It's Temple Time Again

by Joseph Hunting

England has its Westminster Abbey where kings and queens have been enthroned and buried for centuries. The focal point for Roman Catholics is St. Peter's Church in the Vatican, and all the world's religions have their particular shrines sacred to millions of devotees.

Is it not strange that the people who gave to the world the Bible, the source and only knowledge the world has of God, have as their most holy shrine a massive wall? This wall has no claims to architectural beauty, yet its stones, open to the skies, are worn smooth with countless kisses and loving caresses of Jewish people who fulfil the words of the Psalmist: "Thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and love the dust thereof." (Psalm 102:14).

It is even more strange to realize that those stones were left as a memorial for future generations of the terrible might of Rome when its armies under Titus totally destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D. But the legions of Rome that trampled upon the most holiest of all places on this earth have passed into oblivion, and the people they conquered, slaughtered, and sold on their slave markets, have returned to those very stones as though drawn by some irresistible force.

Nowhere is this irresistible force better described than by the words: "By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yes, we wept, when we remembered Zion.

"We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there they that carried us away captive required of us song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion.

"How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land? If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember you, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy." (Psalm 137:1-6).

Though there may be thousands of synagogues, cathedrals, churches, mosques, together with countless other shrines of the world's religions, there is only one spot where the Temple may be built. That sacred site is the Temple Mount, once named Mount Moriah. That is the only place chosen by God.

Whatever man has done to desecrate that holy piece of real estate, God has never relocated the Temple site now believed to be about ninety metres north of the Dome of the Rock.

Solomon's Temple

Let's take a trip back in time to observe the construction of the first Temple. Even by today's standards the construction methods and planning, the organization and building of Solomon's Temple have never been surpassed in uniqueness. There were large numbers of workers employed on the project.

Ten thousand were detailed to hew the cedars of Lebanon which were then floated as huge rafts along the Mediterranean coast to where Tel Aviv now stands. The logs were then hauled up the rugged and steep Judean hills to Jerusalem. Even with today's roads and haulage equipment this would be a major undertaking.

On site Solomon employed eighty thousand stone masons and seventy thousand labourers over which were nearly four thousand foremen. And it has been estimated that the gold and silver used in its construction was valued at $34,399,110,000.00 whilst the total cost was $87,000,000,000.00! As this estimate was made in 1925 present day values would bring those totals many times higher.

If the cost of the building and the army of men engaged are difficult for us to comprehend, so also is the method of construction that spanned seven years. The house was built of stones dressed at the quarry; " ... so that there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building" (1 Kings 6:7) -- surely a unique procedure!

There was one grand finale that even overshadowed the tremendous building project, and this reached its climax when the Temple was finished. When finally the Ark of the Covenant was set in its place in the Holy of Holies the glory of God came and filled the Temple. " ... the cloud filled the house of the Lord. So the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord" (1 Kings 8:10-11).

That wonderful climax was never repeated in either Zerubbabel's Temple or the magnificent reconstruction of Herod that was later destroyed in 70 A.D.

In The Interim

For nineteen centuries Jerusalem's destiny was controlled by Gentile invaders. The magnitude of the miracle that resulted in the rebirth of the State of Israel is too vast to document at this time. The travail and agony of the Holocaust were truly the birth pangs of a nation, though this infant nation was beset upon by savage packs bent upon its immediate destruction. Its survival and rapid growth have no parallel in modern history.

During the first nineteen years of statehood Jerusalem was a divided city and its custodians, the Jordanians, violated every code of decent conduct in the Old City by destroying and desecrating thirty-four of the thirty-five Jewish synagogues, ripping up Jewish tombstones to be used often for the most obscene purposes. And for the whole period Jewish people were not permitted access to the Western Wall nor were Christians allowed entry to the Holy City if ISRAEL was stamped in their passports!

There are those among Gentile believers who share with Israel the ongoing miracle that commenced on June 7th 1967. There just aren't words to describe adequately the deep pent-up emotions that showed themselves when Israeli soldiers burst into the Old City and liberated it from the Gentile yoke that had existed for two thousand five hundred years. At last Jerusalem was "a city that is compacted (unified) together"; no longer would Jews celebrating the Passover need to declare "Next year in Jerusalem!"

The deep scars are now all but healed and Jerusalem is being adorned with beautiful garments as gardens and flowers bloom where once there were ugly areas of filth and debris.

The Temple Site Itself

One of the most exciting discoveries among the many now coming to light as archaeologists probe the city's past is what is believed to be the actual location of the Temple on the Temple Mount according to Professor Asher Kaufmann. Until recently the Temple was believed to have been where the Dome of the Rock now stands, but recent research now identifies the Holy of Holies to have been where the Dome of the Tablets, or the Dome of the Spirits, is located about ninety metres north of the Moslem shrine.

"IS IT TEMPLE TIME AGAIN?" Whilst the cares of every day living and the very act of surviving in a hostile environment occupy the daily thoughts of many Israelis, there are those who now see the erection of a latter day Temple as a very real possibility.

Human speculation aside, what does the Bible say on the subject? Daniel speaks of an invader who "plants the tabernacle of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain ... and at that time ... there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book." (11:45; 12:1).

According to Daniel this invader makes his palace "in the glorious holy mountain" on none other than the holy Temple Mount. Could this be a reference to a latter day Temple yet to be built?

The New Testament amplifies Daniel's prophecy. "When you therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso reads, let him understand: ...For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be." (Matthew 24:15-21).

Judging by the rising tide of interest in the building of a third Temple (if we take Herod's to be but an extension of the one built by Zerubbabel), it is not a question of IF but WHEN.

There are many Bible scholars who believe that this future Temple will be the one referred to by Daniel and Messiah Yeshua (as distinct from the Millennial Temple given in such detail by Ezekiel -- chapters 40 to 44 -- which Temple "the glory of the Lord filled" once again as in Solomon's time).

If this is what the future holds (as I believe it does) then we could be very near to the cataclysmic events that will terminate the end of this age. But this is not a prophecy of doom and despair, "for whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved."