February 2021

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The Three Temples

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I referred to the 70 AD destruction of the temple in my previous article, ‘Are These the End of the Days?’ and indicated that I wanted to write about this – so here goes.

The Future Jerusalem Temple

Dispensationalism usually includes the concept of a new Millennial Temple in Jerusalem.

The idea here is that a new Jewish temple in Jerusalem will be one of the last ‘signs’ preceding the second coming of Christ and his subsequent one thousand year rule on earth. The teaching is that Jesus will come ‘in the air’ to collect his saints, will then defeat the devil and his demonic and human armies in the battle of Armageddon, and then take up residence in the Jerusalem temple while we all remain in heaven for a thousand years.

The biblical warrant given for this belief is Matthew 24:15 and 2 Thessalonians 1-12. I do not agree with this particular end-time doctrine, and I will tell you why.

The Three Temples in Scripture

King Solomon built the first temple in Jerusalem according to the plans that God had given his father David. When the temple was dedicated in about 1003 BC the glory of the Lord filled it as a sign of his presence there (1 Kings 8:10-11).

However, some 400 years later the prophet Ezekiel had a vision of the glory of the Lord departing from the Temple (Ezekiel 10:18). Not long after that, Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylonia removed the holy artifacts from the temple and then later destroyed it.

When the Jews returned from exile in Babylonia, they started to rebuild the temple, but this was only fully completed in 20 BC by King Herod. It was not the same as the original temple and God’s glory was not there until 9AD. When Jesus was 12 years old, he spent time in the Temple with the teachers of Israel. The glory of God had returned to the temple, but only briefly and infrequently. Why?

Because the glory of God was now embodied in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ – He, not Herod’s building, was the true Second Temple.

In 30 AD, Jesus died on the cross, resurrected, and ascended, but a short while later the Third Temple came into being. Just 10 days after Jesus ascended into heaven the Holy Spirit birthed the church. No fancy building, no choirs and instruments, just 120 fervent disciples of Jesus. He came like a mighty fire and wind and filled every person gathered with his powerful presence.

From that moment onwards, the church has been the place of the presence of God, the Third Temple; and by ‘church’, I mean every gathering of believers anywhere on earth at any time during the last 2,000 years.

‘Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.  In him, the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit’ (Ephesians  2:19-22).

So then, the First Temple was built by Solomon, the Second Temple was the body of Jesus Christ on earth, and the Third Temple is the church. What then is the Millennium Temple of which people speak?

Dispensationalist Theology

The whole idea of a physical end-time temple is a product of dispensationalist theory. Those who hold to this theology weave together several texts to make the case for a third physical temple:

  • They take Matthew 24:15 as a proof text in the assumption that Jesus was referring to something other than Herod’s Temple. However, the evidence points to the discourse of Matthew 24 as referring to the Jerusalem temple of Herod just before its destruction in 70 AD. The Roman General Titus, after a long siege of Jerusalem, occupied the Temple and shortly thereafter leveled and burned it to the ground. Titus, who later became Caesar, stood in the holy temple with his soldiers and Roman emblems and ensigns. His soldiers rampaged through the city killing everyone they could. In the end, a large number of Jews fled to the Temple in the hopes of finding safety, but the soldiers overwhelmed and slaughtered them. The Roman historian (an ex Israeli) General) Josephus recorded that the bodies were piled up in a huge heap in the temple with the blood flowing in a flood over its floors. What an abomination! What Desolation! The pagan desecration of the Temple and the ‘sacrifice’ of thousands of humans where the blood of sheep used to be spilled for the sanctification of the nation.
  • A second dispensationalist idea is that if Jesus is going to return to reign on earth for a thousand years then he must surely have a temple from which to operate. Many years ago, I went to a conference in Jerusalem organised by dispensationalist Christian businesspersons. The main speaker told us that we should all convert our currencies into Scheckel because in the (soon coming) millennium the Jewish currency would be the only medium of exchange in the entire world! When Jesus returns, he will require neither a temple nor a currency.

The House of Cards

The whole dispensationalist end-time scenario collapses like a house of cards because of its incorrect assumptions. It assumes that Jesus will come again not only for a second but also for a third time – once in the air to catch up the church (The Rapture) and again after the battle of Armageddon to reside on earth for a thousand years. However, Jesus said nothing about coming again twice! 

A second assumption is that Jesus was referring to an end-time temple when responding to his disciples’ question about when Herod’s temple would be destroyed (Matthew 24). While his teaching contains patterns and principles applicable to all ages, his description of the destruction of the temple perfectly fits the 70 AD sacking by the Romans.  This took place exactly one Jewish traditional generation after he made his statement just as he said it would (Matthew 24:34).

A third assumption is that the six verses in the book of Revelation that describe a ‘Millennium’ (Revelation 20:1-6) refer to a literal 1,000 years and not a symbolic representation of the church age. This is quite an assumption in the light of the almost entirely symbolic nature of the book of Revelation. If you want to read my views on this subject then you can get the book ‘Revelation in the Light of the Stars’ HERE or read the summary of my commentary on Revelation 20:1-6 HERE.

While on the subject of the book of Revelation, this is how John describes an aspect of the New Jerusalem (a depiction of the New HeavenEarth): Revelation 21:22,

‘I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.’

I mention this here because I believe that Jesus will come again just one more time. When he does, he will first gather the believers still on earth to join the multitude that is already with him, deal with Satan, judge the nations, and establish a new merger of Heaven and Earth that I call HeavenEarth. There will be no need for a temple or anything like today’s church in this new realm because Jesus will be tangibly and eternally among his people, both spiritual and physical.

What this all Means to Us.

So, instead of looking for a new temple in Jerusalem, let us rather look for the second coming of Jesus on the clouds with great glory.

Until he comes again, we are the Temple on earth, and the place of his presence.

As his word went out from Jerusalem, and then though the person of Jesus Christ, so it now goes out from the church. As the temple was the House of Prayer, so now is the church. All this will be the case until Jesus comes again.

The church is important. The church is the Temple of God made with living stones…us, and we have the great privilege of being the place of his presence in this age.

The Three Temples Read More »

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TruthTalks: Are these ‘The End of the Days?’

I’ll admit it, during the last year of COVID and other world madness, I’ve often wondered if we are in the end times.

In fact, some days I’ve been frankly quite surprised to NOT see the four horsemen riding in or Jesus descending down. Dr Christopher Peppler discusses THIS post about what to look out for and biblical explanations regarding the end times to help us understand if now is a good time to build that bunker or not ;P

Please like and subscribe on iTunes and all your other streaming programmes and podcatchers, and pass this on to whoever you feel needs to hear it. www.TruthIsTheWord.com is self-funded and we rely on you to help us advertise it.

In case you find yourself reaching for your Bible to look up the book of Revelation to help understand, please remember that Dr Christopher Pepplers book on it can be found HERE.

Until next time, click the play button or download below. Best, admin

TruthTalks: Are these ‘The End of the Days?’ Read More »

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Are These the ‘End of the Days’?

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Many Christians all over the world are starting to ask, ‘Are these the end of the days?’.  COVID-19, political chaos, climate change, and very tough economic situations have resurfaced this age-old question. I have taken the title of this article from Daniel 12:5 which concludes this prophetic book with the instruction to Daniel:

“As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance.”

I selected this on purpose because Christian predictions of the end times and the second coming of Christ are too often based on a combination of a futurist reading of the book of Revelation together with the book of Daniel.

However, before I explore this further, let’s consider how those from previous generations might have viewed the ‘end times’.

End times of the past

The First World War lasted for over four years and ended in mid-1918. Those must have been particularly brutal times for people living in Europe. Twenty million people died and an equal number of people were severely wounded. What must soldiers fighting in the trenches for endless days of terror and deprivation have thought of the condition of the world? Would they not have cried out the question, “Are these the End of Days?”

Then no sooner had that terrible war ended than the great Spanish Flu struck. Fifty million people died and the social and economic situations of nations were ruined once again. People were walking around with their noses and mouths covered just as ours are today and poverty, despair, and fear stalked the streets of the great capitals of the world. Did the people of that day not voice the question, “Are these the End of Days?”

Then, just twenty years later, the world was again engulfed in a global war. Seventy-five million died during the Second World War. Six million of these deaths occurred in the Nazi concentration camps. Many people probably survived the first war and the Spanish pandemic only to find themselves in the horror of mass torture and extermination. If they hadn’t asked the question before they would have then: “Are these the End of the Days?”.

And here we are with over two million dead from COVID-19 and, judging by the current statistics, another million still to die within the next three months. Add to this the uncounted number of people who will suffer ongoing disabilities from the disease. Also add to this the yet uncomputed multiple trillions of currency lost, plus the joblessness and deprivation of millions of people, and it is no wonder that the age-old question has resurfaced.

Date Setting and Other Futile Prognostications
I mentioned a few of the great calamities of the recent past to make the point that what we are confronting today is not a new phenomenon and that the questions we are asking are not new either. Also not new are the number-crunching predictions that emerge in times such as these.

Premillennial Dispensationalists in every recent generation have tried to overlay a calendar on biblical passages such as Daniel and Revelation to calculate when the end will come for the human race. They have all been proven as wrong as the passionate prophets in the USA who predicted a second term for President Trump. In 2014 I wrote an article motivated by the predictions of one  Harrold Camping and you can find it HERE. He, and many like him, tried to reinterpret the Lord Jesus’ words concerning the end of the world. He said; “No one knows about that day or hour” (Matthew 24:36). Mr. Camping claimed that this only applied to the disciples Jesus was addressing at the time and some others have claimed that even if we cannot know the exact day or hour we can know the year and the month!

However, God has not revealed the date of the End of Days to anyone. We need to consider other factors in evaluating our current times.
Signs of the Times

Although Jesus did not indicate an eschatological time-table, he did instruct us to keep watch and be ready. Matthew 24 (and Mark 13 and Luke 21) contains his teaching on the sort of things that should alert us. Things like the appearance of false prophets and Christs, wars, natural disasters, persecution, apostasy, and the proclamation of the Gospel around the world. The problem is that most of what Jesus had to say was fulfilled in the years leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. (I am planning to write a follow-up article on this). Both Mark and Luke present the question Jesus answered as pertaining only to the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple, but Matthew’s account opens up the possibility that Jesus was also referring to later times.

So, we can, and should, take what he said as at least a description of the repeated cycles of history as well as a reference to the 70 AD destruction of the Temple.

The book of Revelation backs up this idea as it presents a series of recurring cycles that increase and escalate over the ages – Conquest – war –  pestilence – persecution – judgement.

To try to narrow things down, several commentators have turned to the book of Daniel in the hopes of finding a secret time-line hidden there. Unfortunately for them, Daniel accurately predicts the world events from about 540 BC right through to the crucifixion of Jesus in 30 AD, but no further.

So, the book of Daniel does not provide a future calendar and nor does the book of Revelation. However, both books, particularly Revelation, present us with detailed descriptions of the kind of things we can expect in times of distress. I have written a concise commentary on the book of Revelation that you can access HERE but nothing on Daniel as yet. The descriptions given by the Lord Jesus remain the most helpful, so let me turn to them.

The Indicators Jesus Gave

Jesus warned of an infestation of false Christs and prophets and we are certainly seeing this in our times. Another word for a false Christ is antichrist. ‘Anti’ means both opposed to and instead of. The Radical Socialism of recent days is patently opposed to Jesus Christ and there is no shortage of people claiming to be world-saviours. Some of them are political figures or movements and others are religious.

As for false prophets, well they are abundant and over-active on TV channels and media. Again, some are secular futurists and others are of the “thus sayeth the Lord” variety.

Jesus warned of wars, famines and natural disasters in various parts and there is surely an escalation of these in our age.

He also predicted that his followers would be persecuted and that there would be a wholesale falling-away from the Faith (apostasy). This has been true in every age but never as acute and widespread as in our present time.

Many claim the ascription ‘Christian’ but few are passionate disciples of Jesus.

In some parts of the world true believers are being savagely persecuted, in other parts, it is more subtle, and there is every indication of ever-increasing prejudice against Jesus-followers.

Concerning the proclamation of the Gospel, Jesus had this to say: “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:12-14). The worldwide proclamation of the Gospel can only occur if the church experiences a real Holy-Spirit revival.  The very first church was persecuted but because of the greatest spiritual revival of all time (known as the Day of Pentecost), the believers went out into all the earth and proclaimed the Gospel. Now the world once more languishes in thick spiritual darkness, the church has largely fallen asleep, and persecution is on its way.

What needs to happen now is a new Pentecost, a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit that will fire Jesus-centred outreach to all the earth… and then the end will come.

This then will, for me at least, be the definitive sign that the End of the Days is at hand. Jesus did, however, give one last sign that would directly precede his second coming. He said, “And then at last, the sign of the coming of the Son of Man will appear in the heavens, and there will be deep mourning among all the nations of the earth. And they will see the Son of Man arrive on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send forth his angels with the sound of a mighty trumpet blast, and they will gather together his chosen ones from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven” NLT (Matthew 24:30-31).

What will this ‘Sign of the Son of Man’ be?

There are several ideas put forward but all of them are speculative. Most of the early Church Fathers taught that the sign would be the Cross of Christ appearing in the darkened sky as an ensign and standard of Christianity. Many of the later theologians held that the sign would be something like the Shekinah Glory (glory cloud) that appeared over the Tabernacle and filled Solomons Temple. More modern teachers tend to equate the sign with the actual appearance of the Lord himself as he comes on the clouds with great glory. One other explanation occurs to me and that is a near conjunction of the planets Venus and Jupiter in a similar fashion to what happened when Jesus was born (the Star of Bethlehem): I have written about the 3 BC conjunction HERE.

What Are We to Do?

To summarise, my understanding of the signs indicating that we are approaching the End of The Days are as follows:

  • Rapidly increasing worldwide turmoil politically economically, and ecologically.
  • The simultaneous persecution of Christians; an increase in the number of false prophets and antichrist figures working false signs and wonders and sowing confusion and fear among believers; the falling away of many Christians, and a mighty world-reaching Holy Spirit, Jesus-centred revival.
  • Notable signs in the heavens including the appearance of the Sign of the Son of Man.

In light of this, what then are we supposed to do? Well, once again, Jesus gives us the answer in Matthew 24 (and other places):

  • Watch out that no one deceives you.
  • Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.
  • So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
  • Be on guard! Be alert!
  • Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap.
  • Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:34)

In other words – be aware of what is happening, guard against being deceived, live each day in the presence of Jesus and do not be overly concerned with when he is coming again.

Conspiracy theories will only confuse and dismay, date-setting is futile, and wild speculations get us nowhere. So, take one day at a time, be faithful to Jesus’ example and instruction, love unconditionally, and be at peace with your assurance of an eternal future.

Are These the ‘End of the Days’? Read More »

TruthTalks: The Tri-unity of God

“This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1:5

Last week, in THIS post, Dr Christopher Peppler wrote about the Tri-unity of God. He uses the example of a light wave as one way to explain this principle. Listen to the TruthTalks podcast to gain insights into the Trinity, and please remember to like, subscribe and pass this on to those who would benefit from hearing it.

Stay safe. All the best, Admin

P.S. If Dr. Peppler sounds a little hoarse or gravelly, don’t worry, he is well, just ultra-diligent in recording this TruthTalks podcast at 4 am or so… I don’t think he understands the concept of retirement *grin*.

TruthTalks: The Tri-unity of God Read More »

About Me

My name is Christopher Peppler and I was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1947. While working in the financial sector I achieved a number of business qualifications from the Institute of Bankers, Damelin Management School, and The University of the Witwatersrand Business School. After over 20 years as a banker, I followed God’s calling and joined the ministry full time. After becoming a pastor of what is now a quite considerable church, I  earned an undergraduate theological qualification from the Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa and post-graduate degrees from two United States institutions. I was also awarded the Doctor of Theology in Systematic Theology from the University of Zululand in 2000.

Four years before that I established the South African Theological Seminary (SATS), which today is represented in over 70 countries and has more than 2 500 active students enrolled with it. I presently play an role supervising Masters and Doctoral students.

I am a passionate champion of the Christocentric or Christ-centred Principle, an approach to biblical interpretation and theological construction that emphasises the centrality of Jesus

I have been happily married to Patricia since the age of 20, have two children, Lance and Karen, a daughter-in-law Tracey, and granddaughters Jessica and Kirsten. I have now retired from both church and seminary leadership and devote my time to writing, discipling, and the classical guitar.

If you would like to read my testimony to Jesus then click HERE.