Q. Thanks again for your dedication and service as a teacher of the scripture. My question today has to do with something I recently read about the 3rd Temple. According to Jewish belief (as stated on the Temple Institute website) once the temple has been rebuilt the initial cleansing sacrifice of the pure red heifer will be performed by the messiah. This causes me conflict as I am under the belief that the Jews will again be worshiping in the 3rd Temple during the first 3 1/2 years of the tribulation period. My question is could the reference in the Jewish scripture to the “messiah” in actuality be the anti-christ posing as the messiah and performing this initial sacrifice? What does the scripture really indicate about this? If it really is the AC, how are the Jews misinterpreting this scripture? Please help me out with this. Thank you so much for your insight.
A. Some Jewish beliefs about the coming Temple are just that, beliefs. That means they’re traditions based in interpretations of Scripture, not Scripture itself.
The Jewish Scripture is our Old Testament and the passages about the 3rd Temple are contained in Ezekiel 40-47, with it’s actual location spelled out in Chapter 48. There’s nothing in these passages that requires the Messiah to be the one to perform the initial purification. But since every living Jew is ceremonially unclean and will remain so until the red heifer purification sacrifice can be conducted, they’ll need someone who can claim to be clean to solve this problem (Numbers 19:1-10).
In chapter 43 Ezekiel describes the Shekinah Glory returning to the Temple and mentioning how the people have defiled it in the past, and in chapter 44 He speaks of them allowing foreigners to officiate in His sanctuary. I believe this is a reference to the Anti-Christ and perhaps the false prophet. If so, it’s possible that one or both of them could have presided over the Temple’s initial purification, but again there’s no specific reference to the ceremony itself.
Jesus prophesied that while they rejected Him as their Messiah, they would one day accept another who would prove to be false. (John 5:43) and Isaiah 28:15 speaks of Israel making a covenant with death, referring to the treaty they make with the anti-Christ.
It’s clear that a Temple will be built in Israel before the beginning of the Great Tribulation, which means it’s well before the 2nd Coming. That means someone other than the Lord will have to perform the initial purification ceremony. Since the anti-Christ and false prophet will have established themselves as world leaders during that time, and since the anti-Christ will be perceived as the one who made the Temple’s construction possible, and since the Temple’s dedication will take place before the anti-Christ makes his claim to be God in the flesh which alienates the Jews, it’s possible that he’ll be the one who dedicates the 3rd Temple.