Israel in Prophecy, Pt. 3

Scripture: Romans 2:28, Galatians 3:29, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4
This Bible Talk continues a study on Israel in prophecy and specifically looks at a passage in 2 Thessalonians 2 that speaks of the temple of God. How does this passage play out in relationship to the end of time? Who, what, or where is the temple today?
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Announcer: It's time now for Bible Talk. Join our hosts, Gary Gibbs and John Bradshaw, speakers for the Amazing Facts Ministry, as they now open the Bible and discuss themes that affect your life today. Stay tuned, because the next 15 minutes will deepen your understanding of God's Word.

John Bradshaw: Hi, friends, and welcome again to Bible Talk. I'm John Bradshaw. With me, Gary Gibbs. Another great program today. Hi, Gary.

Gary Gibbs: Hi, John. We are going to have a fantastic program. We're hitting some things directly head-on that I know are controversial with a lot of our listeners, probably, and with Christians in general. We're talking about the role of the true Israel of God in the last days.

John: Let me say this right off the bat. You may hear some things that will cause some questions to arise in your mind, perhaps, as we talk about this. Be sure to get the number, get the email address, contact us for the free study material we are offering and that will really help and be a blessing to you, no question.

Gary: Because what we've been talking about, John, is that the Israel that we need to be focusing on in the last days is not the literal Israel over there on the Mediterranean Sea, between the Mediterranean and the Jordan, but the real Israel of God is the church of God. Not the literal Israel, not the literal Jew, but the prophecy focuses on the church of God.

John: There's no doubt about that in the world. If there's any doubt, what are you going to do with the texts where Paul writes to the Romans? He said he is "not a Jew, which is one outwardly." He writes to the Romans and he says, "Not everybody of Israel is of Israel." He writes to the Galatians and he says that if you are a follower of Christ's, if you belong to Jesus Christ, that makes you a descendant of Abraham and an heir according to the promise. The Bible is very, very clear on this.

Gary: And I want to give our listeners those references. Romans 2:28, Galatians 3:29 say the very things that you just quoted right there.

John: Can't miss it. You can't possibly mistake it, and unfortunately many people have mistaken it. For one, they've cheated themselves out of many of the blessings that God said would come to a spiritual Israel, insomuch as they are not aware that those blessings apply to them. And then they're looking in all the wrong places for all the wrong things.

Gary: Yeah, because they're looking for something to happen with literal Israel. And one of those things, John, that most Christians are looking for is the rebuilding of the Temple. I have seen entire books and movies built around this theme that Israel returns to their land and they rebuild the Temple and boy, as soon as that Temple is rebuilt, we are in the last hours of Earth's history.

John: Yeah, isn't that a fascinating thing? No doubt people believe this based on something in the Bible, but as you study the Temple, it's all involved in a system of belief. And we've already, in previous Bible Talk programs, dismantled a lot of that system. Let's have a go at the Temple today. What have you got?

Gary: Let's look at it, because this is key to Bible prophecy. I'm reading here, out of Second Thessalonians Chapter Two, and this is really prophetic. The whole 2 Thessalonians, Chapter One and Two, is all about prophetic things happening in the last days. But let me just begin here in Verse One: "Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ..."

John: OK.

Gary: " our gathering together unto him, that you be not soon shaken in mind or be troubled, neither by spirit nor by word nor by letters from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand."

John: OK.

Gary: So he's talking about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and he says, "Don't be concerned that it's going to happen any moment, that it's imminent, Jesus Christ coming is imminent."

John: Right, because he says...

Gary: Because he says, "Let no man deceive you by any means, for that day shall not come except there come a falling away first..."

John: A falling away first, before that time.

Gary: An apostasy.

John: OK.

Gary: "...and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes" - that's the Antichrist.

John: OK.

Gary: "Who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped" - now here it comes, John.

John: OK.

Gary: "So that he as God sits in the Temple of God, showing himself that he is God." So in other words, the Antichrist is going to move to Jerusalem, and he's going to sit in the Temple, on the Temple Mount. And the only problem with that is, the temple doesn't exist right now...

John: Exactly.

Gary: It's a mosque. I've been to it. It's a mosque, sitting on the Temple Mount.

John: Sure.

Gary: And if the Jews were to move in right now and try to take over that Temple Mount, we'd be in a lot more trouble and turmoil than we are in right now. That's one of their three holy sites in the world.

John: You'll remember that a few years ago, they were doing some tunneling near the dome of the rock, and some people felt like they got a little too close. All hell broke loose over there simply because they got close. So in somebody's prophetic scenario, suddenly the Muslims are going to say, "Go right ahead. Erase our holy site and go ahead and construct the Temple." Now, if the Bible says that that's going to happen, fine, I'm cool with it. But I don't think it does, and it's one of the most unlikely occurrences that you could possibly conjure up.

Gary: But you made a crucial statement there: "If the Bible says this." So if it's not talking about the Temple being rebuilt there, at the very place where Abraham almost sacrificed Isaac...

John: Yes, sir.

Gary: If that's not going to happen at that place, and that's not the temple that the Antichrist is going to sit in to reign from, then what temple is the Bible talking about?

John: All right, let's consider temples for a moment. You had the Temple in the Old Testament time. You start with the sanctuary, the mobile Temple, if you please, in the wilderness. Then they built a permanent Temple. It was destroyed. They rebuilt the Temple. That was destroyed in 70 AD, about 40 years after Jesus' time.

Gary: By the Romans.

John: Yes, indeed. And the Jewish people back then were very Temple-oriented. Some of the Christians, because they were converts from Judaism, they were kind of Temple-oriented as well, wondering just how important this thing was. The Book of Hebrews is written. Scholars tell us it was written in about the year 66 AD. The entire Book of Hebrews, written just before the Temple is destroyed, deals with the temple that we ought to be concerned about. The writer of the Book of Hebrews talks about our high priest in heaven and the temple in heaven. Now, for a New Testament Christian to be obsessed with an earthly're missing the point altogether, because God points out the temple we ought to be concerned with, that being the temple in heaven, because that's where the action is now concerning our spiritual well-being. But I didn't really answer your question.

Gary: No, you didn't, because I don't see the Antichrist moving to heaven and setting himself up in the heavenly temple.

John: No, correct. Let me...

Gary: So what is the temple that the Antichrist is going to invade, if it's not a temple over in Jerusalem?

John: OK, let me reiterate. The one that concerns our spiritual well-being is the one in heaven.

Gary: Yes.

John: Agreed?

Gary: I agree.

John: No question. All right. In the Book of Ephesians, and Chapter Two, I'm going to read in Verse 19 and then on: "Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and of the household of God. And you are built upon the foun..." - now get the imagery here.

Gary: OK.

John: "You are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone."

Gary: And the cornerstone was a very important stone in the erection of the Temple.

John: That's right. It was the great big foundational boulder, rock, basically upon which the Temple rested. Right? OK. Verse 21: "In whom all the building fitly framed together grows unto a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit." Did you get what's going on there? Paul is talking to Christians, and he is saying that you together, as you are built together, you become the Temple of God. In other words, the Temple of God today is the church.

Gary: We are the Temple.

John: God's people comprise the Temple of the living God.

Gary: So he uses - just to pause here - he is using the Old Testament Temple as a metaphor for the Christian church.

John: Certainly. Now you've heard it said, on one hand, that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.

Gary: Oh, yes.

John: So on an individual basis, that's true. But then when you bring all these bodies together and they comprise the church, Paul makes it clear that this church, the Christian church, is God's Temple today.

Gary: Now, are there other Bible texts that say that? That make it even clearer than that? Are there other Bible texts?

John: Oh, there sure are. Let's look at our Bibles, in First Peter Chapter Two. This is a passage that we've talked about several times just recently here on Bible Talk, and we'll read in First Peter Chapter Two... I'm turning there in my Bible, and while I'm doing that, why don't you talk about the offer that we have today?

Gary: Yes. In fact, John, if people want to study this, we only have such little time on the program. They must call in at the 800 number that we announce at the end of the program or email us. We have a terrific series of Bible studies that will take them through these biblical topics and Bible prophecy, and it's all free just for the asking.

John: Now in 1 Peter 2, it says in verse 5, "You also as lively or living stones are built up a spiritual house, holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices." Verse 6 talks about, "Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious." You get the Temple imagery here.

Gary: Yeah, it's the same thing you just read back in Ephesians 2:21. It says, "Jesus is the chief cornerstone, " and now it's saying he's the chief cornerstone here. But it says we're built on him as a spiritual house, a spiritual temple.

John: That's what the Bible says.

Gary: So we're not looking at a literal temple. We're looking at a spiritual temple.

John: And that's very, very clear, that God's temple today is a spiritual temple. So that in 2 Thessalonians, when the Bible says the Antichrist is going to go and sit in the Temple of God showing himself that he is God, it's referring to the fact that this Antichrist, this spiritual danger that's coming upon the world, will infiltrate his way into the church and somehow finagle his way into the confidence of people that their allegiance be turned from Christ towards him.

Gary: That's a very important point, and there's a text that I'd like to kind of tie in right here, in Acts 20. Paul is speaking to the believers in the city of Ephesus and he says, "Take heed therefore unto yourselves," in verse 28, "to all the flock over which the Holy Ghost has made you overseers, to feed the church of God which he has purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing" - Paul says after he dies - "grievous wolves will enter in among you, not sparing the flock. And also of your own selves shall men arise speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them." So he's talking about that infiltration. They're going to come in and speak perverse things. It reminds me of the Antichrist as he's mentioned in Daniel Seven, that he speaks great words against the Most High.

John: Great words and blasphemies, as it says in Revelation 13. So what you've got is a situation where Christians need to be very aware, because within Christianity something is going to rise up that would ultimately lead people. And how in the world can you expect a planet full of Christians to be deceived? A good deception is one that's going to fool the very people that the Devil hates and doesn't already own as his own. The deception has to be religious, it has to be sharp, it has to get people away from the focus of the Bible and Jesus as their Lord and Savior. It'll only, according to the Bible, take place in the church, and now you can see the great danger of this.

Gary: And according to what we just read here in Acts 20, is this began a long time ago as a long process of infiltrating the Christian church that will reach its zenith of apostasy in the very last days before Jesus comes. And I believe, John, we see that happening in the church today.

John: There's no question. And when you've got people who are saying, "Well, the big problem is going to be in the Middle East. All the action is when this one wicked man - someone, we don't know who - sits in the Temple. We can wait till the Temple is rebuilt." You know, you can just see how people are missing the point, missing the mark, being prepared to be nothing other than deceived.

Gary: And I believe it's imperative that our listeners, John, call in, write in, get our Bible studies, because they'll learn what the real issues are in the last days if they'll take these free Bible studies.

John: This is a great subject. We've got more to cover. We can't do it all right now, but friend, thank you so very much for being with us today. We look forward to our next appointment together so please, whatever you do, don't miss that. With Gary Gibbs, I'm John Bradshaw. God bless you. See you next time on Bible Talk. [music]

Announcer: If you'd like more information on what we've been studying today, we have a comprehensive Bible study guide we'd love to share with you that's absolutely free. This study includes many of the texts we've just discussed, and expands on the subject, including information you'll want to know. To receive this free, informative Bible study guide, simply call, write, or email, and ask for BT103: "Is There Anything Left You Can Trust?" The toll-free number is 866-BIBLE-SAYS. That's 866-242-5372. You can write to us at Bible Talk, PO Box 1058, Roseville, California 95678, or email us at Bible Talk has been produced in association with Amazing Facts in the studios of Life Talk Radio.

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