of Jerusalem. But it must be remembers that (for centuries) the majority of Jews of the empire (Hellenist and Roman) lived outside Judea/Palestine – with few ever visiting the Temple. Second Temple Judaism includes a significant corpus of writings – Wisdom Literature, and beyond – which (to various degrees) “spiritualizes” (to use an ugly term, localizes) Temple worship.

    No Jew of the period doubted the centrality of the Temple (or Jerusalem), even if they never saw the place. But Jews being Jews, a practical people within their faithfulness, the city and its Temple was interpreted variously – even while accepting the notion there was a “mainstream” interpretation. After Titus’ destruction the Jews (as did the early Christians) quickly reinterpreted was was mainstream – regArding true worship. For both eschatology – here but not here, yet but not yet) – became the hermeneutic. The contention was over the “here”, the “yet”, of Christ Jesus.

    As the Qumran library demonstrates, and the language of the Gospels – especially Matthew – amply illustrates, the books of Enoch permeated the conversational ether of First Century Palestine. The Essene/Enochian expression of Judaism was one Jesus never contested. It was a transition (eschatological) movement, always on the lookout for advent (and redemptive judgment). Suggest reading two other Jewish books to get a whiff of that First Century Jewish ether – 4 Ezra & 2 Baruch.

    The point of these remarks is simply this: Temple worship in the century leading up to Christ – and his own – was more nuanced than not. So was the sense of its loss.

  4. A few verses and questions:

    The antichrist is standing in the “holy place”. Is this holy place a temple, or not? If so, is it going to be an old place, that has been standing already, or a new place (that has just been built)? Verse below:

    “Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains.” (Matthew 24:15-16)

    Next, the antichrist stops the sacrifices and offerings to cease. Where were these being held at? Seems to me, that you would do those kind of things, in a “temple”, right? As above, an old temple or a new temple?

    And he shall enter into a strong and firm covenant with the many for one week [seven years]. And in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and offering to cease [for the remaining three and one-half years]; and upon the wing or pinnacle of abominations [shall come] one who makes desolate, until the full determined end is poured out on the desolator. (Daniel 9:27)

    This article, asks the same questions I just did.

    The Third Temple

    When will it be built?

    http://christinprophecy.org/articles/the-third-temple/

    • St. Cyril of Jerusalem took the “not one stone atop the other” very literally, and I buy his argument. As long as the Wailing Wall stands, it seems very likely that the wars and heresies we see are not a part of the very end, but just the same “normal” end-time we have been in since Pentecost. However, the literal sense does not preclude any of the other 3 senses of Scripture.

      I agree that no Christian should want to rebuild the Temple, and in fact the most traditional Christian expectation for it being rebuilt seems to be that it will be rebuilt by the Antichrist.

    • @joanofark06 — The “abomination of desolation” was understood to be the pagan Roman legions, who actually had formal worship of their standards. It is claimed that Christians were not killed in the fall of Jerusalem because they recognized the sign and fled Jerusalem when the siege was briefly lifted, as opposed to the Jewish population, who trusted the walls and hoped for divine protection.

      As for the prophecy in Daniel, it applies to Antiochus Epiphanes; whether it ALSO applies to anyone else is less clear. Antiochus Epiphanes stopped the sacrifices for 3 1/2 years.

  5. Are we assuming that if the Jewish Temple of Jerusalem is rebuilt tomorrow, then the end-times are around the corner? The Temple could be rebuilt, be destroyed, rebuilt and destroyed another one thousand times before we’re even close to the end-times. For all we know, we may be part of the early Church and when the year 120,252 AD (just a random number) had come around, then the Lord might call humanity from the four corners of the universe in a final judgment day.

    Which brings me to the central issue that I hope folks more learned than I would discuss: What is the significance of a rebuilt Temple from a Divine standpoint? Does it draw the Jews closer to God or keep them away from him? Would it be an instrument of unity or confusion? Would we have a Pope walk inside the Temple to pray by the table of sacrifice? Could we have a Jewish Temple without a Jewish King?

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