Evangelicals who discuss different angles of Bible prophecy often consider apparent references to the necessity of a Jewish temple being rebuilt before the start of the Tribulation. Here’s my own view…
All evangelical prophecy “experts” and buffs who are not amillennial see in Scripture talk of a rebuilt temple, which Antichrist will one day enter and claim to be God. I’ve struggled with the idea that there could be a rebuilt temple, given the firm Muslim control of the temple mount in our day, the unwillingness of most Israelis to upset the Muslim world by even considering a temple, and the total unwillingness of the US and Europe to aid those wanting a temple for the same reason. Be assured that I’m convinced God is fully able to bring his Word to fulfillment against all the odds, but I have considered alternative possibilities to a rebuilt temple.
Since Jesus said that the “abomination of desolation” would stand in the holy place and didn’t say “temple” (Matthew 24) I wondered if it may be that simple: that there will be no temple, but just AC standing on the spot where the holy of holies was situated. Not even Jews of today will stand on the spot for fear of desecrating it, even though there’s no temple there.
However, Paul’s reference to the event (2 Thess. 2:4) contains the word “temple”. It seems that all translations use the word “temple”, and the original Greek does say “temple”, not “holy place”. Evangelical Christians of past centuries believed that the word “temple” here refers to the hearts of members of the true Church, the Church being deceived by the Pope who, they were convinced, was Antichrist. But the elect cannot be deceived, and this interpretation necessitates allegorizing most or all Last Days prophesies, making them all unsure and intangible.
It seems then that there are three remaining alternatives. One is that Paul was mistaken. He only thought that the prophecy Jesus mentioned, originally in the book of Daniel, with AC standing on the holy place, spoke of the literal temple which was still standing in Paul’s day. He should instead have directly quoted Jesus who said “holy place”. Paul, in this scenario, expected the destruction of the temple to come at the same time as the AC is revealed, when in fact its destruction by the Roman army came not long after his death, and the AC is yet future.
So was Paul mistaken? If so the entire New Testament on shaky ground. If Paul was wrong about this then the Holy Spirit did not breathe Truth into the Words of our NT as it claims; Paul’s letters are not Scripture as Peter said they were; Peter was wrong to say they were Scripture, and it’s all unreliable. It appears that there must be a temple on the temple mount in order for Biblical integrity to be maintained, and for prophecy to be fulfilled.
The temple likely cannot be built anywhere else without defying Scripture. The Temple Mount Faithful state that the spot where the holy of holies was is currently smack-dab in the middle of the Dome of the Rock, built seven hundred years after the temple was destroyed. The Dome is one of the most revered shrines in Islam. Indeed, any attempt to replace the Dome with a Jewish temple in present conditions would likely start WWIII.
The second possibility is propounded by Amir Tsarfati among others, which is that the Gog-Magog war spoken of in Ezekiel will be the next fulfillment of prophecy. The Islamic world will be greatly weakened by its defeat foretold in chapters 38 and 39, and the Israelis, finding their Bible to be coming to life once again, will be inspired and emboldened to build a temple on the spot where the Islamic Dome of the Rock now sits.
A third possibility to my mind is that AC will be somehow acceptable to the Muslims-possibly himself a Muslim-and will enter the Dome, stand on the spot where the holy of holies was, and make his “I am God” speech. This possibility fits with the present-day Islamification of Europe, also desired in the US by some on the left of the political spectrum. Could this scenario fit Islamic eschatology of the coming Mahdi? That’s a subject for another post.
The word used by Paul here, and subsequently in the NT (3724) is defined thus:
…of the temple in Jerusalem; it generally denotes the temple building. Also used figuratively for the church as the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit.
Many of the remaining uses of 3724 in the NT do refer to non-corporeal temples: the Church, the temple in heaven, etc.
THE VIEW OF THE TEMPLE MOUNT FAITHFUL:
1,932 years after the destruction of the Second Temple, there are various theories as to the location of the Temple and the Holy of Holies. Some believe that the Temple was located north of the Dome of the Rock while others believe that it was south of the Dome of the Rock. Some of these theories are an attempt at compromise because of the actual situation that the rock is today located under the Dome of the Rock and because of a fear that the removal of the Dome of the Rock and the building of the Temple on this place could cause World War III. These theories do not take into account the fact that no compromise can be made with the Word of Gd Who assigned the location of the Temple and showed it in prophecy to King David.
The Third Temple can only be built on the same location which the Gd of Israel indicated to King David in prophecy and where the First and Second Temples were built. The Third Temple and the Holy of Holies cannot be relocated by even one centimeter to the north or south. Only Gd controls war and peace and the destiny of Israel. There is no doubt that Gd is testing Israel today on the Temple Mount, which is the key place in the world. Gd expects Israel to rebuild His house on the correct position on the Temple Mount with no fear of the Moslem enemy which, at the end of the seventh century CE, built the Dome of the Rock on the most holy place of the Gd and people of Israel and desecrated the hill of Gd and revolted against the Word of Gd. Gd promised the people of Israel that in the endtimes He would redeem His holy hill and Jerusalem together with the people and land of Israel and He would protect them and fight for them against the enemies who would try to prevent His prophetic endtime plans for Israel.