It happens with such frequency we sometimes miss it. We see a news story that speaks to our living in the last days and we pay little attention to it. Twenty years ago we might have fallen off our chairs reading it in the newspaper; now we quickly scroll past it on our smartphones.
That happened to me earlier this month when I first came across a news item from the Temple Institute in Jerusalem. On August 4, the Institute announced the creation of a school to train Levitical priests for eventual service in the future temple in Jerusalem.
Could you have imagined this headline twenty years ago? A school for Levites to train for service as priests in the temple! Many of us would have been looking up for the Lord’s return upon reading that, now we almost miss it amidst so many other signs of Jesus’ soon return.
So is the training of Levitical priests significant in terms of prophecy? Yes, I believe it is!
Scripture tells us Israel will have a temple during the tribulation. A study of Daniel 9 and Matthew 24 reveals that the antichrist will defile the temple half way through the tribulation. Jesus referred to this as the “abomination of desolation” in Matthew 24:15. The Apostle John received instructions to measure this temple during one of his visions of the tribulation (Rev. 11:1-2).
Building the third Jewish temple in Jerusalem, however, is not like building a home or even a school or church, far from yet. It’s so much more than simply a physical structure.
Consider all the Old Testament passages that speak to the design of the temple, its furnishings, the order of worship, the sacrifices, and the functions of the priests. Add to that centuries of tradition and rabbinical writings that also need to be carefully researched so that everything in the new temple, including the color of the priests clothing, exactly matches the temples of the past. This is a huge task! I have just begun to describe all that needs to be done in preparation for the Jewish third temple.
Since 1987, the Temple Institute has worked feverishly to prepare for the building of this temple. In 2015 they spent $100,000 on architectural designs for the future temple and earlier in 2016 announced the completion of the huge golden altar for sacrifices. Over the past three decades the Institute has extensively researched everything relating to the construction of the temple, its consecration, and the order of worship and crafted many of the furnishings for the temple. The school for training Levitical priests further demonstrates Israel's readiness for the building of the temple.
With all the advance work completed by the Temple Institute, the temple can be constructed, furnished, and staffed with priests in a relatively short amount of time. This makes it possible for the rapture to occur even before Israel even has permission to build its temple. Twenty years ago, this might not have been nearly as feasible, especially if Israel wanted the third temple and its observances to match that of the past two temples.
Do you see it? This current intense preparation for rebuilding the temple culminating with the training of Levitical priests is just one more flashing arrow pointing to the nearness of Jesus’ return for His church.
Prophecy speaker J D Farag compares this to seeing Christmas decorations in the stores. When we begin to see these displays in the stores we not only realize Christmas is coming soon, but also know Thanksgiving is even closer. If we see signs pointing to the nearness of the tribulation, we know the Lord’s appearing is even closer because of His promise to return for His church before the time of tribulation overtakes the world.
The Christmas lights are brightly shining, are we ready for Thanksgiving? Jesus is coming soon!
Addendum for Prophecy Nerds:
If you are a prophecy nerd like me, you may find this added note interesting.
Some today suggest the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem will be part of the agreement Israel agrees to with the antichrist. Daniel 9:27 tells us about the covenant the antichrist will make with the “many." If the temple is a part of this deal, it would explain how Israel could build the temple even though the Al-Aqsa Mosque currently occupies much of the Jewish temple mount.
At this point, it seems impossible that the Muslims would ever let Israel build its temple there.
The antichrist, however, may be the one to persuade the Arab nations to go along with the construction of the temple particularly if they get something in return for the concession. Would they be able to sense his deceitful motives?
The building of the temple alongside the Al-Aqsa Mosque appears to correspond to an interesting instruction John received regarding the measuring of this future temple (Rev. 11:1). The angel told him not to measure “the court outside the temple” since it was “given over to the nations.” Could the presence of the Muslim mosque explains this curious exception to the measuring the temple? I think it’s possible, maybe even likely!