There have been two temples in Israel’s history. The first built by King Solomon, was destroyed in 586 BC by the Babylonians and a second one built by Ezra when King Cyrus and Darius allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem from their Babylonian. This second Temple underwent major renovations by King Herod and it was the temple that Jesus visited.
That second Temple was obliterated by the Romans in 70 AD and since then Orthodox Jews believe that God wants a third Temple built based on prophecies in Ezekiel that spoke of a temple that did not fit the descriptions of the previous two temples (Ezekiel 40-42).
According to Israel365 news, an orthodox Jewish news site, many orthodox Jews are convinced a third temple must be built. They also believe that it will be much larger than the first two because it needs to make room for arrival of the gentiles who will be part of the temple worship (Isaiah 2:2-3).
The details of the prophecy related to the building of the Third Temple are found in Ezekiel 40-48. Although many of the details in Ezekiel’s prophecy are currently vague, we do know certain things about the structure of the Third Temple from his prophetic vision.
Jewish tradition teaches that the Third Temple will be significantly bigger than the first two Temples, in part to allow for the presence of the Nations to witness the Temple services.
Of course, the major hindrance to constructing a third temple still remains. The Muslims control the Temple Mount in Jerusalem that feature the Dome of the Rock, that some believe was built on the original location of the second Temple, and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
But despite this many orthodox Jews are convinced, that a third temple is necessary because it coincides with the arrival of the Jewish Messiah. As a result Orthodox Jews have been making preparations for the building of a third temple.
Much of this has been led by the Temple Institute, a non-profit set up in 1987, dedicated to preparing for the construction of a Third Temple in Jerusalem.
Temple furniture has been built
Over the last several years, the Temple Institute has constructed most of the furniture needed for the temple. They were built according to the specifications outlined in the Old Testament and this includes the large sacrificial altar, the seven-branch Menorah, the golden shew table, incense altar and over 60 pure gold and silver vessels required for the Temple service.
They have also manufactured the ancient musical instruments used by the Levitical choir.
The clothing for the priests and High Priests who serve in the Temple has also been created. This includes the High Priest’ ornate breastplate and golden crown.
The Temple Institute has also ordered up architectural drawings for the third temple merging the Biblical demands with modern construction requirements.
Curiously, the only item, that they did not build was the Ark of the Covenant.
The Red heifer
One of the major sacrifices associated with the Temple involves a red heifer and as a result the Temple Institute also set up a program where farmers throughout Israel can raise red heifers that are regularly checked to ensure they are acceptable for worship. The animals must be perfectly red and cannot have any white or even off-color red hairs. READ: Ten-day-old red heifer candidate checked for eligibility
Priestly caste set up
The Temple Institute has even set up a caste of priests who will serve in this third temple. Of course, in order to qualify, the priests must be descendants of the first High Priest Aaron, and they actually use Genetic testing to find markers found only in Aaron’s descendants to determine if a person qualifies.
However, being a direct descendant of Aaron or a kohanim is not enough. They must also meet other qualifications that includes being born in Israel after 1948, not being born in a hospital and never having visited a cemetery. READ: Third Temple closer than ever as search beings for eligible Jewish Priests AND When the third temple is built, these temple priests will be ready to serve
But has the Third Temple already been built?
Of course, as mentioned the construction of a Third Jewish Temple in Jerusalem still faces a major obstacle — the Muslim control of the Temple Mount.
Though there is room on the site for a Jewish temple (without removing the two Muslim buildings), such a construction could potentially cause significant problems with Muslim who do not even allow Jews to pray on the temple mount, forcing them instead to pray at the western wall.
So, the construction of a Third temple depends on the Israeli government’s willingness to risk a potential war with the surrounding Muslim nations?
But the bigger question is this: Has God already constructed the Third Temple?
Though the Jews rejected Jesus as their Messiah, the Old Testament prophecies point to Christ as the Messiah. As part of this, the New Testament writers understood that Jesus’ body was the true Temple of God (John 2:20-22). This would suggest that Christ was the fulfillment of the Third Temple prophesied by Ezekiel.
Ironically, some Orthodox Jews believe, because of the ambiguous wording in Ezekiel, that the Messiah will be actively involved in the construction of the third temple. READ: Will God or the Messiah Build the Third Holy Temple?
And the Apostle Paul adds that the church, which is the Body of Christ, serves as the Temple of God after Christ’s resurrection (Ephesians 2:19-21). And when the Holy Spirit fell on the gentiles in Acts 10, the church literally fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies of the gentiles pouring into God’s temple.
And on top of this, Jesus prophesied that the second Temple would be utterly destroyed (Mark 13:1-2) because it was no longer necessary and it was this prediction that was used in part to justify Christ’s crucifixion (Matthew 26:60-62).
So, if Christ is the third prophesied Temple, will God allow the construction of a third temple in Jerusalem? It’s possible that God is using the Muslim occupation of the Temple Mount to prevent this from happening.
But a physical third temple may still be part of the prophetic plan as its construction could be the catalyst that leads to the prophesied end-times Gog and Magog war, when several nations lay siege against Israel.