Worship, especially what has been called “the highest form of worship”, is a major topic in the Scriptures and it is basically unknown in the non-Jewish world. The Temple was a place of restoration and that was its function. We know that man was driven from Gan Eden because of sin. The garden was “eastward” but you have to ask yourself “from what?” It was eastward from his throne (Ezek 43.7; Jer 17.12). The Temple is the place of his throne. In order to have a Temple, you must have a Red Heifer. In order to have a Red Heifer, you must have High Priest. In order to have a High Priest you must have a Sanhedrin.
Since 1500 AD, there has been no Sanhedrin. It was disbanded by the Byzantine Emperor Theodosus. They last met in Tiberius and they had to move ten times since the Temple was destroyed. There were several attempts to reconvene, but there was no central understanding of Jewish law. Little groups here and there had their own yeshiva’s (schools of Jewish learning for that group). The major problem was that instead of one group, there were many groups and “camps.” As we have said before, there was the Six Day War in 1967. Abdul Nassar and the Arab coalition said they were going to destroy Israel. Israel struck first and took out the air bases. On Arab TV, they were reporting great victories, but the Israeli’s were listening to the radio and were hearing a different story. The Jordanians did not enter the war at first and the Israeli’s told them not to listen to the Arab reports of victory. They did enter reluctantly, under pressure, but by that time the war was basically over.
There was no plan to take Jerusalem, but there they were standing in the city. Paratroopers get to the Temple Mount and guard the Dome of the Rock. God speaks to a rabbi and says that they should start to prepare to build the Temple. Rabbi Ariel is the top Temple scholar today. In 1988, the Temple Institute was formed. Key rabbi’s came together slowly to work towards a Temple. The common ground for getting these groups together was the Temple. This was in the plan of God.
The Red Heifer ceremony is discussed in Num 19 and it dealt with corpse impurity, so one was needed if a Temple was ever going to function. A functioning priesthood was needed, and anyone going to the Temple would need to go through the Red Heifer ceremony. You also will need a qualified priest to slay the Red Heifer, before you could even sprinkle anyone. He needed to be free from corpse uncleanliness and the Mishnah tractate Parah tells us what needs to happen. A child of priestly descent is handed over at birth to be taken to a special house on bedrock and arches. The child is raised in that house in order to be ready for a Red Heifer and the Temple.
But, Aaron did not slay the first Red Heifer, his son Eleazer did it, so there is a precedent in the Torah that the High Priest does not need to slay it, but can have it delegated to another priest (Num 19.1-3). So, a High Priest is needed to delegate a young priest to do it in his place. Three priests will be needed. One to slay and two to gather water at the pool of Shiloach (meaning “sent”). So, the question is, how do you get a High Priest? The Sanhedrin can do it, but there was no Sanhedrin until 2004. It was formed in Tiberius where the last one met, where it left off. As a result, when the time comes, a High Priest can be designated by the Sanhedrin who in turn can designate another priest to slay a qualified Red Heifer.
On the day that the Temple was destroyed, the Levitical choir sang the wrong psalm for the day. They should have sung the psalm for the Sabbath Day, which was Psalm 92, but they sang the psalm for the fourth day of the week (Wednesday), Psalm 94. When Israel got control of the Temple Mount in 1967 it was a Wednesday. God picked up where everything left off. The day that the Sanhedrin was re-established in Tiberius, archeologists also found the remains of the structure that the last Sanhedrin met, on the same day the Sanhedrin was reformed. Both groups were not acting in conjunction with each other.
People were skeptical that that this Sanhedrin would last. How could all the Jewish groups agree on it? Right after this the United States and Great Britain were putting pressure on Israel and Ariel Sharon to give up land in Gaza. There was an outcry about this and the Sanhedrin spoke up for everyone and it started bringing the people together.
There is a movement in the world among non-Jews towards the Temple also. It was God’s heart to have the Temple as a place of prayer for all nations and a sign for the last days (Zech 8.23). There are different groups among the non-Jews also. There is what is called Messianic Judaism, with different organizations like the UMJC and MJAA, and these groups disagree with each other. Then you have the Two-House people who are anti-rabbinical or pro-rabbinical, have calendar issues and also have Sacred Name groups. Then there is what is called the B’nai Noach, which means “sons of Noah” groups. They believe that you should keep all the commandments as a “son of Noah” and some believe you keep only seven basic instructions found in Genesis. Some believe they will just figure everything out eventually. Then you have everyone else in small groups, everywhere.
Now, these groups don’t usually get along. Some say you should center on the things you disagree with, rather than on what you agree with. Others say it fills the gaps with substitutions and most will fail because they are trying to make their own worship. It is hard to find someone to agree with you. The Temple was a source of agreement in the Jewish world before, and the Temple can be a source of restoration for non-Jews as well. The highest form of worship is connected to the Temple.
Many come out of Christianity and begin to keep the Sabbath, study Torah and the festivals and other foundational issues. Not much attention has been given to the Temple. However, the Temple is where God gave what he defined as “worship” in its highest form. Before we get into this aspect, let’s go back to the destruction of the Second Temple first.
The First Temple was destroyed because of idolatry. God was saying “You want idols, I will send you to the land of idols.” After they returned from Babylon, all of that changed and they never got into idolatry like that again. The Second Temple was destroyed because they rejected the Messiah when he came. This resulted is a baseless hatred for one another and they forgot the basic message of the Temple, it pointed to the Messiah and his work. They began to fight with each other. In the Talmud, in the tractate Yoma 9b, it says that the Second Temple was destroyed because of “baseless hatred.” They departed from true, pure Temple worship and di not recognize the Messiah when he came.
We can experience that in our life, and we get slack and careless. We need to see that the Temple and its worship had a beauty created by God. We should work towards learning about the Temple and carrying out the concepts that we learn. Most of the Scriptures have a connection to the Temple. To understand the Temple means your understanding of the Scriptures will go up, too. But, these things can be hard to follow and we need to be strong. People will not follow because of all the differences we have talked about, but in time, a turning point will come and the non-Jewish world will be ready.
In Part 2, we will pick up here and move on in our study of true worship and the Temple.