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Back To The Future – Sermon #25

 

Revelation 11:1-2

THE TRIBULATION TEMPLE

Intro: We are still in the midst of a parenthetical passage that began in chapter 10. We are in the midst of a pause in the actions and activities of the Tribulation Period judgments. As we come to Revelation 11, we have arrived at one of the most difficult passages in the book of the Revelation. It is hard to understand, but keeping two thoughts in mind will help us as we study these verses.

1. We are on Jewish ground The images and terminology are Jewish in nature. These verses deal with the future of the people of Israel.

2. We are dealing with future events Some theologians take these verses and try to make them fit the past. Some even try to make them fit into the present. It seems to me that they will only fit into the future.

What we are going to study today is a prophecy concerning the future Temple in Jerusalem. I thought it would be good if we just took our time in this chapter and considered these matters in some detail. So, with that in mind, let’s examine John’s words concerning the future Temple. I want you to see that this prophecy contains some very specific visions of the future of the Jewish people. So, let’s study together The Tribulation Temple.

 

I. v. 1 A VISION OF PROMISE

(Ill. When John mentions the Temple, he is referring to place dedicated to Jewish worship. The Jews have been without a Temple for nearly 2,000 years now. This verse makes it crystal clear that a new Temple will be built there in Jerusalem. A brief study of matters related to the Jewish Temple might be in order here.)

A. The Past History Of The Temple For some 500 years, from the time of Moses to David, the people of Israel worshiped God at the Tabernacle. It was there that sacrifices were carried out. It was there that the priests made intercession for the sins of the people. It was there that Israel sought their God.

Before David died, he expressed a desire to build a permanent house of God, a Temple, where God’s presence could dwell, 2 Sam. 7:1-4. God, however, refused to allow David to build the Temple, because he was a man of war, 1 Chron. 28:3. The privilege of building the Temple fell to David’s son, Solomon, 2 Sam. 7:12-13. David was not allowed to build the Temple, but he began to accumulate the building materials that would be necessary for its construction, 1 Chron. 22:1-5; 13-16. Before David died, he charged Solomon to build the Temple, 1 Chron. 22:6-19.

Solomon built the Temple as he was commanded by David, 1 Kings 6:1. It took seven years to complete the building, 1 Kings 6:38. When it was finished, it was dedicated to the Lord with a lavish sacrifice. 1 Kings 8:63 says that twenty-two thousand oxen and one hundred twenty thousand sheep were offered to the Lord at the Temple dedication. At this dedication, when the Ark of the Covenant was brought from the Tabernacle into the Temple, God demonstrated His approval of this house of worship by filling it with His Shekinah glory, 2 Chron. 7:1-3.

This magnificent Temple cost an enormous amount of money to build. The Illinois Society of Architects estimated, in 1925, that it would have cost $87 billion dollars! If that Temple were built in our day, its cost would approach $500 billion dollars.[1]

This Temple building dominated the Jerusalem skyline until it was destroyed by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar in 538 BC. The Jews were taken into captivity in Babylon at this time. Some were allowed to return to Jerusalem, and in 490 BC, the Temple was rebuilt by Zerubbabel. However, this Temple was not as elaborate or as beautiful as the first Temple had been. The prophet Haggai writes, “Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? and how do ye see it now? is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing? Hag. 2:3. Ezra 3:12 adds this insight regarding the rebuilt Temple, “But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy.

This Temple was also destroyed. In 168 BC, Antiochus Epiphanes desecrated the Temple by slaughtering a sow on the altar and demanding that he be worshiped as god. He dismantled the Temple. In an effort to gain the support of the Jews, Herod the Great rebuilt this Temple in around 6 BC. Herod’s Temple took some 46 years to build, John 2:20, and it was far grander than the second Temple has been. It would have been Herod’s Temple where the Lord Jesus worshiped and preached.

This Temple was also slated for destruction. In Matthew 24:1-2, Jesus prophesied that the Temple would be destroyed. This took place in 70 AD, when Titus the Roman general besieged Jerusalem. During that siege, which lasted from 66 AD to 70 AD, some one million Jews were slain. It is said that Titus crucified so many Jewish men during the siege that he ran out of wood to make new crosses. The roads were literally lined with crosses occupied by the rotting remains of the Roman victims.

When Jerusalem fell in 70 AD, the city was destroyed. The Temple was utterly demolished. All that remains of the ancient Temple is the Western Wailing Wall. Orthodox Jews go there to pray every day. They believe that all prayers ascend to Heaven by means of Jerusalem. So, they write their prayers on paper and stuff them in the cracks of the wall. Jews from around the world can E-mail their prayers to Jerusalem. These prayers are printed and taken to the Wailing Wall.

Currently, the Jews have no Temple, but that will change in the near future.

B. The Present Preparations For The Temple When John mentions a Temple in verse 1, he is letting us in on the truth that a new Temple must be built in Jerusalem. It might surprise you to learn that some people are already making preparations for such an event. Let’s take a quick look at what the Jews are doing to get ready.

One problem that has always stood between the Jews and a new Temple is the Mosque of Omar, or the Dome of the Rock. This is the third holiest site for Muslims. It was completed in 691 AD. Inside the dome is a great rock. Muslims believe that that Mohammad ascended into Heaven from this rock, conferred with Moses, and returned to earth with the prayers that all Muslims are supposed to pray. For many centuries, it was believed that the Dome of the Rock was built on the site of the original Temple. It was believed that the Dome of the Rock would have to be demolished before a new Temple could be rebuilt. However, recent excavations revealed that the ancient Temple was actually about 100 years north of the Dome of the Rock site. This, a new Temple could be build without disturbing the Muslim holy place.

By the way, the problems in the Middle East today are not political problems; they are religious problems. Every group involved in the turmoil in the Israel wants control of the ancient city of Jerusalem. It is the most contested ground in the world. For the Jews, their struggle is one of survival. For the Arabs and Muslims, their goal is the annihilation of Israel. It will all be settled one day!

It is interesting to read that preparations orthodox Jews are making for the rebuilding of their Temple. One group, know as The Temple Institute, is dedicated to the ideal of rebuilding the Jewish Temple. They have been working to prepare for the day when the Temple is a reality. They have already prepared many of the items they will need to resume Temple worship. A visit to their website at http://www.templeinstiture.org is very enlightening! The Temple Institute has already built the Golden Altar of Incense; the Menorah; and the Table of Shewbread. They have reconstructed most of the garments worn by the High Priest. They have also produced many of the instruments used by the Levites in Temple worship. The day is coming and the Jews are getting ready. They know that a new Temple will indeed stand in Jerusalem some day soon.

All the Jews need are the ashes of the Red Heifer so they can consecrate a priest. They are doing their best to breed an acceptable animal as we speak. They are also trying to find the Ark of the Covenant. They may succeed some day!

At any rate, much more could be said about Jewish preparations for the rebuilding of the Temple. But, just this small amount is exciting news! It makes me want to look up!

C. The Powerful Message Of The Temple The message delivered by this promise of a new Temple in Jerusalem is that God is not through with the Jewish people. They are still His chosen ones and He still has a plan for them. He has already returned them to their homeland. On May 14, 1948, a nation that had been extinct from nearly 1,900 years was raised from the ashes. Israel became a nation and was restored to her former lands. The Jews began to return to Israel. Our generation has seen God’s hand of protection upon the people of Israel during the wars they fought and won against overwhelming odds. And, God isn’t through yet! He will continue to use them and will save a remnant of the Jewish people in the end. The promise of a new Temple is simply God’s way of saying, “I am not finished with Israel!”

 

I. A Vision Of Promise

 

II. v. 1 A VISION OF PRESERVATION

(Ill. John is told to take a reed and measure the Temple, the altar and the worshipers. This reed refers to a plant that grows in the Jordan valley. These reeds grow to a height of 15 to 20 feet. They are hollow and lightweight, yet they are exceedingly strong. They are used for walking sticks, Eze. 29:6. They are cut down and sharpened and used as writing tools too. 3 John 13. They were also used in ancient times as measuring sticks. A “rod is about six cubits, or nine feet. John is told to take the measuring rod and measure the Temple. This is symbolic of two things.)

A. A Symbol Of Full Preservation The act of measuring speaks of possession. God is claiming the Temple, the altar and the worshipers as His Own. This is just another reminder that God is not through with the Jewish people, Ill. Rom. 11:1-5, 26!

B. A Symbol Of Faithful Preservation God will keep every promise He has ever made to the nation of Israel. He has set them aside for a time because of their unbelief. In the end, however, Israel will be saved! God will continue to work in and through Israel until a remnant is saved, Zech. 12:10-13:1; 8-9.

 

(Note: Some in our day are attempting to replace Israel with the church. They claim that Israel has been forever set aside and the church has inherited the promises God made to Israel. Folks, we do not want the promises God made to Israel! The promises that we have as the church are far superior to those given to Abraham and his descendants. They will inherit the earth; we will inherit a home in glory! There is a difference between Israel and the church and that difference must always be kept in mind when studying the Bible.)

I. A Vision Of Promise

II. A Vision Of Preservation

 

III. v. 2 A VISION OF PUNISHMENT

(Ill. While this measuring of the Temple is in one sense a blessing for the nation of Israel, it also brings to mind images of judgment. The rod is mentioned four times in the book of Revelation. One is in these verses. The three other times are in connection with the Lord Jesus and they tell us that He will rule this world with a “rod of iron, Rev. 2:27; 12:5; 19:15. So, while there is a vision of Promise and Preservation, there is also a vision of Punishment.)

A. The Realities Of This Punishment John is told not to measure the outer court of the Temple. It is to be given to the Gentiles and they will occupy the city for three and one-half years. These are the days of the second half of the Tribulation Period. This verse brings out some thoughts that need to be considered.

The Temple will be rebuilt sometime during the early days of the Tribulation. No doubt, one of the first accomplishments of the Antichrist will be to arrange a peace treaty between Israel and her enemies. He will do what no other diplomat has ever been able to do. Even today, diplomats and world leaders are trying to secure peace in Jerusalem. They will all fail! The Antichrist will bring a temporary, pseudo peace. When Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace comes, He will bring permanent peace to Israel.

This peace treaty will give the Jews the right to build their new house of worship, Dan. 9:27. The Jews will rebuild their Temple and will begin their sacrificial system of worship. Once again the Jews will slaughter animals in their attempt to keep the Law of God.

Things will go well for a while, but somewhere around the mid-point of the Tribulation, the Antichrist will enter the Holy of Holies in the Temple and he will enthrone himself as god, Matt. 24:15; 2 Thes. 2:3-4. this event will mark the beginning of the most intense time of persecution Israel will have ever experienced, Matt. 24:16-22. The Jews will lose their Temple and they will be driven from their lands. They will be hunted down and killed by the forces of the Antichrist and by the rest of their enemies.

B. The Reasons For This Punishment Israel will be shown in the most vivid manner possible that animal sacrifice cannot take away sin and bring peace with God. God will allow them to build their Temple, and He will allow them to sacrifice again. However, their new Temple is nothing more than further rejection of their Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. Their sacrifices repudiate the Gospel and reject the cross and the blood of Jesus. (Ill. The blood of Jesus Christ did what the blood of animals has never been able to do or will ever be able to do, Heb. 9:11-15; 10:10-14.) Their refusal to accept the preaching of the cross by the 144,000 Jewish preachers will not go unpunished.

Because they have rejected the Gospel, the Jews must pay a price. They will be persecuted and pursued by their enemies. This process will serve to purify the Jewish nation and prepare them for the return of the Lord Jesus. When He comes, the remnant of the Jewish nation that is left will turn to Him and receive them as their Messiah, Zech. 12:10-13:1; 8-9.

Some preachers, including John Hagee and others, are preaching that Jews are saved by a different method than other people. In truth, there is one plan of salvation for all people and His name is Jesus Christ, Acts 4:12; John 14:6. The Jews have rejected Jesus and they will be punished as a result. Those who believe will be saved, John 1:11-12.

 

Conc: I hope you can see from these verses that God still has a plan for Israel and for the future. I also hope you can see from current events that everything is lining up to ensure that God’s plans will be brought to pass.

Israel is preparing to build their Temple. They are looking for their Messiah to come and save them. Well, He is coming! But, I would like to be able to tell them that He has already been here. He has shed His blood. He has paid for sin and He will save all who will call on Him by faith.

I hope you are ready to meet Jesus! He is coming and His coming will be very soon. If you are not saved, you can be by coming to Jesus by faith today. If you are saved and want to thank Him for it, you can do that today. If you are not walking as close to Him as you should be, then you can come home today.

Folks, this thing is winding up. People need to make their preparations to leave this world. Listen to what Jesus said, in Luke 21:28-32.

28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.

29 And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees;

30 When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand.

31 So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.

32 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.



[1] http://thelivingwordtbc.com/rev-ch11(1-2).htm

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