Since 1987 the Temple Institute has been dedicated to the reconstruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. A great deal of work has been done in this project, including the manufacture of various pieces of Temple furniture; some of the High Priest’s vestments etc. It is the goal to have again a fully functional Temple for the worship of God in Jerusalem. It is claimed that every aspect of this work is carefully based upon the detailed descriptions of Levitical paraphernalia in the Scriptures.
But what does the Bible have to say about this matter? The Scriptures have a lot to say about Temple worship as far as this present age is concerned, as well as the role the Temple will play in the very last days and at the return of Christ. It is important for the Bible-believer to have a grasp of what God has revealed on this subject as the re-emergence of the Temple in Jerusalem is an important marker on the Biblical time line to Christ’s return.
1. Israel will continue for a long time without Levitical ritual.
This is the clear meaning of Hosea 3:4-5. This situation will prevail right up until the latter days when there will be a conversion of the nation from their rejection of the Lord Jesus Christ as David’s Son and heir. The prediction made by Hosea describes the state of national Israel that has prevailed since the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in AD 70 as predicted in Daniel 9:26.
2. The rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem is clearly predicted in Scripture.
In the context of revealing the development of the events of the last days and the return of Christ it is clear that there is a role for a Temple in Jerusalem. Naturally, this presupposes its reconstruction!
a. Haggai 2:7. The prophet speaks of a Temple situated upon the site of previous Temples – the reason why it is referred to as this house – at the time of Christ’s return.
b. 2 Thessalonians 2:4. Paul, in speaking of the Antichrist who will be destroyed by Christ at His return describes him sitting as God in the temple of God. Other prophetic Scriptures indicate that this together with the associated abomination of desolation takes place in the Temple at Jerusalem. See Matthew 24:15.
3. Any such rebuilding is done in ignorance of God.
The rebuilding of the Temple is in unbelief and continued rejection of God’s Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. The present project of Temple construction is just an evidence of the nation of Israel’s apostasy from God. The coming of the Lord Jesus as the Messiah fulfilled all the Levitical types and they fell into immediate disuse! Cp Hebrews 8:13.
The words of the Lord Jesus as He left the Temple for the last time prior to His crucifixion are important in this regard. See Luke 13:35. The Lord left the Temple on that occasion and Ichabod (1 Samuel 4:21) was written over it – the glory had departed. This, according to Christ’s words, is to be the state of any Temple until the nation of Israel welcomes Him as their Messiah at His return in power and glory.
One example of the spiritual ignorance that currently prevails over the minds of those involved in the rebuilding of the Temple is seen in the project to restore the lamp of Queen Helena. You can read the details here and watch a video about this project here. Queen Helena was from territory that is found in modern day Iraq and was a convert to Judaism from Pagan Romanism. Her lamp contained a crystal was positioned so that it reflected the light of the rising sun. It is the stated aim of the Temple Institute to recreate this light in order to be a “light-filled clarion call for all nations to turn their eyes and hearts towards Jerusalem and the Holy Temple” and to “fill the world with the light of the Divine presence” (quotes from the video linked above). When the light of God’s presence and God’s Christ left the Temple, and spiritual darkness descended on Israel, such schemes for the provision of man-made ‘spiritual’ light became necessary. This is not the light of truth or of God, but evidence of the darkness of superstition and paganism. It is heart-breaking to see the darkness that Israel labours under so long as she continues to reject her Messiah.
While the Christian may look with interest at the efforts to rebuild the Temple, we must never forget that this project is a reason to mourn over Israel’s spiritual blindness, rather than any reason to celebrate a revived interest in the truth of God.
4. This ignorance of God climaxes in the role of Antichrist in the function of the Temple.
The words of Daniel’s prophecy make it very clear that the Temple will function for the first 3 1/2 years of his 7 year period of prominence, under his protection. This is seen in Daniel 9:27. He allows the daily sacrifice for this time. Clearly, the Temple practice of this time is such as is accommodated by the man of sin! It is evidently apostate religion, certainly not the true worship of God. In the second 3 1/2 years, according to Daniel 9:27 and Daniel 11:31-32, Antichrist in alliance with the openly irreligious in Israel, terminates the daily sacrifice and moves to set up the abomination of desolation, an idol of himself in the holy place. This time becomes a period of great tribulation in Israel.
5. Christ returns to the Temple in power and glory at His second advent.
This is the plain meaning of Haggai 2:7. The desire of all nations is Christ Himself – but evidently awaited by the Gentile world as well. This cannot therefore refer to His first advent! He comes in glory as the Lord of Hosts. He comes to the Temple. It is true that the Saviour came to the Temple as an infant during His life on earth, but that event cannot fulfill the details stated here by the prophet.
Equally, Malachi 3:1-2 speak of the Saviour’s coming to the Temple in a manner that can only be fully explained in the context of His return rather than His first advent.
The prophetic Scriptures also speak of a role for the tribe of Levi and Levitical ritual of a sort in the wake of Christ’s return. There will be a functioning millennial Temple. This, I believe is described by the prophet Ezekiel – see Chapters 40-48 of his prophecy. Zechariah 14:16-21 and Jeremiah 33:20-21 teach that God has a work for Levi to do in that period. This will involve sacrifices; the Feast of Tabernacles is also spoken of; and the Temple in Jerusalem is seen as a centre for global worship of God while Christ is reigning in Jerusalem.