by Tom Olago
Preparations toward the building in Jerusalem of the 3rd Jewish temple, together with the re-institution of the related ancient Jewish sacrifices, seem to have begun in earnest. In a recent edition of U.S News and World Report, Yuval Avivi details the practices and processes that were expected to be launched as from 10th April 2014, in an article titled ‘Israeli Institute Prepares Priests for Jerusalem’s Third Temple’. The plan to rebuild the Jewish temple has significant implications with regards to end-time Bible prophecy, and as such is being viewed with interest primarily by Christians, Jews and Bible scholars, especially students of eschatology.
The timing of the gathering has been matched to the date on which the people of Israel were commanded to take a lamb and sacrifice it, before the Exodus from Egypt. Temple rites will entail slaughtering lambs, sprinkling their blood on the altar by priests dressed in kosher priestly garments and roasting the lambs with their heads, legs and innards, in the exact manner that God first prescribed to the Jewish people or ‘children of Israel’ at the first Passover.
Yuval explains that in the first stage, hundreds of Jews will gather at the Maimonides rabbinical institution plaza in the Kiryat Moshe neighborhood in Jerusalem and start learning the Jewish laws of Passover. Rabbis and experts, including Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, the head of the Temple Institute in the Old City of Jerusalem, the leading body preparing for the establishment of the third temple, will teach the audience the laws of the Passover sacrifice. Alongside Ariel, the ritual slaughterer (shohet) Rabbi Yehudah Giatt will teach the audience about the unique elements of the slaughter of the Passover sacrifice. After the lessons, the real thing will start: the simulation of the Passover sacrifice.
The practice drill and re-enactment of the Passover sacrifice has been assigned to the students of the school for priests, Nezer Ha-kodesh, which started operating this year to train the hundreds of priests that would be needed to work at the third temple. According to the director of the school, Rabbi Yehoshua Friedman, to carry out the mandatory sacrifices a minimum of 13 priests in the temple, to as high as several hundred, is necessary for a fully operating temple.
The many laws relating to the temple operations include how to use incense, how to light the holy menorah, how to sanctify hands and feet, and of course, how to sacrifice. The study course is undergoing continued development as the student priests continue to raise requests to learn one topic or another, especially since some laws are said to have faded over time. At the Temple Institute, researchers are working hard to relearn the laws as well as study the architecture, location and necessary tools, including the actual re-enactment of the required rituals. As Rabbi Friedman stated: “One of the unique elements of the course is the actual practice. In my course, they learned how to sacrifice birds, so we brought stuffed doves, so that the priests would learn how to hold them, how to execute the specific moves. We work on standing in front of the altar to demonstrate the action, so that it’ll become natural to them.”
According to journalist Arnon Segal, religious Zionism and the State of Israel are said to have long worked to focus Jewish longing on the Western Wall, in what was a seemingly deliberate attempt to “remove the Temple Mount from the Jewish mind.” Segal and his friends have been working in recent years, with growing success, to change the outlook of decision-makers: rabbis, members of the Knesset and other influential Israelis, who Segal describes as “…traditional and attached to the texts of the prayers and study of Judaism, which is full of the desire to re-establish the temple”.
The Temple Institute is said to be one of about 12 official groups working in Israel today to establish the temple, with some of them receiving funding amounting to hundreds of thousands of shekels from the State of Israel. Thousands of people visit the Temple Institute every year, and it holds various training sessions meant to educate and raise consciousness. But they also work on the pragmatic level, using such tools as:
· The holy menorah, a modular altar that could quickly be taken apart and reassembled at the temple;
· The bronze basin;
· The shewbread (consecrated unleavened bread) table;
· No less than 40 sets of kosher priestly garments (the prototype for the thousands of sets to be sewn in the future).
The rabbis detailed 93 different tools that were used in the temple, and the Temple Institute also deals with them. Segal explains that “It’s based on very in-depth research done at various places…It’s an entire research project of the past 20 years.”
According to Rabbi Friedman, the architectural plan of the Third Temple will resemble that of the Second one, and will include an organized plan for the Chamber of Hewn Stone, the seat of the Sanhedrin [the ancient high court assembly]. There will be a menorah, an altar, a shewbread table, the Holy of Holies. However there will be no entryway (hall) in the sanctuary that existed in the First and Second Temples, and changes to the basin which according to the Talmud has had 12 spigots added to it. It’s unknown how many they had before that.
Friedman further explains that modern era conveniences, such as computers, legal documents, fruit mixers, electric ovens, and even that will transmit what’s happening there to the whole world. But he notes that modern advances could also create some difficulties: “The temple subsisted on the half-shekel tax. This money became sanctified when it was transferred to the temple. Today, when payments are made by direct deposit, they will only be numbers in bank accounts and there’s no actual sacred currency. It’s a nuance that needs to be considered.”
Segal and Friedman agree that everything is ready except two additional “small” matters:
1. The “easy” one is surprisingly, the absence of the Ark of the Covenant. Friedman stated that “There are 10 studies about the location of the Ark of the Covenant. We read them and studied all of them, and reached the conclusion that the right answer is that it’s buried in the tunnels under the Temple Mount. When the day comes, we will get to it.” It is also noteworthy, as pointed out by Segal, that the Second Temple did not have an ark.
2. The more problematic issue is the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Dome of the Rock, which slightly impedes the architectural plans. “The temple will not be built through private acts and blowing up mosques,” emphasizes Segal. “That’s not the direction. The direction is changing consciousness. The preparations are mental more than anything.” One of the people involved in preparations, who requested anonymity, explains, “If not for the problem of the Dome of the Rock, they would build the temple today, and the temple would be built there. The third temple will be built by the government of Israel, not by private individuals. No one will do what shouldn’t be done, like an underground action to blow up the Dome of the Rock. The people who are committed to establishing the temple are normative and rational people, and just like we established the State of Israel, the day will come when we will build the temple, in an orderly, state-sanctioned manner… the location of the altar where sacrifices are allowed on the Temple Mount is not within the bounds of Al-Aqsa, so at least they should let us sacrifice on the Temple Mount.”
However before any sacrifices take place there, the State of Israel will need to authorize Jews to ascend to the Temple Mount and allow them to conduct any specifically related activities.
For students of Biblical eschatology, the interest is more on the prophetic significance of these events: what does it all mean, especially in relation to end-time prophecies mentioned particularly in the books of Daniel and Revelation?
It is noteworthy to remember that as with most prophetic/end time prophecies, although Bible Scholars tend to agree on most prophetic Biblical themes and events specified, in some cases they also tend to differ on interpretation and timing of certain details.
He Is Near.com explains that based on Revelation 11:2 and 13:1, once a 7-year Mideast Peace Agreement is signed by the End -Time Antichrist or “man of sin”, then the 3rd Temple in Jerusalem will be built within the first three and a half years of the Tribulation and “will be a prime cause of the massive bloodshed, terror & death that will occur worldwide at that time”. Once it is completed, the Antichrist will be the ultimate world leader who will enter into the 3rd Temple at the exact Mid-7 year point of the 7-year Tribulation period. The man of sin then “takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God” (2 Thess.2:4; Rev.13:1-18; Dan. 9:27). This act will launch the Great Tribulation period, the most horrific & deathly three and a half year period that will ever occur in world history, all at the hands of the Antichrist.
Based on this interpretation, the other key event to watch for in addition to the rebuilding of the Temple is the signing of a peace treaty in the Middle East, which will then trigger the timetable of events prophesied to occur after that.
Nowtheendbegins.com also states that based on Daniel 9:24-27, at the time of the ‘Great Tribulation’ or the ‘time of Jacob’s trouble’, this Temple will be taken over, as Daniel the prophet foresaw, by the Lawless One, commonly known as the Antichrist, at exactly three and one half years after the start of the Time of Jacob’s Trouble. The Antichrist is also prophesied to interfere with the sacrifices being made in the Temple once it has been rebuilt:
And he shall enter into a strong and firm covenant with the many for one week [seven years]. And in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and offering to cease [for the remaining three and one-half years]; and upon the wing or pinnacle of abominations [shall come] one who makes desolate, until the full determined end is poured out on the desolator. (Daniel 9:27 – Amplified Version)
Clearly the rebuilding of the 3rd Temple reflects how close we are to the fulfillment of all the other Biblical prophecies relating to the end times, especially the chaotic 7 years of time commonly described as Daniel’s 70th week, and ultimately the return of Jesus Christ to rule the earth in righteousness, peace and justice, as prophesied by the prophet Isaiah:
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this (Isaiah 9:6, 7).