In recent years, there have been many reports about various Jewish organizations in Israel who are preparing to construct a Temple for the resumption of animal sacrifices in Jerusalem.
Such a temple would replace Herod’s Temple which was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD, as predicted by Christ (Matthew 24:1-2), as a judgment on the Jewish people for rejecting and crucifying their Messiah.
It has been reported that there are devout Jews practicing to resume the animal sacrifices, and that a cornerstone has been prepared for the new Temple.
For the most part, Temple advocates want to build the Temple on the Temple Mount which is currently occupied by the Mosque of Omar, one of the holiest sites of Muslim worship in the world. The removal of the Mosque of Omar would be regarded by Muslims as a hostile act which would plunge the Middle East into war.
Most Israelis do not favor the construction of the Temple at this time, and the Israeli government, which has controlled the Temple Mount since 1967, is strongly opposed to any suggestion that the Temple Mount be transferred from Muslim to Jewish hands. However, it has been reported that some Christian fundamentalist groups in the United States are actively supporting plans to remove the Mosque and build a Jewish temple, with financial and other assistance.
What does the Bible have to say about all this?
Should Christians come to the aid of those Jews who want to construct a Temple for animal sacrifices in Jerusalem?
In the Old Testament dispensation, it was clear that God wanted all true worship to be centralized in one place, Deuteronomy 16:6, 16.
Shiloh was the first place appointed by God for divine worship. Joshua 18:1, Psalm 78:60, Jeremiah 7:12. Then Jerusalem (specifically Solomon’s Temple) became the place where God placed His name, 1 Kings 8:29.
But with the coming of Christ and the Church Age, the true worship of God was no longer to be centralized in any one place. Christ would be present in any local church meeting, regardless of geographical location, Matthew 18:20.
Jerusalem, which had been the Holy City for 1000 years, was soon to lose that distinction. Jesus told the woman at the well, “Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father,” John 4:21
The Apostle Paul emphasized that as Christians, our allegiance is to the heavenly Jerusalem, not the earthly city in Palestine: “For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all, “ Galatians 4:25-26
The author of the epistle to the Hebrews advised his readers to decisively reject all the obsolete, outmoded forms of the Jewish religion, including the Temple sacrifices, in favor of the heavenly Jerusalem: “But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect….” Hebrews 12:22-23
The main theme of the epistle to the Hebrews is that the Temple sacrifices had been replaced forever by the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross (Hebrews (9: 8-12, 10:1-14, etc.) and that for the Hebrew Christians to return to such sacrifices would be a rejection of Christ and an unforgivable act of apostasy (Hebrews 6:6, 10:26-31).
We are assured that the patriarchs, including Father Abraham, have absolutely no interest in the earthly Jerusalem é they are in a much better place, the heavenly Jerusalem: “And truly, if they had been mindful of that country, from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is an heavenly; wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for He hath prepared for them a city.” Hebrews 11:15-16.
In the light of Bible teaching on this subject, it is evident that we as Christians should give no encouragement to Jews who are seeking to regain control over territory in Jerusalem and/or reinstitute the Old Testament sacrifices. Instead, we should encourage Jews to accept the once-for-all sacrifice already made for them by their Messiah, and to take their place with Father Abraham in the heavenly Jerusalem.
As a practical matter, the Muslims now occupy the Temple site, as they have for 1300 years. To dislodge them would take a world war, possibly nuclear in nature. Not only that, but to the extent that it is perceived that evangelical Christians have given encouragement to the Jewish side in such a war, then Christian missionaries and nationals in the Middle East will be subjected to rejection and persecution.
In my humble opinion, it is not worth all that trouble, just to transfer title of the Temple Mount from one non-Christian (Islam) to another (Judaism).
Let’s concentrate on preaching the Gospel and getting people ready for the Jerusalem that is above, which is the mother of us all.
Mr. Thomas Williamson is an ordained Baptist minister who lives in Chicago, Illinois. He contributes to Media Monitors Network (MMN) from time to time.