Tisha B’Av and the Temple in Jerusalem
Most Jewish holidays are times of joy and celebration, but there is one day in the Hebrew calendar which is marked out as a time of mourning and deep grief: Tisha B’Av. On the 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av, many tragedies happened, not least both destructions of the Temple in Jerusalem. In 586 BC, Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon destroyed Solomon’s Temple on the 9th Av. Again, nearly 600 years later, the Second Temple (on the same site) was destroyed by Titus of Rome on the same date. When the Second Temple was destroyed in Jerusalem, in 70 AD, the centre of all Jewish life was gone. Many of the leaders were killed and those left alive were sent into exile, leaving a trail of trauma and suffering behind them. Several other catastrophes in Jewish history are also tied to this date.
The Second Temple, rebuilt by Herod the Great, was a magnificent building. The historian Josephus said that much of the exterior of the Temple was covered with gold that reflected the rays of the sun.
When catastrophes like the destruction of the Temple, Covid 19, earthquakes, etc., take place, it might seem that God is out of control. But He isn’t. Neither is God impervious to our suffering. For 40 years the prophet Jeremiah warned the people of Judah that Jerusalem and the Temple were going to come under siege and suffer great devastation if the people did not turn away from their disregard of God’s commandments.
Likewise, with a broken heart, Yeshua (Jesus) prophesied, in AD 30, of the destruction of both the Temple and the city of Jerusalem.
“Now as He drew near, He saw the city (Jerusalem) and wept over it, saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side…” (Luke 19:41-44)
40 years later His words were fulfilled.
So, is there any hope that a future Temple will be built and if so, what will be its role?
The Scriptures speak about a Third Temple in both the Tenach and the New Testament.
A Third Temple, built on its original site, might seem highly unlikely and far-fetched. But for the last 30 years, Temple preparations have been in place. The Temple Institute, known in Hebrew as Machon HaMikdash, is an organization in Israel which intends to establish the Third Temple on the site currently occupied by the Dome of the Rock. Everything is in place – it is just a matter of time before it will be built. Time is short, however, because many other Bible prophecies are being fulfilled before our very eyes.
Sadly, both the prophet Daniel (Daniel 9:27) and Yeshua, (Matthew 24:15-16) prophesy that this Temple will ultimately be overtaken by the False Messiah.
“Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation’, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place…then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.”
But this is not the end of the story. When Yeshua the Messiah returns to deliver Jerusalem from her enemies (Zechariah chapter 12), the Temple will once again be rebuilt on a much larger scale and the Ruach (Spirit) of God will return.
“Afterward he brought me to the gate, the gate that faces toward the east. And behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east. His voice was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with His glory.”
Since the destruction of the Second Temple, Jewish people can no longer offer sacrifices. In fact, 202 out of the 613 mitzvot (commandments) in the Torah cannot be performed without a Temple. So how can sin be atoned for since Leviticus 17:11 says that it is “the blood that makes atonement for the soul”? In Hebrews chapter 10, we see that animal sacrifices could only provide a temporary way to deal with sin.
Hebrews 10:5-7 (quoting from Psalm 40) gives the answer for sin:
“Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure. Then I said, ‘BEHOLD I HAVE COME – in the volume of the book it is written of Me – to do Your will, O God.”
God prepared the body of His only Son, Yeshua, to deal with the problem of sin - our part is to surrender our lives to Him and to believe that He is the long-awaited Messiah.