In this article I will discuss the historical Temples of God in Jerusalem. Where they were located, why they were built, and where and when we can expect the final Temple, the Tribulation Temple, to be built.
There have been three temples built in Jerusalem to worship God. They include the first temple, the Temple of Solomon that was built by him around 1000 BC. This temple was used for the worship of God and for sacrifice of animals so the sins of the people of Israel could be forgiven. It was destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon around 587 BC. He later took many of Judah's citizens to Babylon where they resided for 70 years. The Ark of the Covenant was taken by the Prophet Jeremiah to a safe place and it will stay there until Jesus returns as King of the World at the end of the Tribulation. The second temple was built by Zerubbabel around 520 BC. It contained the same rooms as Solomon's temple, but the Holy of Holies did not contain the Ark of the Covenant. The third temple was built by King Herod, beginning in 19 BC and was used by Jesus to teach those that wanted to hear the "good news" of the gospel from Him. This temple was destroyed by the Roman general Titus and his armies in AD 70.
After ministering in the temple one day, Jesus left it and His disciples then approached Him and made a comment about how magnificent was the temple at Jerusalem. He then made a prophecy about the complete and total destruction of the temple:
Matthew 24:1-2 And Jesus went out from the temple, and was going on His way; and his disciples came to Him to show Him the buildings of the temple. But He answered and said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
With the Master Himself saying that Herod's Temple would be completely destroyed, all the way down to and including the foundation, how can anyone say that the current temple mount in Jerusalem with the two Muslim temples on it are the actual Temple Mount and that the Wailing Wall is the foundation of the temple area that stood in the time of Jesus? Further confirmation that not one stone of Herod's temple will be left in its place is contained in The Works of Flavus Josephus Book 7, chapter 1 (written in AD 93-94):
How the entire city of Jerusalem was demolished, excepting three towers (of the Roman Fort Antonia); and how Titus commended his soldiers in a speech made to them, and distributed rewards to them and then dismissed many of them.
Now as soon as the army had no more people to slay or to plunder, because there remained none to be the objects of their fury, (for they would not have spared any, had there remained any other work to be done,) Caesar gave orders that they should now demolish the entire city and temple, but should leave as many of the towers standing as were of the greatest eminency; that is, Phasaelus, and Hippicus, and Mariamne; and so much of the wall as enclosed the city on the west side.
This wall was spared, in order to afford a camp for such as were to lie in garrison, as were the towers also spared, in order to demonstrate to posterity what kind of city it was, and how well fortified, which the Roman valor had subdued; but for all the rest of the wall, it was so thoroughly laid even with the ground by those that dug it up to the foundation, that there was left nothing to make those that came thither believe it had ever been inhabited. This was the end which Jerusalem came to by the madness of those that were for innovations; a city otherwise of great magnificence, and of mighty fame among all mankind.
The Antonia Fortress
The Antonia fortress was built by King Herod to honor the Roman, Mark Anthony. Here is where Josephus (Book 5, chapter 5) said the fortress was located in relation to Herod's Temple:
Now as to the tower of Antonia, it was situated at the corner of two cloisters of the court of the temple; of that on the west, and that on the north; it was erected upon a rock of fifty cubits in height, and was on a great precipice; it was the work of king Herod, wherein he demonstrated his natural magnanimity. In the first place, the rock itself was covered over with smooth pieces of stone, from its foundation, both for ornament, and that any one who would either try to get up or to go down it might not be able to hold his feet upon it. Next to this, and before you come to the edifice of the tower itself, there was a wall three cubits high; but within that wall all the space of the tower of Antonia itself was built upon, to the height of forty cubits.
The inward parts had the largeness and form of a palace, it being parted into all kinds of rooms and other conveniences, such as courts, and places for bathing, and broad spaces for camps; insomuch that, by having all conveniences that cities wanted, it might seem to be composed of several cities, but by its magnificence it seemed a palace. And as the entire structure resembled that of a tower, it contained also four other distinct towers at its four corners; whereof the others were but fifty cubits high; whereas that which lay upon the southeast corner was seventy cubits high, that from thence the whole temple might be viewed; but on the corner where it joined to the two cloisters of the temple, it had passages down to them both, through which the guard (for there always lay in this tower a Roman legion) went several ways among the cloisters, with their arms, on the Jewish festivals, in order to watch the people, that they might not there attempt to make any innovations; for the temple was a fortress that guarded the city, as was the tower of Antonia a guard to the temple; and in that tower were the guards of those three.
There was also a peculiar fortress belonging to the upper city, which was Herod's palace; but for the hill Bezetha, it was divided from the tower Antonia, as we have already told you; and as that hill on which the tower of Antonia stood was the highest of these three, so did it adjoin to the new city, and was the only place that hindered the sight of the temple on the north. And this shall suffice at present to have spoken about the city and the walls about it, because I have proposed to myself to make a more accurate description of it elsewhere.
Josephus states that Fort Antonia is next to and above the location of the temple. So the fort would most likely be located just north of the temple area. So is there the possibility that the current Wailing Wall is not the foundation of Herod's Temple, but is the foundation of the Fortress Antonia? If this is so, the actual temple location must be just south of the Wailing Wall. In light of General Titus allowing Fortress Antonia to be the only structure in Jerusalem to be left intact, it's foundation would be the only structure left from the time of the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. Thus, the Muslim Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque would thus not be built on the temple mount, the place where Solomon, Zerubbabel and Herod built temples to God.
The Tribulation Temple will be built
Where and when will the Tribulation Temple be built? Building a Jewish Temple on the current Temple Mount location would cause great resentment from the Muslim officials and would not be acceptable to them. Building a Jewish Temple adjacent to either of the two Muslim temples would most likely cause a great war between Israel and the nations surrounding it. The Muslim officials would not be happy with the building of the temple outside of the current temple mount but would be reluctantly acceptable to them. The Jewish authorities will know of the writings of Josephus and that he has described that the stones of the city and of Herod's temple were removed from their place and hence that the actual temple site is not where the two Muslim temples now reside. It will be very important to the Israeli religious officials that they select the correct location where the temple must reside:
Deuteronomy 16:2 And thou shalt sacrifice the passover unto Jehovah thy God, of the flock and the herd, in the place which Jehovah shall choose, to cause his name to dwell there.
We can only speculate when the Tribulation Temple will be built. We know that before the middle of the Tribulation, the temple will be in full use where sacrifices of animals will be made. The book of Leviticus explains in detail the various types of animal sacrifices that will be made for sins that are committed by Israeli Jews. We know that the Jewish religious leaders have already prepared the instruments used in temple worship including the table of shew bread and the candlesticks and a cornerstone of the temple. Search the web for articles that describe the various religious instruments that the Jewish religious authorities have crafted. Chapter 7 of I Kings elaborates on the temple and the ceremonial pieces used in the worship of God.
There is the possibility that the temple construction could possibly start and the temple be in use before the beginning of the Tribulation. The latest the temple could be constructed would be as a part of the seven year treaty that Antichrist makes with Israel and the Muslim nations around it. The temple construction would start at the very beginning of the Tribulation and be completed before mid-Tribulation. In either case, before the Tribulation begins or before mid-Tribulation, the Mosaic laws will be put in place in Israel and the Temple purified by the blood of the Red Heifer then animal sacrifices could be made and the people of Israel would then have to obey the Mosaic laws. You can read the books of Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy to understand the various laws that will be enforced by the Israeli religious leaders. Some include enforcing no-work during the Sabbath, which runs from Friday evening to Saturday evening. You could not walk very far on the Sabbath; a Sabbath's Day Walk is just over half a mile. Severe penalties will be given to those people who violate the Sabbath's day's no-work commandment.
Revelation 11:1-2 And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and one said, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. And the court which is without the temple leave without, and measure it not; for it hath been given unto the nations: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.
I believe that these verses describe that the area just north of the Tribulation Temple area as the current temple mount that has the two Muslim temples built on it. The forty two months mentioned is the second half of the tribulation where the Antichrist will perform his desecration of the Tribulation Temple. I wonder if there could be a "deal" agreed to between the nation of Israel and the Muslim authorities if Israel is allowed to construct their temple south of the current temple mount? The Jewish quarter of Jerusalem could perhaps be given to the Muslims in exchange for allowing Israel to peacefully construct the temple or have any Jewish settlements removed from the West Bank. Just a thought.
The Red Heifer
Numbers 19:1-11 And Jehovah spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, This is the statute of the law which Jehovah hath commanded, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring thee a red heifer without spot, wherein is no blemish, [and] upon which never came yoke. And ye shall give her unto Eleazar the priest, and he shall bring her forth without the camp, and one shall slay her before his face: and Eleazar the priest shall take of her blood with his finger, and sprinkle her blood toward the front of the tent of meeting seven times. And one shall burn the heifer in his sight; her skin, and her flesh, and her blood, with her dung, shall he burn: and the priest shall take cedar-wood, and hyssop, and scarlet, and cast it into the midst of the burning of the heifer. Then the priest shall wash his clothes, and he shall bathe his flesh in water, and afterward he shall come into the camp, and the priest shall be unclean until the even. And he that burneth her shall wash his clothes in water, and bathe his flesh in water, and shall be unclean until the even. And a man that is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer, and lay them up without the camp in a clean place; and it shall be kept for the congregation of the children of Israel for a water for impurity: it is a sin-offering. And he that gathereth the ashes of the heifer shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even: and it shall be unto the children of Israel, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among them, for a statute for ever.
Just after the construction of the Tribulation Temple is completed, the high priest will then pick out a perfect red heifer and she will be used to purify the Tribulation Temple. The high priest will then slay the heifer and take some of her blood and sprinkle with his finger seven times towards the temple. It will then be purified and available to offer sacrifices to God. Her body will then be burnt and her ashes kept somewhere to remind the Jews to be ready for service to God and so sacrifices can be made on their behalf by the high priest.
Antichrist Desecrates the Temple
2 Thessalonians 2:4 he that opposeth and exalteth himself against all that is called God or that is worshipped; so that he sitteth in the temple of God, setting himself forth as God.
The Antichrist will apparently have a throne built for himself and will have it placed in the Holy Place inside the Temple. He will expect that the various Jewish priests and Israeli leaders will visit him and give him great adoration and worship. He will not simply say that he is a "god", but that he is "the one true and living God". He will say that he is the Messiah that Israel has expected since before the time of Jesus and hence expect the people of Israel to worship him. What a brazen statement to make to the nations of the earth and especially to the people of Israel! To me, this is the worst sin that Antichrist can make. Apparently he actually believes this lie, but he is only a man and his just judgment will be given to him when Jesus returns as conqueror of all evil at the end of the Tribulation.
Daniel 9:27 And he shall make a firm covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease; and upon the wing of abominations [shall come] one that maketh desolate; and even unto the full end, and that determined, shall [wrath] be poured out upon the desolate.
The Jews of the world and in Israel will welcome the seven year peace treaty that promises to protect Israel from those nations around it that currently want to destroy it. During the first half of the Tribulation, the Jews will greatly appreciate the effort Antichrist exerts to keep Israel free and to allow the Tribulation Temple to be built and to allow the Mosaic Law to be enforced by the Israeli religious officials. At mid Tribulation Antichrist moves his throne into the temple and says "I am god." God's wrath--the Day of the Lord then follows with great destruction upon the world during the second half of the Tribulation. Antichrist will also have his wrath--the Jews will not want to worship him, and they will say no to worshiping him. Antichrist will then arrest, torture and put to death as many Jews he can that do not worship him. This is his wrath upon the desolate, those that only want to worship the true and living God, not Antichrist.
Matthew 24:15-21 When therefore ye see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let him that readeth understand), then let them that are in Judaea flee unto the mountains: let him that is on the housetop not go down to take out things that are in his house: and let him that is in the field not return back to take his cloak. But woe unto them that are with child and to them that give suck in those days! And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on a sabbath: for then shall be great tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, nor ever shall be.
An interesting part of the above verse is: But woe unto them that are with child and to them that give suck in those days! Note that it does not say anything about older children, only the younger ones and those women that are pregnant. Is it possible that 3 1/2 years earlier, at the time of the First Fruits Rapture, just before the beginning of the Tribulation that all children under the age of accountability were also taken to Heaven? If not so, however, why are the older children not mentioned? Just a thought.
What Jesus did mean when He said: Let him that readeth understand? Let's explore this statement. The Holy Place in the Temple area is the room just inside the Temple building where the 12 loaves of shew bread are stored and incense is continually offered unto The Lord. The abomination of desolation is the Image of the Beast, a statue of Antichrist that is standing inside the Holy Place in the Temple and thus deeply insulting Almighty God. Note that the Holy of Holies is not mentioned by Jesus. Perhaps the Holy Spirit will just not allow Antichrist's image to be placed into the Holy of Holies and then further insult The Lord God.
I wonder if there is any parallel we can draw between this situation and the situation in the Book of I Samuel where the Ark of the Covenant was taken by the Philistines and stored in the temple of the Philistine god, Dagon?
1 Samuel 5:2 And the Philistines took the ark of God, and brought it into the house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon.
1 Samuel 5:3 And when they of Ashdod arose early on the morrow, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the ground before the ark of Jehovah. And they took Dagon, and set him in his place again.
1 Samuel 5:4 And when they arose early on the morrow morning, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the ground before the ark of Jehovah; and the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands [lay] cut off upon the threshold; only [the stump of] Dagon was left to him.
The next morning after the Ark was placed in Dagon's temple, the statue of Dagon fell prostrate in front of the Ark. The statue of Dagon was then raised by the Philistine priests and the following morning the statue was laying prostrate in front of the Ark and its head and hands were broken off. Is it possible that the statue of Antichrist will also fall on its face in the Tribulation Temple in a similar manner before the end of the Tribulation? I would not be surprised.
Outside the temple will be another Image of the Beast, a large TV screen where videos of Antichrist will run continually and those that are allowed entrance into the Temple area will view images of Antichrist and his speeches. This video spectacle will also be run on TV channels, hand-held devices and on Internet web pages. Once Antichrist desecrates the temple, the Jewish religious leaders will abandon performing animal sacrifices and lighting incense in the Temple. Perhaps the False Prophet will then offer incense in the Holy Place to honor Antichrist.
Jesus then said: Let them that are in Judaea flee unto the mountains. Jesus is commanding what the Jewish people should be doing once they find out that Antichrist has desecrated the Temple. Jesus counsels that they must flee to the mountains which are most probably the mountains east of the Jordan river in the nation of Jordan; possibly near Petra. The very moment they find about the desecration, they must go immediately from their homes to the mountains. There Jesus will prepare a place for them to stay and will take care of their physical needs for 3 1/2 years. He will most likely send manna down from Heaven so they can feed themselves. A sad part of this verse is the word, woe. It sounds like some of the women in Israel with small children or babies may not successfully make their escape from Israel to the mountains. Some may just have to stay behind in Israel or even some may die trying to escape. It will be extremely difficult to make a trip of any distance on foot, because they will most likely not have access to cars, trucks or even horses to carry them to safety in Jordan. Those that do escape to the mountains will most likely receive some kind of miraculous help from God.
How will the Jews know about the warnings given in Matthew 24? They will most likely hear it from the Main Harvest Christians: (Feeding of the 5,000) that will be persecuted during the first half of the Tribulation. The Jews will know about the incarceration, torture and beheadings by guillotine that Antichrist will inflict on Christians during this time. Yet, most Christians at that time will be extremely faithful to Jesus Christ. The Jews in Israel will somehow know this.
Winter will be a difficult time of the year to travel, especially on foot. If any Jews pray that "Please let my flight not be in winter" or "on a Sabbath", then their flight from Jerusalem will simply not happen on either the Sabbath or in winter. This prayer will be a prayer of faith in Jesus Christ and He will answer yes when they pray this prayer.
The desecration of the Tribulation Temple in Jerusalem by Antichrist is not the end of the story. We know that after the Battle of Armageddon at the very end of the Tribulation, all the components of Antichrist's government, military and religion will have been destroyed. The very last act of the Tribulation will be when Jesus sends His angels to capture the Antichrist and the False Prophet. Jesus will judge their works and they will be found guilty. They will then be cast into the Lake of Fire and be tormented forever and ever. They will never escape the Judgment of Jesus; their punishment will be the most severe ever pronounced upon any human beings. Satan and his angels will then be locked up in the abyss for 1,000 years.
Daniel 12:11-12 And from the time that the continual [burnt-offering] shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand and two hundred and ninety days. Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days.
The temple in Jerusalem will be desecrated by Antichrist for 1,290 days (three and one-half years) and the Tribulation will then end. The difference between 1335 and 1290 is 45 days. What do you think is the significance of these 45 days? I personally believe that it will be the time that the holy angels of God completely destroy the throne of Antichrist and his image inside the holy place and the giant display screen outside of the temple. The holy angels will then clean up the temple mount and Jerusalem and the rest of the world from the destruction that happened to the world during the seven year Tribulation.
Jesus will then raise from the dead all those that have died during the Tribulation that did not take the mark of the beast. They will receive their resurrection bodies and be like Adam and Eve were before the fall and they will rule along with Jesus during His thousand year kingdom.
The blessings after this will be that God will remove the curse from the earth; the lion will lay down with the lamb; disease will be removed from man's suffering; and the thorn and thistle will be removed from man's gardens. Jesus will then rule the world for 1,000 years as its King with perfect justice for all. The rewards will be well worth the 45 day wait. This will be a message to be patient for the people of the nation of Israel and all gentiles that Jesus saves during the Tribulation.
Revelation 20:4-6 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and [I saw] the souls of them that had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus, and for the word of God, and such as worshipped not the beast, neither his image, and received not the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand; and they lived, and reigned with Christ a thousand years. The rest of the dead lived not until the thousand years should be finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: over these the second death hath no power; but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
Satan and his angels will then be judged after the Millennium kingdom is complete. They will then be cast into the Lake of Fire and tormented there forever. Those people that took the mark of the Beast during the Tribulation and those people that were the unsaved from all ages will be raised from the dead 1,000 years later after the completion of the Millennial Kingdom. They will be judged at the Great White Throne Judgment. They will then be cast into the Lake of Fire to be tormented forever.