Man’s Best Friend


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Spirit Directed Life Mission


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Discussion Questions for Life Group

1. Share one time when the Holy Spirit stopped you from doing something.

2. Share one time when the Holy Spirit led you to do something.

3. Are you at a point of decision right now? Share with us how you plan to make your decision.



The Raven and the Dove


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Discussion Questions for Life Group

1. Why is it important that God’s people should be distinct from the world?

2. How should God’s people demonstrate that distinction in their daily lives?

3. In what way does our consciousness of who we are affect our relationship and/or interaction with others?

4. How does a Christian keep himself/herself from feeling superior to others?


The Radical Holiness of the Holy Spirit


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Discussion Questions for Life Group

1. Who do you think is a holy person? What makes him/her holy?

2. Do you think of yourself as holy? Why or why not?

3. Did your view of what constitutes holiness change over time? How so?


Signs and Wonders: God’s Creation of a People

“Signs and wonders” is most commonly associated with certain Christians. They argue that the way to evangelize is through signs and wonders. “This was what Jesus and the apostles did,” they say.

Their claim has some merit. Scripture records for us what the Apostle Peter said to the people at Pentecost. “Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.” (Acts 2:22). In addition, that was how God chose to confirm the message of the Apostles. “So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to perform signs and wonders.” (Acts 14:3).

“Power evangelism” is the term they use for evangelism that is accompanied by “signs and wonders”—which is mostly healing. So the claim is that if you want to reach the world effectively for Jesus, you need to do so with signs and wonders. Let us put aside our questions, but just look at Scripture without the burden of proving one thing or another.


It may surprise some to learn that “signs and wonders” did start from the OT.

The first use of “signs and wonders” began early in the OT when God told Moses “But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in Egypt he will not listen to you. (Exodus 7:3-4). This is then repeated in Deuteronomy looking back to the same event, saying, “The Lord did miraculous signs and wonders before our eyes, dealing terrifying blows against Egypt and Pharaoh and all his people.” (Deuteronomy 6:22, NLT, cf. Deut. 3:24; 7:19; 11:3; 26:8; 29:3; 34:11). There is a remarkable uniformity of reference in these occurrences. These signs and wonders were all said with reference to what was done against Egypt. Every single reference to “signs and wonders” in the Pentateuch (first five books of the Bible) identifies the signs and wonders as what God did to Egypt for the Hebrews. We will call this the “Exodus Event.”

The OT references outside of the Pentateuch use this term in the same way. Jeremiah spoke of “signs and wonders in Egypt,” and “You brought your people Israel out of Egypt with signs and wonders.” (Jeremiah 32:20,21). Nehemiah speaks of “signs and wonders against Pharaoh” (Nehemiah 9:10). As in the Pentateuch, every single reference to signs and wonders points to what was done to Egypt to deliver God’s chosen people so they can be a nation as promised to Abraham.

The Psalms also use this term, speaking of “the day he displayed his signs in Egypt.” (78:43) Also, “He sent Moses … and Aaron. They performed signs among them, his wonders in the land of Ham.” (105:26-27). Here “Ham” is used as a poetic equivalent of Egypt as the reference goes back to Moses and Aaron.  “He sent his signs and wonders into your midst, Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his servants.” (135:9). Up to this point, every reference to “signs and wonders” is to Yahweh’s acts of sheer power against Egypt/Pharaoh in delivering his people from Egypt.

In the book of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar (the Babylonian king), also uses this term. “It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me.” (Daniel 4:2). Even though Nebuchadnezzar was never delivered by Yahweh in the way Israel was delivered, and Egypt was not involved, he uses similar language. However, he immediately follows up with the declaration of God’s kingdom, “How great are his signs, | how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an eternal kingdom; his dominion endures from generation to generation. (4:3)

It appears that Nebuchadnezzar is appropriating to his own life God’s signs and wonders in the building of God’s eternal kingdom, which stands apart from Babylon.

In Daniel, the Persian king, Darius said: “I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel.

“For he is the living God and … his kingdom will not be destroyed,
  his dominion will never end. | He rescues and he saves;
  he performs signs and wonders | in the heavens and on the earth.
He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.” (Daniel 6:26-27)

Here, Darius begins with God’s eternal kingdom and follows it with the declaration of “signs and wonders,” adding a reference to the amazing deliverance of Daniel from the lions.

Two foreign kings use “signs and wonders,” without reference to God delivering Israel from Egypt, but with reference to God’s eternal kingdom.

Summary. There are two meanings to “signs and wonders” in the OT: (1) the Exodus Event and (2) the eternal kingdom of God. The Exodus Event is the event that created a nation. The eternal kingdom is also the creation of a nation, but this nation, unlike other nations before, will not be created through human means, will sweep away all the nations that come before (Babylonia, Persia, Greece and Rome), and it will last forever (Daniel 2). This was powerfully fulfilled when Jesus was born under the Roman Empire, swept it away, has endured and continues to endure to this day. We are living in this period of fulfillment. The formation of Israel in the Exodus Event and the formation of the eternal kingdom will be accompanied by “signs and wonders.” The two references to “signs and wonders” in the OT seem disparate at first, but they are really powerfully tied together. “Signs and wonders” in history (the Exodus Event) and “signs and wonders” in prophecy (the inauguration of the eternal kingdom). God had formed national Israel through signs and wonders; God will form his eternal kingdom through signs and wonders.


When we come to the NT, we see the repeated declaration that the kingdom of God has come. This is the good news. God’s Messiah has come to establish the eternal kingdom of God spoken by the prophet Daniel.

In the proclamation of the Good News

Jesus brought in the kingdom of God by his life, death and resurrection. From the start of his ministry, “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.  News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them. Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him. (Matthew 4:23-25).

The term “signs and wonders” is not a restrictive term but a general term encompassing healing, freeing the demon possessed, and the miraculous works of nature. We see Jesus doing two things in tandem: proclaiming the good news of the (eternal) kingdom and healing people from diseases and from demonic possession. This is exactly as prophesied in Daniel. The Apostle Peter reminds the people of Israel, “Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.” (Acts 2:22).

While Jesus was powerful, the disciples were powerless – until the day of power, the day of Pentecost. This was the day when the disciples took up where Jesus left off. And when the Holy Spirit was poured out on them, they became God’s agents to perform signs and wonders.

On the day of Pentecost, the Apostle Peter explained, “This is what was spoken by the prophet Joel … ‘I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below.’” (Acts 2:16,19).  “Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles.” (Acts 2:43). We note that most of the signs and wonders came through the apostles. This showed the people the apostles were indeed God’s servants. It also authenticates the message. The authentication of the messenger and the message are really one and the same matter. If the messenger is true, the message is also true.  We are told repeatedly, The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. …” (Acts 5:12).  “So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to perform signs and wonders.” (Acts 14:3). …“by the power of signs and wonders, through the power of the Spirit of God. … I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ. (Romans 15:19). “I persevered in demonstrating among you the marks of a true apostle, including signs, wonders and miracles.” (2 Corinthians 12:12) “God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” (Hebrews 2:4).

Summary. Signs and wonders accompanied the ministry of Jesus and of the Apostles as they proclaimed the eternal kingdom of God. “Signs and wonders,” especially healing, accomplished four things: (1) it caught the people’s attention; (2) it authenticated the messenger; (3) it authenticated the message; (4) it fulfilled the prophecy in Daniel.

In the conversion of Gentiles

The majority of people in God’s Kingdom today are Gentiles. It is easy to forget the first Christians were Jews who struggled with the question: “Who should inherit God’s Kingdom? Or, to whom should we share this Good News?” Acts outline for us God’s hand in leading the early church from Hebraic/Aramaic-speaking Jews to Greek-speaking Jews to Gentiles. This was a severe culture shock to the first Christians, and the Holy Spirit of God had to demonstrate to them clearly that such was his intention.

Acts tells us the first church had both Hebraic/Aramaic-speaking Jews and Greek-speaking Jews). To serve the needs of the Greek-speaking Jews, “They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 6:5).   “Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people.” (Acts 6:8). Stephen was the spearhead messenger of Good news to the Greek-speaking Jews. Those who rejected his message plotted his death (Acts 6:9ff). Stephen’s death accelerated the spread of the Good News because Christians fled Jerusalem, bringing the Good News everywhere (Acts 8:1,4).

Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews. Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord. (Acts 11:19-21)

Luke intends to show us that the proclamation of the good news to the Gentiles is superintended by God. It began with Stephen who was authenticated by God through signs and wonders.

Next, we have the account of the conversion of Cornelius by Peter. Cornelius was not a Jew, and not circumcised. But when he believed, the Holy Spirit came on him and he spoke in tongues (Acts 10:44-48). Since God had approved Cornelius without circumcision, Peter decided to baptize Cornelius. But “the circumcised believers criticized him  and said, ‘You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them.’” (Acts 11:2-3). Peter explained, “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. … So if God gave them the same gift he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?” (Acts 11:15-17).

The issue of baptism without circumcision finally came to a head with all the church leaders meeting to deliberate on the issue (Acts 15). “The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them.” (Acts 15:12) And this finally convinced the circumcised believers that they could baptize Gentiles without circumcision, and circumcision should not be required of Gentiles.

Summary. The supernatural manifestation of God variously described, through healing, tongues, miracles, signs and wonders, were used by God to show the early Christians that the promises of God’s Kingdom were not limited to the Jews, but were available to the Gentiles without their first becoming Jews through circumcision.

As God’s concession

One day a desperate man pleaded with Jesus to heal his son. Jesus lamented, “Unless you people see signs and wonders … you will never believe.” (John 4:48). This refers to the miracle of healing of someone whose son was about to die. Jesus obliged the desperate father even though this is not what Jesus wants to see. The sad reality is that people want to see healing before they will believe. This event reveals God’s heart on the matter of miraculous signs. It is not the ideal way for God to reveal himself, but he does it as a concession to human need for proof.

One great danger associated with miraculous deliverance such as healing, is that it breeds the expectation that God must always heal. This is not true. God will ultimately heal in the resurrection. But the ultimate healing of God at the resurrection is different from God healing us every time we fall sick. If that were so, we would not die! The curse on Adam has been neutralized by the death and resurrection of Jesus.

God wants to be wanted for himself. By providing a supernatural intervention, people tend to want God for what he can give. Even though it draws people to God, there is an inherent danger associated with supernatural signs.

Another grave danger is that the awe of miracles will quickly wear out. The Israelites had the daily miracle of manna, but that became the new normal and the daily miracle did not help them obey God any better.

This brings us to yet another grave danger of depending on signs and wonders for our faith. It leads us to stop evaluating truth claims and we become susceptible to falsehood.

Negatively as a warning

On the Mount of Olives, Jesus warned his disciples, “For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” (Matthew 24:24; cf. Mark 13:22). The miracles here do not come from Jesus the true Messiah, but from false messiahs and false prophets. These false teachers will use miracles to try to deceive God’s people.

Paul affirms strongly that in the last days, “lawless one will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie.” (2 Thessalonians 2:9). This is a clear warning to believers, that as much as they have been brought to faith through signs and wonders, the evil one will seek to use the same method to deceive.

In Connection with the OT

The NT continues the OT tradition of using “signs and wonders” to describe the deliverance of the Hebrews from Egypt. (Acts 7:36).  It is such a well-established idea that it does not require repetition; instead, the NT moves on to the fulfillment of the eternal kingdom of God through miraculous signs and wonders.

Summary for the NT

In the NT, “signs and wonders” together with healing, is (1) an important means of drawing people to Jesus so they will listen to the message. This was also true with the Apostles. (2) “Signs and wonders” authenticate the messenger. (3) They also authenticate the message. (4) The miraculous accompanying the proclamation of the kingdom of God is fulfillment of prophecy. (5) The use of the miraculous for the people to accept the Good News is not considered ideal and Jesus lamented over it. It is a divine concession to hard-hearted people. (6) There are inherent dangers when people use signs and wonders as proof because the evil one is able to act falsely to imitate these signs and wonders and lead people astray. There is therefore a severe warning about false messiahs using signs and wonders.


“Signs and wonders” describes a phenomenon which includes tongues, healing, judgments, etc. They are supernatural acts that demonstrate God’s deliverance. In the OT, there is restricted reference to the Exodus Event, and in the Book of Daniel it is tied in to God’s eternal kingdom.

Jesus and his Apostles brought in the eternal kingdom of God through miracles. This replicates the Exodus Event, and fulfills the connection established in Daniel. The eternal kingdom of God is pried out of the hands of the evil one, no less that Israel was pried out of Pharaoh’s clutches. God’s people in Jesus are delivered from our bondage to sin. And when God wins, the devil loses.

“Signs and wonders” is not the norm in Israel’s history beyond her inception. While there were miracles throughout the history of Israel, they were not of the magnitude or character as the Exodus Event. This also holds true for the eternal kingdom of God. The inauguration of the kingdom under Jesus and the Apostles was a season of unparalleled miracles, but there is no evidence of the same level of miracles sustained over the years.

It is not the purpose of this article to advocate the cessation of the miraculous. I will only opine that it may be an overreach to say all miracles have ceased. At the same time, to argue that the supernatural events surrounding the inception of God’s eternal kingdom ought to be repeated in our day and age is a dangerous overreach in the opposite direction. And this overreach is more dangerous than the other because of the inherent dangers of proving truth with miracles. The Bible warns us that in the last days, the “lawless one” will be using this tool to deceive.

We cannot relive the miracles of the early church any more than Israel can relive the miracles of the Exodus. We need to see that the use of the miraculous is not God’s preferred method in the long run as Jesus himself lamented it, even while he was healing miraculously.

May the Lord grant us clarity and boldness as we study his word. Amen!

Pastor Peter Eng


Speaking with the Power of the Holy Spirit


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Discussion Questions for Life Group

1. Give one example from your own life when people listen to you share a spiritual truth.

2. What can you do to speak with greater effectiveness, that is to speak so people will listen to what you say?

3. What word of blessing or encouragement can you convey to someone? Share with us and then go speak to that person.


Filled with Joy and with the Holy Spirit


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Discussion Questions for Life Group

1. What would make you happy at this point in your life? Or if you are already happy share with us why.

2. Have you experienced a filling of the Holy Spirit that brings great joy, or power over a besetting sin, or boldness in evangelism?

3. What would it take for you to experience the filling of the Holy Spirit?


Led by the Spirit of God


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Discussion Questions for Life Group

1. What lesson did you take away from the sermon?

2. What effect does it have on you to know that your new birth into God’s family is the work of the Holy Spirit?

3. What is your tendency?

(1) To be legalistic, that is, you find comfort in keeping and enforcing rules.

(2) Or do you tend to hate rules, be a rule breaker, and try to get away with it?

How do you overcome the sins that come with either tendency?


Jerusalem in God’s Plan (Part 2)

In my previous article, I had demonstrated that the NT view of Jerusalem is quite consistent and unambiguous – the Jerusalem for Christians is the heavenly Jerusalem, and the City of God in the New Heaven and New Earth. The earthly Jerusalem is irrelevant. This was asserted both before and after the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.

I avoided the question of the third temple in the earlier discussion, but it’s necessary to address it because if there’s to be a third temple on which prophecy is hinged, then national Jerusalem becomes significant. This subject deserves its own investigation, in which we now engage. The options before us are: (1) the popular opinion that there is significant prophecy concerning the third temple; (2) there will not be a third temple; (3) there may be a third temple but it is not in Scripture and not significant for the disciple of Jesus.

Here we will examine Scripture and other relevant matters to arrive at a tentative answer. I say “tentative” because I do not regard myself as an expert in such matters.

Daniel 9 and Matthew 24

Daniel 9 is the account of Daniel praying for the end of the proscribed exile of 70 years (9:1-19). He receives a revelation from God through the angel Gabriel in response (9:20-23). Using 70 years in a word play, Gabriel tells him that God has appointed 70×7 years for God’s plan to unfold. The time is divided into three parts: (1) seven sevens [i.e. 49 years], (2) sixty-two sevens [i.e. 434 years], and (3) a final seven [i.e. 7 years], making a total of 490 years. The counting starts and ends “From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem and end with the Anointed One” (9:25). You may be aware that the Anointed One is the same word as Messiah or Christ. It is more than likely this refers to the ultimate Anointed One, rather than the lesser anointed kings in Israel’s history.

Popular Christian thinking combines the first two blocks of time, seven sevens and sixty-two sevens into one continuous block of sixty-nine sevens [i.e. 483 years]. When they calculate the time of the decree to the death of Christ (9:25), it turns out to be exactly 483 years. (You can find many of these posts online.) Thus they show the remarkable fulfillment of biblical prophecy. The calculations are complicated but not complex, and are necessary for us to understand so we can evaluate better. So bear with me.

There are three to four major options on the start of the 483 years because there were three to four decrees: (1) decree of Cyrus, 538 BC; (2) decree of Darius I, 521-520 BC; (3-4) decree of Artexerxes, 458-457 BC and 445-444 BC.  In addition there are two possible end dates AD 30 or AD 33 (These are the only two possible years because these are the years when the Passover falls on Friday, when Jesus was crucified.) If you plug all the numbers in you will still not be able to get the 483 year fulfillment. So how do they get 483 years? They use 360 days for one year, which they call a “prophetic year.” Using this method, it is possible to use the above variables to come to 483 years.

Remarkable as it may be, I have reservations that this is the correct way to interpret. Here are my reservations:

1.  70×7. When we see numbers used in the formula of 70 times 7, we can either take the number literally, or dynamically. For example, Jesus asks his disciples to “forgive your brother”, not 7 times but 70×7 times. It is interesting that in the case of forgiving the brother, nobody takes it literally, but dynamically, as many, many times. There may be some justification to take the 70 x 7 as literal years, but we should not preclude the possibility of the dynamic use of the numbers. (See also, the assertion of Lamech, Genesis 4:24). In all other instances, 70 times 7 is not literal. This should lead us to question if we ought to take these years numerically, or to ask if there is a literary meaning instead.

2.  The breaks. Daniel gives us three segments: (Segment 1) seven ‘sevens’, 49 years; (Segment 2) sixty-two ‘sevens’, 434 years; and (Segment 3) one ‘seven’, 7 years. The popular method interposes a long period between segment (2) and (3); and say we are now living in between (2) and (3), waiting for the final seven years commonly called the years of tribulation. But there is no gap of time between Segment 1 and Segment 2. So why do we treat Segment 1 and 2 as running consecutively without any break, but interpose a break of several thousand years between Segment 2 and 3?                                                              

3.  The years. If you add up the years, you immediately see they do not add up to 483. Our brethren get this number by suggesting that Daniel used the prophetic year of 360 days in a year. If you count a year as 360 days we can indeed find a permutation that is 483 years. I have reservations as to whether there is a “prophetic year.” We can create an artificial year with any number of days we want, and make almost any period fit 483 years. It seems very unnatural to me that the Jews should use 360 days because they will be short of 5 plus days each year, and over time, it would totally mess up their agricultural cycle. (The use of intercalation to reconcile the lunar and solar cycles still result in 365 days a year on average.)

4.  Daniel 11:31; 12:11. Daniel used the “abomination of desolation” two other times. Daniel 11 talks about the wars between the kings of the north and the death of Alexander (the Seleucid Greeks based in Syria) and the kings of the south (the Ptolemy Greeks based in Egypt). Daniel 11:31 talks about the time when the Seleucid king (Antiochus IV) took out his anger on Jerusalem. He stopped the daily sacrifices at the temple, put up the statue of Zeus at the altar, and sacrificed a pig (167 BC). Daniel 12:11 seems to refer to the same incident “And from the time that the regular burnt offering is taken away and the abomination that makes desolate is set up, there shall be 1,290 days. Blessed is he who waits and arrives at the 1,335 days.” This text is largely ignored because we don’t know what it is saying. Bible scholars are not agreed on these enigmatic numbers, but the likelihood is that Daniel is talking about the desecration of 167 BC. The two viable options are: (1) Daniel 9:27 is also talking about the desecration of 167 BC like the other two references; (2) Daniel is referring to an event that will repeat 167 BC is some way. The natural candidates would be AD 70 or an end time event. Even if we say it refers to an end time event, we must not forget the possibility that 167 BC is a strong contender.

5.  Matthew 24:15. This text may be the main justification for tying Daniel 9 to our own end times. “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.” (Matthew 24:15-16; cf. Mark 13:14).

Properly understood, this text actually argues against reading Daniel 9:27 as a third temple rather than for it. There are two main ways to understand this text: (1) it is talking about the destruction in AD 70 or (2) it is talking about an event during the purported seven-year tribulation. I believe the evidence is overwhelming that it is talking about AD 70.

“As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!” “Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” (Mark 13:1-2; cf Matthew 24:1-2; Luke 21:5-6). The disciples ask two things (1) when it will happen, and (2) the sign of when it will happen (Mark and Luke) or the sign of Jesus’s coming (Matthew).  This question assumes the two will happen at the same time. Jesus’s answer corrects the mistaken assumption. “Such things must happen, but the end is still to come” (Matthew 24:6; Mark 13:7); “but the end will not come right away” (Luke 21:9). There are events that are only “the beginning of birth pains” (Matthew 24:8; Mark 13:8). The Good News will be declared to all the world before the end will come (Matthew 24:14), and in the meantime, there will be false Messiahs, persecutions, wars, natural disasters, etc.,  but you are to stand firm. (Mark 13:9-13; Luke 21:12-19). Up to this point, I think the consensus is that Jesus is talking about the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.

Next comes the statement in question about the “abomination of desolation” and “armies surrounding” Jerusalem (Matthew 24: 15-29; Mark 13:14-25; Luke 21:20-26). Followed by what most will agree refers to the end, the appearance of “the Son of Man” and Jesus concluding “about the day and the hour no one knows (Matthew 24:30-36; Mark 13:26-31; Luke 21:26-33). The “abomination of desolation” / Jerusalem “surrounded by armies” is sandwiched between the destruction of AD 70 and the end. So we need to make a determination whether it goes with AD 70 or with the end.

There are several indicators in the text that it is about AD 70. (1) the call to flee to the mountains (Matthew 24:16; Mark 13:14; Luke 21:21). This was what the Christians and many Jews did in AD 66 ahead of the war that ended with the destruction of Jerusalem. (2) Matthew, writing to the Jews says, “pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath” (Matthew 24:20). This tells us it will happen at a time when keeping Sabbath for Jews is the norm affecting the majority of them. (3) “They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” (Luke 21:24). This reference is almost certainly about AD 70.

Conclusion on the Discourse on the Mount of Olives: Since the “abomination of desolation” and Jerusalem “surrounded by armies” is about AD 70, it is not a prophecy concerning the third temple.

6.  Another reason why I doubt Daniel 9 to be talking about desecration in the third temple comes from the introduction of this discourse. Daniel 9:24 says God has decreed 70×7 years concerning “your people and your holy city, (1) to finish the transgression, (2) to put an end to sin, and (3) to atone for iniquity, (4) to bring in everlasting righteousness, (5) to seal both vision and prophet, and (6) to anoint a most holy place.” All these point to AD 70. The work of Christ, his life, death and resurrection, has accomplished the six things expressed here, and it also spells the redundancy of the temple.

Conclusion on Daniel 9 and Matthew 24: There is no reason to read these texts as requiring a third temple.

Revelation 13

Revelation tells of the beast that rises from the sea with ten horns and seven heads, with power from the dragon. It seems to have a mortal wound but did not die. A second beast is from the land, and it compels people to worship the beast from the sea. It makes an image of the beast from the sea and causes it to come alive. The assumption many make is that this is talking about worship in Jerusalem.

First, we note that there is no mention or hint of Jerusalem here. It is almost certainly talking about the Roman Imperial system and the dragon behind it. If this is not about Jerusalem, then there is no need for a third temple to be rebuilt.

Next, I believe there is strong evidence that John is talking about the imperial cult temple in Ephesus. John is exiled to Patmos just off the coast of Ephesus. The personal reference point for him would be Ephesus where he labored. The beast from the sea is just like we say from over the sea, overseas, and the beast from the land is local. This was during the reign of Emperor Domitian who was honored as a god in Ephesus, and Ephesus was a well-known city of the imperial cult. The local leader compelled the imperial cult in Ephesus. Those who refused to pay cult to the emperor were punished variously. This is the most likely historic reference to the beast.

I will not elaborate on this as it is too involved, but I will just point out the essential, that this is not about Jerusalem or the temple in Jerusalem. It is historical with possible future relevance; it is not an elaborate prophecy about the future of what to expect in the third temple.

2 Thessalonians 2:4

“He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.” (2 Thessalonians 2:4). This verse suggests to some that the “man of lawlessness” will set himself up in the third temple in Jerusalem and proclaim himself as God.

I will not be surprised if Paul is engaging in some creative political dissent here. Emperor Gaius (Caligula) wanted to set up an image in the temple in Jerusalem but failed. This was a time of great national angst for Israel, but there was great relief because Caligula died while the statue was on the way. This disaster would be like the disaster of 167 BC. But this is background imagery and subsumes under the main message. The issue is the return of the Lord. Paul assures that they have not missed the return of the Lord, and he adds information to explain to the Thessalonians why they have not missed the Lord’s return.

The verse before the text in question says, “Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,” (2 Thessalonians 2:3). There will be the appearance of the man of lawlessness. This refers to a political leader (most likely the supreme leader like the emperor) who does not regard the law (we are not told what law). He is the son of destruction, meaning he will be terribly destructive. Caligula would have fit the description, except that he died in AD 41 and this letter is written AD 50-51. So it is possible that Paul is using the impression of Caligula to explain the terrible man of lawlessness. He will be powerful, he will live above the law, and he will be destructive. At the writing of this epistle, Emperor Claudius was in power and he was a scrupulous legalist, so he was the opposite of Caligula and Paul cannot be referring to him.

The day of the Lord will be preceded by “the rebellion” (ESV, NIV) “falling away” (KJV).  The Greek term is “apostasia” from which we get apostasy. There will be a great rebellion / apostasy. Then comes our text. This man of lawlessness will set himself up as the supreme object of worship (somewhat like the leaders of North Korea), “so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.”  The question lies in what is meant by the “temple.”

Paul says, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?…” (1 Corinthians 6:19).

“What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (2 Corinthians 6:16).

“built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:20-22).

Paul does not look back to the temple in Jerusalem even though it was still standing. He consistently says we are the temple of God. When the man of lawlessness will lead a rebellion / apostasy and set himself up in God’s temple, it points to apostasy among those who purport to follow Jesus Christ. There does not seem to be good reason to think that Paul suddenly switched from Christians as the temple of God to the temple in Jerusalem which he has completely ignored in all his deliberations.

The Third Temple May Be Built

I have just laid out for you why there is no biblical prophecy concerning the third temple and the return of Christ our Lord. What I am not saying is that the temple will not be built. In fact I think there is a fair chance that it will be built, not from Scripture but from circumstances, and not in fulfillment of prophecy but in the course of human events. Even so, there is significance for Christians and here is why.

Let’s assume the third temple is built. Those who related the temple to prophecy will wait 3½ years for some beast / man of lawlessness to assert himself in the temple. And I am quite sure they will be as disappointed as those who guess the date of the Lord’s return. What then are they to think? They either reject the Bible as false (less likely) or they will ask, “Where did we go wrong in our interpretation?” (more likely). So I think the building of the third temple, if it happens, and there is no scenario as painted for us in popular thinking, it will clarify Christian thinking and interpretation.

I believe the biggest impediment to the building of the third temple is the Dome of the Rock. The Dome of the Rock sits on “Temple Mount.” For the temple to be built, the Dome of the Rock has to go. The deliberate destruction of the Dome of the Rock will create unimaginable turmoil.

Archeologists today are challenging the location of the temple. They are now investigating an alternative site which I think is the more likely site. You will be able to find YouTube videos on this subject. In brief, we note that Josephus the Jewish historian description of the temple location does not fit the Temple Mount. He tells us the Fortress of Antonia (the Roman fortress that guards over Jerusalem) overlooks the temple area. To prevent the Romans and the impious King Agrippa II from overlooking the sacred activities, they extended the western wall of the temple to block their view. This does not fit the Temple Mount.

Another reason is the water supply. In 1997, the Gihon Spring was discovered. This is a very rare siphon spring which brings in fresh water several times a day through a natural siphon. Because the water is intermittent but fresh, the Pool of Siloam was dug out to hold the water when it comes in. This is the only source of fresh water into the city and it is not on the Temple Mount. The water supply probably influence where the temple was built. Both the Gihon Spring and the Pool of Siloam are now known locations. These are south of the Temple Mount.

The archeological investigations continue, and if it is shown that the temple was not on what is named “Temple Mount,” the greatest impediment to the building of the third temple is removed, and the erection of the temple in our lifetime becomes more likely. However, I don’t think this has anything to do with the return of Christ.


This is not a comprehensive examination of the third temple. And I make no claim to expertise. I am only sharing with you what I have discovered from Scripture. I find what Scripture says to be less flamboyant but more compelling at the same time. I would not enter into such discussion if current events have not created a flood of questions, and even though I have not satisfied myself that I know enough to make firm assertions, I find myself having to address questions the best I can from what I know because I owe the flock under my charge what meager knowledge I have.

Pastor Peter Eng


The Final King


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