The altar and sacred vessels have been reconstructed. The architectural plans are being drawn up. Now a group is taking another step toward fulfilling the biblical prophecy of a restored Temple by raising a group of red heifers in the land of Israel.
And evangelical Christian leaders are divided about what it means if the Third Temple, prophesied to play a key role in the end times, can actually be constructed in Jerusalem.
Before the Temple can rise, builders must secure a red heifer, or “para aduma,” a three-year-old female cow with totally red hair that is supposed to be able to restore a state of “purity” after ritual slaughter.
The Temple Institute, an Israeli organization dedicated to constructing the Third Temple, has launched a fundraising campaign on Indiegogo to breed such animals and has already succeeded in accumulating almost $15,000 in three days. The group’s previous campaign in 2014 succeeded in raising more than $100,000 to pay for the creation of construction plans that meet both architectural and Scriptural standards.
The group admits red heifers are not uncommon around the world, but claims a “para aduma” suitable for ritual use actually must be raised in Israel and meet painstaking specifications laid out in Scripture.
Therefore, instead of simply waiting for the appearance of a red heifer, the Temple Institute “has joined forces with an experienced cattle rancher” to use modern science to breed cows that meet the requirements.
See the Institute’s plans:
Eventually, the cows will be used ritually as part of a “purification” process. The group further plans to train priests in the proper ritual use of the red heifers, identifying and selecting descendants of the “priestly tribe of Aaron” who are qualified to prepare the animals, and undertaking the “documentation and provision of the precise location on the Mount of Olives for the heifer’s preparation.”
However, the group may find more trouble when it comes to actually rebuilding the Temple itself. The Temple Mount is currently administered by the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, and the Al-Asqa Mosque occupies the site of the Temple Mount.
Battles over access to the mosque and attempts by religious Jews to visit the site are also a continuing source of controversy. Still, the Temple Institute is ultimately hopeful about literally rebuilding the “Holy Temple.”
Joel Richardson, a filmmaker, evangelist, and New York Times bestselling author of “The Islamic Antichrist: The Shocking Truth About The Real Nature of the Beast,” warns the Third Temple is not an easy subject for those who believe in Jesus.
“The issue of the Third Temple is always a controversial matter among evangelical Christians. Some say that after the sacrifice of Messiah Jesus, it is a great offense to God to engage in any further sacrifices. Indeed, the Book of Hebrews says that the sacrifice of Jesus was ‘once and for all.'”
But Richardson, most recently the author of “When a Jew Rules the World: What the Bible Really Says About Israel in the Plan of God,” observes that some “point out that Paul the apostle and the other early believers continued to engage in the ritual temple sacrificial system. One thing is for sure, the Temple will be rebuilt in the days ahead. The Scriptures are quite clear about this.”
Richardson says, “Eventually, we are told that the man the Bible refers to as the Antichrist will invade the city of Jerusalem and set himself up in the temple in what is called ‘the abomination that causes desolation.'”
For that reason, Richardson argues, many Christians assume the forthcoming Temple will be “an inherently bad thing.”
However, Richardson contends: “The problem with this is the Scriptures refer to the abomination as taking place in ‘God’s Temple,’ thus implying that it is not viewed negatively by God Himself. One cannot, after all, desecrate something that this not sacred in the first place.”
Pastor Mark Biltz of El Shaddai Ministries, the discoverer of the “Blood Moons” phenomenon, believes the Temple Institute faces formidable hurdles when it comes to executing the ritual correctly. Nonetheless, he was enthusiastic about plans to rebuild the Temple.
“I am all for a rebuilding of the Temple and believe the desire to rebuild proves we are living in the times of the Messiah,” said Biltz, the author of “Blood Moons: Decoding the Imminent Heavenly Signs.”
He said, “The importance of the effort [to breed the red heifers] is critical as it is necessary for acquiring the purification necessary for the priests to work within the Temple. It is a sign that man wants a connection to the Creator of the Universe and desires His Presence.”
Yet not all Christians agree the Third Temple will be literally constructed in Jerusalem.
Carl Gallups, a pastor, talk-show host and author of “Final Warning: Understanding the Trumpet Days of Revelation,” says evangelical Christians are divided. While acknowledging many believe Scripture refers to a literal structure when it says the “Temple,” Gallups says there is another school of thought.
“There are others, including many of the classical and highly respected Christian commentators who declare this ‘temple’ is none other than the Christian church (the temple being built with ‘living stones’) of the last days,” Gallups says.
If this argument is true, Gallups claims, it means the Antichrist will “be one who, using his demonically deceptive power, will set himself up as a ruler claiming the authority of God over the church, attempting to direct the affairs of all of last days Christendom.”
While Gallups says there is “strong” biblical evidence for both positions, if the second position is true, “then there is no necessity for a literal Jewish Temple to be rebuilt in order for end time prophecy to reach its ultimate fulfillment.”
Furthermore, Gallups believes there is some evidence to believe the “Temple of God” is already being occupied by forces of the Antichrist – in this case, by a mosque.
“As I elucidate in “Final Warning, there are also those who point to the current Islamic Dome of the Rock as an undeniable and literal fulfillment of the ‘abomination of desolation’ currently standing in the ‘holy place.’ They would also point out that the undeniable ‘spirit’ of Antichrist is attached to the whole of the Islamic message, especially as it relates to the biblical Jesus. Furthermore, they would say, its demonic influence continues to wreak destruction and spread its influence throughout the world in our own historical time frame.”
Richardson argues one of the most important element of all of this is the central purpose of the Temple after the return of Jesus Christ.
“Rising far above all these controversies, is the fact that during the millennial reign of Jesus the Messiah, yet another temple will indeed be rebuilt. And even with Jesus ruling and reigning here on the earth, sacrifices and offerings will continue to take place.”
Yet the fierce debate over the Third Temple and its importance for the contemporary world does not detract from a shared sense among many commentators of prophecy being realized in the modern world. Noting what he sees as the rise of global immorality, ominous signs of war in the Middle East, and the return of the state of Israel, Gallups enthuses, “The solid signs of Jesus’ soon return are all around us.”
And Richardson believes Christians are going to be forced to confront their deepest held beliefs about the end times sooner rather than later.
“If the Christian church seems divided now, imagine the great controversy in the days ahead when the third Jewish Temple is rebuilt. Those days are indeed coming and coming quickly.”