It's not necessarily true that a new Temple must be rebuilt in Israel before the Abomination can take place. The very scripture in Daniel which associates the Abomination with the Temple site suggests this to be unnecessary. That scripture, according to the English version in the margin of my Hebrew interlinear, reads like this:
"And in the middle of the week, he shall cause the sacrifice and the offering to cease, and on a corner, desolating abominations, even until the end"(9:27).
There you have it. The "abominations" will be caused "on a corner" (Hebrew word, KANAPH). On a corner of what? The text does not enlarge any further. We are left to figure it out. Why has God done this?
Some English Bibles have translated "corner" as an aspect of the Temple or altar. The NIV translators thought to use, "on a wing of the temple." That seems acceptable, but the translators of the King James Version were so unsure of the purpose in Daniel's use of "kanaph" that they translated the word, "overspreading." Apparently, this mistaken translation is derived from "wing," although not the wing of a building, but the (overspreading) wings of birds.
Other translators:, "on the wing of abominations shall come/be one who makes desolate" (e.g. RSV, NASB, NKJV), but this rendition detracts from the true thrust of the text, to show desolating abominations applied to a section of something...not to the whole thing, but only to a portion. But how does one apply wickedness to only a portion of something, for example a Temple, without profaning the entirety?
Jesus helps us somewhat to identify the "wing" or "corner" by telling us that the Abomination will be applied to "the holy place" (Matthew 24:15). But where in, or on what part of, the sanctuary? Am I being too fussy for even asking that question? If so, then why does Daniel mention a section rather than the whole?
The phrase used by Jesus above has been taken as the very sacred Holy Place within the Temple building. But consider the same phrase, "holy place," used also in Acts 6:13, where it is a general reference to the Temple and yet not to the Holy Place:
"This man [Stephen] does not cease speaking words against this holy place and the Law, for we have heard him saying that Jesus the Nazarene will destroy this place..."
The Holy Place and the Most Holy Place are referred to in the book of Hebrews, but instead of using "holy place" or "most holy place," the writer calls them the "Holy" and "Holy of Holies" (9:2-3). And while the writer of Hebrews capitalizes these terms for the purpose of indicating God's sacred rooms within the Temple building, the "holy place" in the Acts quote above is not capitalized (by the way, while I capitalize "Temple," it is not capitalized in the Bible).
The writer of Hebrews makes it very evident that the capitalized Holy is not identical to the non-capitalized "holy" that the same book uses to refer to the sanctuary as a whole:
"So then, the first [covenant] had ordinances of service and an earthly holy..." (Hebrews 9:1).
Both the King James and the NIV render the "holy" here as "sanctuary," not as the "Holy Place." It is only two verses later that we find the capitalized terms, "Holy" and "Holy of Holies," and the writer goes on to show that these sacred rooms were in the "holy," thus distinguishing the "holy (place)" from the "Holy (Place)." Never does the writer of Hebrews, nor any other New-Testament writer, use "holy place" to indicate the Holy (Place). In light of that, consider now the "holy place" of Acts 21:28:
Men of Israel, help! This is the man who teaches all men everywhere against the people, the law, and this place; he even brought Greeks into the temple to thus profane this holy place."
Sounds like the anti-Christ, but it is just the apostle Paul, who was being accused of profaning the "temple," which we can see has the alternative name of, "holy place." Because the Greek word for "temple" here is hieron, which can depict the temple grounds in general--the courtyard or the building--the "holy place" should be viewed likewise.
Clearly, Paul was not bringing Greeks into the Temple building, and especially not into the Holy (Place), was he? No, but he was merely bringing them into the Temple grounds. And I say all this to show that the "holy place" used by Jesus in Matthew 24:15 is referring to the Temple grounds in general...which may or may not include the Temple building in the end times.
There is yet the question of whether the abominations will be applied to an edge/corner of the Temple building, or to an edge/corner of the Temple grounds. Strong's Concordance suggests that, in relation to anything having four sides, such as the rectangular holy site, "kanaph" can represent "a quarter" in conjunction with "extremity" or "edge," so as to denote a "quarter edge" or a "quarter extremity." While the English section of my Hebrew interlinear has attempted to bring out this quarter aspect by translating "kanaph" as "corner," the Hebrew word could just as well refer to one of four sides, whereby the NIV's use of "wing" becomes very suitable.
As a matter of fact, the Biblical phrase, "the four kanaphs of the earth" does not sit well as "the four corners of the earth," and does much better as "the four ends of the earth." Now the Bible does not speak of the four ends of the Earth from the standpoint of an astronaut in space, but from the standpoint of a person standing on the ground: i.e. north, east, south and west.
Still, the use of such a term to denote the Temple is unusual in the first place. Why didn't Daniel just say "temple" if that is what was meant? But then, only God knew in Daniel's day that the Jewish holy place would, in the last days, be a small section of one western wall, called the Wailing Wall.
This Wailing Wall (also "Western Wall") was one of four, not of the Temple building itself, but of the very outer walls which surrounded the entire Temple site--outer courts and all. Therefore, it may be hasty to translate kanaph as an edge/wing of the Temple altar, as does the NIV, or as an edge/wing of the Temple building. But as kanaph is defined as "an edge" or "extremity" in Strong's concordance, the Wailing-Wall sanctuary on the extreme western edge/wing of the Temple site befits the word very well, and certainly much better than the Holy (Place) in the central area of the same site. Of course, the Holy Place no longer exists, while a piece of the Western Wall yet stands.
Daniel does not, as all others prophets do not, tell us that the Temple building will be trampled by the anti-Christ's invaders. Consider Daniel 8:11, where, instead of the Temple building being stipulated as the brunt of the anti-Christ's actions, "the place of His sanctuary was cast down." Why does the prophecy use "the place of His sanctuary" instead of "the temple"? It brings to mind Jesus' use of "holy place," does it not? And why didn't Jesus / Matthew just use the Greek word for a temple building if that's what he was referring to?
Verse 26 of Daniel 9 tells of the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in 70 AD, and it is just in verse 27 that we read about the Abominations being set up on the "extremity." Notice how there is nothing said about the reconstruction of the building between its verse-26 destruction and the verse-27 Abominations. Therefore, it becomes obvious why "an edge" is used since only one edge of the site was left standing by the Romans.
Long after the Romans, some Jews requested from the Turks a small area on the western wall's exterior face (120 square yards) for worship purposes, and when they began to wail loudly there for the re-establishment of Israel's long-gone glory, the sanctuary was dubbed, "the Wailing Wall." We must entertain the idea, then, that the anti-Christ may apply the Abomination on or near this piece of the western wall, which, as far as the modern Jews are concerned, is the Jewish sanctuary. A sanctuary may certainly exist apart from a building, and it would be hard to convince a religious Jew that the mere grounds of the Wailing Wall area is not a sanctuary, or that the prayers and petitions offered on its patio are not "sacrifices and offerings" to God.
When we turn to Revelation, we see that it is not the Temple building, but only the outer court, which is given to the Gentiles for trampling:
"Rise and measure the temple of God and the altar and the ones worshipping in it. And throw outside the outside court of the temple, and you may not measure it, because it will be given to the nations [i.e. Gentiles], and the holy city they will trample forty two months" (11:2).
I am not imagining things, for this verse tells me that the outer court alone will be given for trampling, while the building will not be given for trampling. How can enemy soldiers trample the outer court...and the entire city...while not trampling the building? Wouldn't the building be the greatest prize of all to the anti-Israeli invaders; wouldn't they abuse it far more than the mere patio? The only way that the invaders can avoid trampling the building is if it isn't going to be there.
My Greek interlinear words it like this: "And the court outside of the temple cast outside," where both uses of "outside" are the same Greek word, "exothen" (# 1855). It sounds as though John is being asked to toss the outer court outside, but because this idea is difficult, Bible translations instead use "exclude" and "leave out." In the roughly 30 KJV uses of "leave," none but in this case do we find that the Greek word is "ekbale" (Strong's # 1544).
Ekbale is used in Revelation when the beast is CAST into the Lake of Fire. In other words, the term is not to be translated, "exclude," or "leave out," but as "throw/eject. Ekbale is also used for casting out demons and for casting money-changers from the Temple. Again, we can't translate that Greek word as "exclude" or "leave out." Therefore, I'd suggest we re-visit this Revelation quote on the outer court, and re-think what it could mean.
How could John throw an outer court outside, and outside of what did was he to throw it? The Temple that John was seeing in this vision (90-95 AD) was not the one standing in the first-century, since it had been destroyed some 20 years prior; the Temple that he was seeing, therefore, was one of a Heavenly vision...where symbolism can predominate so that the tossing out of the outer court is not literal, but an indication to the reader of the court's release from God's umbrella of protection. The implication (i.e. the very purpose of this sentence) is that the building is not to be so released from Godís protection...and therefore not to be trampled.
Directly adjacent to what is now the Wailing Wall section of Herod's Temple (the Temple of Jesus' day) was the outer court called, "the Court of the Gentiles." It is this court which, in the Revelation vision, we see given to the Gentiles for trampling. Of course, this patio is now situated beside the Dome of the Rock and therefore belongs to the Muslims, but it should hardly be said that the Arabs are now trampling the court, or that they have been trampling it ever since the Jewish Temple site became their possession.
Many Christians have allowed themselves to believe that peace between the anti-Christ and Israel must occur in the first half of the Week, for the express purpose of spurring such great peace between Arab and Jew that Arabs will permit a new Jewish Temple to be built beside the Dome of the Rock. This picture is nonsense to me.
I'm not suggesting that the Temple building in the Revelation vision will not be built at all, but that the construction will be reserved by God for a time after the battle of Armageddon, to be built to the specifications of the Ezekiel Temple (chapter 40 and onward).
MISSING: TEMPLE ACTIVITY
Things which are not mentioned in end-time prophecy are Temple furniture, Temple feasts, Temple gatherings, Temple construction, and Temple destruction. Isn't this curious too? We see an "extremity," a "holy place," an "outer court," and a "place of the sanctuary," but never do we see anything that would indicate solid Temple activity as in days of old. We see that typical Temple activity (animal slaughter) is definitely associated with the future Temple revealed in Ezekiel, but nothing as vivid or concrete as the Ezekiel picture is ever painted in any prophecy concerning the tribulation.
We find the invasion and defeat of Jerusalem specified in various ways, with wreckage to its houses, its inhabitants, and even to its city walls, but not a similar word about the Temple building. We find many references to Israel's rulers, businessmen, soldiers, workers, woman, (false) prophets, and, yes, even to its priests, but we would think that, if the end-time priests were to resurrect the sacrificial system of Moses, prophecy would have made clear mention of it. The few cases where "priests" are mentioned in regards to the last days would not necessarily prove that animal sacrifices will be offered. This term may refer to Israel's religious leaders apart from their involvement in animal sacrifices.
In Daniel, there are scriptures alluding to sacrifices in relation to the anti-Christ's invasion, but there is a peculiarity surrounding these texts as well. For example, in one place it says, "and the regular was taken away by him [Anti-Christ], and the place of His sanctuary was cast down" (8:11). The regular what? My Hebrew interlinear, as well as most English versions, suggest the regular sacrifice. But if so, why does Daniel not say so in that clear way? Why does the prophet leave out the word "sacrifice"?
In the next verse, it again uses the same peculiarity: "And a host [holy people] was given with the regular because of transgression." In the verse after that, it doesn't get any better: "Until when is the vision, the regular, and the desolating transgression, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trampled?" The same undefined "regular" occurs twice more in chapter twelve. So what does it mean? Why has God left out the word "sacrifice" or "offering."
Aside from Daniel, the term, "regular," is used sparingly in the Old Testament in comparison to the many instances of animal sacrifices. And where it is used, it doesn't occur alone as in Daniel, but includes an activity. For example, in the case of Numbers 29:6, "regular" is followed by "food offering" to specify a "regular food offering." In Leviticus, a "regular food offering" is again used. I must assume that for this reason did the English translators of Daniel add "sacrifice" or "offering" after that book's five instances of "regular."
But again, these five stand tall in the Old Testament in their peculiarity; there's just a "regular" blank, possibly suggesting a different sort of regular offering than those associated with a bloody alter. That the Jews continually offer prayers, worship and praise at the Wailing Wall sanctuary permits this alternative possibility. And more so because God has said that he recognizes and desires the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and the sacrifice of a broken and contrite heart, more than He does animal sacrifices.
Indeed, the animal sacrifices were intended to induce a contrite heart prior to welling it up with thanksgiving. Psalm 51:16-17 defines "sacrifice" as something which does not include animals, but as the higher form of sacrifice which animal slaughter merely facilitated:
"For You do not desire (animal) sacrifice, or I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise."
The Hebrew term, "sacrifices," used in "the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit," is the very same word used to denote animal sacrifices throughout the Old Testament, even though it refers here to spiritual offerings alone. By the time of the New Testament, this higher definition was common knowledge. The writer of Hebrews, while discussing and discounting the importance of Mosaic animal sacrifices, wrote:
Through [Christ], therefore, let us offer up a sacrifice of praise to God always" (13:15).
The Greek word used above is the same Greek word used typically for "animal sacrifice," but is used to denote a spiritual offering alone. In Revelation 5:8 and 8:4, and along the same lines, the "smoke of the incense" from the "altar" (the altar is where animals are sacrificed) represents not animal flesh burning over a fire, but the "prayers of the saints." Therefore, the "incense" identifies with the Old-Testament "pleasing aroma" which animal sacrifices were to God...not the smell of roasting meat, but the aroma of prayers offered in conjunction with the roasting meat.
Even if the "regular blank," as well as the one usage of "sacrifices and offerings" in Daniel (9:27) turned out to be animal sacrifices, it would not prove that a Temple building must be rebuilt. It is possible for animals to be sacrificed at the Wailing Wall. Yet the "sacrifices and offerings" could exclusively be the "wailing" itself.
Concerning Paul's reference to a "temple of God" (2 Thessalonians 2:4), in which the anti-Christ will sit, there is the possibility that while he (and the other apostles) envisioned an anti-Christ entering a Jewish Temple to proclaim his god-hood, that it will turn out to be the Dome of the Rock on the Jewish holy site instead. Of course, Paul, in his mind, was not referring to the Dome in any way in his use of "temple," though God may have permitted it. I'll admit that I'm not very keen with this view.
Paul knew Daniel 11:36, where it tells us that the anti-Christ "shall exalt and magnify himself above every god, and speak marvelous things against the God of gods." But Paul also knew the words of Jesus which placed the anti-Christ in the "holy place." At least, I have no doubt that he was informed first-hand by those who heard Jesus speak the words.
Notice that Daniel does not mention a Temple building in relation to the self-exaltation and blasphemies of the anti-Christ. Note that in the book of Revelation, where we see the anti-Christ mouthing blasphemous words (13), he is not pictured in a Temple building. Nor do we see a building in Daniel 7:25 where he is once again shown mouthing-off against God, nor in 8:25 where he sets himself up to be as great as Christ. Paul is alone in all the Bible in the revelation of the anti-Christ "in the temple of God, showing himself that he is [a] god..."
And so the story in circulation from the apostles may have been that the anti-Christ was to come to the Temple building to fulfill Daniel's prophecies. After all, the Temple building was still standing in those days. In like manner, Paul had believed quite logically the same thing. I realize how hazardous this theory is to the doctrine of Biblical infallibility if there is to be no new Temple in the great tribulation, but it may also be that the word "temple" was exchanged in his writings by others after his death, and apart from the inspiration of God.
You see, the Greek word for "temple" (supposedly) used in Thessalonians is "naos," which specifically refers to the building itself. But perhaps "hieron" was used, indicating instead the Temple site in general. This latter alternative is often used to denote the outer courtyard alone, as in, "Go stand in the temple and speak all these words of life to the people" (Acts 5:20), or, Jesus entered into the temple and cast out all those selling and buying in the temple" (Matt. 21:12).
But if Paul did use "naos," it would seem to be a contradiction of everything I have been saying in this chapter so far. It would be strong evidence for a temple building being in existence in the great tribulation period. Yet, I cannot disregard the term in Daniel which points to the western wall as the location of the Abomination, nor can I ignore Revelation's admission that the building would not be trampled where the outer court and city streets would.
Perhaps a compromise is in order. It may turn out that the building's construction is started in the near future, but not completed due to Arab opposition. In defiance, the Jews might begin to institute animal sacrifices at the Western Wall. The anti-Christ could then sit in the unfinished Temple (shell) to make his infamous proclamation, but eradicate the animal "sacrifices and offerings" at the Western Wall while there applying the abomination/revolt that leads to the desolation of the city.
Yet, while an incomplete Temple building can explain the absence in prophecy of great-tribulation Temple furniture, walls, rooms for priests, feasts, gatherings, etc., it does not explain to my satisfaction how the building could escape trampling, even complete wreckage...destruction never appearing in prophecy.
Perhaps I should have given the reason for this chapter at the beginning, as the reader may not see the importance of this seemingly insignificant debate. The significance is huge. Many believers will not bother to take tribulation preparation seriously until they see the Temple construction under way, if they feel that the anti-Christ must enter a Temple building. In fact, it appears that most are teaching that the anti-Christ cannot come to his appointed Mission until the building is fully operational...as the Ezekiel temple with full-blown animal sacrifices, etc.
Within weeks or days of the Abomination, this teaching may yet be proclaimed. Can you imagine all the miserable implications for the Church if these writers are wrong? Therefore, beware. Depend neither on the starting nor completion of a Temple building when timing the preparation of your tribulation retreat.
There is mention of an "altar" of God in Joel 1:13, as well as "priests." And this text involves a prophecy of the end-time great tribulation of Israel. However, God is addressing the Jews of Joel's day...urging them to repent while at the same time pointing out the devastation of the last days. In that case, could it not be the priests and altar in the days of Joel that are being indicated rather than in the last days?
Yes, when God says, "Gird up and lament, priests. Howl, ministers of the altar..." He is referring to the ancient situation. In the first 11 verses of chapter two, the Day of the LORD is portrayed, but verse 12 says, "Yet even now, turn to Me..." So you see, God is using the fearful future evils of Armageddon to move the ancient people he is addressing. Therefore, when He says (a few verses later), "Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, gather the elders...Let the priests, ministers of YHWH, weep between the porch and the altar...", God is not referring to the end-time priests, porch and altar.
And if these texts in Joel are not end-time references to a Temple, then I don't think there is one text in all the Bible possessing language which would reveal, on this side of Armageddon, end-time Temple activity.
Peace Deal, or War Pact?
The anti-Christ will not confirm a peace deal with Israel,
because "the many" in Daniel 9:27 are hardly Israel.
Instead, look for a war-pact with many Muslims.