Third Temple, Rapture & Gog/Magog

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Commonly, it has been taught, by many Bible teachers and prophecy scholars, that three events will take place at or near the beginning of the final seven years, also known as the 70th Week:

  • a Third Temple being built in Jerusalem in which sacrifices and offerings will be made and, subsequently, will be forcibly stopped;
  • a “Pre-tribulation” Rapture, in which Christian believers will be caught up and away before the 7-year “tribulation” period; and
  • an attack on Israel by the hordes of Gog and Magog, as described in Ezekiel 38 and 39.
The next three subsections explain why I am convinced that it is not a requirement for these events to take place at or near the beginning of the 70th Week.

Third Temple

There are many who believe that there will be a Third Temple standing in Jerusalem prior to the Messiah’s return, in which sacrifices and offerings will be ceased in the middle or midst of the 70th Week, in accordance with Daniel 9:27b.  Many also believe that a peaceful directive to build the temple will be part of the prophesied seven-year agreement, assumed by many to be a “peace treaty.”

However, Ezra 3:3-6 shows that numerous sacrifices and offerings were made on an altar even before the foundation of the second temple had been laid.  Thus, there does not have to be a third man-made temple in Jerusalem for a prophesied cessation of sacrifices and offerings to take place.

In fact, a new altar in Jerusalem was dedicated, by the Jewish Sanhedrin, in December 2018:

Sanhedrin "Third Temple"
Ritual in Jerusalem (R$E)

Passover sacrificial lambAlso, in April 2019, a Passover sacrifice service took place in Jerusalem, where a lamb was sacrificed and burned:

Passover Sacrifice Service for Third Temple

“Temple” vs. “Shrine”
Matthew 24:1 (Greek)

John 18:20 (Greek)

2 Thessalonians 2:4 (Greek)

Revelation 11:1,2 (Greek)

Click on the chart to see a larger view.
Presumably, at some point in the future, sacrifices such as this—especially if taking place on the Islamically controlled Temple Mount—might spark a firestorm of Islamic opposition and trigger the command to refrain from any further sacrifice or offering.  Conceivably, a scenario like this could fulfill the prophecy in Daniel 9:27b.

It is exceedingly implausible that orthodox Jews would be able to construct a Third Temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, which is under Islamic control.  One of the ultimate goals of radical Islam is the destruction of Jerusalem.

Most likely, then, if even one stone of a Jewish temple’s foundation were laid there, it would create a conflagration of controversy.  Presumably, it would result in an immediate, violent backlash by Muslims against the Jews in Jerusalem and in Judea (usually called the West Bank).

Some, including Ernest Martin and Robert Cornuke, have attempted to show that Solomon’s and Herod’s temples stood at a location other than on the Temple Mount.  If so, this would seem to leave room for the possibility that a Third Temple might be constructed somewhere besides on the Temple Mount.  I remain unconvinced, though, that any temples in the past were located anywhere other than on the Temple Mount.

Some will point to Jesus’ reference to the “holy place” (Matthew 24:15) as evidence that a third man-made temple must be present at the end of the age, in which sacrifice and offering will be stopped in fulfillment of Daniel 9:27b.  This so-called “temple” also was mentioned by Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 and by John in Revelation 11:1,2.

2 Thessalonians 2:4

Revelation 11:1,2

Click on an image to see a larger view.
However, in the latter two verses, a more precise translation of that word, from the Greek, is shrine ( or ) rather than temple.  To see 2 Thessalonians 2:4 and Revelation 11:1,2 in the Parallel New Testament in Greek and English, click on the images to the right or click here.  The word translated as shrine in these verses is not the same as the word that is translated as temple in Matthew 24:1 () and in John 18:20 ().  View the “Temple” vs. “Shrine” chart above, or click here for a larger view.

Interestingly, there already is a shrine standing on the Temple Mount: the Islamic Dome of the Rock.  Inside of it is located the Foundation Stone or the Noble Rock.  On top of this stood the Holy of Holies or Most Holy Place (Hebrews 9:2,3; Leviticus 16:17) inside of the tabernacle and the first two temples that stood long ago (see “A” and “B” in Second Temple/Today).

Although the Dome of the Rock certainly would not be considered by God to be a “holy” building, the spot on the Temple Mount upon which it stands still would be a holy place (Matthew 24:15) to God.  Since the time of Solomon’s temple, this is the location where God’s Name, eyes and heart always have been and always will be (1 Chronicles 7:16).

Incidentally, we typically think of a “temple” as a building or edifice where God was or is worshiped.  However, another definition of “temple” is a place or location dedicated to the service or worship of God.  Thus, loosely speaking, the place on the Temple Mount where the Dome of the Rock now stands could still be considered to be a “temple” even if no structure stood there, since it originally was the place or location dedicated to the service and worship of the one, true God.

There appears to be an image of Satan’s face on the marble wall outside of the Dome of the Rock, just to the right of the front entrance.  The god of Islam is Allah — The Greatest Deceiver of them All.  Satan, the god of this age, is the greatest liar and deceiver who leads the world astray (John 8:44; 2 Corinthians 4:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:9,10; Revelation 12:9).

It would seem quite possible, then, that the abomination that causes desolation (Daniel 9:27c), to which Jesus referred (Matthew 24:15 and Mark 13:14), will be set up inside of the Islamic Dome of the Rock.  That structure stands on ground, where Solomon’s temple stood long ago, that always will be holy to God (1 Chronicles 7:16).  All of this would seem to preclude the existence of another man-made temple, a Third Temple.

Presently, the Temple Mount is under Islamic, rather than Jewish, control and management.  The language in the following verse verifies that the area on the Temple Mount, which constituted the outer court of the temple long ago, will be under the control of Gentiles (non-Jews), who will trample Jerusalem for 42 months = 3˝ years:

But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles.  They will trample on the holy city for 42 months. (Revelation 11:2—NIV)

But the court which is without the temple [shrine] leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months. (Revelation 11:2—KJV)
Most likely, then, the next temple to stand in Jerusalem will be the millennial Temple, to be crafted by Yeshua/Jesus after He returns.

the Rapture

Besides believing that a Third Temple will be constructed at or near the beginning of the 70th Week, many also believe that a Rapture event will occur at that time.  In their view, this is when believers in Jesus will be caught up and away into heaven.  They believe that this will enable them to be protected from God’s wrath (1 Thessalonians 5:9,10), which they feel will transpire throughout the entire seven-year period prior to Jesus’ return to earth.

I am absolutely convinced, however, that this perspective of the Rapture, known as the “Pre-tribulation” view, contains flaws.  Firstly, the wrath of God will not be poured out during the entire 70th Week, which should not be equated with the Day of the Lord period.  Secondly, the Rapture will not be a “silent, unexpected” event (see Rapture not unexpected).  More information about the “Pre-tribulation” Rapture view can be found in the first few questions/responses of my Rapture Questions & Responses section.  I feel certain that the Pre-wrath Rapture view is correct, as explained in my two-part commentary: The Rapture.

So although I do believe that a Rapture of multitudes of people will happen, I am confident that it will take place at some point during the final 3˝ years.  In fact, I think it is very likely that it will take place on a Rosh HaShanah = Feast of Trumpets, soon after the opening of the Sixth Seal, about a year prior to Jesus’ return to earth on a Yom Kippur = Day of Atonement.

Furthermore, God’s wrath will not encompass the entire 70th Week.  It is not until after the opening of the Sixth Seal, following a brief foreshadowing of God’s wrathful vengeance, that the terrified people of the world will realize that the onset of His wrath is imminent (Revelation 6:15-17).  The fullness of this wrath will commence with the opening of the Seventh Seal: the Day of the Lord.  Evidently, God’s “day of vengeance” and wrath will transpire over a year of time (Isaiah 34:8, 61:2, 63:4—see The Seventh Year).  More about this can be found in my day of vengeance section.

Gog/Magog attack

It is believed, by many, that the hordes of Gog and Magog probably will attack Israel (Ezekiel 38:1-17, 39:1,2) at or near the beginning of the final 7 years.  If not at that time, it generally is felt that the attack certainly will take place prior to the final 3˝ years.  Also, most people believe that the battle to take place immediately upon Jesus’ return to earth will be the Battle of Armageddon.

For numerous reasons, I take issue with both of those views.  Although I feel it is likely that the hordes of Gog will begin their attack on Israel sometime during the final 3˝ years, I am convinced that the final Gog/Magog bloodbath will take place on the day that Jesus returns and treads the winepress of God’s wrath, with the Battle of Armageddon occurring 30 days later.

Firstly, a direct comparison can be made between the following passages, initially when the Gog/Magog nations are attacking Jerusalem and then when Jesus returns to strike down the nations:

This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal.  I will turn you around, put hooks in your jaws and bring you out with your whole army—your horses, your horsemen fully armed, and a great horde with large and small shields, all of them brandishing their swords.  Persia, Cush and Put will be with them, all with shields and helmets, also Gomer with all its troops, and Beth Togarmah from the far north with all its troops—the many nations with you. (Ezekiel 38:3-6)

On the mountains of Israel you will fall, you and all your troops and the nations with you.  I will give you as food to all kinds of carrion birds and to the wild animals. (Ezekiel 39:4)

I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True.  With justice he judges and makes war. ... Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations.  “He will rule them with an iron scepter.”  He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. (Revelation 19:11,15)
Secondly, a comparison can be seen between the birds and/or animals sent by God to feast on and eat the flesh of mighty men and other attackers who have been slaughtered.  The first passage, in Ezekiel 39, shows what will happen to the Gog/Magog attackers after they are destroyed in a huge bloody mess like wine in a great winepress; and the remaining passages, in Revelation 19 and Revelation 14, shows what will happen when Jesus returns:
Call out to every kind of bird and all the wild animals:  “Assemble and come together from all around to the sacrifice I am preparing for you, the great sacrifice on the mountains of Israel.  There you will eat flesh and drink blood.  You will eat the flesh of mighty men and drink the blood of the princes of the earth....  At the sacrifice I am preparing for you, you will eat fat till you are glutted and drink blood till you are drunk.  At my table you will eat your fill of horses and riders, mighty men and soldiers of every kind,” declares the Sovereign LORD. (Ezekiel 39:17-20)

I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider [Jesus] is called Faithful and True.  With justice he judges and makes war. ... He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. ... Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations.  “He will rule them with an iron scepter.”  He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. (Revelation 19:11,13,15)

I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, small and great.” (Revelation 19:17,18)

Still another angel, who had charge of the fire, came from the altar and called in a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, “Take your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth’s vine, because its grapes are ripe.”  The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God’s wrath.  They were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses’ bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia.” (Revelation 14:19,20)
Many more details about the winepress of Gog/Magog and the Battle of Armageddon can be found in the Final Battles Questions & Responses section of my email responses page, as well as in my Final Battles commentary.

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