This model of the Second Temple stands in the grounds of the Holyland Hotel in Jerusalem today. It gives us an idea of the temple that stood in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus and is a very small building when compared to the future "third temple" prophesied by Ezekiel.
The above artist's depiction of the future "Third temple" to be built in Jerusalem is based upon the work of the late Henry Sulley who, as an architect studied the prophecy of Ezekiel.
By Art Bull
his is the fitting title to a most unusual book published recently by the Temple Institute in Jerusalem, whose founder and head is Rabbi Yisrael Ariel. It is doubtless appropriate that the book was issued shortly in advance of the tri-millennium of Davids capture of Jerusalem, an anniversary being celebrated this year in Israel.
Ever since the Romans under Vespasian and Titus laid seige to Jerusalem and destroyed the second Temple (a model of which appears in the picture above), the Jews have been striving towards a reconstruction which they call the Third Temple. The authors inform their readers on page 102 that the Temple Institute "was founded in order to prepare as best as possible for the building of the Holy Temple...Its goal is to provide a basis in research, planning and infrastructure for the Third Temple". As the reader progresses through this remarkable book it is impossible not to be impressed by the intense zeal and firmness of purpose of these men. They are not mere visionaries with their heads in the clouds. They are pursuing their goal with business-like realism. At the time of writing, the Research Department was nearing completion of a "sophisticated three-dimensional computer model" of the Temple. The research department presents findings to the Restoration Department, which consists of experts in a wide range of fields: smiths, weavers, woodworkers, graphic artists, architects and others. More than sixty Temple vessels have been restored. The Library and Information Centre is gathering books and manuscripts for a central computerized Temple database. In addition there is an Academy for Temple Studies, which produces material for use in teaching children and adults. Besides producing an annual collection of essays on Temple research, books and videos are also published. The book under review is beautifully executed in large format, with many black & white and full colour illustrations. There is an associated Art School and Gallery. Current projects of the Temple Institute include plans to restore more than forty kinds of musical instruments associated with Temple worship; ongoing research to identify dye sources for blue, crimson and scarlet; a Botanical/Zoological garden, and a new museum to place Temple vessels on exhibit, which attracts thousands of visitors annually. "Donations are accepted towards the advancement and development of these Temple projects" (page 109). A list of articles follows, ranging from silver trumpets, valued at US$4,000 each, to the solid gold seven-branched lampstand, estimated at $1,750,000.
A recent telephone call confirmed that visitors are welcome at the Temple Institute, located at 24 Misgav Ladach Street, Jerusalem -in the Old City, "two minutes walk from the Temple Mount". But why, you may be asking, should Christians take any interest in the Third Temple?
"... for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people", declared the apostle Paul in 2 Cor 6:16. Did Paul thereby repudiate the idea of an earthly temple? It was the same apostle Paul who testified to king Agrippa:
"And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God, unto our fathers: Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hopes sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews." (Acts 26:6,7).
What were Paul and the twelve tribes of Israel hoping for? They were looking for the reign of Messiah in their beloved Jerusalem. This may be established by reference to Acts 1:6; "...they [the disciples] asked of him [Jesus], saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" And our Lords reply in verse 7 "It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power."
To restore, we know, is to bring back into an original state. What was the original state of the kingdom of Israel? David the son of Jesse sat on the throne of the Lord in Jerusalem, ruling over the twelve tribes of Israel who had settled in the promised land. We are to understand, therefore, that Jesus, at the time which the Father has put in his own power, will return to restore, or re-establish the kingdom of Israel. He will reign over all Israel from his capital city, Jerusalem. Jesus said:
"Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is Gods throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King." Matt. 5:34,35.
Clearly, then, Gods throne is in heaven, and Christs is on earth. If the disciples were mistaken, then Jesus missed an important opportunity just before his ascension to correct their false hope. Acts 1:3 informs us that Jesus had just spent the previous "forty days speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God". Did Jesus tell them during those nearly six weeks that his throne and kingdom is in heaven, and that they would join him up there? That is impossible in the light of what we have just seen.
Jesus, filled with zeal, drove merchants out of the Second Temple:
"And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves." Mark 11:17 .
From this saying of our Lord we learn firstly that he regarded the Temple as his Fathers house. It is in this house that there are reserved many "mansions", or abiding places for his faithful disciples; a point we will return to later. We also learn that Jesus fully expected the Temple of God to be called the house of prayer by all nations. What was the religious state of the nations at that time? Except for Israel, they were pagan, every last one of them. All nations have never called Gods Temple their house of prayer. They have not been able to do so since 70 AD, because it hasnt been standing, as we read in Luke 21:5;
"And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said, As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down."
Since Jesus expected the Temple to be the Fathers house of prayer for all nations, he must also have expected the Temple to be rebuilt at a future time. This is in keeping with Malachi 3:1, "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.... and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years."
While this was partially fulfilled at his first coming, it cannot be said that he has yet purified the Levitical priesthood, neither do they yet have any Temple in which to offer their offerings. But they will. Jeremiah prophesied when Zedekiah, the last reigning descendant of David in Jerusalem, was about to be captured by the Babylonians Jeremiah 32:
"And now therefore thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning this city [Jerusalem], whereof ye say, It shall be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence; Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely....Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly with my whole heart and with my whole soul. For thus saith the LORD; Like as I have brought all this great evil upon this people, so will I bring upon them all the good that I have promised them."
Continuing in chapter 33:
"Thus saith the LORD; Again there shall be heard in this place, which ye say shall be desolate without man and without beast, even in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, that are desolate, without man, and without inhabitant, and without beast, The voice of joy, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the voice of them that shall say, Praise the LORD of hosts: for the LORD is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: and of them that shall bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the LORD. For I will cause to return the captivity of the land, as at the first, saith the LORD..... Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will perform that good thing which I have promised unto the house of Israel and to the house of Judah. In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness [Christ] to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land. In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The LORD our righteousness. For thus saith the LORD; David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel; Neither shall the priests the Levites want a man before me to offer burnt offerings, and to kindle meat offerings, and to do sacrifice continually."
Jeremiah presents a clear picture of Gods purpose, wherein He has promised that: He will regather Israel into the land of their forefathers (32:37); a direct descendant of David (Jesus Christ) will reign over them in Jerusalem (33:17); the Levites will again serve God (33:18) in the Temple that will be rebuilt (33:11).
The rebirth of the State of Israel is still a living memory for many, and it is Gods guarantee that "the gifts and calling of God are without repentance" (Romans 11:29).
The book under review cites Isaiah 2:2;
"And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORDS house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem."
This is followed by the comment that Jerusalem "will be once again transformed into the spiritual centre of all mankind" (p.8). This is in keeping with Christs teaching, as we have already seen. On page 11 is quoted Isaiah 11, which is taken to refer to the Messiah:
"But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth: with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins." (verse 4).
The comment follows, "It is he who will succeed in establishing the earthly kingdom of God". This also agrees with Christs teaching in Revelation 11:15; "And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever."
There is a comment on p.78 regarding the size of the Third Temple: "According to the prophet Ezekiel, the Third Temple will differ drastically in its size from its predecessors. According to these measurements, it will be so large that it will occupy the entire area of the city of Jerusalem..." This is a significant statement, and needs our careful attention. Many Gentile commentators insist that Ezekiels temple is much smaller, rather on the scale of Solomons temple. But the fact that a Hebrew "scholar of great renown" (jacket) should understand the Hebrew of Ezekiel to mean a much larger building should be taken very seriously. Rabbi Ariel is not alone. Quite independently, a man with an entirely different background, that of a British architect (as well as student of the Bible) arrived at the same conclusion. With the help of professional Hebraists, and his architectural education, Henry Sulley was able to write in his book, The Temple of Ezekiels Prophecy, that he "has inspected many plans, and has read many expositions of the prophecy that have been put forth by the learned; but he has found nothing satisfactory among them. The problems, architectural and otherwise, that are involved in the vision are not solved by their suggestions or theories. The writer ended his investigation in that direction some years ago, with the conviction that the true interpretation had not been grasped by any of the manifold students of the subject in past times..."
Sulley continues, "The failure of past propositions is no argument against ultimate success. There are many reasons for concluding that the vision was meant to be understood at the right time. The minute constructional details, such as steps, thresholds, doorways, columns, archways, chambers, courts, chimneys, cooking ranges, tables, hooks, etc., all tend to show that their co-relation and use are intended to be comprehended before the prophecy is fulfilled.... The probability is that the general appearance of the building described by Ezekiel is intended to be a matter of familiar comprehension before the time of its erection arrives; for the vision is one of the things written for our learning (Romans 15:4)."
Sulleys method of solution is outside the scope of this review, but we pause to note that he took the measurements quite literally (Ezekiel 40:5; 42:16), which would make the temple approximately one mile in each direction, straddling Mt. Zion. This far exceeds the 30 by 90 feet of Solomons temple. Can this be? We recall the prophecy of Isaiah chapter 2 which was cited earlier, that "all nations shall flow unto" the mountain of the Lords house. Ancient writers describe how crowded the Second Temple was, when virtually all the worshippers were of Israel what proportionately greater space will be needed for the House of Prayer for all people!
Isaiah presents a most arresting word picture of the Third Temple, which is reminiscent of the column of smoke and fire that stood over the tabernacle in the wilderness:
"And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem: When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem [this therefore is the literal, geographical city] from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning. And the LORD will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence (CANOPY). And there shall be a tabernacle (BOOTH) for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain." Isaiah 4:3-6.
The capitalized words in brackets are from A Literal Translation of the Bible, used in The Interlinear Bible. Visitors, upon approaching Mount Zion, will witness a glorious scene: hovering over the Third Temple will be a protective canopy of cloud. Not only will it protect the worshippers from inclement weather and sunburn, but it will be the source of light for it. At night, they will see the same place glowing with warm light. Here will be the Divine climate control that men have long dreamed about. But why should there always be light there? Surely the worshippers will not be expected to attend while the rest of the countryside is slumbering.
A comment in The Odyssey on page 9 leads us to the answer: "...the seat of the Sanhedrin, the Supreme Court of Israel and the highest body of wisdom, was in the Temple. From the Sanhedrin the knowledge of Torah (law) was transmitted to all of Israel, as mentioned in the verse above, For out of Zion shall go forth Torah, and the word of God from Jerusalem".
Although the word Sanhedrin is of Greek origin, that council in Israel was originally composed of priests, presided over by the High Priest. The primary duty of the priesthood is given in Malachi 2:7, "For the priests lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts." In other words, these priests are teachers:
"And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth."
"...the thesis of The Odyssey of the Third Temple is in harmony with the Scriptures: Messiah will rule over God's earthly kingdom from Jerusalem. The Third Temple will be built on Mount Zion, and all nations will worship the God of Israel there..."
Their service will be centred in the Temple: "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever... Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple." (Psalm 23:6; and 65:4)
And so, the thesis of The Odyssey of the Third Temple is in harmony with the Scriptures: Messiah will rule over Gods earthly kingdom from Jerusalem. The Third Temple will be built on Mount Zion, and all nations will worship the God of Israel there. On page 81 they cite Malachi 3:1 "... and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple..." From this they conclude that it is Israels duty to build the Temple as soon as possible before Messiahs coming. But is that possible, now? Beside the Jews, nearly half of the world population has an interest in Jerusalem and her holy places: nearly one third are associated with Christendom the pope of Rome has made himself their spokesman by demanding that Jerusalem be declared an international city. The remaining 17% are Muslims the Temple Mount was made a Muslim shrine in AD 660. Any attempt by the Jews to displace it would be an invitation to a holy war. There is little doubt that the Temple Institute is fully aware of the present difficulties. Perhaps one reason that they are pressing on is their knowledge of the earthquake that devastated the Temple Mount in 1033 AD. If it happened again and it easily could the present buildings would be reduced to rubble. So far, so good but what then? Would there be any less international opposition to building the temple?
The writers of The Odyssey clearly do not recognize Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah. But the apostle Paul was divinely moved to declare in Romans 11:25; "For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion [Zion] the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins." In other words, Israels rejection of Jesus is temporary. This blindness will end when Jesus returns from heaven. Having taken possession of Jerusalem he will deliver them and open their eyes. This will bring about repentance, and reconciliation with Christ. This is Gods covenant (v.27) with Israel and God never breaks His promise. Zechariah foresaw this:
"Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem. And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it... And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn." (Zechariah 12:2-10)
Scripture shows that Messiah (Christ) will return to Jerusalem via the Mount of Olives:
"And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee." (Zechariah 14:4,5).
And so Jerusalem will be hit by another devastating earthquake, divinely timed to coincide with the arrival of Christ. This is apparently the beginning of our Lords cleansing of the Promised Land of all foreign shrines. The owners will naturally apply to return to rebuild their various churches, chapels, mosques, seminaries, convents, etc. But Jesus, having established himself as Despot of the Holy Land, will say "No! I am Gods appointed religious leader of this world!" The world religious and political leaders will be thunderstruck and scandalized by such an attitude, and they will soon organize an international holy war against him, as it is written:
"Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed [Messiah], saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion [apostate Christendom & the Muslims will think that they own it]. I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potters vessel." (Psalm 2:1-9).
It would appear that only after smashing the opposition, Christ will be able to proceed with overseeing construction of the Third Temple, for: "Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD: Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both." (Zechariah 6:12-13).
In closing this review we would appeal to our readers to "search the scriptures daily, whether these things are so" (Acts 17:11). If the apostle Paul could commend the men and women of Berea for checking his teaching against the Scriptures, how much more do we ask the same of our readers.