Many Christians are anticipating that a literal, physical “Jewish” temple will be rebuilt on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem prior to Christ’s return at the beginning of a 7-year peace treaty that Antichrist will make with Israel. They base this belief primarily on two passages, one from the Old Testament book of Daniel and the other from Matthew in the New Testament.
Since Matthew quoted Yeshua (Jesus) saying
Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains… (Matthew 24:15-16)
And since “the holy place” refers to the holy of holies in the temple that was destroyed in 70 AD by Roman-led legions, it follows that the temple must be rebuilt prior to Jesus’ return. These Christians, primarily “Dispensationalists” that believe God will begin dealing again with the Jews/Israel during the 7-year Tribulation once Christians are raptured (removed physically from Earth to appear in Heaven with Jesus), think they find in Daniel 9:27 the perfect explanation for how this temple gets rebuilt– Antichrist will make a 7-year peace treaty with Israel and allow them to rebuild their temple and begin sacrifices. They think they find this peace treaty here:
And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate. (Daniel 9:27)
Dispensationalists/full-Futurists (who both hold that the last, 70th Week of Daniel’s “70 Weeks” in Daniel 9:24-27 is delayed until the future, just before Christ returns) think that “he” in v27 refers exclusively to “Antichrist”. The purpose of this article is not to deconstruct this conclusion, nor to argue against the 70th Week as a future event, although both notions are certainly wrong. Rather, from the Leviticus 23 Feasts (for a background on them, read this and this) I want to argue that Feast #4 of 7, Shavuot (also called the Feast of Weeks), on which the Day of Pentecost outpouring of the Holy Spirit occurred, shows us that no temple will be rebuilt prior to the return of Christ, because followers of Yeshua (Christians) have become the Temple of God where His Spirit indwells our bodies, replacing the Old Testament temple, made of wood and stone, destroyed after Yeshua’s death & resurrection.
As a background, the Apostle Paul clearly teaches that Christians are the Temple of God:
Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? (1 Cor 3:16)
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? (1 Cor 6:19)
Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God (2 Cor 6:16)
in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit. (Eph 2:21-22)
Shavuot, or the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost, occurs 50 days after Passover and is traditionally celebrated as the day the Law, or Torah, was given to Israel gathered at Mt. Sinai in the desert after the exodus from Egypt.
Compare the differences between the giving of the Law on Shavuot and the giving of the Spirit on Pentecost:
|Giving of the Law||Giving of the Holy Spirit|
|50th day after Passover||50th day after Passover|
|Written on tablets of stone (Exo 24:12)||Written on our hearts (Jer 31:33; Psm 40:8; 37:31; Is 51:7; Ezek 11:19-20; 36:22-27; 2 Cor 3:3; Heb 8:10)|
|Written by the finger of God (Exo 31:18)||Written by the Spirit of God (2 Cor 3:3; Heb 8:10)|
|3,000 slain (Exodus 32:1-8,26-28)||3,000 saved (Acts 2:38-41)|
|The letter of ‘the Law’||The spirit of the Law (Rom 2:29, 7:6)|
|Mt. Sinai (Exo 19:11, Heb 12:18-21)||Mt. Zion (Rom 11:26, Heb 12:22)|
There is clearly a relationship between the two–the giving of the Holy Spirit (inspiring inner motivations and attitudes) supersedes the giving of the Law (regulating outward behaviors).
Paul equated the old covenant with Mt. Sinai and “present” Jerusalem:
But the son by the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and the son by the free woman through the promise. This is allegorically speaking, for these women are two covenants: one proceeding from Mount Sinai bearing children who are to be slaves; she is Hagar. Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother. (Gal 4:23-26)
So Mt. Sinai and Jerusalem, under the Law, were “covenantally” the same. The focal point of the old covenant/Law in Jerusalem was the temple since the sacrifices and ceremonies performed there were prescribed by the Law and its entire existence was due to Torah commandments; sacrifices were required to atone for sins against the Law.
Hundreds of years before the temple was constructed, Abraham was commanded by God to sacrifice Isaac on the mountains of Moriah (Gen 22), later to become Jerusalem. The temple is thought to be built on the exact spot where Isaac was nearly sacrificed. One of the hills of Moriah/Jerusalem was Mt. Calvary, where Jesus was crucified. Isaac’s near sacrifice was a prefigurement of Christ’s sacrifice, who is God’s only Son, just as Isaac was Abraham’s only promised son (born of Sarah). Yeshua was the ram caught in the thicket (the cross), the substitutionary sacrifice for Isaac. Note that both the temple and Yeshua’s sacrifice are co-located on the mountains of Moriah, and both concern the atonement for sin.
Yeshua prophesied the destruction of the temple (Mt 24:2, Lk 19:44) and the desolating of the old covenant (Mt. 23:38, Lk 21:20); the old covenant “died” when Yeshua died–the temple was part of the old covenant, given on Mt. Sinai, home of the descendents of Abraham and Sarah’s bondwoman, Hagar. Remember, we are born of the promise, not of the flesh.
After His resurrection, the last place Yeshua was seen was on the Mt. of Olives, east of the temple mount. Yeshua then ascended directly to Heaven from the Mt. of Olives, across the Kidron Valley (also called the Valley of Jehoshaphat (Joel 3:2), the Valley of Decision and it was used as a trash dump) from the temple. So by His death and resurrection, Yeshua crossed over from the covenant of the law of sin and death, to life. The Mt. of Olives is even higher in elevation than the temple mount, transcending it.
The Mt. of Olives is so called because of the olive tree groves that grew there–olive oil represents the Spirit of God, the Spirit was given on Shavuot/Pentecost, replacing the Law, given on the same day. Some olive trees there have been alive since the time of Christ, interestingly.
Jesus will return to earth at the same place (Zech 14:4, Acts 1:11), the Mt. of Olives, not the temple mount.
The Mt. of Olives will be split in two on the Day of the Lord when Yeshua returns, so that the suffering remnant in Jerusalem may flee (Zech 14:5); Mt. Olives represents the new covenant under Christ; they will be fleeing from the Law to the Spirit.
The population of Jerusalem will flee eastward away from the temple mount/Mt. Moriah/the Law to the Mt. of Olives/the Spirit, where Jesus will return to earth.
Four of the Seven Leviticus 23 Feasts have been fulfilled, the last of which was Shavuot, marking the end of the Law/temple of stone and the beginning of the Spirit/temple of believers. The Law was given on Shavuot and then superseded on Shavuot/Pentecost by the giving of the Spirit.
There is a large break before Shavuot from the three early Spring Feasts and after Shavuot to the three Fall Feasts–there has been a break from the Law to the Spirit.
The giving of the Spirit on Shavuot is one more evidence to the desolation of the old covenant and all that goes with it–the temple and the sacrifices. This Leviticus 23 feast is further testimony to the fact that the temple system will not return prior to the return of Christ.