I’ve recently finished a stretch where I’ve been teaching on the end times for about nine months. I always think that the one who teaches learns more than those who hear him, and this was no exception. It was a wonderful experience to talk about the basics of eschatology (the doctrine of “last things”) and then go through the Book of Revelation verse by verse.
Because of all this, I’ve been interested to see stories popping up about the discovery and raising of a pure red heifer, and Christians and Jews speculating about its prophetic significance.
What is the red heifer and does it mean anything for us? This is one of the most complicated and mysterious subjects in all of Jewish religious law – actually, it is possibly the most mysterious. In a nutshell, the Old Testament required (Numbers 19) that the ashes of a red heifer be used in the purification of the Temple. The Israeli organization known as The Temple Institute, like many others, considers the sacrifice of a red heifer to be necessary in order to erect a Third Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.
Watch the brief YouTube video above and understand that The Temple Institute now believes that a pure red heifer has been found which could possibly be used for that purpose, allowing the Temple to finally be rebuilt after more than 19 centuries. These Orthodox Jews believe that after the Temple will be rebuilt the Messianic Era will soon follow.
Many Bible-believing Christians also think there will be a Third Temple, but believe that its rebuilding is a more ominous sign. Jesus prophesied in Matthew 24 that the coming Antichrist will defile this Third Temple and that this event (the “abomination of desolation”) will begin the time of persecution and terror called the Great Tribulation. The Apostle Paul also taught (2 Thessalonians 2) that the Man of Lawlessness will stand in the Temple area and assert that he is above all gods. From the perspective of the Christian Scriptures, the rebuilding of the Temple is a sign of impending tribulation – even while it is a necessary prophetic precondition to the return of Jesus Christ to the Earth.
None of this means that “the end is near” in the sense that it is going to happen this year, or this decade. What it does mean is that there are people who are seriously preparing in practical (not just spiritual) ways to build a Third Temple. They are committed to making this a reality. And they will do so when conditions are right. Once this occurs, the world will truly be on borrowed time.
Our forebears in the faith would be amazed to see in our day the rebirth of Israel and the conquest of Jerusalem by the Jews – as well as the prophesied alignment of anti-Semitic nations ringing that tiny country. The Third Temple is coming, likely sooner rather than later. Are we asleep to these prophetic realities or are we considering the lateness of the hour?