“And they shall make Me a sanctuary and I will dwell in their midst.” (Exodus 25:8)
Efforts are underway to make the Third Jewish Temple a reality. From preparing vessels to be used in ritualistic service to raising red heifers, controversy arises when questioning who can exactly prepare for and construct the Third Temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
The opinion that the Third Temple will be built by human hands and that the Messiah will have a major role in its rebuilding is most famously ascribed to the Rambam, a renowned 12th century Jewish Bible scholar from Spain. Rambam taught that the very fact that the Temple is being rebuilt will be a major sign that humanity has reached the End of Days.
There is an opposing Jewish philosophy that asserts that the Third Temple already exists in Heaven and will descend onto the Temple Mount at the time God deems is proper. This position is generally associated with Rashi, the preeminent Biblical commentator who lived in 11th century France.
Which is correct? And what will the role of the Messiah be in building the Third Temple?
One way of reconciling these points of view is related to the two accounts of Temple construction in the Bible. The details of the First Temple, known as Solomon’s Temple, are described in the Book of Kings, beginning in the sixth chapter. This description is extensive and quite detailed. The First and Second Temples were built according to the directions that appear in the Book of Kings.
There is another description of Temple architecture in the Book of Ezekiel, beginning in chapter 40. This description is much less detailed, veiled in ambiguous prophecy and much more difficult to understand.
The two descriptions come together in the teaching that the Messiah will oversee the construction of those elements of the Third Temple, which can be understood from the Book of Kings. Following that stage of work on the Third Temple, God will explain the construction elements from the prophecy of Ezekiel that are not currently understandable. It is this knowledge that will come from Heaven, allowing the Messiah and his laborers to complete the building.
Another way to reconcile the two opinions is to consider that the Jewish people are commanded to build a Temple in Jerusalem to serve as a Sanctuary for God. Thus, the physical building is in the hands of the Jewish nation. Once the Messiah and his workers complete the external structure, the Presence of God will descend, filling the Third Temple with holiness.
Until the End of Days, we will not know which of these opinions is correct. However, world-renowned Temple Mount activist and founder of the Temple Mount Heritage Foundation Rabbi Yehuda Glick told Breaking Israel News why he is solidly in the camp of those who believe that the Third Temple will be built by human hands.
“Anyone who understands the concept of Bet Hamikdash – The Temple – knows that there nothing that contradicts this concept more than a Temple from heaven! The whole idea of the mikdash [a holy place] is that we build Him a sanctuary just as He creates us a world.”