According to Bible prophecy, in the end times, before the great tribulation and the day of the LORD, Israel is supposed to build a temple of God. This is prophesied in Revelation 11:1-2.
“And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.”
– Revelation 11:1-2
And it is implied by 2 Thessalonians 2:4, which states that Satan, the spirit that will possess the Antichrist or the son of perdition – refer to John 17:12, Luke 22:3 and Daniel 8:9-11 – will enter into the temple of God, showing himself that he is God, before the day of Christ, 2 Thessalonians 2:1.
“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.”
– 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4
The “temple” of God in Revelation 11:1 and 2 Thessalonians 2:4 is ναός (naos), which means a dwelling place or temple.
Malachi 3:1 is another verse that prophesies a “temple” of God, היכל (heichal), before the great tribulation and the day of the LORD. היכל (heichal) means a palace or temple.
“Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.”
– Malachi 3:1
As I read it, Malachi 3:1 says Elijah will appear in Jerusalem and prepare the way, i.e. Malachi 4:5 and Revelation 11:3. Then, when the temple is ready, the Holy Spirit will come to the temple. And then after that, the offering shall be pleasant to the LORD as in the days of old, Malachi 3:4.
“Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years.”
– Malachi 3:4
Daniel 8:11-13, Daniel 11:31 and Daniel 12:11 all call the offering of Malachi 3:4 the “daily sacrifice” תמיד (tamiyd). Daniel 9:27 calls the same the sacrifice זבח (zebach) and oblation מנחה (minchah).
This offering will be made on an altar near the temple. Daniel 8:11 and Daniel 11:31 describe the temple as the “sanctuary”, מקדש (miqdash), specifically the place of his sanctuary or the sanctuary of strength. Matthew 24:15 describes the same as the “holy place”, ἅγιος τόπος (hagios topos).
“Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down.”
– Daniel 8:11
“And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.”
– Daniel 11:31
“When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)”
– Matthew 24:15
A key marker in the end times happens when the Antichrist, or more specifically an army loyal to him, stops the oblation and puts in its stead the abomination that causes desolation. Logically, for this to happen, the temple of God must exist beforehand, i.e. before the final 42 months of the tribulation.
Yet, as of now, there is still no such temple. A virtual third temple in Google maps will not do. And from what I can gather, the government of Israel under PM Benjamin Netanyahu will not allow members of the Knesset or indeed any Jew to worship on the Temple Mount, let alone build a Jewish temple on the Temple Mount – primarily for national security reasons. And the next Knesset election might not take place before 5 November 2019.
Clearly, something is wrong.
While re-reading the various passages of the Bible that prophesy a future temple of God, especially Ezekiel 40-48, it occurs to me that the temple of Ezekiel 40-48, a “house” בית (bayith), will only be built after the start of the Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ, not before.
There are at least 2 reasons for this.
First, Ezekiel 43:7 reads, the temple will be the place of the LORD’s throne where he will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel forever when the house of Israel shall no more defile the LORD’s holy name by their spiritual whoredom.
“And he said unto me, Son of man, the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever, and my holy name, shall the house of Israel no more defile, neither they, nor their kings, by their whoredom, nor by the carcases of their kings in their high places.”
– Ezekiel 43:7
Israel will only be redeemed and made holy when Jesus Christ comes in the clouds with power and glory, at the sounding of the 7th trumpet: Luke 21:28, Zechariah 13:9, Joel 3:20-21, Isaiah 62:11-12, etc. Remember, one of the purposes of the great tribulation is to cut off the remnant of Baal from Judah and Jerusalem, Zephaniah 1:4. The temple in Ezekiel 43:7 cannot be the same as the one in Malachi 3:1, because although the LORD will visit both, i.e. the Trinity, the Ezekiel one must be a certain way.
Second, Ezekiel 47-48 prophesies the manner in which the promised land, the land promised in Genesis 15:18 and Joshua 1:4, will be apportioned among all the tribes of Israel. Notice especially that “Damascus” דמשק and “Hamath” חמת and “Hauran” חורן are mentioned, e.g. Ezekiel 47:16-18. Today, these places are within the nation of Syria. But in the future, shortly before the Millennial Reign, Isaiah 17:3 prophesies that Syria will be absorbed by Israel.
“The fortress also shall cease from Ephraim, and the kingdom from Damascus, and the remnant of Syria: they shall be as the glory of the children of Israel, saith the LORD of hosts.”
– Isaiah 17:3
“So shall ye divide this land unto you according to the tribes of Israel. And it shall come to pass, that ye shall divide it by lot for an inheritance unto you, and to the strangers that sojourn among you, which shall beget children among you: and they shall be unto you as born in the country among the children of Israel; they shall have inheritance with you among the tribes of Israel. And it shall come to pass, that in what tribe the stranger sojourneth, there shall ye give him his inheritance, saith the Lord GOD.”
– Ezekiel 47:21-23
For both these reasons, Ezekiel 40-48 cannot mean a temple of God before the Millennial Reign.
So, might there be a different temple?
In the days of old, David built a “tabernacle”, משכן (mishkan) to house the ark of the covenant, Exodus 26; and Solomon, David’s son, built a “house” בית (bayith) for the LORD, 1 Kings 5-7, a temple of stone.
It is now my opinion that the temple of God in Revelation 11 is a tabernacle rather than a house.
To this point, notice Amos 9:11 mentions a “tabernacle” of David, סכה (suka), in the end times. Similarly, Acts 15:16 in the New Testament mentions a “tabernacle” of David, σκηνή (skene), in the end times.
“In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old:”
– Amos 9:11
“And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.”
– Acts 15:15-17
In Malachi 3:1, the Lord suddenly comes to a temple after it is prepared, whereas in Amos 9:11 and Acts 15:16 the Lord restores a temple that is fallen. It stands to reason that these are 2 different temples. That is to say, one is prepared by Elijah, and the other is built by the Lord.
Furthermore, Revelation 13:5-6 prophesies that the Antichrist will blaspheme God, his name and “his tabernacle”, σκηνή (skene), during the final 42 months, though this particular tabernacle might be the heavenly one.
“And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.”
– Revelation 13:5-6
Another reason why I think the temple will be a literal tabernacle is because a tabernacle would take only days or weeks to set up, whereas a temple of hewn stone would take years to complete.
As of now, the Temple Institute in Israel has already prepared all of the pieces that would go inside a holy temple. The Temple Institute together with the Sanhedrin have also prepared the priests, כּהנים (Kohanim), who would carry out the oblation. And, right now, Israel even physically controls the Temple Mount, despite UNESCO and the Islamic Waqf. Thus, all that remains is the political will to build the temple.
Interestingly, 2 or the 4 blood moons of 2014-2015 occurred on Passover, and 2 on Sukhot. The former is about Jesus Christ, and the latter is about tabernacles.
I imagine it will be for Elijah the prophet to explain what form the temple will take.
“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:”
– Malachi 4:5
“And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.”
– Revelation 11:3
For now, it cannot be ruled out that the temple of Revelation 11 might be a literal tabernacle.