In October 2007, a group of 34 West Papuans showed up at the Temple Institute in Jerusalem to make a donation. As Temple Institute CEO Rabbi Yisrael Ariel saw the nature of the donation he became very emotional – it was one kilogram of solid gold, plus a large sum of money! Some of the members of the delegation even began giving their own jewellery – one couple went so far as to give their wedding rings! West Papua is rich in gold, and the group explained that their donation was motivated by the words of the prophet Zechariah: “Even those from afar shall come and build the Temple of the Lord.” (Zec 6:15)
Is such a donation led by God, or is it misplaced zeal aiding an anti-Christ agenda?
To find the answer, let’s examine some common objections to Christians aiding the Temple movement.
Isn’t the Church the Temple of God?
The Church has correctly taught that we are temples of the Holy Spirit as individuals and as a church. And as we no longer need sacrifices, many have concluded that a physical Temple in Jerusalem has no role in the ‘Church Age’.
If this was the case, then one would expect that the birth of the Church in the book of Acts would have led to an immediate and complete withdrawal of the Christians from the Temple. After all, what further use did they have for the site?
Surprisingly, the first thing the disciples did after the ascension of Jesus was to return to the Temple to praise and bless God (Luke 24:52-53). Even after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the disciples continued to meet in the Temple during the hour of prayer. They were even divinely instructed to preach the gospel and heal the sick there (Act 3-4). Years later we read of Paul the Apostle encountering God in a trance during a time of prayer at the Temple (Acts 22:17).
It can therefore be seen that the Temple was still important to the disciples even after the birth of the Church. It was a place where they met with God and worshiped Him. If the early disciples met God there at the Temple, why couldn’t we also meet with Him there? And if so, could we also support the efforts to rebuild the Temple?
But the Rabbis Don’t Believe in Jesus
Bible believing Christians can find many areas of common ground with leaders of the Temple Movement. But the Temple Movement does not recognise Jesus as the Messiah and segments of the Movement are interested in inter-faith co-operation with Islam.
Can Christians have anything to do with a Temple built and led by Rabbis with such views? To answer the question, let’s turn again to the example of the early Church. We have to remember that the Temple leadership at that time were the very ones who conspired against Jesus and had Him killed.
The early disciples had every reason to leave the Temple and start their own Church down the road so to speak. Why then did the disciples continue to worship in the Temple?
I believe the answer is simply that they honoured the holiness of the site. They believed that God still had chosen this place, and that His promise to King Solomon still remained that “My name (will) be there forever; and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually” and that “My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place”(2 Chron 7:12-16). They saw the site as holy to God and as a meeting place with Him – irrespective of its leadership.
If the early disciples kept meeting and praising God in the Temple with a corrupt leadership in place, shouldn’t we as Christians also be able to go to and support a future Third Temple – even if we disagree with key teachings of the rabbis in charge?
The Temple will be an Unholy anti-Christ Temple
The Third Temple will one day be desecrated by the anti-Christ. Therefore some say that it is an anti-Christ Temple, and that helping to rebuild it is tantamount to building a temple for the anti-Christ! But according to Rev 11:1 it will be a Temple of God (and not of the anti-Christ). The very fact that it will one day be desecrated necessitates that it will in the first place be considered truly holy to God. After all, only a place that is truly holy to God can be desecrated!
If God then considers the Temple Mount and the future Temple as truly holy, then that should radically change the way we view and treat this site and any efforts to rebuild the Temple.
So, Can Christians support the Rebuilding of the Temple?
The Bible records how Ezra and Zerubabbel were divinely mandated to rebuild the Second Temple. Yet, only a few hundred years later (150 BC), the Second Temple was desecrated and an idol was erected in the Holy Place. This dramatic period known as Hanukkah, is regarded by most scholars as a graphic prophetic pre-cursor to the future reign of the anti-Christ and his future desecration of the Temple.
God knew that the Second Temple was going to be desecrated - yet He commanded, encouraged and enabled His people to rebuild the Temple.
It would appear that God is today also stirring up the Jewish people to rebuild the Temple even though it one day will be desecrated.
Ultimately I believe that the Temple will not only set the stage for key End Time events – but it will also point the Jewish people back to the need for a perfect sacrifice lamb. I believe it will set the stage for the day when He is welcomed back as their Messiah and the Lamb of God that carries away the sin of the world.
In this article we have seen that it is possible for Christians to support the rebuilding of the Temple. However, I would also urge all believers to be aware of the various issues surrounding the Temple project and to only support what they have peace about in their own hearts.