Today is the day of the momentous Israeli elections and the countdown to the even more momentous Trump "peace plan" for the Middle East, which reportedly will soon be unveiled. Along with President Trump, I'm rooting for Bibi Netanyahu and believe he will squeak through – but whatever happens in this election, God's prophetic timetable will unfold, and the events of the last days will occur in the order and in the manner in which He has prescribed them. We can only perceive these landmarks of prophetic fulfillment "as through a glass darkly," but we remain highly attentive as they emerge into view because we who are "sons of the light" have been promised in 1 Thessalonians 5:4 that the day of the Lord's return will not take us by surprise.
In my theology, Jerusalem is the center of the universe, and all prophecy should be viewed with that in mind, meaning that prophecy is best studied from the Hebrew cultural and geographic perspective of the prophets. That perspective is much easier to orient one's mind to since the (fairly recent) rise of Messianic Judaism, which I believe is a last-days manifestation of the spirit of Elijah: turning the hearts of the fathers to the children and the children to the fathers, per Malachi 4:1-5. Letting the Bible interpret the Bible, the "fathers" are almost certainly the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Romans 9:5), and the children are believers in God through faith (Romans 9:7-8).
I also believe that Messianic Judaism is the religion of the Millennial Kingdom, and the front edge of the cusp of the reunification of the two Hebrew houses that will define that literal thousand year reign of Christ on Earth – which is prophesied in many forms throughout the Bible, but perhaps best summarized in the three sequential and interconnected parables of Ezekiel 37.
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However, while I recognize Messianic Judaism as a clear and very welcome sign of the Lord's soon return and am excited to see the wall of separation falling between Christians and Jews (and am honored to frequently teach and preach in Messianic congregations), I do not believe that Messianic Judaism is the religion of the Bride of Christ. The Bride is of the "age of the Gentiles" (Romans 11:25) that is fast coming to a close, and we who are betrothed to Christ should not be primarily focused on the reconstruction of authentic Torah-based, Yeshua-embracing Judaism, but instead on preparing for His Appearance, the Wedding Feast of the Lamb and co-regency with Him in the Millennial Kingdom. (Importantly, in my view that emphasis is not a matter of either/or, but simply a priority of focus.)
In parallel to the rise of Messianic Judaism is the maturation of the Third Temple Movement in Orthodox Judaism. I have been an observer of the Temple Institute in Jerusalem for years and have visited its facility in the Old City several times – and even shared a stage in Riga, Latvia, last year with one of its founders, Rabbi Yehuda Glink (now a Knesset member), at a pro-Israel conference where Messianic and Orthodox Jews intermingled harmoniously. I have seen firsthand the implements that have been fashioned per biblical specifications for Temple worship and tracked the step by step progress of identifying and training the priests, building the altar of sacrifice and maneuvering the government toward capitulating to their demands to reclaim the Temple Mount.
In short, the Orthodox Jews of the Third Temple Movement have been diligently preparing for the time when the Israeli government will declare its intention to build the Temple – all the prerequisites apparently have now been met – and I believe Israel is very close to announcing its intention to reclaim direct control of at least a portion of the Temple Mount and to begin construction. I think it is possible that this could even be a component of the peace plan.
Of course, if this occurs, the powder keg called Islam will very likely explode in unprecedented fury. And no one knows this better than the Jews of Israel. Yet, they also know there is absolutely NO scenario in which the Muslims (collectively) will react well to the announcement of the (biblically inevitable) Third Temple, so the question for them is not if but "When is the best time to pull that trigger?"
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Enter President Donald Trump, rightly heralded as the best friend to Israel in its entire history, and commander in chief of the most formidable military in world history, who is both poised to unveil what his surrogates have characterized as an entirely new approach to Middle East peace and the Palestinian problem, and at the same time politically embattled at home as no other U.S. president has ever been – with the fate of his presidency hanging in limbo.
Will the Israeli Jews ever have a better window of time in which to act on the Third Temple than right now when they know with certainty that the U.S. military will fully back their play?
Would they risk the possibility, however slim, that Trump could be replaced by any of the Democratic challengers whose party is increasingly openly anti-Semitic?
Will there ever be another time when a "Master of the Deal," holding all the power cards, can bring all the global players to the table at one time to push through a plan palatable enough to some Muslims to prevent (or at least postpone) World War III?
I think those questions lead to just one conclusion: The Third Temple will be part of the deal, either initially or soon after.
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I'm not claiming special knowledge or "Thus sayeth the Lord" about any of this. It's just my deductive reasoning from a biblical worldview and my own particular interpretation of end-times prophecy. I could very well be wrong, and if so I'll have to look a little harder at alternative scenarios I am pondering – but if I'm right we're about to cross an important threshold with very serious prophetic implications. I will refrain from commenting further about those implications pending the release of the peace plan and the advent of the fall feast days in Israel, especially Yom Kippur, which is most closely associated with the theme of liberation.
One major variable that could impact my analysis is the political fate of Benjamin Netanyahu. I have always believed that Trump, Netanyahu and the Brexit orchestrators in the U.K. are ideologically, spiritually and prophetically linked. If Bibi goes down, the Third Temple schedule could be postponed for lack of a pro-Temple political coalition in the Knesset.
In closing I want to clarify that I am in favor of the Third Temple because I know it is a necessary prerequisite to the second coming of Christ. However, I know it will feature prominently in the short-lived Antichrist Kingdom when Jerusalem will be corrupted to a very extreme degree, and so it is both dreaded and welcomed – like birth pains for a woman in labor – a necessary process that must be endured to experience the incomparable joy that follows (Matthew 24:8). To quote Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, "Let no one in any way deceive you, for [the Lord's return] will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God."
This is a very sobering truth, but Our Messiah tells us to embrace it with confidence: "When these things begin to happen, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near" (Luke 21:28).