BY JAN WILLEM VAN DER HOEVEN, ICZC—
For the Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His dwelling place: “This is My resting place forever; Here I will dwell, for I have desired it. (Psalm 132:13-14)
With all the emphasis among some quarters both Jewish as well as Christian that the Messiah can come and appear here on earth any time, there is a need to emphasize the centrality of the soon to be built Temple, the third one, on God’s holy hill. For if there is one thing that the Holy Scriptures put forth is that there will first have to be a Temple on God’s holy hill before we can await the coming of the Messiah in glory and majesty.
This is how the prophet Ezekiel describes that wonderful reentry of the Lord to His City:
And behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east. His voice was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with His glory. And the glory of the Lord came into the temple by way of the gate which faces toward the east. The Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the Lord filled the temple. (Ezekiel 43:2, 4, 5)
The Messiah will not come to a mosque, neither to a Western or Wailing Wall. He will suddenly come to His Temple as this verse in Ezekiel 43:2, 4, 5 so wonderfully describes.
“Behold, I will send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight. Behold, He is coming,” Says the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 3:1)
This has been the case each time in relation to Jerusalem. Only after the Temple was built on God’s holy hill did He come down to dwell in this, His city. It was after Solomon built and completed the first Temple, for which David had so often prayed and longed, that God’s Shekinah glory came down and made Jerusalem what it was always meant to be, the Lord’s dwelling place on earth. This is how the Tanakh describes this first coming of the Lord and His glorious presence to His city.
And it came to pass when the priests came out of the Most Holy Place (for all the priests who were present had sanctified themselves, without keeping to their divisions), and the Levites who were the singers, all those of Asaph and Heman and Jeduthun, with their sons and their brethren, stood at the east end of the altar, clothed in white linen, having cymbals, stringed instruments and harps, and with them one hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets– indeed it came to pass, when the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord, and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the Lord, saying: “For He is good, For His mercy endures forever,” that the house, the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God. Then Solomon spoke: “The Lord said He would dwell in the dark cloud. I have surely built You an exalted house, and a place for You to dwell in forever.” (2 Chronicles 5:11-14; 6:1-2)
It was to the second Temple built by Zerubbabel, beautified by Herod, that Jesus came in humility riding on a donkey as the prophet Zechariah had so clearly foretold.
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (Zechariah 9:9)
Jesus wept that day and lamented saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” (Luke 19:42-44)
And “See! Your house is left to you desolate; and assuredly, I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ “ (Luke 13:35)
Then again, as it was in the past, the city will be the dwelling place of the Lord Himself, as is written at the end of the eight chapters of Ezekiel (40-48) that “the name of the city from that day shall be: THE LORD IS THERE.” (Ezekiel 48:35)
So the Messiah will not come to a mosque, nor to a Western Wall – He will come “suddenly to His house, His Temple”.
If this is so then there will not be a coming of the Messiah in glory unless there is His people and a Temple to welcome Him.
In the beautiful book “The Odyssey of the Third Temple” by Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, we find these telling and instructive passages:
And under the Messiah’s leadership, Jerusalem shall be reinstated as the spiritual capital of the world with the Temple at its heart. It is the Third Temple which is anticipated to bring the process to its conclusion … with the appearance of the messiah. Based upon this understanding it stands to reason that a situation could arise wherein a third Temple could be built in Jerusalem and the messiah has still not yet arrived. This concurs with the opinion expressed in the Jerusalem Talmud: “The (third) Holy Temple will in the future be re-established before the establishment of the Kingdom of David”. (JT Ma’aser Sheni 29)
In the Bible we find absolutely clearly written that there will not be a restoration of the divine presence of the Messiah UNLESS THERE WILL BE FIRST BUILT A TEMPLE that will welcome Him. He certainly is not coming to a mosque – or the Dome of the Rock. He is coming as Ezekiel sees to a third temple, which so far has not yet been built! This is how the prophet Ezekiel describes this:
And behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east … and the earth shone with His glory. And the glory of the Lord came into the temple by way of the gate which faces towards the east. And behold, the glory of the Lord filled the temple. Then I heard Him speaking to me from the temple. And He said to me, “Son of man, this is the place of My throne and the place of the soles of My feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel forever. Son of man, describe the temple to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities; and let them measure the pattern. Write it down in their sight, so that they may keep its whole design and all its ordinances, and perform them. This is the law of the temple: The whole area surrounding the mountaintop shall be most holy. Behold, this is the law of the temple. (Ezekiel 43:2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12)
This is also the clear lesson of every exodus of the Jewish people so far. After each exodus – the Jewish people did not just come home to their promised land but eventually, sooner or later the Temple was built so that God could dwell in the midst of His city and His land – among His people, as He always wanted.
After the first Exodus from Egypt, Solomon’s Temple was built to which the Lord came in such power and glory that the priests could not even continue to minister before His awesome presence: “for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God (See 2 Chronicles 5:13, 14).
After the second Exodus from Babylon, the temple of Zerubbabel was built, later beautified by Herod the king, the Temple to which our Lord came at least three times and called it succinctly the house of His Father. He came at His mother’s purification rite after he was circumcised, for His bar mitzvah, and when He was a full-grown man sitting on a donkey just as the prophet had foretold:
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zechariah 9:9)
Now we have come to the third homecoming of the Jewish people, FROM ALL THE COUNTRIES WHERE THEY HAD BEEN SCATTERED – this time to dwell and live in the land without the crowning event of a third Temple, as Ezekiel wonderfully describes it, being built? No way!
God through Ezekiel describes it as the main reason for the third homecoming that all the nation of Israel, and then He repeats it – all of them – have come home for one main reason:
“For on My holy mountain, on the mountain height of Israel,” says the Lord God, “there all the house of Israel, all of them in the land, shall serve Me; there I will accept them, and there I will require your offerings and the firstfruits of your sacrifices, together with all your holy things. I will accept you as a sweet aroma when I bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you have been scattered; and I will be hallowed in you before the Gentiles. Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I bring you into the land of Israel, into the country for which I raised My hand in an oath to give to your fathers.” (Ezekiel 20:40-42)
I am quoting the beautiful words from the already mentioned book on the third Temple:
Since the last destruction and the flames that engulfed the Second Temple, the world has awaited the establishment of the Third Temple and with it the fulfillment of the words of the Prophet Isaiah: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established at the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all of the nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, and he will teach us of his ways, and we shall walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth Torah, and the word of God from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:2-3)
To witness the fulfillment of this ancient vision is a lifelong desire shared by all peoples – not only the Jews, who have longed through all their wanderings to return and rebuild Jerusalem from its ruins and to re-establish the Sanctuary of God in its midst.
The education of countless generations has been steeped in these verses. Isaiah’s words formed the inspiration and driving force behind many diverse movements throughout world history, all of which centered around one purpose and objective: Jerusalem, the Holy City; Jerusalem, where the promised ultimate good shall be fulfilled; Jerusalem, which will once again be transformed into the spiritual center of all mankind.
It is in this future Jerusalem that the Shechinah, the Divine Glory of God, will again reside, and where the spirit of prophecy will once again be restored. And it is here that the Kingdom of God, Creator of all that exists, will be revealed to the world, and all of humanity will come to serve Him. Here every individual may be purified of sin and can rectify his very essence. In the future Holy Temple, each will pour out his heart in prayer before the Creator, and will hear the melodies of the Levites as they sing before God and His altar; and there each man may bring an offering to acknowledge God’s ever-present, constant kindness. The Prophet Isaiah continues:
“And I shall bring them to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer: Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted on My altar; for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all people”. (56:7)
Therefore it is truly amazing whereas the Bible is so clear upon this point how both among the Jewish people and the Christians there generally is so little understanding about the centrality of Jerusalem, the Temple Mount and … the soon to be built Third Temple there in relation to the soon coming of the Lord, King, Messiah of the Jewish people, to this earth!
For if we would understand the importance of this hill and prospect there would be for more alertness among Jews and Christians to see this hill again as a place of worship of God, and welcome to the Lord, Messiah of Israel.
There are many, many verses in the Scriptures singling out this hill – even in the New Testament – as the ultimate place from which under the reign of the Messiah the nations will not only live in peace and harmony but come up to this hill under His reign to worship the Lord as we read in Zechariah:
Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Peoples shall yet come, Inhabitants of many cities; the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, “Let us continue to go and pray before the Lord, and seek the Lord of hosts. I myself will go also.” Yes, many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem, And to pray before the Lord.’ “Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.” ‘ (Zechariah 8:20-23)
And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. (Zechariah 14:16)
Simply put, the Messiah cannot be expected by neither Jew nor Christian till the 3rd Temple is there, on God’s holy hill – inviting Him to come and reign in Jerusalem over all the earth as the Bible so clearly foretells and then as Zechariah says:
The Lord shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be– “The Lord is one,” and His name one. (Zechariah 14:9)
It is for that reason, because the Evil One knows so well the absolute importance of this, God’s Holy Hill, that he has set up all the nations against it, by way of a Palestinian State, demanding from Israel that in the future this hill will be part of Muslim Palestine – their capital. So that he will be able to prevent a Welcome Temple to be built for the Only One who can unseat him as prince of this present world. A welcome to the King Messiah to be crowned by Jews and Gentile believers as the only One Worthy to reign in this city over all the earth – the true Prince of Peace! Well described is this battle by the nations to thwart God’s plan concerning the reign of His King Messiah on His holy Hill in Jerusalem in Psalm 2:
Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure: “Yet I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion.” (Psalms 2:1-6)
If this is all true how much like David should we be in zeal for this battle for Jerusalem, and the destiny of this city so interwoven with God’s holy hill of Zion.
But one of the very great strongholds the Devil has among many Christians who believe in prophecy today is that in fact they don’t need to do anything much about this and thus become the very channels through whom God will bring His Word and promise to pass. This mentally was so clearly put when I received in answer to an outcry of me in deep concern over Israel the following words:
“Dear friend, Why are you furious while God remains calm? Don’t you know that all is coming as written? Are you aware of what is coming and in what order?”
I was amazed reading these words how some Christians can in all their self-assurance not only be blind to the apparent truths of God’s Word but even contradict them. God is not always calm. Yes, thank God, He is in control but the Bible is clear that He is not always calm. He is upset and angry as this verse and many others so clearly spells out.
Jesus was angry and upset too. He was not always calm, as is seen by His action and words when He in anger cleansed His Father’s house from the moneychangers, when the Bible refers in this respect to the verse from Psalm 69:9 “The zeal for your house has eaten Me up” (See John 2:13-17)
In Isaiah 59:15-20 we read:
Then the Lord saw it, and it displeased Him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor; therefore His own arm brought salvation for Him; and His own righteousness, it sustained Him. For He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on His head; He put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak. According to their deeds, accordingly He will repay, fury to His adversaries, recompense to His enemies; the coastlands He will fully repay. So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun; when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him. “The Redeemer will come to Zion, and to those who turn from transgression in Jacob,” Says the Lord. (Isaiah 59:15-20)
Therefore we would do well to take notice. God is not calm – He is upset that there are no real intercessors in regard to His people. It’s not theologians God is after, or just teachers of the Word – far less just hearers of the Word. He wants action – He wants zeal. He wants compassion. He wants watchmen and intercessors to stand with zeal in the gap for His purposes especially as they concern His people – not people who just believe and trust that God will do it all as they sit in their homes or on their pews in their churches and do nothing.
The people of Israel were promised by God I will give you a land overflowing with milk and honey – He swore to give it to them as an everlasting possession. Yet they had to have enough faith and obedience to take hold of this Promised Land. They had to fight for it – possess it meter by meter, rather than passively sit on the east bank of the Jordan River waiting for God to do it all.
Therefore where is our zeal in so believing God’s Word and promises that like the Israelites of old we are willing to fight for it. It’s our actions rather than our mental assents to God’s truth and promises which often show more our real faith for the promises of God.
There are real dangers standing in the way of God’s Word being fulfilled also in our day. Therefore the Lord in His prayer taught us to pray: ‘Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven’. It’s therefore not automatic that God’s will is done on earth, God does it often through human channels, through their prayers and fasting, like Daniel whom he used to bring forth the Jewish captivity out of Babylon. He does it through Joshua and Caleb who because they believed fought enormous battles. He did it through David who said:
Lord, remember David and all his afflictions; how he swore to the Lord, and vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob: “Surely I will not go into the chamber of my house, or go up to the comfort of my bed; I will not give sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids, until I find a place for the Lord, a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob.” (Psalms 132:1-5)
May we so be like David – who gave himself no rest for the sake of finding for the Lord a place to dwell in Jerusalem – be like the watchmen on the walls of this city who shall never hold their peace day or night and give God no rest till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth and a royal diadem in the hand of God as the prophet Isaiah said (Isaiah 62:6-7).
May we therefore likewise be doers of His Word and not hearers only!