The Temple Mount...
Isn’t it interesting that the focus of world news is now on the Middle East, most specifically on Jerusalem --- and even more specifically --- on the Temple Mount. Peace negotiations seem unavoidably drawn to that location. One wonders if this is the beginning of what God meant when He said that He would make Jerusalem a stumbling stone for the nations, and that all nations would one day come against Jerusalem. Many have set dates for certain end-time events --- particularly the rapture --- and a bad taste has been left in the mouths of many who are aware of such failed predictions. All of us who have attempted to set dates for specific end-time events up to today have been wrong. I don’t think people who make such predictions are heretics, as some say, but it does throw a pall over what may be legitimate --- and not entirely speculative --- considerations of the timing of end-time events. Did God give us sign posts that we should be looking for?
Many Bible students believe the references to the "temple" and the "altar" and the "outer court" in Revelation Chapter 11 are referring to spiritual things, and have nothing to do with an actual physical rebuilt temple on the Temple Mount. That may be true. But perhaps both the spiritual and natural interpretations are valid. There may be one day soon a new Jewish temple being built on the Temple Mount, and if that should be the case, it will be almost certainly a bench-mark in the time scale of end-time events. Why would I say that and risk adding yet another "false prophetic" voice to the clamor of those already predicting specific dates? Because I am not predicting a specific date. But the Bible gives us specific times --- not specific dates as a day or month of a particular year --- but specific intervals of days relative to certain events. When these events will start in terms of a specific day, month, or year is unknown. But when certain of these events do start, things will progress like clockwork, and that clockwork countdown is very clearly given to us in the Bible. We must neither add to --- nor subtract --- from what God has given us. We should not ignore the detailed information He has provided just because of the poor testimony of failed date-settings. He has given us specific time intervals in terms of days, months, and years regarding the unfolding of events, particularly during the last three and one-half years of the age. More is written in the Book of Revelation about the last three and one-half years of the age than all the rest of the prior two-thousand year history of the Church age. I believe He has given us specific times so that we could understand what is happening. But we must pay attention. We must WATCH.
God is concentrating much of His plan for His Church into the last three and one-half years of the age. Those will be days of incredible darkness and incredible light. Those will be the days of the final battle between Satan and the fully empowered Church of Jesus Christ. And the Church will win --- by the Blood of the Lamb, the word of her testimony, and by loving not her life unto death. The very wisdom of God in the form of the cross will be demonstrated through a Church brought to full stature in Jesus Christ. And there is a specific event that starts off this final three and one-half years of the age that everyone should be aware of. It is revealed in Daniel Chapters 11 and 12 for all to read about. And the book of Daniel says that the wise will understand what is written and what will happen.
Daniel 11:31 describes an event which is described as taking place in Jerusalem on the Temple Mount and seemingly in a physical Jewish temple. In the middle of the final seven years of the age, someone sets up an "abomination of desolation" in a "holy place" and from that day until the "end" there are 1290 days . . . not 1291 days, not 1289 days, but 1290 specific days. What are we to think of this? Is all this reference to "temples" and "holy places" to be understood as reference entirely to spiritual matters, and not physical items which we could see or touch? I think we should be flexible in our thinking, and be prepared for either or both possibilities.
Jesus said to His disciples that when they would see the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place, as described in the book of Daniel the prophet, then those in Jerusalem should flee because then would begin a time of great tribulation. Was Jesus referring to a spiritual temple, as He had been known to do, or was He referring to something His disciples could physically see? I tend to take the simplest interpretation, and that to me is "when they would see" means "when they would SEE."
If a physical temple is erected on the Temple Mount and if this abomination of desolation is something we can physically see, then we will be on a finite and specific countdown to the exact day of the end of the age. Since things won’t go really bad until that time when the antichrist is revealed and the great tribulation starts, we should be fully warned and aware of what is happening. Why do I think that these things are physical as well as spiritual?
Partly it’s because of reference to the outer court in Revelation 11 being measured with a measuring rod and given over to the nations. Spiritual things are not usually measured with a "tape measure." Partly it’s because the Bible says Jerusalem will be trampled upon by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are complete (that includes the outer court). Partly it’s because I had opportunity several years ago to stand beside the Dome of the Spirits north of the Dome of the Rock and observe a large flat stone forming the floor of that cupola that looked like it could have been a threshing floor. It had been worn and polished to the extent that it was a smooth as . . . a mill stone. The surface resembled the well-worn surface of a flat river stone. It was almost perfectly flat. It took a lot of hours of "polishing" to make it look like that. I don’t think it was an art project. As I remember, it was about ten or twelve feet across. If indeed this is the original threshing floor that David purchased, and the site of the original Holy of Holies, the construction of a new temple would not necessarily interfere with the existing structures on the Temple Mount. Some archaeologists believe this is the case. There is an interesting website at http://www.excel.net/~hoy/temple.html that presents this possibility as a key to peace negotiations which could provide for construction of such a new temple. The following quote is taken from a BAR write-up on that website:
"Dr. Asher S. Kaufman concluded that the original site of the Temple was at the northwest corner of the Temple Mount; north of the Dome of the Rock. He has determined that the east-west line aligning the Mount of Olives with the Eastern Gate and the Temple bisect on a small shrine called the Dome of the Spirits. The Holy of Holies is thought to have been located on the bedrock covered by this small cupola. He noted that the bedrock inside this little domed area is the only such bedrock appearing on the Temple Mount --it sticks up from the surface. The rest of the area around the Dome of the Rock has been paved. This is the "Eben Shetiyyah" (Foundation stone) that was the floor in the ancient Holy of Holies."
Of course, we realize that any such peace will be a false peace that will fall apart at the middle of the final seven years of the age. I think we should keep these things in our back pockets for a rainy day when suddenly a peacemaker may appear on the scene, and part of the provision of the treaty he proposes is that the Jews can rebuild their new temple --- which they are standing in the wings this very day, prepared in a moments notice --- to begin.
And if this is the scenario, then we won’t have to wait until the middle of the final seven years to start the countdown. The book of Daniel says "he" will confirm a covenant with the many for seven years. In the middle of the seven, "he" will set up the abomination of desolation and stop the regular sacrifice. The "he" that does this is defined in Daniel 11:31 as none other than the "antichrist" we hear that is coming. I believe the reference to 2300 days in Daniel 8:14 is particularly suggestive, because it is a period of time which includes not only the time from the abomination of desolation to the restoration of the "holy place", but also the time of the regular sacrifice. This time interval then would include the time that the regular sacrifice is in effect, the time of the abomination of desolation that stops the regular sacrifice, and the time interval to restore the holy place. Including the time of the regular sacrifice extends this period of time from three and one-half years to 220 days short of seven years. That 220 days is what the Temple Mount Faithful folks said in 1994 that it would approximately take to erect a new temple and restore sacrifices. The man I asked the question of said, "about six months." Keep this in your back pocket for that rainy day --- just in case.
God gave us these specific time intervals for a purpose. These intervals begin with specific events. If these events are spiritualized, it will be more difficult to define their start. But if they are physical events which everyone can see and mark on their calendars, then they will be definite bench-marks in the sequence of the end-time countdown.
When will it begin? Only God knows. And He isn’t telling. At least He isn’t telling me --- or anyone else so far that has claimed they knew. But the signs of the times are there for us to observe, and we are counseled to know and understand them. When these events begin to unfold, they will unfold very quickly, right on schedule with the precise prophesied time intervals --- to the day. If we have these possibilities thought out, even though they be hypothetical, we will be better able to pick up on the understanding of these events when they begin to take place. We will be in better position to counsel others, as do those of Daniel 12:3, who are called wise and will shine like stars forever.