Each time we have gone to Israel, we always made it a priority to pray at the Kotel, also called the Western Wall, or the "Wailing Wall," as the British called it. This wall was con-structed under the reign of Herod I as a retaining wall for the Temple Mount. This retaining wall was needed to support the greatly expanded Temple located on the Temple Mount. Herod was responsible for so much of this expansion of the Temple that eventually it came to be called "Herod's Temple," in contrast to Solomon's Temple, which was destroyed by the Babylonians.
In my humble opinion, the Kotel is one of the most "anointed" places in the world. As we pray there, the Ruakh (Spirit) of God seems to reach out and grab you. You can experience His Spirit anyplace in the world or even in outer space. American astronauts in orbit around the earth and on the moon couldn't resist quoting scripture with great emotion. However, it seems that the stones of the Kotel are alive with the Spirit.
Above the Wall, on the Temple Mount (Har HaBayit) are two mosques: the Dome of the Rock and the El-Aqsa Mosque, which the Muslims constructed on the Temple Mount, primarily because this is a Jewish holy site, to show the superiority of Islam. In recent decades, Arabs began to deny any Jewish connection to Jerusalem, claiming it as a holy city in Islam. However, Jerusalem is mentioned by name 669 times in the Tanakh (O.T.), and dozens of times in the Newer Testament. Jerusalem is also mentioned in the daily Jewish prayers found in every siddur (Jewish prayer book), as well as the expression, "Next year in Jeru-salem," which is generally said near the conclusion of the Passover seder. Jerusalem is not mentioned even once in the Muslim Quran.
The Temple Mount was under Jordanian occupation from 1948 to 1967. However, it was liberated when the Israeli army captured it during the Six-Day War of 1967. An alliance of Arab nations, led by President Gamel Abdul Nasser of Egypt, threatened to destroy Israel, making the land red with Jewish blood, and forcing the surviving Jews into the Mediterranean Sea. Much to their dismay, Israel won the war. Israel also gained much land, including the cherished Temple Mount.
After the Temple Mount fell back into Jewish hands, there was a small Jewish prayer hall erected on the Temple Mount. How-ever, soon after Israel conquered the Temple Mount, General Moshe Dayan gave religious sovereignty over the Temple Mount to the Muslim Wakf, and Moshe Dayan actually forbade Jews from praying on the Temple Mount, although Dayan felt that Jews should be allowed to visit there. In actuality, Jews are greatly restricted from ascending to the Temple Mount. Only Muslims are allowed to pray at this site, which biblically is the holiest site in Judaism. Curiously, Israel continued the same policies prohibiting Jewish prayer on the Mount that were instituted by the Jordanian occupation from 1948 to 1967.
We were privileged to go to the Kotel on Simchat Torah in 1994. Earlier, during Sukkot, the Kotel was overwhelmed with visitors. However, on Simchat Torah that year, the Kotel was amazingly uncrowded. We had missed the earlier large celebrations at the Kotel. However, it was nice to be at the Kotel without being jostled by many others. It was great! On the downside, the Muslims began to blast their prayers with electronic loud speakers from the minarets on the Temple Mount. The noise seemed to be directed to the Jewish worshippers down below. Amazingly, this was permitted by the Israeli authorities. However, I doubt that there is anything in the Quran that requires Muslims to blast their prayers using recordings and electronic loud speakers. Imagine what would happen if Jews were to blast their prayers at Muslims using loud speakers!
At that time, I could really sense the evil power of Islam. President Obama famously said that these Islamic prayers were among the sweetest sounds that he had ever heard. That might be true for a Muslim, but not to my ears. I am not anti-Arab. However, I believe that Islam is a satanic stronghold. I also know that HaSatan has no love for Arabs or anybody else. The first victims of Islam are the Muslims themselves. I pray that God would cause Islam to release its ugly grip on Muslims throughout the world.
Another thing we like to do when in Jerusalem is to go to the Temple Institute. The Temple Institute makes no secret of the fact that they are looking forward to the rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash (Temple). When you go to the Temple Institute, you get to see the various implements, vestments, and clothing for the cohenim (priests) and Levites that would be required for Temple worship. They even constructed the Temple menorah, which is built entirely of hammered gold, weighing about 99 pounds. It is on public display not far from the Kotel, but encased in thick Plexiglas. One thing that they apparently are not working on is the Ark of the Covenant. Former Chief Rabbi Goren of blessed memory claimed to know where it is located. If true, I hope that he passed this information on to others!
The Rebuilt Temple
Yeshua foretold the destruction of what came to be called Herod's Temple (Matt. 24:1-2). Rav Sha'ul (Paul) apparently looked ahead to the rebuilt Temple. He wrote:
1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, and by our gathering together to Him, 2that you be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Messiah is at hand. 3 Let no one deceive you in any way: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sits in the Temple of God, showing himself as being God.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-4
The clear sense of the above passage is that Yeshua is not going to return until after the anti-Messiah (anti-Christ, if you prefer) takes his seat in the Temple of God displaying himself as being God. This requires a rebuilt Temple. Young Levites and cohenim are already being trained in the Temple rituals and sacrifices. Although most secular Jews would cringe at the notion of animal sacrifices being restored on the Temple Mount, it is likely to happen. For instance, small religious Jewish political parties often get concessions in the Knesset (Israeli parliament) as the price for joining a political coalition. These political coalitions are always needed because Israel is ever able to have a political party win at least 61 of the 120 seats in the Knesset.
However, many Orthodox Jews are also opposed to the rebuilding of the Temple before Messiah comes. On the other hand... most Orthodox Jews were also opposed to the rebirth of Israel prior to the rise of Nazism in the 1930s. It is entirely possible that most Orthodox Jews will also change their opinion regarding the Temple, and support the building of the Temple before Messiah returns. There are also some Jews who believe that the Third Temple will not be built by human hands, but will descend complete from the heavens.
It was primarily secular Jewish Zionists who did most of the early work to form the foundation for the nation of Israel in the early 1900s. Then came the Holocaust, and then came the political reality of Israel becoming a nation in 1948. Thereafter, most Orthodox Jews became enthusiastic supporters of the nation of Israel. (Some weird Chassidic ["Ultra-Orthodox"] sects such as the Satmar and Naturei Carta remain opposed to Israel, although most other Chassidic sects now support Israel.)
The prophet Daniel (7:25) tells us that "he (anti-Messiah?) will speak out against the Most High, and wear down the saints (lit., "the holy ones") of the Most High, and think to change times and laws. And they (the "saints") shall be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time (3.5 years according to most translators)." This is contrary to the Pre-Tribulation myth, that the Believers will be "raptured" out of here before the anti-Messiah makes his appearance. Rev. 13:5-7 also tells us that the anti-Messiah will make war against the 'saints' for 42 months, which is 3.5 years.
Daniel 9:27 also tells us that "he
will make a firm covenant with many for one week (of years), but in the middle
of the week, he will cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease, and for the
overspreading of abominations he shall make desolate, even until the consummation,
one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate." This
prophecy may have a dual fulfillment. However, it seems that the anti-Messiah
will sign a seven-year treaty, but will break it half way through, after only
3.5 years, bringing to an end the Temple sacrifices and offerings. Of course,
for the Temple sacrifices to cease, there must be a Third Temple.
The Problems of
Rebuilding the Temple
The rebuilt Temple will be located on the Temple Mount, as were the First and Second Temples. There is the sticky problem of two mosques located up there. The Islamic world wouldn't look too kindly upon Jews knocking down any mosques, although of course they have no problem knocking down churches and synagogues. The Mosque of the Dome is now considered the third holiest site in Islam.
There are potential ways around this problem. We can always pray for an earthquake on the Temple Mount, can't we? However, another possibility is to build the Third Temple on the Temple Mount without disturbing the existing mosques up there. According to archeologist Ashe Kaufman, the Holy of Holies was located nowhere near either of the mosques. According to Revelation 11:1-2, it seems apparent that at least part of the Temple Mount will be given into the hands of the Gentiles for 42 months (3.5 years). The Temple could be rebuilt without knocking down any mosques.
However, one slight problem is that Israel foolishly gave sovereignty over to the Temple Mount to the Muslims. The Arabs aren't too eager to give up any sovereignty to the Jews over this sacred plot of land, also called Mount Moriah, where Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son Isaac.
I suspect that the Pope might provide a solution to this problem. The Catholic Church finally came to grips with the existence of the Jewish state, and has had formal diplomatic relations with Israel since the 1990s. Some wonder what diplomatic deals might have been made to cause the Vatican to overcome the theological hurdle of recognizing the Jews back in the Land, just as foretold by the prophets. The Vatican holds title to many pieces of property in Israel, and wants to continue holding onto the titles. Perhaps the Vatican also struck a deal, whereby the Jews would be permitted to someday rebuild the Temple.
We don't know when construction of the Third Temple will begin. However, once construction has begun, it could be completed rather quickly with modern machinery. The measurements for this future Temple are readily available. One only needs to read Ezekiel chapters 40-42 for the measurements. The so-called Tribulation Temple and Millennial Temple could be the same building. The Hasmoneans cleansed the defiled Temple in 162 BCE, built a new altar, and were again able to resume Temple worship. This scenario could be repeated in the future.
In order for a rebuilt Temple to occur, there is also be the need for a parah adumah ("red heifer"), as described in Numbers 19. According to Talmud, even if just two white hairs or two black hairs are on the red heifer, it is disqualified from being slaughtered to produce the ashes for ceremonial cleansing and purification for those who go to the Temple. There have been times when such a creature was born. Then the calf was carefully protected (by the Moo-sad?). However, as the calves got older, a few white or black hairs appeared rendering them unfit. The search continues!
The rebuilding of the Temple might cause a crisis in theology for many Christians. There will be sacrifices for sin offerings in the Temple, mentioned in Ezekiel 42:13; 43:19,22,25, 45:17, etc. I don't have all the answers. However, it is better for us to get our theology in line with Scripture, not to make Scripture to agree with our theology. For those who have accepted Yeshua as Messiah and Savior, there is no need for any sin offerings.
When you go to the Temple Mount, you can look to the east, and see the Eastern Gate, which is blocked up with large blocks of stone, and an Islamic cemetery in front of it. This was the work of Suleiman the Magnificent, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, 1520-1566. He had the Eastern Gate blocked up, as he was aware that the Jews expect the Messiah to enter through the Eastern Gate, as indicated in Ezekiel 43:1. However, in blocking the gate, he fulfilled the prophecy of Ezekiel 44:1-2 whereby the Eastern Gate would be shut, and that no one would enter it. Then in Ezekiel 46:1-2, we read that "the prince" (Yeshua?) will enter the Eastern Gate. Having the Eastern Gate blocked will pose no problem for Yeshua!
The rebuilt Temple will usher in a new age, whereby water shall exit from the Temple to the east, causing the so-called "Dead Sea" to come to life again, with "very many fish" according to Ezekiel 47:8-10.
Deuteronomy 16:16 tells us of the three pilgrimage feasts. Currently, it isn't easy getting to the Kotel or the Temple Mount. However, Yisroel Katz (Israel's Minister of Transportation) recently publicly announced the soon construction of a high speed light rail connecting Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and the Kotel. Millions of Jews could be coming to the Temple Mount even before the Temple is built! Yisroel Katz said, "As a cohen ("priest"), I have a special connection to the holy site. In front of my eyes, I constantly see the words, Prepare the way, prepare the way."
 Many synagogues are called "temples." However, this is not biblical. There can only be one Temple, which would be on the Temple Mount.