Let’s pray. Father, we thank You for today, thank You for Your Word, thank You for Your truth, and I do ask, Father, that You’d be with us as we study this morning in Sunday School and in the main service that follows. I specifically ask for something You promised to give us, the illuminating ministry of Your Holy Spirit that His work might be very much alive and well in this church today, and I pray that as we honor the things that You honor that people would leave this church today, either the physical building or whoever happens to be listening on line, I pray that You would change them eternally, either give them a new understanding or some sort of hope that they need or perhaps salvation. And so we specifically ask these things in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said… Amen.
If you have your Bible, you might want to open it up to the book of Zechariah, chapter 14 and verse 4. Continuing to take a look at Israel, recent trips that I’ve taken there, I wanted to share that with you. In part one we looked at Tel Aviv, Joppa, Caesarea, Mount Carmel, and Megiddo. And then in part two we looked at Sepphoris, and from there we went into Upper Galilee and visited Caesarea Philippi, the Tel Dan, and then moving from north to south we visited the Sea of Galilee and various locations on the Sea of Galilee, including the Mount of Beatitudes, Capernaum, and Tabgha, part three. And from there we just continued to move south and we visited the Jordan River, a place called Bet She ‘An, Jericho, finally making it down into the Dead Sea area visiting Masada, and I think last week when I was with you we were still in the Dead Sea area, kind of making our way to Jerusalem. I spoke about Qumran, En Gedi, and then from there we went to Jerusalem. So today we’re going to begin looking some sites in and around Jerusalem, which includes the Mount of Olives, the Garden of Gethsemane, the Southern Steps, the Western Wall, and the Temple Institute. That’s the ambitious goal anyway, I’m not sure we’ll make it quite that far.
But the City of Jerusalem is easy to locate on a map, you just go to the northern tip of the Dead Sea and then hang a left (as I like to say) or go west towards the Mediterranean and you’ll run into the city of Jerusalem. We made a bunch of kind of general comments about Jerusalem last time and why that city is so special to God. And now we’re sort of leaving the general comments and looking at some specific locations in the city of Jerusalem, not the least of which is something that you no doubt know a lot about just by reading the Bible, a place called the Mount of Olives. The Mount of Olives is a north/south ridge of hills east of Jerusalem; it’s a prominent feature of Jerusalem’s landscape. It’s a gently rounded hill rising to a height of probably 3,000 feet. If you are a specifics person it’s 2676 feet, I kind of round up to 3,000. And it sort of allows you, once you’re up there, to overlook into the Temple Mount area.
So there we are on one of our trips, there on the Mount of Olives, they actually have a little place set up there where you can do some teaching. And then you’ll see in the background the Dome of the Rock, and you’ll see the gates around the city of Jerusalem, the Temple Mount area, and so forth. So it’s an area that’s sort of, not completely but sort of close to Jerusalem’s walls. And interestingly enough it’s a place where the Roman commander under Titus had his headquarters on the northern extension of the ridge during the siege of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.
So it’s sort of nicknamed Mount Scopus, you recognize that word scope as in look, Mount Scopus or lookout hill. That’s why Titus, during the siege of Jerusalem in A. D. 70 set up his headquarters there. And it was sort of a platform for Roman catapults as they hurled their heavy objects over the Jewish fortifications into the city. And it’s interesting that when you look at the Mount of Olives you see all these burial plots there. It’s a really popular place to get buried and you can’t get buried there unless you’re Jewish and obviously not every Jewish person can get buried there, I don’t know how you get on the list or whatever to get buried there. But I mean, everybody wants to get buried there because they believe that the final resurrection will take place beginning on the Mount of Olives. And if I understood my tour guide correctly when you get buried your feet are facing towards the temple area so allegedly when the resurrection occurs you’ll come out of your grave and you’ll be looking directly at the city of Jerusalem. You won’t come out of your grave and have to turn around to see the city of Jerusalem. So it’s a very popular burial site and that’s what the Mount of Olives is.
And you already know about the Mount of Olives from your Bible. Probably the three major things in the Bible related to the Mount of Olives are: number one, it’s a place where Jesus is coming back to. And that’s what it means in Zechariah 14:4, it says, “In that day His” that’s Jesus “feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south.”
So, it’s a tremendous prophecy about the Lord coming back, His feet are actually going to touch the Mount of Olives and the Mount of Olives is going to split. And so we don’t teach nor do we believe in a spiritual return of Christ. We believe that the return of Christ to this earth is going to be just as physical and literal and real as was His first coming.
There’s another reference to this over in the Book of Acts. You might want to flip over there real fast. The Book of Acts, chapter 1 and verses 9-12. This is the Lord’s ascension. It says, “And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.  And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going,” so they’re actually, these disciples, physically watching the Lord depart in His ascension, “behold, two men in white” now there’s some debate as to who these two men are, I kind of have always understood them as angels, “two men in white clothing stood beside them.  They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”
And then verse 12 gives you the location of where they were, it says, “they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away.” So how is the Lord going to return? We’re not talking here about the rapture, we’re talking about the second advent at the end of Daniel’s seventieth week. Well, it’s going to be just like He left, he left visibly, He left physically, He left bodily, He left from the Mount of Olives. Well, how exactly is He coming back? Physically, visibly, literally, bodily, and He’s coming back to the Mount of Olives, His physical feet will touch the Mount of Olives. And the Mount of Olives will split as we saw in Zechariah passage.
So probably almost every major creed of Christendom that I can think of, they may not agree with us on the rapture and the timing of the rapture but every major creed of Christendom has always acknowledged in a physical return of Christ. And that’s what we’re reminded of when we look at the Mount of Olives. Job now what’s the oldest book of the Bible? The Book of Job. Job 19:25, the very oldest book of the Bible, mentions the bodily return of Christ. And that’s where Job says, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and in the end He” that’s “my Redeemer” Goel in Hebrew, “He will take His stand on the earth.” So we believe in an earthly return of Christ and as you keep moving through the Bible you discover that the place on planet earth that He’s coming back to is the Mount of Olives. And it will be such a significant event that it’s going to alter the topography of the Mount of Olives.
Of course, when you go over to Matthew 24 you have the famous address that our Lord gave from the Mount of Olives. I had the privilege of teaching on the Mount of Olives and it was really cold and rainy (if I remember right) and I couldn’t give my typical hour long sermon while I was up there. I could hold the audience’s attention maybe ten minutes at best, but I tried in ten minutes, believe it or not, and I think they have a recording of it, I don’t know how good the recording is because that wind was really blowing. But I tried to give sort of an overview of the Olivet Discourse in ten minutes.
But you’ll notice it says back in verse 1 of Matthew 24, “Jesus came from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings,  And He said to them, ‘Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.’” And this got the disciple’s attention because they thought the temple, and this would be the second temple in Judaism, was a permanent structure. And Jesus says the whole thing is going to be torn apart brick by brick, which by the way happened forty years after Jesus made this statement. And in subsequent lessons I’ll show you the remains of that temple that literally was torn apart brick by brick exactly as the Lord said.
Verse 3, “As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?’” So they wanted to know what was all this business he was talking about, a destroyed temple, and in their minds they connected the destruction of the temple with the end. And so Jesus took that opportunity to tell them about the end in what’s called the Olivet Discourse. Obviously called the Olivet Discourse because it was delivered from the Mount of Olives; probably discourse is not even the best word for it.
It wasn’t really so much like a public sermon, sort of like He gave at the Mount of Beatitudes, I think it’s better called the Olivet Conversation because they came to Him sort of privately, they had heard what He had said about the temple once they got to the Mount of Olives; they wanted to know what He meant by His prophecies about the destruction of the temple. So He kind of starts a very private conversation with them and that conversation goes basically two chapters in your Bible. It’s one of the five great discourses in Matthew’s Gospel. If you look at chapter 26, verse1 it says, “When Jesus had finished all these words,” so every time Matthew is giving us a major discourse there’s a literary clue in the text that says “when Jesus had finished saying all these things” [Matthew 26:1, “When Jesus had finished all these words, He said to His disciples,  You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man is to be handed over for crucifixion.”] And that’s why we know there’s five discourses in Matthew’s Gospel because every major discourse ends with that same statement.
So, what are the five discourses? The Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7. The missions discourse, Matthew 10. The kingdom parables teaching, Matthew 14. The discourse on humility, Matthew 18. And then His final one is what’s called the Olivet Discourse, Matthew 24 and 25. And this is sort of, the way I understand it, is His farewell address to Israel and He’s outlining the circumstances through which future Israel, not the current generation but future Israel will accept Him as their Messiah in the events of the tribulation period. So, it’s a whole outline of the tribulation period. We’re going to make references to some of this in our sermon today, but it’s a tremendous discourse on the future conversion of national Israel. And He gave that very famous discourse or conversation, however you want to phrase it, there from the Mount of Olives. So that’s a little bit about the Mount of Olives.
And another major location that we went to is the Garden of Gethsemane; Gethsemane literally means oily press, and it’s located on the slope of the Mount of Olives, that giant valley that I showed you, I don’t know if you can see it, that’s called the Kidron Valley, so this Garden of Gethsemane is very near the Mount of Olives, across the Kidron Valley from Jerusalem, and if I understood my tour guide correctly, the Olive trees in Gethsemane are ancient olive trees. And if I understood the tour guide correctly these could have been the very olive trees in existence when Jesus was there. And it’s a garden of ancient olive trees and this is a place that Jesus frequently went to pray and to meet His disciples. In fact, if you go over to John 18:1-2 you see a reference there to the Garden of Gethsemane. It says, “When Jesus had spoken these words, He went forth with His disciples over the ravine of the Kidron,” that’s that large valley separating the Mount of Olives from the city of Jerusalem, “the Kidron where there was a garden, in which He entered with His disciples.  Now Judas also, who was betraying Him, knew the place, for Jesus had often met there with His disciples.”
So, it was sort of a special place that the Lord went to frequently with the disciples; it’s a place that He oftentimes went to pray, and of course everybody knows it for its most well-known story as recorded in the Bible, basically the night before the crucifixion. So this is the famous garden in which Jesus was betrayed and it’s really a part of the Scripture we really should study. Every single Gospel writer makes a reference to that, to this event, with a few variations. Matthew’s account of it is in Matthew 26:36-52. Mark’s account of it is in Mark 14:32-52. John’s account of it, the betrayal of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane is John 18:1-11.
And Luke, it’s always very interesting, he has always some details he throws in. For example, if you go over to Luke 22:44 it says, “And being in agony He was praying very fervently,” and then Luke throws this little thing in here, “His sweat became like drops of blood falling onto the ground.” And I don’t know how true this is, I’m not a medical doctor but some people say when you’re worked up into a certain emotional state that blood can actually come through your skin and so some have said Luke, being a doctor, that’s maybe what Luke was talking about and why Luke added that detail.
If that’s true why would Luke talk about something like this when none of the other Gospel writers talk about it. Well, what is Luke’s vocation? He’s a physician, Colossians 4:14, [Colossians 4:14, “Luke, the beloved physician, sends you his greetings, and also Demas.”] That’s why Luke is always throwing in little nuances that you read it and you say well why did he tell me that. For example, over in Acts 1:18, also written by Luke, talking about the suicide of Judas, says, “Now this man acquired a field with the price of his wickedness, and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his intestines gushed out.” I read that and I say well I don’t have to know about his intestines gushing out. Well, if Luke is a physician those are things that would be important to a physician. That’s why Luke talks more about the prenatal activities of John the Baptist and Jesus than any other gospel writer, because he’s a physician and that would be something of interest to him.
And by the way, since the movie came out, Unplanned, which is a very good movie on the prolife issue, if you’re interested in seeing that, there’s something else Luke records concerning the triumphal entry on Palm Sunday. By the way, when is Palm Sunday? That’s today, isn’t it… oh my goodness… if you look at Luke 19 beginning in verse 41 it says, “When He approached Jerusalem,” that’s what Paul Sunday is by the way, it’s a time in history where Jesus presented His Messianic credentials to unbelieving national Israel. It says, “When He approached Jerusalem He saw the city and wept over it,” that’s Jerusalem, there it is across the ravine, you can see it there in the back-ground, He’s weeping over it because He knows what’s going to happen to it in A.D. 70 as a consequence of Israel rejecting their King.
“When He approached Jerusalem He saw the city and wept over it,  saying, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes.” He makes a reference to the day; that’s what Daniel predicted in the Seventy Weeks prophecy. Daniel 9:25 predicts the very day that Jesus would present His Messianic credentials to the nation and he held them accountable for understanding the signs of the times. [Daniel 9:25, “So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.”]
It says, “These things have been hidden from your eyes,” verse 43, “For the days will come when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground
Luke 19:43, “For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side,  and they will level you to the ground” now look at this, “and your children within you,” see that, “your children within you,” in other words from the perspective of the Bible what’s happening inside of a mother’s womb is a child and it’s sort of interesting to me that Luke, as a doctor, would throw in that little detail that you don’t necessarily find in the other Gospel accounts.
So one of the things that helpful to do as you become a student of the Bible is to get to know, not just the God who inspired the Bible but the personalities of the different gospel writers because in our belief of dual inspiration, better said dual authorship, not dual inspiration, dual authorship, we believe in an Author of the Scripture capital A, and we also believe in an author or authors of the Scripture, lower case a, because when God inspired His Word He didn’t just go into their personalities and take over as kind of a dictation. That didn’t happen. He respected their gifts, their temperaments, their writing styles, their life experiences, their personalities, and used the uniquely to write His Word. Why wouldn’t God respect those things because He’s the author of their personalities, isn’t He? Just like He’s the author of His Word he’s the author of who they are, what their lives were like, and that’s why you, as you get to know the different writers of Scripture you start to understand why Luke surfaces things that the others don’t, like this little detail about “your child within you,” Jesus sweating great drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane. [Luke 22:44, “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” Matthew 1:20, “But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.’”] A physician is interested in that kind of thing.
And then of course you get over into the writings of the Apostle Peter, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, and he mentions the flood or water more times than any other biblical writer, other than Moses himself. Now why would Peter bring up that subject? Well think of his vocation; Peter is a fisherman so he likes water, so he talks about things that he knows and God uses that to inspire the books of 1 Peter and 2 Peter. And then of course you get into the Gospel of Matthew and Matthew talks more about money than any other Gospel writer. In fact, Matthew is the only Gospel writer that records the story of Jesus and Peter going fishing and they pull a fish out of the Sea of Galilee and inside the fish is a coin and what’s he supposed to do with the coin? Pay your taxes. Why would Matthew talk about money and taxed more than anybody else in the Bible? He is a tax collector. Anyway, that’s just a little bit of information on things to become aware of as you become a student of God’s Word.
But anyway, this was the Garden of Gethsemane where the betrayal of Christ transpired. And then we move from the Garden of Gethsemane to a fascinating excavation and this is called the southern steps, the southern steps is a western flight of stairs leading to the main entrance of the temple and these steps are about 200 feet wide, recent excavations uncovered the eastern most part of the staircase so you may have hear about these seven steps. And what’s so interesting about it is as you walk up, and you can kind of see there in the picture on the left is the steps alternate between long and short. So you go up one step short, and then all of a sudden it’s a long step, and then you go over to the next step, it’s short, then all of a sudden it’s a long step, so they alternate, long, short, long, short, and people have been trying to figure out why those steps were organized that way. I think I know the answer—if you go over to Mark 12:30 you get sort of a hint.
Mark 12:30, it says, “AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR” what’s the next one, “MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.’” Notice the focus there on the mind. When God desires to be worshiped he doesn’t want it to be a rote formula. He wants it to be something that we’re actually intelligently thinking about. [Luke 10:27, “And he answered, “YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND; AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” Matthew 23:7, “And He said to him, “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’”]
So when you entered the temple area with a long step, short step, long step, short step alternating you have to actually pay attention to what your feet are doing, because if you’re going just up a flight of stairs and all the steps are exactly the same length, you don’t really have to think as to what you’re doing. It’s kind of subconscious. But not so when you went into the temple; when you went into the temple even the steps themselves are organized so that you can’t just rotely go into the temple, you have to be paying attention to what you’re doing, including walking into the temple because God, when He is worshipped doesn’t want it to be some kind of rote memorization that has no impact on the mind; the mind has to be alert, the mind has to be aware of what’s happening.
Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, spoke to this very issue in Matthew 6:7. He says, “And when you are praying do not use meaningless repetition, as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.” God is not interested in meaningless repetition. And then it’s sort of humorous because from there He begins to give what’s called the Lord’s prayer, and what has that become in modern day Christendom? Meaningless repetition, people recite this prayer from memory and yet most people haven’t the foggiest idea what it’s talking about. In fact, when I’ve had an opportunity to actually give the meaning of the Lord’s Prayer many people are shocked as to what the meaning is because it relates to the kingdom. Its three requests for the kingdom to come, verses 9-10, and three needs in prayer that we have while the kingdom is absent, and in postponement, because once the kingdom comes these needs I won’t have any more but until the kingdom comes I’ve got three needs: there’s a physical need, verse 11, a spiritual need, verse 12, and a need for protection from Satan himself, verse 13. [Matthew 6:11, “’Give us this day our daily bread,  ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’”]
And when I’ve gone places and explained that significance everybody is stunned as to the meaning because they say to me, I’ve been reciting this from memory my whole life and I never knew what it meant. So, the Bible is warning us about just rote repetition. And I think this is probably the reason why you’ve got these long/short, long/short, long/short alternating steps as when you go into the temple itself you’ve got to be paying attention to what you’re doing or you’re going to stumble or you’re going to fall. The mind has to be alert, the mind has to be awake because we’re to Love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength.
This is a little bit personal to me because I grew up Episcopalian which is sort of a stones throe from Roman Catholicism, they’re kind of kissing cousins in a sense, and I was an altar boy, which they called an acolyte in the Episcopalian church, I mean, I had the whole service memorized and I didn’t know the foggiest thing about God or having a relationship with God or Jesus as my personal Savior. I really didn’t know much about the Bible but I could rattle things off from memory, and that’s a trap we can easily fall into. And I’m not sure I’ll have time to get into it today but at the Western Wall the bottom picture, you look off to the left, there’s some tunnels and I guess some rooms, corridors would be a better way of saying it, of prayer books and recitations you can take with you. You go and grab a book off the shelf and you bring it to what’s called the Western Wall, or the Wailing Wall as part of your religious activity. And I just sat there and watched the different Hebrews, the different Jews and how they interacted with those books.
See, when we as evangelicals look for a book we kind of look for our favorite pastor, our favorite author, our favorite song, so we’re very selective at what books we grab and which ones we don’t. Not so these Jews, it’s almost like a mindless repetition where they just go and grab something off the shelf, it doesn’t matter what it is, you open it up you recite whatever is there, you cram it back into its place and you leave. And it’s very clear when you see this why God is currently displeased with the nation of Israel, because what they have today is just sort of a ritual. It’s a rote ritual to avoid a personal relationship and I think that’s one of the reasons that the temple, Revelation 11:1-2, is measured. [Revelation 11:1-2, “Then there was given me a measuring rod like a staff; and someone said, “Get up and measure the temple of God and the altar, and those who worship in it.  “Leave out the court which is outside the temple and do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations; and they will tread under foot the holy city for forty-two months.”]
So, going back to these temple steps you’ve got to be thinking about what you’re doing as you walk into the temple or you’re going to lose your balance because you’ve got this alternating long step, short step, long step, short step. Now here’s something else that’s very interesting. How many long steps are there as you go into the temple up the southern steps? Well, there are not fifteen total steps, fifteen long steps, and you say well who cares? Well, that’s significant also, not who cares but 15 is significant because when you go to Psalm 120-134, somebody do the math on that for me, how many Psalms is it from Psalm 120 to 134? That’s 15 isn’t it? What are those psalms? Those are the Psalms of Ascent. Well, what are those you say? Well those are psalms that the Jews chanted or sung or recited as they were making their pilgrimage. And they had to do this three times a year to Jerusalem for mandatory participation in the various feasts, at least three feasts.
And so, the reason that there’s fifteen long steps related to these southern steps is it’s believed that each step represented a different Psalm of Ascent. In other words, you get to the first long step and you recite Psalm 120. You get to the second long step, you recite Psalm 121. The third long step you recite Psalm 122. So, 15 is very significant because it lines up perfectly with the Psalms of ascent. So these are some of the things that our guides educated us about while we were there on these southern steps. The southern steps served as the main entrance and exit to the temple complex. Jesus went to the temple many times, did He not, as a Jewish person. In fact, when He was twelve years old He was in the temple, Luke tells us, interacting with the religious leaders of His day and they were astonished at His level of knowledge. Jesus, by my count, at least twice went into the temple and drove out the money changers. Satan took Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple and said throw yourself off and the angels will catch you. And so, you have many examples of Jesus interacting with the temple. This would be temple number two, the Herodian temple.
And so since Jesus was Jewish and a devout Jew there’s absolutely no doubt, there’s absolutely NO doubt about this, that Jesus’ own feet were on those steps. So, if you want to go to Israel and everybody wants to walk where Jesus walked, if you go to the southern steps you’ll walk where Jesus walked. There’s absolutely no doubt that His feet were on those steps. This temple was destroyed in A. D. 70. The temple courts were buried under years of civilization but despite that the southern steps can be walked on today.
From there we moved from the southern steps, I don’ t know how respectful we’re being there on those southern steps, just kind of laying out there as if we’re getting a sun tan or something, but we’re under the age of grace, amen! I think the Lord is in favor of sun tans. From there you go to the western wall and what is the western wall? It’s a surviving remnant of the Holy temple in Jerusalem. The temple was destroyed by Titus in A.D. 70. In fact, Daniel the prophet, and here’s a Scripture that I think is going to come up today in today’s sermons, Daniel the prophet 600 years in advance predicted the destruction of temple two. It says, “Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off” that’s what we’re celebrating this week, right? Good Friday, and people want to fight about whether He died on a Wednesday or a Friday and if you want to celebrate… I’m going to celebrate this Friday, if you want to celebrate Good Wednesday we can all be friends can’t we. “Then after sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing,” see this is a consequence of Israel rejecting their king on Palm Sunday, the Sunday we’re celebrating today. “Then after sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing and the people of the prince who is to come” he’s seen six centuries in advance, Titus of Rome, “will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood;” now you might want to underline that word “flood,” the coming of Titus like a flood, that’s going to show up in our passage today in the Book of Revelation, chapter 12, “even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.”
So this is why Jesus said “not one stone will be left on another.” [Matthew 24:2, “And Jesus said to him, ‘Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left upon another which will not be torn down.’” Mark 13:2, “And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left upon another which will not be torn down.” Luke 21:6, “As for these things which you are looking at, the days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon another which will not be torn down.’”]
This is why when He went into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday He was weeping. It’s all related to something that He knew very well that would happen, the nation would reject Him as King and as a consequence of that it would be His crucifixion and then the destruction of the city and the sanctuary by Titus of Rome, A.D. 70. Daniel is seeing these things 600 years before they transpire.
So what would happen is while the wailing wall, I haven’t revealed it yet as the wailing wall, I’ve just spoken of it as the western wall, while the western wall was standing the Jews would make pilgrimages there three times a year. And for one thousand nine hundred years while the nation of Israel was in what we call the diaspora, worldwide dispersion following A.D. 70, Jews, Hebrews would typically travel to Jerusalem, at great expense and danger, just to pray at this wall. And what they would do when they would go there is they would beseech God for Jewish redemption. And according to tradition they literally watered the wall with their tears and melted the stones with their kisses. And there’s actually a reference in the Talmud, which is Jewish extra biblical literature and it reveals this: When the temple was destroyed all the gates of heaven were closed except one gate and that’s the gate of tears. And that’s why it began to take on the designation or the nomenclature “the wailing wall.” So the wailing wall basically represents all of the tears that the Jews shed there when they traveled to this part of the world during the diaspora, at sometimes great expense to themselves and sometimes great physical danger, just to beseech God for the future of the nature of Israel at the wailing wall.
Now when the nation of Israel became an independent nation again in 1948, from 1948 up to the Six Day War, 1967, that part of it was still controlled by the Muslim Arabs. So during that time period the Jews were forbidden access to this site, even though they had become a nation again in 1948. And isn’t it interesting how fast things changed in 1967 when the nation of Israel in a war of self-defense regained political control over Judea and Samaria and also the city of Jerusalem, giving them for the first time easy access and easy opportunity to visit the so-called Wailing Wall.
So you kind of go through a security detail, I was down there one time and they had to clear everything out because someone left a backpack down there and they didn’t know if there were explosives in the backpack so you kind of go through a security detail and I don’t know if our picture really captures it but you’ve got to look at the bottom picture. It’s divided between men visiting the wailing wall on the left and women on the right. The men cannot go down there unless they have a skullcap on and they’ll provide the skullcap. Or if you don’t want to wear their skullcap you can wear your own hat, baseball hat, whatever you wear, but your head has to be covered. And you can go down there and you can watch their religious activity, their religious ritual, and there’s little pieces of paper with little pencils and you can write down anything you want to write down, and kind of fold it up and put it in between the stumps there in the wailing wall. So if you have prayer requests or things of that nature a lot of people kind of put those in-between the stones.
I think I just saw something on the news this week where they were kind of cleaning out all that paper between the stones. But it’s kind of a neat place to visit and that’s what’s known as the Western Wall, sometimes called the Wailing Wall. And something else that was very interesting to go to is what’s called the Temple Institute, also in Jerusalem, very close to this location here. The Temple Institute in Hebrew is Machon HaMikdash. I know I’m not pronouncing that well; that’s the problem with seminary training: they give you reading in Hebrew but they don’t give you any pronunciation. So, my pronunciation of Hebrew and Greek is very poor, although if I’ve got a high level of energy, I can make my way in reading a little bit of it.
But this is an institute founded by Rabbi Ariel, and the whole goal of these folks is to rebuild the third Jewish temple on the Temple Mount which is currently occupied by the Dome of the Rock. And what they want to do is they want to rebuild the third temple and they want to reinstitute temple worship, even temple sacrifices. And how are they doing this? Well, they’re doing it primarily now through a study, trying to study the temple construction, the ritual of the third temple, the development of the third temple into an actual structure one day. They’ve got ritual objects prepared, garments prepared, and building plans laid for this third temple.
A lot of it is patterned after information that we have in the Bible about the prior temples and also information related to the tabernacle which Moses constructed under God’s direction in the wilderness. In fact, if you go back to Exodus 31 for just a minute, Exodus 31, this is one of the passages they study quite intently, it says, “Now the LORD spoke to Moses saying, ‘See, I have called by name Bezelell, the son of Uri, the sun of Ur, the tribe of Judah, I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom and understanding and in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship.” It’s amazing how practical the Holy Spirit is, He gifted a couple of individuals here in terms of building and construction and manufacturing and décor related to the coming together of the Tabernacle. “I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom and understanding and in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship to make artistic designs for work in gold and silver and bronze and in the cutting of stones for settings in the carving of wood that he may work in all kinds of craftsmanship.”
So this is kind of a key verse for those in the Temple Institute because they basically believe they’re doing the same thing in construction of the third Temple. And in June of 2008 they actually developed the uniform that the high priest and also the uniforms that the lower priests are going to allegedly supposedly wear as they minister these sacrifices in the new temple. They’ve also developed the breast plate with the Ephod, and you can see that right in their pages of the Old Testament. And in 2007 they developed the crown that the high priest is going to wear. And so the Temple Institute is a very interesting place to go to, particularly if you’re a student of Bible prophecy because if I’m understanding my Bible correctly the antichrist is going to walk into the rebuilt third temple, betray the Jewish people midway through the tribulation period and offer an image of himself in the temple, I think that image is described in Revelation 13:15. [Revelation 13:15, “And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast would even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed.]
And he’s going to tell the Jews you can’t offer sacrifices any more in the temple. And I say to myself huh! I’m a literalist when it comes to Bible prophecy, how can any of that happen unless you have a what? A functioning temple with animal sacrifices. Well, lo and behold, you’ve got this group, the Temple Institute that wants to create this very thing. And so it’s somewhat eerie to walk through these sets of exhibits, there’s at least five or six major rooms they take you to, I mean, it’s like a state of the art presentation. And it is sort of eerie to walk through it because you say to yourself you’re dealing with people that are functioning without the light of the New Testament. They think that the only thing you have is the Old Testament. And they think that they’re building this temple for their Messiah when in reality this is the very temple that the antichrist is going to use to betray them. They’re building a system for the antichrist without recognizing it.
Your Bible very clearly predicts in totality four temples, two past, two future. The first temple as you know was built by Solomon, about 966 B.C. You’ll find that number in 1 King 6:1. [1 Kings 6:1, “Now it came about in the four hundred and eightieth year after the sons of Israel came out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the LORD.”]
That temple was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, and that’s what launched the seventy-year Babylonian captivity. Then the Jews didn’t have a temple for seventy years and they came back, the returnee, from Babylon and according to the Book of Ezra they had some difficulties but they finally got busy building temple number two. That’s what’s called, well it got the name Herodian temple because John 2:20 says that Herod came along later and refurbished it and made it into a beautiful building. [John 2:20, “The Jews then said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?”]
And this of course was the temple that Jesus was interacting with in His earthly ministry. What happened to that temple? It was destroyed in A.D. 70 by Titus of Rome and so it’s been 2,000 years and the Jews haven’t had a temple, and yet we have Bible prophecy, four places, Daniel 9:27, well, maybe that’s not even right, five places, Daniel 9:27, Daniel 12, I want to say around verse 11, Matthew 24:15, 2 Thessalonians 2:4 and then a section of Revelation we studied recently, Revelation 11:1-2 all demand that there’s got to be a temple in existence for the antichrist to desecrate.
What will happen to that third temple? I don’t know for sure, my best guess is it will be destroyed in the seventh bowl judgment which talks about the greatest earthquake in human history, Revelation 16, only to be replaced by the glory and the majesty of Ezekiel’s millennial temple which will be functioning during the kingdom age, Ezekiel 40-48.
That fourth temple is the temple that the Shekinah glory of God will return to during the millennial kingdom. The Shekinah glory of God, you remember from the Book of Ezekiel, chapters 8-11, departed from the Solomonic temple because of the sins of the Jewish people just prior to the seventy-year captivity. And just as the Shekinah glory of God literally left temple number one Ezekiel predicts in chapters 40-48 the Shekinah glory of God is going to return to that glorious fourth millennial temple. They don’t allow you to take any pictures when you’re in there so all of our pictures are from outside. There’s my wife and myself in front of the Temple Institute, I call this beauty and the beast there in front of the Temple Institute.
And this is interesting here, this is a menorah; this menorah weighs one half a ton and it contains forty-five kilograms of twenty-four carat gold. And its estimated value is three million dollars. And what are they going to do with this? Well, they believe that’s what’s go in the third temple. And when I was there in 2014 they had it outside like it’s displayed here and I noticed that when I was just there they had actually moved it into the Temple Institute. And when you walk through the Temple Institute, we were there in 98, and this is what they used to tell us, they used to say we’re waiting for our Messiah to come to build this temple. You know what they’re saying now, as of 2019? We’ve got to build this temple so that our Messiah can what? Can come.
The whole urgency has shifted where they have a total urgency to build this temple. There’s a picture of it there, this had to come from the internet because they wouldn’t let us take any pictures when we were in there. But it’s astounding the garb, the priestly garb has been selected, the utensils the priests are going to use in this temple have been selected. They’re also, you can track this on the news, breeding a special animal called the red heifer which will be used to dedicate the instruments and so forth that will be functioning in the temple. According to Numbers 19 the red heifer has to be genetically pure. So they’re watching very carefully for alleged white hairs to pop up in the red heifer’s body because that would disqualify the one they think they have now from being genetically pure.
So you’re dealing with people that are functioning without the light of the New Testament and they’re trying to follow what’s in the Old Testament to a T, to create this third temple. And if you’re a student of Bible prophecy this should be jumping off the page to you because you know that the antichrist will desecrate the temple midway through the tribulation period.
Donald Trump, in the United States of America, is one of the most polarizing figures and if you don’t believe me put something on you social media page about Donald Trump, good or bad, because I’ve done both, and what you’re going to find is 50% of your Facebook followers are going to be mad at you in ten seconds because there’s people that love Trump and there’s people that hate his guts. And so I finally got smart and I decided not to put anything up because I’d end up alienating half of my followers there on social media.
But what you have to understand is the Jews, they love Trump. I mean, there’s no tolerization at all, they think Trump is the greatest thing since sliced bread. And they’ve actually minted a coin that’s the half shekel, which is going to be used, I think, to pay the temple tax. And there’s a picture you recognize with Trump there on the front. And then they’ve got someone to the back of him and you know who that guy is? A Persian named Cyrus, now isn’t that interesting? Isn’t Cyrus the Persian? By the way, Cyrus’ name is called out prophetically by the prophet Isaiah roughly 150-200 years in advance and you’ll see that in the end of Isaiah 44 and the beginning of Isaiah 45. Cyrus is the Persian that God raised up to allow the Jews to come back into their land from Babylon, which had been taken over by Persia in 539 B.C. Daniel 5, the handwriting on the wall chapter. God raised up Cyrus and some other Persian kings to return and Cyrus allowed the Jews to go back and begin the work on what? Rebuilding the what? Their second temple. And the fact that they have a coin with Donald Trump’s picture on it and Cyrus directly behind him shows you how they look at Donald Trump. They look at him as sort of a modern-day Cyrus by which they think he someway, somehow, is going to allow them to build temple number three.
And I didn’t say Trump was the antichrist or anything like that, I’m just giving you the Jewish mindset and how we’re moving into an era of history where we could very well see temple number three built. I’m watching the Trump Middle East peace plan very carefully and we’ll have to see what happens. The only thing I know for sure is the temple will be functioning half way through the tribulation period. I know that much! Whether we are here to see it, the sight of the rapture, time will tell. Of course, the big problem is the Temple Mount and Islamic denial that the Jews were ever there because the Muslims in the 7th century built over the Temple Mount what they called the Dome of the Rock. And what they’re basically saying is everything you read in your Bible is wrong, Solomon was never here, the original Temple Mount was never here, and this is actually a holy site for Muslims because this is where Mohammed allegedly ascended back to Allah on a stead, anybody know the name of the stead? The stead’s name is Barak. I wish I was smart enough to make this stuff up, it’s amazing to me.
So, you have Muslims basically denying the temple was ever there. The problem is they’re hung by the tongue; the problem with putting things into print in 1924 is we’re in the computer age where what you wrote in 1924 can come back and bite you. This is a guide written by a Muslim on the Temple Mount concerning the Temple Mount all the way back in 1924 and this was never changed in subsequent additions of this literature through the 1950’s.
And this is what the Muslims once said about the Temple Mount: “The site is one of the oldest in the world. Its sanctity dates from the earliest (perhaps from pre-historic) times.” I’ve got the relative portion underlined there. “Its identity with the site of Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute. This, too, is the spot, according to the universal belief, on which ‘David built there an altar unto the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings.’” [A Brief Guide to Al-Haram Al-Sharif Jerusalem published in 1924 (and unchanged in all later editions through the 1950s), p. 4.]
So, they may deny it today, that the Temple was ever there but in 1924 in their own literature they were acknowledging that the Temple Mount under Solomon was originally there.
So, I don’t know how in the world the Jews are going to get this Dome of the Rock moved so that the third temple will exist. It may have to do with something related to the antichrist and his charisma, talking them into the ultimate real estate deal., “the art of the deal!” Or there’s other speculations that where the Islamic Dome of the Rock is now is not exactly on the site of the Solomonic Temple; it might be off to the side a little bit, the original Solomonic Temple. So it very well could be that you’re going to have both holy sites operating side by side. I wish I was omniscient and could tell you exactly how all this is going to play out. I don’t know. One thing I know is there will be temple number three functioning midway through the tribulation period. That much I know. How it’s all going to come into existence only God knows. And not only is there going to be a temple functioning, there’s going to be animal sacrifices within that temple. A couple of recent articles, and with these I’ll close.
The Times of Israel April 6, 2017, ““With priests blowing silver trumpets, a group of religious Jews slaughtered a sheep on Thursday in Jerusalem’s Old City to demonstrate the traditional paschal sacrifice, the first time such a reenactment has been held inside the city walls in 2,000 years.”
Another article, “The Jerusalem District Court gave the go-ahead for the Bible-mandated ritual of slaughtering the paschal lamb not on the Temple Mount, the holiest site for Jews, but just below it, in the Davidson complex…Though only religiously mandated during the time of the Jewish Temples, in recent years, fringe groups of right-wing, religious Jews committed to rebuilding the Temple have been working to revive ancient rituals “in preparation” for its return to the Temple Mount.”
I can just tell you this much, these very orthodox Jews are very serious in A, building temple three, and B, offering sacrifices again in this temple. And everything I read shows that there’s not a decrease of an appetite in the nation of Israel to do this; in fact, the appetite is increasing. They want the temple and they want the sacrifices going and that fits exactly in line with Bible prophecy which indicates that the tribulation period is coming fast. And if the tribulation period is coming fast what’s coming even faster? The rapture of the church, which precedes the tribulation period.
I’m a little bit overtime so I’ll go ahead and close. Father, we’re grateful for Israel and the many things we learn about Israel, Your work in Israel, past, present and future. Help us to be good stewards of these wonderful truths that You’ve given to our unique generation as we live our lives according to Your soon return. We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said…. Amen! Happy intermission.