Prophecy on Mount Olivet
By Arlen L. Chitwood
In the Holy Place
Therefore when you see the “abomination of desolation,” spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (whoever reads, let him understand),
Then . . . . (Matthew 24:15, 16a)
The Exodus of the Israelites under Moses about 1445 B.C. was followed by things entirely new in the camp of Israel. The people of Israel were called out of Egypt to go forth as God’s firstborn son and exercise the rights of primogeniture in the land covenanted to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, within a theocracy. But before entering into this land and exercising these rights, certain preparatory steps had to be taken in the wilderness of Sinai.
The Israelites had to first come into possession of two things:
1) The Law.
2) The Tabernacle.
Both the Law and the Tabernacle were associated with Israel placed in her covenanted land exercising the rights belonging to the firstborn, within a theocracy. The Law consisted of rules and regulations governing the people of God as they exercised these rights; and the Tabernacle was the dwelling place of God among His people, forming the central place of worship within the theocracy for the kingdom of priests called out of Egypt.
The Israelites were to enter into the land and, as God’s firstborn son, not only live under God’s revealed Law but exercise the rights of primogeniture; and, by and through so doing, the nations were not only to be ruled by Israel (kingly aspect of the birthright) but the nations were to be reached by and blessed through Israel (priestly aspect of the birthright).
God recognizes Israel alone, among all the nations, as His firstborn. In this respect, Israel is not to be “reckoned among the nations” [KJV] (cf. Numbers 23:9; Deuteronomy 14:2). Israel was called out of Egypt for particular purposes associated with the nation’s firstborn status and, resultantly, associated with the Gentile nations. And God’s purpose surrounding Israel’s calling must be realized — if not in biblical history, then in biblical prophecy:
For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable [KJV: “without repentance” (without a change of mind)]. (Romans 11:29)
God has not and He will not change His mind concerning the reason He called Israel into existence.
1) A Beginning Under Moses, the Law, the Tabernacle
In the wilderness of Sinai, during the first year following the Exodus, God equipped His people for the task at hand. The Law (with its rules and regulations) and the instructions for the Tabernacle (with its priestly ministry and worship) were given to Moses in the Mount. This was followed by the building of the Tabernacle and the preparation of the priests.
The work on the Tabernacle was completed a few days short of one year following the Israelite’s march toward the Red Sea and the subsequent departure from Egypt; and upon completion of this work, “the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle” (Exodus 40:33, 34).
At this point in history, a theocratic kingdom came into existence. And with the Israelites in possession of the kingdom with its Glory, Laws, etc., the nation was ready to enter the land and realize her calling before ever reaching Kadesh-Barnea.
A few months later though, at Kadesh-Barnea, the Israelites failed to enter the land and occupy the position for which they had been called. They believed the negative report of ten of the twelve spies who had been sent into the land ahead of the nation, expressing unbelief in God’s promise concerning the nation and the land.
This was followed by the overthrow of an entire generation during the next thirty-eight and one-half years as God caused the nation to wander in the wilderness, outside the land.
Then, following the death of Moses, under the leadership of Joshua, the second generation of Israelites entered the land, passing through the Jordan opposite Jericho.
And this new generation, unlike the unbelieving prior generation at Kadesh-Barnea, was ready to inhabit the land by and through conquest and realize the reason they had been called out of Egypt.
However, even though the Israelites moved in and eventually inhabited the land (Joshua 21:43-45), they did not follow the Lord’s command completely. They did not slay or drive out all of the inhabitants (Judges 1:19-33). This resulted in the Gentile nations in the land being a thorn in the side of Israel, with their gods becoming a snare, causing the Israelites to fall into idolatry time after time (Judges 2:1-4, 12-14; cf. 1 Kings 16:30-33).
During this time the Lord raised up judges to deliver the people. But, following each deliverance, the people, before long, would cease harkening to the judges. And continued unbelief and disobedience of this nature brought about not only the Lord’s anger but the Israelites’ failure to realize to any extent the position in the land to which they had been called (Judges 2:16ff).
The unbelief and disobedience of the Israelites was the reason for such things as “famine” rather than “plenty” in the land during the days of Ruth (Ruth 1:1), and Israel’s defeat at the hands of the Philistines at the time the ark of the covenant was taken by the enemy (1 Samuel 4:1-22). This unbelief and disobedience eventually even led the people of Israel to reject the Lord’s rule in the theocracy and desire a king to reign over them, “like all the nations.”
The Lord acquiesced to their request (1 Samuel 8:5-7). And Saul was anointed the first king over Israel. However, Saul did not follow the Lord’s command concerning Amalek.
Saul had been instructed to “attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them . . . .” But Saul spared “Agag the king of the Amalekites” and saved “the best” of certain animals belonging to the Amalekites “to sacrifice to the LORD.”
As a result, Saul, the first king over Israel was rejected by the Lord; and David was anointed king in Saul’s stead (1 Samuel 9:17; 15:1-23; 16:13).
Then, the day eventually came when Saul was put down in battle and his crown taken and given to David (1 Samuel 31:1-6; 2 Samuel 1:1-10).
2) The First Temple
David, as he began his reign, sought to rectify what centuries of disobedience on the part of the Israelites had done. He followed the Lord God of Israel, he sought to unify the people, he had the ark of the covenant brought to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6:1ff), and he sought to build a house for the ark (which would be the first Temple).
It did not fall David’s lot though to build the Temple. This task awaited his successor — his son, Solomon (2 Samuel 7:11-13), with his greater Son, Jesus, ultimately building the Millennial Temple (Zechariah 7:10-13).
David reigned over Israel for forty years, and this was followed by Solomon reigning for the same length of time. That which was begun by David during his reign carried over into the kingdom under Solomon, and not only was the Temple built during Solomon’s reign (1 Kings 6:1-8:11) but the kingdom reached heights previously unknown.
And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, each man under his vine and his fig tree, from Dan as far as Beersheba, all the days of Solomon.
And God gave Solomon wisdom and exceedingly great understanding . . .
Thus Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the men of the East and all the wisdom of Egypt.
For he was wiser than all men . . . and his fame was in all the surrounding nations. (1 Kings 4:25, 29a, 30, 31)
Conditions of this nature though did not extend beyond the days of Solomon. Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, who succeeded him at the time of his death (1 Kings 11:43), rejected the ways of his father; and a division in the kingdom resulted.
At this point there not only came into existence northern and southern segments of the kingdom but also more than one place of worship. Jeroboam, ruling in the northern segment of the kingdom, established places of worship at Bethel and Dan, seeking to prevent the people from returning to the Temple in Jerusalem. And, not only did he establish these new places of worship, but he introduced idol worship and non-Levitical priestly ministry in these places, further destroying the unity of the nation (1 Kings 12, 13).
A divided nation and sin in the camp continued until God eventually allowed the Assyrians to come down into the land in the eighth century B.C. and take the northern ten tribes into captivity and the Babylonians to come over into the land in the seventh century B.C. and take the southern two tribes into captivity. The nation that had been called out of Egypt under Moses to dwell in the land covenanted to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and rule over all the Gentile nations within a theocracy, being a blessing to these nations, was removed from the land and scattered among and placed in subjection to the Gentiles.
Because of continued disobedience extending over centuries of time, rather than Israel being placed at the head of the nations, God’s firstborn son was placed at the tail of the nations; and further, the blessings that were to come to all the Gentile nations through Israel could not now be realized. These blessings were associated with Israel in the land within a theocracy, exercising the rights of the firstborn (cf. Genesis 12:1-3; Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 28).
The Babylonian captivity, which began the Times of the Gentiles (a time extending down to the present day), also marked the end of the Old Testament theocracy — a theocracy extending back in time over eight and one-half centuries, going all the way back to the days of Moses. The Glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle in the wilderness of Sinai during the days of Moses; and after the ark had been removed from the Tabernacle and placed in the “Most Holy Place” in Solomon’s Temple, the Glory of the Lord then filled the Temple (Exodus 40:16-38; 1 Kings 8:1-11).
The Glory remained in the Temple until a few years after Nebuchadnezzar’s initial invasion of Jerusalem, occurring about 605 B.C. The Glory then departed the Temple (about 586 B.C.), and Jerusalem and the Temple were then destroyed (cf. 2 Kings 24, 25; Daniel 1:1, 2; Ezekiel 10:4, 18; 11:23).
3) The Second Temple
Solomon’s Temple, succeeding the Tabernacle as the dwelling place for the ark and the Glory of God, was in existence for slightly more than four hundred years. Then, following the seventy-year Babylonian captivity, a second Temple was built by a remnant returning to the land under Zerubbabel (Ezra 1:1ff). This remnant returned about 535 B.C., but, due to problems among the inhabitants of the land, the Temple was not completed until about twenty years later (Ezra 4:1ff).
This was the Temple in existence when Christ was upon earth the first time (called “Herod’s Temple” at that time because of a complete rebuilding work that had begun during the reign of Herod the Great [Zerubbabel’s Temple, over the years, had fallen into a state of ruin]); and this was the same Temple destroyed, along with the city of Jerusalem, by the Romans in 70 A.D.
The Glory though did not return when the second Temple was completed by the remnant returning under Zerubbabel. Although God recognized this Temple as His house (for the shadow of regality still remained [cf. Matthew 21:13; 23:2]), there was no theocracy as had previously existed. The Times of the Gentiles was running its predetermined course; and this period of time had to be completed before Israel could have a Temple with the Glory and corresponding theocracy restored.
Deity never entered the Temple built by the remnant returning from the Babylonian captivity and destroyed almost six centuries later by the Romans. Christ, God manifested in the flesh, appeared more than once in outer portions of this Temple (Matthew 21:12; Luke 2:27), but never in the Temple itself. This is plainly shown by the use of two different Greek words for “Temple.” Christ appeared in the hieron (a word referring to the outer court, porches, or other structures subordinate to the Temple); but He did not, at any time, appear in the naos (the Temple itself).
4) Third and Fourth Temples
Solomon’s Temple and Zerubbabel’s Temple are only two of four Temples mentioned in Scripture. The others are the Tribulation Temple and the Millennial Temple.
Israel will rebuild the nation’s Temple at a time prior to the middle of the Tribulation, a Temple that will be destroyed along with the city of Jerusalem; and the Lord Himself will then build the Millennial Temple when He returns (Daniel 9:27; 2 Thessalonians 2:4; Zechariah 6:12, 13; Ezekiel 40ff).
The Tribulation Temple, as Zerubbabel’s Temple (though it also will contain no Glory) will be recognized by God as His house (Revelation 11:1). The same shadow of regality will still remain, with the restoration of the theocracy awaiting a future date. The Times of the Gentiles will still be in effect, and a Temple with the restored Glory and the corresponding restoration of the theocracy to Israel cannot occur during this time. The entire matter of “restoration” awaits two things:
1) The completion of the Times of the Gentiles.
2) The Lord Himself building the Temple, the Millennial Temple (Ezekiel 43:1-5; 44:4; cf. Haggai 2:9).
From the time of the construction of the Tabernacle during Moses’ day to the time of the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D., about fifteen hundred years passed. And during that time, the people of Israel were only without the Tabernacle or the succeeding Temple for slightly less than one hundred years (discounting the time [about 100 years] that the ark of the covenant was separated from the Tabernacle and in the hands of the Philistines (1 Samuel 4:11; 2 Samuel 6:17]). The Jewish people were without their Temple during the seventy-year Babylonian captivity and the succeeding time that it took the returning remnant to rebuild the Temple.
However, since 70 A.D., when the Temple was destroyed by the Romans under Titus, the people of Israel have been without a place for God to dwell among His people for over nineteen hundred years (though God did not dwell among his people from the time of the Babylonian captivity to 70 A.D.).
Never in the history of the nation, prior to the destruction of the second Temple, had generations of Jews come and gone without direct contact with either the Tabernacle or the Temple; and until the recent establishment of Israel as a nation in the land once again (on May 14, 1948), the issue of a third Temple could not even be raised. All of this though is about to change. Israel is about to have a third Temple, and then a fourth.
The Third Temple — How?
The question is not, “Will a third Temple be built?” The Word of God is clear on this matter. A Temple will exist in the land during the days of Antichrist, and his assuming power over the earth in the middle of the Tribulation is closely connected with action he will take concerning this Temple.
Antichrist will, at that time, desecrate the Temple; and he will subsequently destroy the Temple (reasons for his desecration and destruction of the Temple will be discussed later in this chapter).
The question concerning the building of a third Temple should thus be, “How…?” or “When…?” not “Will…?”
There are three major events during modern times that appear to progressively set the stage for the rebuilding of the Temple:
1) The first was the establishment of the New State of Israel in 1948.
2) The second was the capture of the Old City of Jerusalem (the place of the Temple site) during the Six-Day War of 1967.
3) The third will be that day when the Temple site (a part of the Old City still controlled by the Moslems) will come under Jewish control once again.
During the battles that immediately followed Israel’s declaration of independence on May 14, 1948, the Old City of Jerusalem was lost to the Arabs; and the Jews were subsequently barred from this part of Jerusalem. This situation persisted for nineteen years; but during the Six-Day War of 1967, Israel captured certain portions of land previously controlled by the Arabs, and among these portions of land was the coveted Old City of Jerusalem.
And at the very point of conquest, the interest of the captors became focused on one thing in the Old City — the Wailing Wall, also called “the Western Wall.” This wall was the only visible surviving part of the second Temple, and it was to this place that the captors of the Old City wanted to go. And in many cases, because of unfamiliarity with the Old City, guides had to be employed to direct the troops to the Wailing Wall. Then, as word began to spread, it was not long before government leaders, rabbis, and others began to enter the Old City for the express purpose of going to the Wailing Wall. They came, stood before the wall, and wept; and during the days and years since, they have continued to come to pray and weep.
For the Jewish people, there is presently no place on earth like the Wailing Wall. This is the closest they can presently come to their Temple, the central place of a past theocracy and the central place of worship for the people ruling in the theocracy; and the entire matter dates all the way back to the days of Moses — almost three and one-half millennia. It is then no wonder that they continue to frequent this place day after day after day, crying and weeping.
But the Wailing Wall is still not enough. The Jewish people want that which the Wailing Wall only calls to mind. They want their Temple once again; for they know that without the Temple there can be no restoration of the kingdom and the accompanying Glory.
Unfortunately though, the Temple site, located just beyond the Wailing Wall, is presently occupied by the Dome of the Rock (a Moslem shrine, also called the “Mosque of Omar”). And Jewish law prohibits the disturbance of any religious shrine in Israel (In keeping with this law, after the Israeli troops captured the Old City of Jerusalem in 1967, Jewish authorities turned over responsibility of the Temple Mount to an Islamic charity). To further complicate matters, the Dome of the Rock is not just any religious shrine. It dates all the way back to 691 A.D. and is the third most sacred site in the world for the followers of Islam (after Mecca and Medina).
The Dome of the Rock stands over the site from which Moslems believe Mohammed ascended (leaped) to heaven. And to even further complicate matters, the El Aksa Mosque, built after the Dome of the Rock, is also on the Temple Mount. Thus, even though the Jewish people control the Old City of Jerusalem, they do not control the Temple Mount; and, under Jewish law, they are prohibited from disturbing Moslem structures on this site.
Not only is this the case, but for Israel to disturb these structures under present conditions, especially the Dome of the Rock, would inflame the entire Moslem world.
Officials in Israel today, viewing this situation, state, “Anything seen as a threat to the Dome of the Rock would be highly provocative to Moslems.” And the head of the Supreme Moslem Counsel in Jerusalem echoed the attitude of followers of Islam toward this place some years back when he stated, “The Moslems are prepared to die for this place [a statement actually referring to the Temple Mount, which would include land upon which both the Dome of the Rock and the El Aksa Mosque are built]”; and there are over one-half billion adherents to Islam worldwide today.
What then will transpire to allow Israel access to this site? If an answer can be provided, it would have to be within the framework of the covenant yet to be made between the man of sin and Israel. The man of sin will break his covenant with Israel by entering into the Holy of Holies and declaring himself to be God (cf. Daniel 9:26, 27; 11:30-32; Matthew 24:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4; Revelation 11:1, 2). In view of this, the ratifying of the covenant will evidently involve a restoration of the Mosaic Economy, with its Temple and sacrificial system.
Accordingly, this man will evidently be the one to bring about a solution to the present dilemma in which the Jewish people find themselves. We know from Daniel 11:39 and Joel 3:2 that he will be instrumental in dividing the land (establishing borders) in the Middle East; and the Temple site, the most important piece of real estate in all the land, could only form the major part of the territory in view.
To move beyond the preceding thoughts though is to move beyond information that Scripture provides. Things which we can know for certain are these:
1) A seemingly intractable situation presently exists, denying the Jews access to their Temple site.
2) The seemingly intractable situation will one day be resolved, giving the Jews access to this site (and this is one reason, among others, that Antichrist undoubtedly fits into the picture, bringing about a resolution to the problem in that coming day).
3) The Jews will rebuild their Temple, and it will be built where the Dome of the Rock now stands. It cannot be built elsewhere. It must be built, as the two previous Temples, in the “the place which the LORD chooses” (Deuteronomy 12:10-14).
In 1903, Great Britain offered the Jewish people land for Zionistic purposes in British East Africa. The Jewish people though would not even consider such an offer. They were interested in one tract of land alone — the land in the Abrahamic covenant. In like manner, the Jewish people would never consider building their Temple on any site other than where it has stood on two previous occasions. The Jews have an affinity for a particular land insofar as the nation is concerned, and they have the same affinity for a particular place in that land insofar as the Temple is concerned.
The Third Temple — When?
“We took an oath today, while capturing the city. On our blood we took an oath that we will never give it up, we will never leave this place. The Wailing Wall belongs to us. The holy place was our place first, our place and our God’s place. From here we do not move. Never! Never!”
— Gen. Shlomo Goren
(June 7, 1967)
After the Old City of Jerusalem fell to the Israeli troops during the Six Day War in June 1967, the commander of these troops stood at the Wailing Wall and announced, “None of us alive has ever seen or done anything so great as he has done today.”
Defense Minister Moshe Dayan stood at the Wailing Wall that day and vowed, “We have returned to the holiest of our holy places, never to depart from it again.”
General Shlomo Goren, chief rabbi of the Israeli armed forces, stood at the Wailing Wall on that day and cried out, “We have taken the city of God. We are entering the Messianic Era for the Jewish people . . . .”
Why did a troop commander and the defense minister view the Wailing Wall after this fashion? Why did the chief rabbi of the Israeli armed forces associate Jewish possession of the Wailing Wall with the nearness of the Messianic Era? The answer is singular and very simple: This site not only reflects on a past Temple and theocracy but it also portends a future Temple and theocracy.
From 1967 to 1994 (at the time of his death), Gen. Shlomo Goren became a leading authority on the Temple Mount. A few years before he passed away, he called attention to a well-worn personal map of this Mount, dated June 21, 1967 (two weeks after the Israeli army captured the Old City). His calculations and recalculations of the area during about two decades led him to only one conclusion: A third Temple would have to be positioned in the same place as the Dome of the Rock. When asked about how this could be brought to pass, his reply was simply, “It’s a big problem.”
The time when the third Temple will be built can be derived from Daniel 8:13, 14:
Then I heard a holy one speaking; and another holy one said to that certain one who was speaking, “How long will the vision be, concerning the daily sacrifices and the transgression of desolation, the giving of both the sanctuary and the host to be trampled under foot?”
And he said to me, “For two thousand three hundred days; then the sanctuary shall be cleansed.”
According to these verses, there will be “two thousand and three hundred days” from the point when sacrifices begin in the rebuilt Temple to the end of the Tribulation. This would place the beginning of sacrifices in the rebuilt Temple in the seventh month of the first year of the Tribulation.
Thus, Daniel 8:13 & 14 places the building of the Temple during the first seven months of the Tribulation. This fact fits perfectly with the covenant to be made between Antichrist and Israel at the beginning of the Tribulation, as well as the fact that the Jewish people will be offering sacrifices in a rebuilt Temple three and one-half years later.
Desecration of the Temple
Why, when breaking his covenant with Israel, will the first recorded act of the Antichrist be a desecration of the Holy of Holies in the rebuilt Temple? The answer is obvious if one understands the connection of the Temple with the theocracy and Israel’s status as God’s firstborn son. The Temple is the dwelling place of God as He resides in the midst of His people and rules through His people in the theocracy. And the only people that God has ever placed or ever will place on this earth in such a position are the Jewish people.
Israel alone is God’s firstborn among the nations, and the Temple is God’s dwelling place among His people as they exercise the rights belonging to the firstborn.
who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; (Romans 9:4)
The Temple figures prominently in Antichrist’s actions in the book of Daniel (8:11; 9:27; 11:31; 12:11), in Matthew’s and Mark’s accounts of the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14 [note that Luke, in his account, records the destruction of Jerusalem at this same time rather than the desecration of the Temple]), in the mention of Antichrist in the Pauline epistles (2 Thessalonians 2:4), and in the book of Revelation (11:1, 2). The significant feature in all these passages, save the account in the book of Revelation, is Antichrist desecrating “the holy place.”
This is the event given in Scripture to mark the breaking of his covenant with Israel and the beginning of the Great Tribulation. This man is going to enter into the Holy of Holies of the rebuilt Temple (the place where God dwelt in Solomon’s Temple during the Old Testament theocracy) and announce that “he is God.” The covenant will then be null and void, and the Great Tribulation will begin.
Note what this man will, in actuality, be doing by this act. He will be striking at the very heart of the theocracy and the very position that Israel occupies as firstborn (even though the theocracy will not then be in existence, allowing Israel to exercise the rights of the firstborn). This man will be the world ruler under Satan, and he will seek to squelch the only rule that could ever interfere with his by three acts:
1) By destroying the central place for this rule (the Temple).
2) By destroying the city from which this rule would emanate (Jerusalem).
3) By destroying the people who, directly under God, would administer this rule (the Jewish people).
This is the reason that the Jews are told to “flee” for their lives when they see this man “standing in the holy place” (Matthew 24:16ff). He is going to desecrate the Temple (Daniel 9:27), then destroy both the Temple and the city of Jerusalem (Daniel 9:26; Luke 21:20-24), and then seek to eliminate the Jewish people from the face of the earth (cf. Matthew 24:16-22; Revelation 12:13-17). And the only thing that will stand in his way, apart from God’s providential protection of His people, is “time”:
And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake [Israel’s sake] those days will be shortened.” (Matthew 24:22)
Israel’s destiny insofar as the Temple, the theocracy, and the nation’s position with respect to the Gentile nations is concerned was set when God called Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldees. God’s promise to Abraham pertaining to the land and blessings (Genesis 12:1-3) anticipated God’s statement to Moses pertaining to Israel’s firstborn status (Exodus 4:22, 23; cf. Exodus 19:5, 6). And the entire matter anticipates that day, in the coming age, when Israel will occupy the position for which the nation was called out of Egypt under Moses.
Israel though must first pass through the “time of Jacob’s trouble.” Israel must first see a third Temple stand in the land, one which will house no Glory, with there accordingly being no theocracy. Israel must first experience the full end of the “desolation” in Daniel 9:27 and Matthew 23:38, which includes the Jewish people, the Temple, the city of Jerusalem, and the land of Israel.
Only then will Messiah return, build the Temple Himself, and restore the nation within a theocracy. Only then will Israel realize her position as firstborn among the nations.