Rabbi Chaim Richman is the director of the international department of the Temple Institute in Jerusalem. For over three decades the Temple Institute has focused its attention on all aspects associated with the rebuilding of the Temple. In doing this the Institute seeks to highlight the universal significance of the Temple as a house of prayer for all nations. Richman claims that 60 vessels consistent with their Torah-prescribed form have already been prepared. He also stated that the Institute has recently launched a campaign to secure the funds needed to produce Third Temple blueprints. The description of this campaign stresses that the rebuilt Temple will usher “a new era of universal peace and harmony.”
Is this a true statement? Is the literal physical reestablishing of the Jerusalem Temple actually associated with this kind of Messianic paradigm shift? The short answer is: The Third Temple definitely not, the Fourth Temple definitely yes.
The Third Temple is the first of the two future prophetic temples. It’s the Temple that will be operative during the period of the Great Tribulation. The key passage that speaks about the building of the Temple for the Tribulation is Isaiah 66:1–6. Here Isaiah writes that there will be a Temple rebuilt that God will not authorize. This is in contrast to both Solomon’s Temple and the Second Temple that God sanctioned in the past. And it’s also in contrast to the Fourth Temple of the Millennium which God also sanctions because He Himself will be involved in its reconstruction. In fact, in verse 6 of this text, Isaiah says that this third Temple will only serve as a facilitator of Divine judgment. It will not result in forgiveness of sin, and it will not result in acceptable worship.
This Third temple is also associated with a second Abomination of Desolation. Daniel 9:27 speaks of the breaking of the covenant between Israel and the future false-messiah in the middle of the Tribulation. And in addition to the cessation of all sacrifices, the other key result of the breaking of this covenant will be this repeat larger scale Abomination of Desolation. This is when the future false-messiah (Antichrist) will set up a throne in the Holy of Holies of this rebuilt Temple and declare himself to be the one true God (2 Thess. 2:3-4). This will be accompanied by signs, wonders, and miracles; deceiving the vast majority of the world into accepting the deity of this false savior (2 Thess. 2:8-10).
The second stage of the Abomination of Desolation is the image of the false-messiah standing in the Holy of Holies (Dan. 12:11; Matt. 24:15; Rev. 13:11-15). Here, in order to keep the Temple as the center of the worship of himself, this satanically empowered anti-messiah has his false prophet make an image, which is given life, and set in the Holy of Holies of this Third Jewish Temple.
Concerning the destruction of this Tribulation Temple, we’re not given specific details. Therefore, it would seem that its destruction will be the result of the earthquake at the time of the Second Coming of Messiah, recorded in Zechariah 14:4. Thirty days after this earthquake, the image will be removed and destroyed (cf. Dan. 12:11), bringing an end to the Abomination of Desolation. And then, because of the earth’s renovation for the Millennial Kingdom, the Tribulation Temple, which again was never sanctioned by God to begin with, will be completely removed.
The Fourth and final Temple of the Scriptures is referred to as the Millennial Temple or the Temple of the Messianic Age. This is the Temple that will stand during the 1,000-year reign of Messiah.
Now as a result of the earthquake that takes place at the Second Coming, there will be tremendous geographical and topographical changes in the Land of Israel during the Millennial Kingdom period. And so most likely the Fourth Temple will not be built on the same exact spot that the previous three temples were built. In fact several passages in Isaiah indicate that a great mountain, the highest mountain in the world at this time, will be in the Land of Israel, and somewhere on top of that mountain will stand the Fourth Jewish Temple (Isa. 2:2-4, 27:13, 56:6-8, 66:20; also cf. Micah 4:1-4).
The relationship of this Messianic Temple to the millennial system of worship is found in Ezekiel 40:5 through 46:24. This revelation anticipates literal future fulfillment. God’s glory reentering the new Temple in Jerusalem will be the climax to Israel’s restoration as a nation. The Fourth Temple will serve as the visible reminder of Israel’s relationship to God through His New Covenant. This Temple will be the focal point for the visible manifestation of Israel’s new relationship with the very One who brought her into existence.
Yet this Fourth Temple will not be eternal. It will disappear at the same time the present heavens and earth disappear. According to Revelation 21:22, the new order of the final eternal state will not have a Temple. At that point a Temple will not be necessary because the entire tri-unity of God will be permanently dwelling with man. And so on the other side of the current Temple Mount Blues of the Jews, there is future and ultimate good news!