Push to rebuild Jerusalem Temple has earth-shaking implications
There is probably not a more disputed parcel of real estate than the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
A portion of the land there is occupied by an Islamic mosque, yet there are developing plans to rebuild the prophesied third Jewish Temple.
That leaves the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a political situation that offers no easy way out.
During Passover, Jewish activists held a ritual sacrifice in view of the Temple Mount as part of a larger effort to encourage the rebuilding of the Temple. Attending the ceremony was Yehuda Glick, an American-born Knesset member of Netanyahu's Likud Party. The ceremony was held outside the Hurva Synagogue in what was widely perceived as a prestigious location that gave the ritual a certain amount of legitimacy. One of the activists involved predicted it would only be "a few more years" before sacrifices were held on the Temple Mount itself.
But even attempts by Jewish activists to begin hosting sacrifices on or even near the Temple Mount have led to increased tensions with the Muslim community, and the Muslim authorities who govern the Temple Mount have forbidden any sacrifices on the Temple Mount itself.
Israeli police recently arrested five Jewish men who were attempting to pray on the Temple Mount, as well as 17 people in a separate incident who were trying to smuggle goats onto the site to offer a sacrifice.
Netanyahu cannot afford to antagonize religious Jews or the Orthodox parties, as they form an important part of his political coalition. And he's already having a hard time keeping his coalition together, as the leaders of the ultra-Orthodox Israeli political parties have publicly announced their opposition to any unilateral attempt by the prime minister to dissolve the government.
At the same time, the nascent Sanhedrin, a group attempting to revive the ancient Jewish legal institution, is also attempting to promote a rebuilding effort.
In response to a conflict between Netanyahu and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, the group invited Iran to rebuild relations with the Jewish state by endorsing a rebuilding of the Temple.
Netanyahu points out that Iranian leaders have vowed to wipe out the Jews. In response, Zarif reminded the Israeli leader it was Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Achaemenid Empire, who had helped to build the Second Temple.
Mark Biltz, author of "God's Day Timer" and "Blood Moons" and a passionate advocate of renewing biblical Jewish traditions within Christian worship, says the political conflicts within Israel are standing in the way of reconstruction.
"The biggest problem for Israel in building the Temple is not needing Iran to somehow give permission or assistance but for the nation of Israel itself to make it happen," he told WND. "It's Israeli politics that stands in the way, for good or ill, depending on your position about whether we should see the Third Temple. It's a matter of separation of synagogue and state. Do you really think the politicians want the ultra-Orthodox or a new Sanhedrin determining what laws all Israelis must follow?"
As Biltz explained, though many religious groups and some activists associated with the Jewish right are eager to build the Third Temple, there is passionate theological debate within the Jewish community itself about whether the Temple should be constructed.
"Within the Orthodox Jewish community, some hold that they must wait for their Messiah, whose name is the Branch, to build the Temple based on the verse in Zechariah 6:12-15, which says 'He shall build the temple of the Lord,'" he said.
"Others say the situation now is similar to when the prophet Haggai complained about how some were content without a Temple. He argued they needed to get to work and rebuild the Temple that had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. If you believe God wants the Temple rebuilt, why would you stand idly by and not be doing all you can to bring God's presence back, especially if we really want true peace on earth?"
One group, the Temple Institute, has been actively pushing to create or acquire the elements needed to build the Third Temple. It re-created the holy altar, drew up architectural plans to actually build the Temple and even began raising the sacred red heifers needed for ceremonial purposes in Israel.
Biltz says Christians need to be closely following these developments. Though he cautions "of that day and hour no one knows," the reconstruction of the Third Temple would be a critical sign the last days are actually at hand.
"In the Christian community many are waiting for the Temple to rebuilt as a sure sign of the last days about to be fulfilled," he said. "One thing we know for sure is history keeps repeating itself. We don't know the form yet. Whether it's a full-blown Temple or just a prefab one that can be thrown together quickly, we will have to wait and see. It may not be anything more than an altar doing Passover sacrifices.
"But one thing is for sure. If the Temple is rebuilt and sacrifices are resumed, hold on to your shorts as the time is short!"
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