The Third Temple

King Who Blasphemies God and the Coming of Christ

Larry the LubberThe opinions expressed by Larry the Lubber on the third Temple in Jerusalem doth not necessarily reflect the views of this pirate’s crew — mostly because Larry be a pompous, sanctimonious authority on Scripture whose pontifications tend ter offend most everyone — even when he be right. – Staff

Matthew 24 initiates Jesus’ Olivet Discourse, also called the “Little Apocalypse.” Jesus’ prophecy of the future wrath about to befall Jerusalem and its Temple extends into chapter 25. In none of these accounts does Jesus mention a third Temple. Rather, when the Samaritan woman acknowledges Jesus as a prophet and raises the issue of worship locations, Jesus asserts that a time is approaching and is now here when worship will not be confined to Jerusalem.

“True worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” (John 4:23)

Jesus’ accounts of the coming destruction and the desolation to follow are also found in Mark 13 and Luke 21. In all three gospel accounts, the authors had in their thoughts a forthcoming event that perhaps seemed imminent, thus they asked:

  • “When will this (destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem) happen?”
  • “What will be the sign of your coming?”
  • “What will be the sign of the end of the age.”

Temple Worship and The Coming of Jesus

Jesus first addressed the “when” with this answer:

“Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.” (Matthew 24:4-6)

“When you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel, then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.” (Matthew 24:15-16)

In 66 AD, the Great Jewish Revolt erupted in response to anti-taxation protests and conflicts between Jews and pagans in mixed cities. Gessius Florus, the Roman governor, seized funds from the Temple’s treasury and detained numerous prominent Jewish figures. The act of a Roman governor entering the Temple, albeit not its sanctuary, and appropriating funds dedicated to God was deemed blasphemous. This invasion by Rome into the holiest religious institution triggered a widespread rebellion in Jerusalem that culminated with the capture of the Roman garrison by rebel forces, compelling the pro-Roman king Herod Agrippa II and Roman officials to flee.

In this instance, Jesus’ cautionary words resonate: “When you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ flee!” This marked the moment to depart from Jerusalem and seek refuge in the hills of Judea and beyond the river Jordan, for Rome would soon retaliate and with great force.

Much has been made by others regarding the necessary rebuilding of a third Jewish temple in order to fulfill the prophecy of Daniel, but Jesus makes no mention of such a third structure. Rather his words, addressed to his disciples, seem to be the protection of any who might wish to remain when “the king who blasphemies God” — as Daniel predicted would come — storms into Jerusalem.

The Destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple

Daniel’s forthcoming visage lays out a sequence of kings and kingdoms.

“Three more kings will arise in Persia, and then a fourth, who will be far richer than all the others. When he has gained power by his wealth, he will stir up everyone against the kingdom of Greece. Then a mighty king will arise, who will rule with great power and do as he pleases. After he has arisen, his empire will be broken up and parceled out toward the four winds of heaven. It will not go to his descendants, nor will it have the power he exercised, because his empire will be uprooted and given to others. (Daniel 11:2-4)

In Daniel 2 and Daniel 7, the prophet foretells the reign of four Gentile Empires over Israel before the establishment of the kingdom of God. From Daniel’s perspective — from one living in exile and dispersed from the land God promised his people — the restoration of Jerusalem, rebuilding of its Temple, and the coming of the Anointed One are his focus.

Like Daniel, when Jesus warns that Jerusalem and its Temple will be destroyed and that he will return and usher in the end of all things, the disciples ask for clarity as to when and how and by whom.

The King Who Speaks Blasphemies Against God

In Daniel 11:36 and 40, we read [in literal Hebrew translation]:

And shall do according to his own will, the king, and he shall exalt and magnify himself above every god. Against the God of gods, he shall speak blasphemies and shall prosper till the wrath for what has been determined has been accomplished; it shall be done.

And at the time of the end shall attack him the king of the south and shall come like a whirlwind against him the king of the North with chariots and horsemen and with ships many. And he shall enter the countries and overwhelm [them] and pass through.

In verse 40, we encounter three belligerent armies: one hailing from the south, another from the north, and the forces of the willful king. The willful king shall triumph over the other two sovereigns and pass through the conquered land.

During the Battle of Actium on September 2, 31 BC, Agrippa, the son-in-law and lieutenant to the Roman emperor Caesar Augustus, strategically severed Antony and Cleopatra’s primary force from their sea supply routes. Simultaneously, Caesar Augustus himself landed on the mainland, opposite the island of Corcyra (modern Corfu, situated off Greece’s northwest coast in the Ionian Sea,) and proceeded southward. Trapped both on land and at sea, desertions from Antony’s army to Augustus’ side became a daily occurrence.

It was precisely at this juncture that the willful king, Caesar Augustus and Rome’s first emperor, directed his focus toward the Land the Glorious.

He shall enter Land the Glorious, and many [countries] shall be overthrown, but these shall escape from his hand: Edom, and Moab, and the prominent sons of Ammon. (Daniel 11:41)

Since the Roman Republic’s conquest of Judea in 63 BC, Jerusalem and the nation of Israel had experienced a state of semi-autonomous governance. Even with the defeat of Judea and Egypt, though, Edom, Moab, and the prominent sons of Ammon escaped Roman rule. The incorporation of Judea as a Roman province was enacted by the first Roman emperor, Caesar Augustus. It is he who of whom Daniel writes when he says:

And shall do according to his own will, the king, and he shall exalt and magnify himself above every god and against the God of gods. Shall speak blasphemies and shall prosper till has been accomplished the wrath for what has been determined shall be done. (Daniel 11:36)

  • Caesar Augustus was the first Roman emperor worshiped as a living god in the Imperial Cult.
  • Augustus Caesar ruled at the time of the birth of Christ and lived from 63 BC to AD 14. He was the first Roman emperor to use the title “son of a god.” In fact it was his favorite title. 
  • Caesar Augustus praised his grandson Gaius for not offering prayers to God when he visited Jerusalem.
  • Caesar Augustus publicly paid homage to Roman gods, but his personal beliefs remain uncertain.
  • In A.D. 70, during the burning of the Temple in Jerusalem, the Roman army worshiped Roman ensigns in the Temple.
  • Titus Caesar Vespasianus was declared Emperor on 1 July 69 AD. Titus was placed in charge of ending the Jewish rebellion. In 70, he besieged and captured Jerusalem, and destroyed the city and the Second Temple. As such he received divine praise and worship as customary when one god defeats another.
  • Titus Caesar Vespasianus issued blasphemous words challenging the God of Israel.
  • Titus Caesar Vespasianus fulfilled 2 Thessalonians 2:4 by setting himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.

The [one] opposing and exalting himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so as for him in the temple of God to sit down, setting forth he himself that is God (2 Thessalonians 2:4).

From Daniel’s perspective, the king who exalts himself are the Augustus: (Caesar, Tiberius Caesar, Gaius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus). Nero, the final ruler, held sway until June 9, 68 AD, and during his reign, Titus Caesar Vespasianus was dispatched to Jerusalem to vanquish the Jews and break their spirit and power.

In 70 AD, Jerusalem fell, the Temple lay in ruins, and the Gentiles, now in complete command of the holiest site for Jews, desecrated all that held sanctity for the Jewish people.

“Lord, What Will Be the Sign of Your Coming?”

Jesus warned his disciples to ignore any who claimed to be he: that his appearance would be visible from horizon to horizon and none would miss his coming.

“Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.” (Matthew 24:30-31)

Later, while his disciples looked intently up into the sky as Jesus departed into the clouds, suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them.

“Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:10-11)

According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18)

Jesus admonishes his disciples in Judea to seek refuge in the mountains when they see the desecration of the Temple. He advises those in Jerusalem to evacuate and caution those in the countryside against entering the city. He declares that the destruction of the Temple marks the era of God’s wrath, fulfilling what has been foretold by Daniel. He describes how grievous it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers. The land will be engulfed in great distress, and wrath will be unleashed upon this people. They will succumb to the sword and be captured, dispersed to nations far and wide. In 70 AD all of this occurred exactly as Jesus predicted.  

The Time of the Gentiles

Jesus then gives his disciples the closure of this “time of wrath” against his people.

“Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” (Luke 21:21-24)

In 1967 the Jews reclaimed Jerusalem. The Gentiles still control the Temple Mount. Will there be a third Temple?

Where Is God’s Temple?

Jesus said of the Temple:

“Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” The temple he had spoken of was his body. (John 2:19, 21) 

Paul said of God’s Temple:

The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. (Acts 17:24)

You yourselves are God’s temple and God’s Spirit dwells in your midst. If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple! (1 Corinthians 3:16–17)

John said of God’s Temple:

God’s temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant. (Revelation 11:19)

The arrival of Christ does not hinge on the construction of a Temple. Jesus could come for his own at any given moment. As Jesus stated, “Watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come” (Matthew 24:42). Our Lord’s arrival is unpredictable, akin to the days of Noah and Lot.  Should he come, are we prepared?