One of the things that you find out when living outside your home country for a long period of time is that your country’s politics—especially if your country is the United States of America—start becoming boiled down into their basic components, separated from the “noise” that accompanies them. It’s this more succinct version of our country to which Meg and I have become accustomed.
Conversely, we have also become more aware of our host country’s political landscape and its goings ons (is that even how you write that?). As Americans we understand how easy it is to focus only on our own country, which seems to be the default setting. For instance, people outside of the States make fun of Americans because we generally can only speak one language: American English. You know how the joke goes, “Q: What do you call someone who speaks three languages? A: Trilingual. Q: What do you call someone who speaks two languages? A: Bilingual. Q: What do you call someone who speaks one language? A: American.”
It’s actually pretty funny, since all good humor is based on some amount of truth. But I tell Europeans to imagine each of Europe’s countries maintaining its distinct national borders, but each akin to our individual states all speaking the same language. After a bit of cajoling—because it’s difficult for them to imagine such a thing—they admit that they would probably need just the one language. They know that America takes up a big chunk of the continent, but have never really considered how we can travel for days—from state to state—while (most) everyone we meet continues to speak English.
It’s these kinds of things that you start to understand about your host country once you have enough of the culture and language(s) to notice what is happening behind the scenes—things that people here in Israel take for granted and don’t see in the same light as we outsiders see them. For instance, that sacrifices that have been occurring each year closer and closer to the Temple Mount.
There are multiple places (Matthew 24:15; Daniel 9:27, 11:31, 12:11 and 2 Thessalonians 2:3-5, just to name a few) in the Bible which describe the sacrificial system restarting as part of a new temple system. It’s not the temple described in Ezekiel 40-46, but one which will be built between now and then. In each of these passages they describe how someone, generally agreed to be the Antichrist, puts an end to the sacrifices and sets himself up to be God. Yes, I acknowledge that some of these passages—not all—could have had a partial first fulfillment around 70 A.D. But that timeframe long ago cannot be the only fulfillment, as there are substantial portions of scripture—that are directly tied to these passages—which are yet to be fulfilled. You can read them for yourself and see that they plainly revolve around Jesus’ return, which at the time of this writing, has yet to occur.
And I believe that Jesus has not yet returned because the scriptures I’ve listed above have not yet happened.
Take a look at them and you’ll see language like this: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days…the Son of Man coming on the clouds…” and “Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus…let no one deceive you…for that day will not come…unless…the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction.”
So what, you might say? There’s no temple up on the Temple Mount—it’s just Islamic buildings, and custody belongs to Jordan. So, there can’t be any sacrifices right now. That’s true as of this moment, but there is a full-blown spiritual battle being fought over the status of that site. As one article I read recently in an Israeli newspaper said, “Comprising only 300 square meters of the one square kilometer of the entire Old City, the world remains focused on it…the situation is so fragile that at any moment things can just explode.”
I maintain that the Temple Mount is the most fought-over real estate on planet Earth. How can I say that, you’re asking? Because Satan can’t let it fall into the hands of the LORD/YHWH. Every event that brings the current situation on the ground closer to what is described in the Bible is one less thing that must occur before Satan is thrown into the Abyss.
It is from Zion that Jesus will reign over the earth. As long as it remains in the hands of Islam (or anyone else for that matter), Jesus won’t reign from there. What about the sacrifices, you’re asking?
It was impossible not to notice how nearly the whole world went berserk, including many Christians I know, when Trump announced that the U.S. was acknowledging Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and would subsequently move its embassy to Jerusalem. Why did everyone go bonkers over an obvious fact? Because if the world recognizes that Jerusalem belongs to Israel, then that places both Israel and the Jewish people in and around the area. And in order for passages like Zechariah 12 and 14 to occur, Jerusalem needs to be controlled by Jews (known as Judah in these passages). Without Jews in control of Jerusalem and at least part of the Temple Mount, there’s no way for sacrifices to restart.
These geopolitical actions bring us closer to the time when a temple can be rebuilt and the sacrifices restarted. In fact, the sacrificial system could be restarted before a new temple’s foundation is even laid. How can that be the case? Ezra 3:6 tells us that “they began to offer burnt offerings to the LORD. But the foundation of the temple was not yet laid.” There’s biblical precedence.
One objection I’ve heard from Christians about the sacrificial system’s being restarted is that it’s no longer needed, as Jesus was the perfect sacrifice. Yes, that is true, but just because Christians understand that Jesus paid the price once and for all doesn’t mean that unbelieving Israel won’t restart sacrifices. In fact, they are doing test runs each year, as a lamb is sacrificed closer and closer to the Temple Mount on the eve of Passover. This year the lamb was sacrificed on the southern steps leading up to the mount, most likely the closest sacrifice since the temple’s destruction in 70 A.D. The Waqf—the Islamic organization which controls the Temple Mount—was not amused.
Although they have generally rejected their Messiah, many in national Israel continue to yearn for forgiveness of sins and reconciliation with God. Never mind that the Messiah has already come; their desire for a temple is built into the collective Jewish Israeli psyche, and they continue to be deceived by the notion that the temple is essential for a connection to God. Israel will continue to yearn for reconciliation until they recognize their one true Messiah. This longing pushes the biblical narrative forward, and so we could very well see the sacrificial system restart in our lifetime.
Amazing things would have to occur for us to see such a thing, but we live in amazing times. Trump was elected president and moved the American embassy to Jerusalem, and no one thought that either of these things would happen as recently as two years ago. It’s one of the reasons why we should be studying prophecy in our churches, small groups and personal bible study. I’m afraid that a large number of Christians, who generally ignore the prophetic word, will be caught off guard when these things happen. Jesus himself said, “when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand)…” You ARE the reader. Don’t be caught flatfooted and ignore the direction our world is taking, especially as events begin to align with scripture. Don’t take my word for it, be the good Berean. I’m just a watchman with a front row seat.