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Chapter 3 THE OLD 'COVENANT' REVIVED Chapter 3
Temple Service
Restored (which had ended forever in the death of the Lord Jesus Christ: Hebrews 8:13.)
 
Jesus replied to His disciples' question about the sign of His coming and the end of the age, with –
 
"when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the Holy Place" Matthew 24:15
Some have found bizarre meaning for the words "Holy Place", but to the first disciples they could have other meaning than Daniel had given. This is conformed by Jesus direct reference to Daniel. Daniel's report of Gabriel's prophecy centuries before Christ came reads –
 
"the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary ...
and he will make a firm covenant with many for one week [seven],
but in the middle of the week [seven] he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering"
Daniel 9:26, 27.
And again in Daniel's final warning –  
 
"from the time that the regular sacrifice is abolished, and the abomination of desolation is set up "
Daniel 12:11.
  This can have no other meaning than a functioning Temple ministry under Israel's Sinai Covenant.  
The circumstance of this prophecy is especially significant to our situation today, if one remembers that when Daniel wrote these words, as now also, the Temple did not exist. This first Temple had been destroyed by the Babylonians after Daniel's deportation. It was later rebuilt by Zerubbabel, defiled by the Seleucid Empire under Antiochus IV (as Daniel had prophesied, 8:9; 11:31), cleansed by the Hasmoneans, and wonderfully enlarged and beautified by Herod the Great.
 
Daniel's prophecy concerns a sacrilegious interruption of the Temple service (9:27) still to be fulfilled, according to Jesus (Matthew 24:15). For the fulfillment of Christ's words the Temple will have had to be rebuilt as part of the end-time deception.

 
Second Temple's
End
 
Remember, that before giving this sign of Temple-sacrilege, Jesus had already prophesied this Temple's total destruction:  
 
"Truly, I say to you,
not one stone here shall be left upon another, which will not be torn down"
Matthew 24:2.
 
History tells us that both Daniel's (9:26) and our Lord's prophecies of destruction were fulfilled in AD 70 when the Roman Legions of Titus destroyed the Temple. It was reported that the gold of the roof melted and ran down between the stones in the conflagration, and that the soldiers literally ripped the stones of the Temple apart in their plunder, exactly fulfilling the words of Jesus that "not one stone here shall be left upon another".

 
Third Temple
Comes
 
But the words of Jesus concerning the violation of the Temple as the sign (Mat.24:15) are a reference to the prophecy of the last chapter of Daniel quoted above (12:11). Both Daniel and Jesus pointed forward, beyond the destruction of the second Temple, to a yet future re-instituted Temple service, the violation and interruption of which is a sign of the final countdown to the end.
 
Paul confirmed that this sign is an essential precursor of the Lord's return for His Church (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4). These words of Jesus, Daniel, and Paul can mean nothing other than that the Temple service will be in operation at the time of the end, even though this temple service is spiritually utterly meaningless to those who truly know God through Jesus Christ, for the Word of God also says that the Atonment of the blood of Jesus abolished the Old Covenant of Sinai (Hebrew 8:13).. 

 
New
Insights Begin
 
The idea of Temple reconstruction had been an impossible idea, until recently. Not only has there been an upsurge in right wing (fascist) organisations in Israel dedicated to Temple reconstruction, but evidence from Temple Mount in Jerusalem, using modern technology indicates that the associated Islamic holy places were not directly associated with the Temple site (studies available at "http://www.templemount.org").
 
The Dome of the Rock, an area reverenced by Jews, Christians and Muslims, appears to be on a pentagonal bedrock dedicated originally to the adoration of goddess Astarte. It was almost certainly originally set up by king Solomon to honour his royal Zidonian wife. To the south of this, the Al-Aqsa Mosque appears to be built over the ruins of Hadrian's Jupiter-temple, destroyed by the Byzantine Christians, which Islamic invaders later mistook for the ruins of the true Temple.
 
The original Temple site now appears to lie under a grove of trees and the Al-Kas fountain, between the Dome and the Mosque. If this is correct, a major hurdle to the reconstruction of the great Temple of Jerusalem has now been removed as this site does not conflict with Islamic structures.  

 
A Renewed
Covenant?
 
Now, the re-institution of a Temple service places Daniel's reference to the Prince of the people who destroy the Temple (i.e. a Roman Prince), that we quoted above, in a new light. He informs us that this Prince confirms a covenant with many for a "seven". In the context of Daniel, the seven year period is the final seven of the seventy sevens (490 years) in the prophecy to re-consecrate the holy place and bring Israel into everlasting righteousness – a total period that would be interrupted by the killing of the Messiah (Daniel 9:26).
 
But we must remember that, a seven year cycle is also integral to the national covenant of God with Israel, economically (debts cancelled) and agriculturally (fallow and title-deed cycle). This strongly suggests that it is Israel's whole national covenant from Sinai that is re-inaugurated with the Temple service.
Where does this leave the gospel of the Christian Church?
 
The early Christians in Jerusalem had great difficulty understanding the transition from national covenant of Sinai to new covenant in Christ. It caused great stress within the fellowship of the Church, as Acts shows (15:5,19,20;1Cor.8:4-12), and on which Paul by the Holy Spirit was incisively clear, to his own detriment (2 Peter 3:16; Galatians 2:4,5,11-14; Acts 21:28). 

 
Christian  
Confusion
 
In many Christian circles today the pendulum has begun to swing back, from a sad disregard of Christianity's Jewish roots, to an overcompensation that threatens to loose the newness of the New Covenant in an exaltation of Jewishness.
 
It must be remembered that of the two main Jewish sects at the time of Jesus, the Sadducees, whose strength was among the Temple priests, died out with the Temple's destruction. This left the teachings of the Pharisees, the main enemies of the gospel, to become the main-stream of Jewish religion. Pharisaic Judaism thus became Talmudic or Rabbinic Judaism.
 
Unfortunately, the romance of Israel's history and culture makes Christian Zionists particularly vulnerable to this subverting influence. The re-inauguration of a Temple service will increase this vulnerability to loose the new of the New Covenant, so that one is left with an amended Old Covenant masquerading as the New.
 
Perhaps it should not be regarded  as strange that in every age Christianity has experienced some strategy of Satan to subvert the newness of the New Covenant.  

 
Torah
Versus Law
 
The Bible is very clear. If one is to live by the Sinaitic code of Law it is an all or nothing! There can be no selection from its commandments (Leviticus 18:5; Deuteronomy 27:26).
 
The Law from Sinai was the marriage contract between God and the nation Israel. As a whole it was a tutor to prepare the nation for the coming of Messiah: "But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor" (Galatians 3:25). The command to visit Jerusalem three times a year, to tithe to the Levites, to cancel all debtor-obligations every seventh year and not harvest any agricultural produce in that year, must be as binding now as then – if the Law of Moses is what some 'Messianic' believers would make it out to be for the Christian.
 
Jesus made a clear distinction between the Law, which authorised "a certificate of divorce" (Deuteronomy 24:1-4), and the teaching of Genesis, "in the beginning it was not so" (Matthew 19:4-8). Paul also contrasted the Law's command to circumcise with the redemptive uncircumcised-faith of Abraham in Genesis (Galatians 3:6-10). Clearly, the Sinai covenant was a merciful accommodation of God to the historical needs of a specific nation and as such has no permanency, other than as it reflects the principles of God's mind (Galatians 3:17).
 
It is the heart of the Law, not its cultural clothing, that is alive, and this is properly fulfilled in the gospel of Jesus! Now that the Merciful One has come in the flesh, this Law is not redundant. But its function has totally changed.
 
To Paul, its threshing-regulation concerning oxen eating is also a God-given principle, applicable today, among others, to the payment of preachers (1 Corinthians 9:9,10). This Law, as a part of holy Scripture, serves as a vast lesson and illustration of God's pilgrimage with humanity, in which the splendours of His grace, His holiness and His wisdom are made known.
 
There is no need to set up any list of customs, practices, or do's and don'ts – not even of the ten commandments! God's people are a new creation in whom the New Covenant lives (2 Corinthians 5:17); not a re-newed covenant, in spite of the propaganda of the 1998 'The Scriptures' translation of the Bible.

 
The Ultimate
Deceiver Comes
 
The coming great Apostasy in Christianity is directly associated in Scripture with the revelation of Antichrist:  
  "the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed" 2 Thessalonians 2:3
 
John reminds a local church of their experience of apostasy in their own congregation as an example of the spirit of Antichrist:
 
"they went out from us, but they were not really of us;
for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us;
but they went out, in order that it might be shown that they all are not of us."
1 John 2:18,19.
Sadly, there has always been apostasy in Christian history, but this is more than that. It is a world-wide falling away from the gospel as a part of Antichrist's coming. It may very well be that the full restoration of the Old Covenant assists the development of this apostasy.
 
The re-inauguration of the Old Covenant central focus, which was lost when the Temple was destroyed, is the great opportunity for another messiah – a false messiah. What greater credibility could anyone receive in Israel than to facilitate the construction of the Temple on its original site? Who could then doubt his messianic qualities?
 


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