Iran's plot against Israel
IF I FORGET YOU, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill! If I do not remember you, let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth — if I do not exalt Jerusalem above my chief joy.
BERNARD LEWIS'S STARTLING SCENARIO should not be dismissed as the ravings of a deranged visionary or of a sensationalist journalist. He's no self-proclaimed Jeremiah or Elijah, and his reputation for measured, sound-minded thinking is proven by his position as professor emeritus at Princeton and the imprimatur of Oxford University for his recent book "From Babel to Dragomans: Interpreting the Middle East”.
From reports that have circulated — including his having had religious visions and hinting that he is the long-awaited Mahdi of Muslim expectations — Iranian President Ahmadinejad sounds as if he just might be the sort of extremist who would happily jeopardize the welfare of his own people if that were the price he had to pay for liquidating “Little Satan”, Israel. In short, he's a dangerous man.
Might he actually try? And if he did, would he succeed? This article proposes that a dramatic assault against the nation of Israel may in fact achieve two interlocked, God-intended purposes:
1. work to the medium-term benefit of the nation and its people by temporarily turning a disparate and disunited collection of secular-minded Jews into a unified nation under God;
2. establish certain conditions depicted in the Scriptures as prerequisites to this age's prophesied end game.
Without fresh visions from God the best anybody can do is consider possibilities informed by old visions. We will take as our cornerstone for the scenario outlined here two fundamental biblical truths — God's everlasting choice of Israel as His special people and His everlasting affection for the place He selected as the earthly centre of universal worship.
Though Israel of old was wayward and faithless towards God, it nevertheless always recognized its dependence on God and its responsibility as the chosen people of God — as descendants of Abraham and recipients of the promises t Abraham — to represent the Holy One of Israel. The nation of Israel today has not yet reached even that basic state; few worship Yahweh in name and even fewer in spirit and truth. Though their hearts were far from God, Israelites of old honored Him with their lips, and at least outwardly respected the place God chose to dwell in. Israelis as a whole today have little time for their Holy Place; like any people, they want their nation to prosper, but few “exalt Jerusalem above their chief joy”.
In sum, though Israelites of old broke the eternal covenant God made with Abraham, they nevertheless acknowledged that Yahweh was their God and they were His people. Few Jews today care much about God's covenant with Abraham. Before the Messianic age can come, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob must at least reach the point where their hearts are tilted in God's direction, as is hinted at by Malachi:
Behold, I send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight. Behold, He is coming," says the Lord of hosts (3:1).
The Lord will come to His temple. It doesn't exist yet. The people of the covenant are described as “delighting” in Him, at least outwardly. Israelis don't do that as a whole today. A few verses further on Yahweh says, “Return unto me, and I will return unto you” (vs. 7). Towards the end of Malachi the prophet foretells the coming of one in the spirit and power of Elijah who will “turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers” (4:6), preparing a righteous remnant for Messiah's return. Iranian President Ahmadinejad is certainly not that Elijah! But just as Elijah will prepare the way for the Lord, maybe it will take an enemy of Israel to prepare the peoples' hearts for the coming of Elijah! (Some may reject applying these words to the end-time, taking them to refer to the peoples' attitude in Malachi's day. However, Jesus' words in Matthew 17:11 appear to validate an end-time application of Malachi.)
God and all peoples
Yahweh is no respecter of persons. He loves the whole world so much, not just Israel, that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to give His life as the atoning lamb for all (John 3:16). Salvation is available to all; God says, “I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh” (Joel 2:28), not just on Israel. God told His people Israel that He doesn't play favorites towards them:
Are you not like the people of Ethiopia to Me, O children of Israel? says the Lord. Did I not bring up Israel from the land of Egypt, the Philistines from Caphtor, and the Syrians from Kir? (Amos 9:7).
By sending Jonah to Nineveh to preach a warning, God demonstrated that He loved even Israel's bitter enemies. His words of rebuke to Jonah when he got upset over God's showing mercy to them when they repented says it all:
… should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left — and much livestock? (4:11).
God's abiding compassion for, and mercy towards, His creatures outshines Allah's as the sun outshines the moon.
When God sent the prophets Elijah and Elisha to warn Israel to repent of her treachery or face the consequences, she paid scant heed. For fear of his life, Elijah had to flee to the neighboring enemy territory of Sidon. There he was cared for by a poor widow of Zarephath, citizen of a Gentile country that at that time “represented the forces arrayed against God's kingdom” (NIV Study Bible, p. 509). With God's blessing, both prophets spent some time ministering in foreign lands to the needs of Israel's enemies. Living examples such as these provide the specific instances of the sublime teaching of Scripture that God will show favor to all nations when the time is right:
Many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day, and they shall become My people. And I will dwell in your midst. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent Me to you (Zech 2:11).
Gentiles have always had the opportunity, as individuals, to be numbered amongst the spiritual seed of Abraham. In the Millennium, that will occur en masse. Israel's election must not be attributed to an exclusive hold on God's affections held by her. Indeed, the God of Israel loves Israel's enemies deeply. Any who turn to Him now can enjoy salvation through God's grace as readily as any Israelite. The long-term purpose of God is summed up in Ephesians 1:3-10:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ… having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth — in Him.
The “mystery”, or revealed secret, pulsates with this vital truth — God intends to save mankind en masse, reconciling all with Himself through the agency of the promised “mystery seed”. Paul's statement that “all things” will be gathered under Jesus' wings includes all peoples of all generations. (This theme is dealt with in much greater detail in the Dawn to Dusk book “Showdown in Jerusalem”.) Iranians, Palestinians, Greeks, Peruvians, Chinese, Egyptians, Indonesians, and all other nations, will eventually be reconciled with their enemies and, together with their former enemies, serve Yahweh, the Father of Jesus Christ, in the kingdom of God.
The good news is that before that final universal consummation of all things, all nations will live happily side by side with the chosen people, Israel, during the reign of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. To this agree the prophets:
“Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion! For behold, I am coming and I will dwell in your midst,” says the Lord. “Many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day, and they shall become My people. And I will dwell in your midst…” (Zech. 2:10-11).
God's “dwelling in their midst” appears to be dual, referring, first, to the presence of the glory of God in the Holy of Holies (Ez. 43:4) and, second, to King Messiah reigning from the same temple (Ez. 43:7). His dwelling in Israel's midst benefits all peoples equally. Consider also Isaiah 19:24-25):
In that day Israel will be one of three with Egypt and Assyria — a blessing in the midst of the land, whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, "Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance."
Many other passages highlight reconciliation between Israel and her erstwhile enemies. How incomprehensible, how glorious! This work of God stands alongside the creation itself for its illustration of the power and wisdom of the Almighty. In the meantime, Israel has numerous enemies. But Israel's God is so all-Wise that He can turn the plan of Israel's enemies to wipe His people off the map into softening of Israeli hearts (Judg. 3:8-9) and into a means of striking awe for Israel's God into the hearts of His enemies (Ps. 83:13-18).
God and Israel
In order to fulfill His “great mystery” for all mankind, God, in His sovereign will and elective grace, chose a physical people — the “seed”, or descendants, of Abraham — to act as His agents. They were to become a holy nation, a kingdom of priests to other nations (Ex. 19). Those who despise the people God chose need to come to their senses. Scripture provides a global warning:
I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed (Gen. 12:3).
In order to fulfill this role, God assigned them a permanent home as their base of operations:
Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God (Gen. 14: 8).
Most people know these basic facts. But few realize that Scripture shows God has never changed His mind. He continues to watch over His people Israel and will eventually ensure they fulfill their purpose as His helpers in the task of bringing knowledge of salvation to all:
"If those ordinances depart From before Me, says the Lord, then the seed of Israel shall also cease from being a nation before Me forever." Thus says the Lord: "If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done…” (Jer. 31:36-37).
Paul said much the same thing in different words:
I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin (Rom. 11:1).
God's covenant with Abraham remains as firm and sure as ever. Jesus confirmed those promises (Rom. 15:8). Every promise shall be consummated, in full, when the promised seed of Genesis 22:18 reigns. Between then and now, those same promises have been fulfilled in varying degrees at different times (see, for example, Joshua 23:14).
Herein lies a basic truth that the cursers of Israel should heed; God has not abandoned His people Israel, the promises to Abraham stand firm, and God may step in at any moment He sees fit to grant a fulfillment of sorts of any one or more of them. The history of ancient Israel amounts to the story of how those promises were periodically fulfilled then withdrawn. At times, when Israel sinned grievously, Yahweh punished them with extreme severity:
And the Chaldeans who fight against this city shall come and set fire to this city and burn it, with the houses on whose roofs they have offered incense to Baal and poured out drink offerings to other gods, to provoke Me to anger (Jer. 32:29).
Yet after years of captivity, God remembered His covenant with Abraham and showed mercy to His people by bringing them back to their land, just as He had promised in Deuteronomy 30:1-4:
Now it shall come to pass, when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the Lord your God drives you, and you return to the Lord your God and obey His voice, according to all that I command you today, you and your children, with all your heart and with all your soul, that the Lord your God will bring you back from captivity, and have compassion on you, and gather you again from all the nations where the Lord your God has scattered you. If any of you are driven out to the farthest parts under heaven, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you.
This promise will have a final and permanent consummation during the days of Messiah. Before then, it can be fulfilled periodically, according as God sees fit. Nehemiah recognized this vital truth and prayed that God would “remember” this promise (Neh. 1:8) after the Babylonian captivity. And He did! More on this shortly.
Dramatic divine aid
Those who hate Israel and set their hearts to destroy her should read the Old Testament. Numerous times Israel's God stepped in to rescue His people from destruction at the hands of their enemies and to stir up His people to remember the everlasting covenant. (The Dawn to Dusk book Shechem to Calvary explains the difference between the everlasting patriarchal covenant and the temporary Sinaitic covenant.) Sometimes, His intervention came through diplomatic channels, as when the Jews under Joshua and Zerubbabel received regal approval, against stiff opposition, to build the temple. Likewise in Nehemiah's time when he received favor from the Persian king Artaxerxes to repair Jerusalem's decayed wall. In Esther's time a marvelous series of mini-miracles saved the Jews from being massacred. On other occasions, God intervened mightily in the good old-fashioned way — by giving military aid to His people. Consider a few occasions:
When Israel was taking possession of the promised land in Joshua's time, God rained down a withering barrage of hailstones from heaven on the Amorites; on the same day, the sun stood still to enable Israel to finish the mopping up operation (Joshua 10:11-12).
When Israel and Judah were fighting against the Moabites, a miraculous sea of water filled an arid wadi valley. When the Moabites looked across the water in the early morning it looked as red as blood and assumed that Israel and Judah and their allies had slaughtered each other and rushed in to take the spoil. When they did, “Israel rose up and attacked the Moabites, so that they fled before them” (2 Kings 3:24).
War between Israel and Syria went on for many years during the reign of wicked King Ahab and after. At one time, the Syrians had invested the city of Samaria for so long that savage famine befell the city's inhabitants. When God decided the time had come for a decisive end to it all, “the Lord… caused the army of the Syrians to hear the noise of chariots and the noise of horses — the noise of a great army; so they said to one another, "Look, the king of Israel has hired against us the kings of the Hittites and the kings of the Egyptians to attack us!" (2 Kings 7:6). They fled for their lives.
In the days of Isaiah the prophet, the Assyrians sought to destroy Israel. Although God allowed them to ultimately succeed when Israel's intransigent stubbornness made the people ripe for ruin He at first protected His nation in a remarkable way — He simply sent the death angel to strike the invading Assyrian army; 185,000 died in one night in their tents (Is. 37:36).
In the days of good King Jehoshaphat, a coalition of Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir sought Judah's destruction. Bad decision. God “set ambushes” against them (2 Chron. 20:22) so that they ended up slaughtering each other. When the dust settled, “Judah came to a place overlooking the wilderness, they looked toward the multitude; and there were their dead bodies, fallen on the earth. No one had escaped (2 Chron. 20:24)”. God gave the realm rest all around.
More cases could be given, but the point should be clear enough; fighting against Israel is akin to throwing down the gauntlet at God's feet. Are you contemplating the destruction of Israel? Ponder these frightening words:
For thus says the Lord of hosts: "He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye” (Zech. 2:8).
And then, of course, you have history's second most significant event — the Exodus. Don't do it, Ahmadinejad. You may find yourself in lots of trouble. Maybe you don't care about the ensuing disaster that might befall your people. But being the religious man that you are, you surely care that you may be fighting against the true God in the name of a false God. Fear and tremble, oh enemies of Israel, before this word from the prophet Zechariah:
In that day I will make the governors of Judah like a firepan in the woodpile, and like a fiery torch in the sheaves; they shall devour all the surrounding peoples on the right hand and on the left, but Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place — Jerusalem (12:6).
Maybe this verse isn't about our times, but if I were a surrounding people, I wouldn't want to find out the hard way if it is. Please remember, the issue is not one of who is the more righteous or worthy or likeable people, Israel or her enemies. The issue is much simpler than that; God, as sovereign Lord, chose Israel to be His people. Attacking Israel is tantamount to attacking the God who chose her. Who knows how He may respond? Don't let His centuries-long silence deceive you into thinking God has forgotten His people (Is. 57:11). He has not openly identified Himself with His chosen people for many hundreds of years. He has done nothing to demonstrate His passion for the place of worship that He revealed to David by miraculous means three thousand years ago (2 Sam. 24). That could change in an instant.
God, Jerusalem and the temple
When Nehemiah prayed that God would remember His promise to bring His people back, the Jews had already returned and a temple had already been built. Nehemiah's prayer amounted to a request that God would grant him success in building a protective wall around Jerusalem. He saw this request as a legitimate one in light of the promises to Abraham and the elaboration of those promises in Deuteronomy 30, the point being that those broad promises carry a lot of clout with God when appealed to as a reason for God to intervene in some specific matter, including those pertaining to the house of God. Now consider some basic facts about the temple.
When God promised Abraham that He, God, would “be with you” (Gen. 26:3), what was He talking about? Logically, it follows that any special edifice that was constructed for God “to dwell in” amounted to a partial fulfillment of the promise to “be with you”. (Evidence of this connection is found in 2 Corinthians 6:16, where Paul quotes directly from the promises made to Abraham to explain God's dwelling presence in Christians. Paul says that God's indwelling makes us “temples”. This inspired passage forges a link between the Abrahamic covenant and the tabernacle/temple. Note that Paul does not say that the “spiritual” dwelling of God in human temples in any way negates the value of a physical temple any more than Jesus' earthly presence deprived the temple of its value. Jesus was zealous for the physical temple.) The promises given to Abraham stand at the heart of the salvation of all mankind, not just of Israel; scriptural assurance that the temple is for all mankind (Is. 56: 7) fits neatly with the notion that the temple is part and parcel of the promises of the patriarchal covenant, promises that herald saving grace for all mankind. (This topic is dealt with in considerable detail in the Dawn to Dusk book, “Hebrews: a Fresh Look at an Old Book”.)
God, we are told, got great pleasure out of the sanctuary and temple — so long as its service was carried out with a sincere heart. From the outset, we see His joy at the prospect of dwelling among men in a sanctuary:
And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them (Ex. 25:8).
One certainly gets the sense that He was looking forward to it, just as He enjoys dwelling in individual believers (2 Cor. 6:16). Tabernacle and temple served not only as a dwelling place for God in the midst of mankind, but also as a “house for My name” (2 Sam. 7:13), that is, to His glory, as is backed up by Haggai 1:8:
“Go up to the mountains and bring wood and build the temple, that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified,” says the Lord (Hag. 1:8).
Please stop and give those words time to sink in. First, God takes pleasure in a temple. Second, a temple glorifies God. What more need be said? 1 Kings dispels all doubt as to God's affection for this holy place. After King Solomon prayed these words,
Yet regard the prayer of Your servant and his supplication, O Lord my God, and listen to the cry and the prayer which Your servant is praying before You today: that Your eyes may be open toward this temple night and day, toward the place of which You said, “My name shall be there,” that You may hear the prayer which Your servant makes toward this place (8:28-29),
God responded this way:
I have heard your prayer and your supplication that you have made before Me; I have consecrated this house which you have built to put My name there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually (9:3).
Those that have ears to hear will recognize that a temple in Jerusalem on the spot set aside for it by God is a source of delight to Him and a great blessing to all mankind. Would not all believers thrill at the prospect of God dwelling among men? But what might this fact mean for the near- or mid-future?
Temple when Jesus returns
The Temple Mount platform, covering 35 acres, is the most contested piece of real estate on earth. Scripture suggests that “God will win” and a temple will be standing on the Temple Mount platform when Jesus returns. Consider the following:
Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God (2 Thess. 2:3-4).
Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood, saying, "Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there. But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months” (Rev. 11:1-2).
Though some treat the first passage as speaking figuratively about a sinister figure who will take over the church, it's almost impossible to see the passage from Revelation in any but a literal sense. One can reasonably assume that such a temple will be operating for some years, probably decades, before end-time events reach the climactic crescendo culminating in the coming of Messiah. And the glorious light of the new age cannot be many hundreds of years away. In short, the time for rebuilding cannot be too far off.
What does all this have to do with people like Iranian President Ahmadinejad? Just this. The chances of a temple being built right now are virtually zero. Something unprecedented, something dramatic, something earth-shaking would seem to be an essential prerequisite to seeing the bulldozers and cranes set to work. A man like Ahmadinejad may be just the ticket to light the fuse. Or should I say, press the button.
Why is the likelihood of a temple being built under the status quo so slim? Two main reasons stand out:
Though references to the restoration of the Temple and sacrificial worship are recited in the daily Amidah prayer, the central prayer in Judaism, and although a small number of Jews do want to see a temple built (see, for example, Temple Mount Faithful and Temple Institute), right now most Jews have little interest in attempting to build the “third temple”. A search of the web will yield statements such as this:
Traditional Jews believe that The Temple will be rebuilt when the Mashiach comes. They eagerly await that day and pray for it continually. "Modern" Jews, on the other hand, reject the idea of rebuilding the Temple and resuming sacrifices. They call their houses of prayer "temples", believing that such houses of worship are the only temples we need, the only temples we will ever have, and are equivalent to the Temple in Jerusalem (Synagogues, Shuls, and Temples).
Secular Jews don't want to see a temple ever again. Religious Jews are happy to wait till Messiah comes. Some Jews even claim that the Muslim Dome of the Rock is good enough as a temple (Masjid ul Aqsa is the reconstructed Third Temple). Probably more evangelical Christians long for a third temple than do Jews. Their hope differs from that of temple-loving Jews. The source of their excitement lies not in the thought of God dwelling among men and the blessings that will bring but in their longing to see their end-time prophetic scenarios proven correct; they want Jesus to return and, in most evangelical prophetic schemes, that will not happen till a temple stands. This author identifies to some degree with the hope of evangelicals but also believes we should yearn to see a temple built for the glory it would bring God and the blessings it would bring His people Israel and all mankind.
The attitude of most Israelis today seems to echo that of their ancestors:
Then the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet, saying, "Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins? Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: "Consider your ways! You have sown much, and bring in little; you eat, but do not have enough; you drink, but you are not filled with drink; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and he who earns wages, earns wages to put into a bag with holes."” Thus says the Lord of hosts: "Consider your ways! Go up to the mountains and bring wood and build the temple, that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified," says the Lord (Haggai 1:3-8).
All the impassioned preaching that temple lovers can muster won't soften the hearts of Israelis to the point where they rise up as one and set to work. Surely it will take direct divine action to have an impact, just as it did then:
So the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and worked on the house of the Lord of hosts, their God (Haggai 1:14).
Might God use a disaster or, alternatively, deliverance from disaster, to stir up His people to seek His glory by building Him a house?
But another factor today makes the prospect of building a temple even less likely than back in Haggai's day; the utter determination of millions of neighboring Muslims to prevent such a thing ever happening. Probably not 100% of Muslims are dead set against it, but surely a majority; Jews just don't have the heart to risk all-out war with all their neighbors at once. Who would? Stirring of spirits alone probably would not suffice; even if the spirit became willing, the flesh remains weak. Decisive action on God's part to make it possible seems essential.
Speculating, one cannot help but wonder if Iranian President Ahmadinejad might not just provide the spark to set off a train of events that would dramatically alter the Middle East landscape and so drastically change the status quo that Muslim opposition to building a “Jewish” temple might considerably weaken.
So to today
So which is it to be? Are we living in a time when God detects an evil heart in His people, and will act to punish them yet “seven times more” for their sins (Lev. 26:18)? (See The Middle East conflict.) Or are we living in a time when God will see fit to graciously give His people, Judah, an undeserved blessing? The Holocaust of WWII may well be a case of the former. The establishment in 1947 of a homeland for the Jews in the very land promised to them by God, almost 1900 years after they were driven from it by the Romans, must surely be a case of the latter. Some Bible commentators see a number of prophecies being fulfilled in 1947 (and in 1917, when a letter known as the Balfour Declaration was issued expressing the British government's approval of Zionism with “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”).
One thing seems fairly logical in the light of God's dealings with Israel over the centuries; it makes little sense that God would mock His people. The likelihood that the restoration of Judah is just an accident of history that will abruptly be ended by their being routed from the land again seems extremely slim. When in the past did He do such a thing? Furthermore, no matter what methodology of interpreting prophecy one may follow, surely anybody who believes the Bible will recognize that in the latter days the promised land will be occupied by at least some of the promised people. Jesus' reference to Sabbath-keepers fleeing for the mountains of Judah when the great tribulation is beginning (Matt. 24:20) should be proof enough. Unless the great tribulation is just around the corner — and that seems unlikely — Jews are there to stay. Weep and wail and gnash their teeth as they may, surrounding nations would be wiser to make friends with Israel than vowing to wipe it off the map. Yes, a terrible cataclysm will one day befall the Jews, just as Jesus said, but surely not immediately.
Any nation that makes light of these basic truths about God's election of Israel and His passion for Jerusalem, wherein are His “fire and furnace” (Is. 31:9), is courting disaster. The Holy One of Israel, the Father of Jesus Christ, made His will known long ago; He hasn't changed. So should Iran's leadership be so foolish as to rise up against the God of heaven, who knows the outcome? Maybe Ahmadinejad could cause destruction, but God can turn Ahmadinejad's evil intentions into the spur that could jab Jewry into repentance — possibly even into acknowledgement of their Messiah, Jesus Christ — and fire them with determination to build a house for God's glory. (A fair case can be made that the prophecy of Zechariah 12 may be fulfilled before Messiah returns!) How ironic if a Muslim were to be responsible for razing the Dome of the Rock!
In light of the comments just made that something dramatic would have to happen to make it possible for Israelis to build a temple, the possibility that God may end His millennia-long silence and swoop down to the aid of His chosen people and place, should they be attacked, appears quite strong. He has done it before and can do it again:
For thus the Lord has spoken to me: "As a lion roars, and a young lion over his prey (when a multitude of shepherds is summoned against him, He will not be afraid of their voice nor be disturbed by their noise), so the Lord of hosts will come down to fight for Mount Zion and for its hill. Like birds flying about, so will the Lord of hosts defend Jerusalem. Defending, He will also deliver it; passing over, He will preserve it (Is. 31:4-5).
Decisive action by Israel's eternal, all-powerful God may be just what is needed to stifle opposition from Israel's enemies to the construction of the house of God.
Don't mess with the God of Israel, the Father of Jesus Christ. He is the greatest.