By Jack Kinsella
The Omega Letter
Q. According to 2nd Thessalonians 2:4. in the last days, the Antichrist will desecrate the Third Temple which Paul calls, "the Temple of God." Is the Third Temple legitimate? How does that square with Church Age doctrines of salvation by grace through faith?
A. The Thessalonians were in the grip of a heresy spreading through their church to the effect that the Day of Christ [the Rapture] had come and gone and they had been left behind. Paul sought to reassure them by giving them a series of signs that will precede the revelation of the Antichrist. Paul said that before the Antichrist would be revealed, there would first come a great 'falling away' from the true faith.
"Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, (Gk apostasia)and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition."So there is general 'falling away' or apostasy. We saw an example of that in Obama's Cairo speech where it was all about religion and God and faith and peace and love. As he wound it up, Obama admitted that HIS real faith is in human beings, not in Yahweh, Jesus or Mohammed, although he invoked all three names throughout his speech - and nobody blinked an eye. Obama has made much of his alleged Christianity, but the world-wide apostasia is so pervasive I don't think anybody even noticed there's a difference between faith in Christ and faith in humanity.
I've been paying attention to the reaction to the Cairo speech, as I am sure most of you have been as well. Obama didn't catch it. His speechwriters didn't catch it. His fact-checkers didn't catch it. He delivered it as written and nobody that heard his speech caught it either. At least, nobody noticed it that I am aware of - a textbook example of the world-wide apostasy of the last days.
Paul says that this 'falling away' is so grievous that nobody will notice how wrong the Antichrist is until he "as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God." Exasperated, Paul asks, "Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?"
The resumption of Temple worship and animal sacrifices during the Tribulation has no saving value. Nobody will be saved because they brought an unblemished lamb to the Temple for sacrifice. Salvation is and always has been an outpouring of God's grace by faith from every Dispensation.
Among the great heroes of faith in Hebrews 11 are Abel, the world's first murder victim; Enoch, the first person to be Raptured; Noah, who was faithful to build the Ark; Jacob, who blessed the sons of Joseph; Abraham, who was willing to offer Isaac; Moses, who led the children of Israel to the Promised land. And just to prove God is no 'respecter of persons' when it comes to salvation, the writer of Hebrews included Rahab, the harlot, as one of the great heroes of faith, who "perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace." (Hebrews 11:31)
What is my point? Not one of these heroes of the faith lived in New Testament times. Not one of these heroes of the faith had yet seen their sins paid for at the Cross. Still, they were saved by grace through faith.
There is a reason why the Third Temple is consecrated and a reason why Paul calls it the "Temple of God" instead of just 'the Temple'.
First, if it weren't consecrated, it couldn't be defiled. You can't defile something which isn't holy in the first place. The abomination of desolation would neither be an abomination nor could it make the Temple desolate unless the Temple itself were legitimate in the first place.
Secondly, God isn't going back to an "old system" because salvation is not a product of the Temple system, as we've already seen. The Age of the Law had yet to run its full course when it was interrupted by the Age of Grace.
Daniel notes that in the 69th Week, the "Messiah is cut off, but not for Himself"; the Temple is destroyed by the people of the coming prince (Antichrist) and then there is a temporal disconnect when Daniel's clock stops for the Church Age.
The Age of Grace concludes with the Rapture and Daniel's clock restarts on the final week, the reasons for which are clearly outlined in Daniel 9:24. It isn't a re-institution of the Age of the Law. It is the resumption of an unfilled Dispensational Period for which there is a definite purpose.
So, then, what is the purpose of the Law? Why did God give Moses the Ten Commandments?
According to the Apostle Paul, the reason for the Ten Commandments was to prove we couldn't keep them and to point out our need for a Savior. That realization is offered to both Jew and Gentile.
BUT, says Paul;
"I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in."The 'fullness of the Gentiles be come in' is a reference to the conclusion of the Church Age, which ends when the last Gentile who is going to accept Christ does so. Once the Body of Christ is complete, the Rapture takes place, and God turns His attention back to Israel.
"And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins." (Romans 11:26-27)The 70th Week of Daniel is also called "the Time of Jacob's Trouble" (Jeremiah 30:7) because it is set aside for the judgment of the Gentiles and the national salvation of the Jews.
To summarize: the purpose of the Tribulation is two-fold.
First and foremost, its purpose is to effect the national reconciliation of the Jews and their salvation - as a nation. The unbelieving Gentiles have already had their chance and rejected it. Revelation Chapter 7 tells of 144,000 Jews who will be 'sealed' with the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Jews of Israel aren't saved during the Tribulation by the Temple practices or law. Zechariah 12:10 makes it clear that the Jews of Israel during the Tribulation are saved the same way we are - by grace and supplications (prayer).
"And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn."It is the Temple desecration that causes the Jews to turn their backs on the Antichrist and turn towards Christ.
Secondarily, it is a time set aside for the judgment of a Christ-rejecting world (the Church having already been judged at the Cross.) The Age of Grace is over, but salvation by grace through faith is still extended to the Jews. The 144,000 are sealed with the Holy Spirit, which gives them the power to share the Gospel and enables the hearer to be regenerated spiritually. Without the active indwelling of the Holy Spirit within these 144,000 Jewish evangelists, nobody could be saved.
"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1st Corinthians 2:14)Finally, David's question, by its very nature, establishes the fact that the Church cannot be present during the Tribulation Period. If it were, then the sealing of the 144,000 Jews with the Holy Spirit would be meaningless. They would be able to get their infilling of the Holy Spirit the same way that we do now. There would be no need for an angel to come down and give them the Gospel and seal them with the Holy Spirit. During the Church Age, that is the job of the Church. God does not impose His Spirit on Jews during the Church Age. First they come to Christ, then the Holy Spirit comes to them. According to Revelation Chapters 7 and 14, during the Tribulation, the Holy Spirit comes to the 144,000, and then they come to Christ. After that, they go out and lead others (the "Tribulation Saints") to Christ. (If there were no distinction between the saints of the Church Age and the saints of the Tribulation, then why does the Bible reference "Tribulation Saints" separately?)
So, the chronology is like this. The Age of the Law wasn't replaced by the Age of Grace, it was interrupted by it. The Age of Grace concludes at the Rapture. Then the Age of the Law is resumed for one final week of years to effect the national redemption of Israel in fulfillment of the promise of Romans 11:26-27. The Age of the Law concludes with the 2nd Coming of Christ to usher in the final Dispensation, the Millennial Kingdom, which is also part of the promise to the Jews. (Isaiah 60-66)
After that comes the new heaven and new earth (Isaiah 65:17, 66:22, 2nd Peter 3:13, Revelation 21:1) and eternity future.
But first, the Rapture!