Prominent doomsday preachers in America have astonishingly claimed apocalyptic signs of the end times are unfolding before their eyes. Evangelical preachers like Paul Begley of West Lafayette in Indiana or Irvine Baxter of the Endtime Ministries recognise the Third Temple as a prophetic sign. Other biblical scholars, however, disagree with the claim the Third Temple will rise from the ground as a precursor to the so-called Great Tribulation. Dr Bob Thiel, of the Continuing Church of God, told Express.co.uk peculiar events will certainly unfold in the days leading to Armageddon.
But the building of the Third Temple is not one of these prophetic signs and not one to stay on the lookout for.
The Bible expert said: “From a prophetic perspective, there is no need for a massive Jewish Temple in Jerusalem prior to the start of the Great Tribulation.
“After the execution of Jesus, the veil in the ‘Second’ Temple was miraculously torn and that building ceased to be the Temple of God as, from a Christian perspective, there was no longer a need for animal sacrifices.”
According to Dr Thiel, there are two distinct prophetic possibilities concerning the Third Temple of Jerusalem.
The first prophetic path concerns the return of animal sacrifices before the Great Tribulation and the second concerns a passage in 2 Thessalonians 2.
Biblical prophecies related to animal sacrifices are outlined in the prophetic Book of Daniel, in particular, 9:27, 11:31, and 12:11.
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But Dr Thiel argued there is no real need for a temple in order to resume the ancient and religious practice of animal sacrifice.
He said: “According to Ezra 3:6, the Jews sacrificed after the First Temple was destroyed and before the foundation of the Second Temple was laid.
“Furthermore, I have personally confirmed with representatives of both the Nascent Sanhedrin and The Temple Institute that they do not believe that they need to have an actual temple to resume sacrifices.
“Basically, they told me that they will implement regular animal sacrifices once they get official government permission.
“So, no a temple is not needed for animal sacrifices.”
Instead, Dr Thiel said what is needed is a sacrificial altar like the one dedicated by the Jewish council of the Sanhedrin on December 10, 2018,
The Bible expert said: “They do not need a massive Third Temple.”
The Jewish temple, which twice stood on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, was destroyed by a Babylonian invasion in 587BC and then by the Romans in the sixth century BCE.
There is no need for a massive Jewish Temple in Jerusalem prior to the start of the Great Tribulation
Hopes of the temple’s reconstruction were sparked last year at the time of Hanukkah when the Sanhedrin made their offering, as mentioned by Dr Thiel.
The event was widely lauded by the Christian conspiracy movement, and in particular, those who anticipate the imminent return of Jesus Christ.
Dr Thiel, however, fears those who wait for the Third Temple risk missing the Great Tribulation entirely if they focus on misleading claims of prophecy.
The biblical scholar argued the New Testament itself states this, although confusion stemming from Greek mistranslations of the term temple could be to blame.
He said: “The New Testament itself basically uses two Greek terms for temple: they are hieron and naos.
“While the Greek term hieron always seems to refer to a physical temple in the New Testament – usually a Jewish one, but sometimes a pagan one, for example, Acts 19:27 – the term naos does not always do so.
“Some have been confused about that as both are usually translated as the same English word.
“However, Naos frequently is used in reference to Christians as the ‘temple’ of God.
“Hence, 2 Thessalonians 2:4 seems to be pointing to a current or former Christian building or gathering place.
“And when Jesus returns, he comes to the Mount of Olives per Zechariah 14:3-4, which is not a place that a Jewish temple has ever stood.”
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None of this is to say a Third Temple, or any sacrificial gathering place, cannot be built.
But Dr Thiel argued scripture itself does not teach or support the apocalyptic claim the Third Temple is a precursor to the Tribulation.
He said: “Scripture most certainly does not teach that some type of massive Third Temple, like various ones have proposed, will be built in Jerusalem prior to the start of the Great Tribulation.
“Those who insist on that will not realise that the Great Tribulation is about to start until it is too late.”
Dr Thiel said his interpretation of the Third Temple is supported by the likes of Stephen Sizer, the former Anglican vicar of Christ Church, Virginia Water, in Surrey, England.
Other contemporary biblical scholars such Roman Catholic writer Thomas Nash have agreed the Third Temple will never even be rebuilt.
Dr Thiel said: “Jesus listed the signs to look for prior to the start of the Great Tribulation in the 24th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew.
“That is the only place in the Gospels that actually has the expression ‘great tribulation’ and that chapter does not list the construction of a Third Temple in Jerusalem is a sign to watch for.
“People should not insist that a Third Temple must be rebuilt prior to the start of the Great Tribulation but instead should study what Jesus actually said would happen first.
“And that includes identifying the abomination spoken of by the prophet Daniel as well supporting getting the ‘gospel of the kingdom to the world as a witness’.
“Those are in Matthew 24 prior to the start of the Great Tribulation, building a massive Third Temple is not.”