Widely considered the most important work of Jewish Kabbalah, the Zohar is a collection of books written in medieval Aramaic over seven hundred years ago containing mystical commentary on the Pentateuch (five books of Moses, the Torah). In addition to interpreting Scripture, the Vaera section (volume 3, section 34) includes, “The signs heralding Mashiach,” or, “The coming of the Messiah.” The fascinating date for “his” secret presentation to the rabbis in Israel was set in the Zohar for 2012–2013 [given the rejection of Jesus by Orthodox Jews as Messiah, evangelicals would say this seven-hundred-year-old prediction indicates the Antichrist could have arrived circa 2012–2013].
And, sure enough, on the heels of that date some of Israel’s foremost rabbis began behaving as if they know something the rest of the world does not involving the arrival of “Messiah.” In addition to the ones I quoted earlier in this chapter who believe the Messianic era has started, Chaim Kanievsky, one of Israel’s most prominent rabbis and a leader of the Haredi branch of Judaism and a recognized authority on Jewish law, has recently been warning his students not to leave the Holy Land, because, “The Messiah is already here. He will reveal himself very soon…. Don’t travel.”[ii]
These same rabbis starting in 2016 began using “messianic” and “Third Temple” language around the election of Donald Trump.
The Eight-Hundred-Year-Old Prophecy of Rabbi Judah Ben Samuel
Will the years immediately following 2016 be prophetically important for Israel and the world? According to an eight-hundred-year-old prophecy, it certainly could. Before he died of cancer, J. R. Church analyzed the ancient predictions of Rabbi Judah Ben Samuel and noted:
Ludwig Schneider, writing for Israel Today (March 2008), said, “Some 800 years ago in Germany, Rabbi Judah Ben Samuel was a top Talmudic scholar with an inclination for the mystical. Before he died in the year 1217, he prophesied that the Ottoman Turks would conquer Jerusalem and rule the Holy City for ‘eight Jubilee Years.’” A biblical Jubilee year consists of 50 years. Fifty multiplied by eight equals 400 years.
Afterwards, according to Ben Samuel, the Ottomans would be driven out of Jerusalem, which would remain a no-man’s land for one Jubilee year. In the tenth Jubilee year …the Messianic end times would begin.…
Looking back at Ben Samuel’s prediction, we should note that the Ottoman Empire did conquer Jerusalem in 1517, exactly 300 years after the rabbi’s death, and was defeated 400 years later in 1917.
In Israel Today, Ludwig Schneider continues, “This came to pass 300 years after Ben Samuel’s death. He could not have based this prophecy on events that could be foreseen, but only on the results of his study of the Bible.
“According to Leviticus 25, the nation is reunited with its land in the year of Jubilee. Therefore, the Jubilee year plays an important role in Israel’s history. In this case, the Jubilee began with the defeat and conquest of the Mamelukes in Jerusalem by the Ottoman Kingdom in 1517. The Turks reigned over Jerusalem until the British General Edmund Allenby defeated them exactly eight Jubilees later in 1917.
“Ben Samuel’s prophecy was fulfilled precisely because 1517 to 1917 is exactly 400 years. Afterward, Jerusalem was a no-man’s land for 50 years during the time of the British Mandate (1917–1967) and the time of Jordanian rule (1947–1967), another Jubilee year. During the Six Day War in 1967, Israel captured Jerusalem from Jordan and the city returned to the Jewish people after nearly two millennia of exile. After that, the countdown for the Messianic age began.”
Schneider assumes that since Rabbi Judah Ben Samuel’s prediction appears to be fulfilled to date, then 2017 should launch the beginning of the Messianic era.[iii]
Protestant Reformers and What They Believed Would Start In 2016
Among the turn-of-the-century Protestant reformers, an astonishing number of theologians believed that the False Prophet and Antichrist would assume places of authority in 2016 and shortly thereafter ascend the world stage. The famous preacher Jonathan Edwards was convinced of this possibility and held a postmillennial view based on the 1,260 days the woman is in the wilderness in Revelation 12:6. He interpreted those days as the years that the true Church was to be oppressed by the papists. Clarence Goen writes of this, “Edwards considered that the most likely time for the…reign of Antichrist was 1260 years after AD 756 (the acceding of temporal power to the Pope),”[iv] which would place the (beginning) of Antichrist’s power squarely in 2016. When we were doing research for the book, Petrus Romanus: The Final Pope Is Here, we learned of this belief by Edwards and sought to verify it by examining a collection of his personal voluminous writings. We found confirmation within a series of his sermons, preached at Northampton, Massachusetts, in 1739, on how history and prophecy coincide.
As we endeavored to demonstrate in Petrus Romanus, the pope’s rise to temporal power began when Pope Stephen began courting Pepin around 751 and then became a reality in 756 with the expulsion of the Lombards. We wrote how 756 placed the target sometime in 2016.
Around that same time during our investigation, we became aware of a sermon collection from the 1800s, titled, “Lectures on the Revelation,” by the Reverend William J. Reid, pastor of First United Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which were given over a period ending in March of 1876. Like Jonathan Edwards had over a hundred years earlier, Reid deduced that the False Prophet and Antichrist would arrive sometime around 2016.
Soon we uncovered numerous other ancient examples in which the year 2016 was specifically foreseen as when the False Prophet and the Antichrist would be on earth, followed by the destruction of Rome. These included:
- The Theological Dictionary of Princeton University (1830)
- Critical Commentary and Paraphrase on the Old and New Testament by Lowth and Lowman (1822)
- The American Biblical Repository (1840)
- Notes on the Revelation of St. John by Lowman (1773)
- The Christian Spectator, “The Monthly” (1885)
- Abridgement of Ecclesiastical History (1776)
- The Works of the Rev. P. Doddridge, DD (1804)
- The International Sunday School Lessons Pub (1878)
- Character and Prospects on the Church of Rome in Two Discourses by the Rev. William Mackray (1829)
- The Panoplist and Missionary Magazine (1809)
- Lectures on Romanism by Joseph F. Berg (1840)
- The Congregational Magazine for the Year (1834)
- The Presbyterian Magazine (1858)
The complete list of ancients who believed 2016 pointed to the year when Antichrist would begin making himself known on the global scene and initiate a process ultimately leading to construction of the Third Temple as well as the Great Tribulation period can be found in the book Zenith 2016.
Whether this will turn out to be connected to Donald Trump and the rabbis’ view of him as a modern Cyrus whose arrival heralds the Messianic era during which the Temple will be built is increasingly convincing, as following entries will hopefully convey.
Behind the Scenes: Players and a Plan
Before Trump’s UAE-Israel peace deal began change of the status quo on the Temple Mount, in a fantastically liberal feature by Kerry Bolton for Foreign Policy Journal titled “US Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital: A Travesty of History,” the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner was depicted as an arch-Zionist Jew that, along with Donald Trump and his evangelical advisors, view the USA and Israel as synonymous in terms of policy objectives and prophetic destiny.[v]
Bolton’s increasingly familiar animosity toward evangelicals and their biblical mandate to be a blessing to Israel results in his lament that “the Zionist dream for Palestine is based on three primary aims that are of messianic intent: (1) Greater Israel from the Nile to the Euphrates rivers, (2) Rebuilding of the Temple of Solomon on the site of the present al-Aqsa mosque, (3) Jerusalem not only as the capital of Israel, but as the central seat of universal law.”[vi] He then quotes the Temple Mount Faithful’s website, which confirms:
Consecrating the Temple Mount to the Name of G‑d so that it can become the moral and spiritual center of Israel, of the Jewish people, and of the entire world according to the words of all the Hebrew prophets. It is envisioned that the consecration of the Temple Mount and the Temple itself will focus Israel on:
(a) fulfilling the vision and mission given at Mt. Sinai for Israel to be a chosen people separate unto G‑d, a holy nation, and a nation of priests (Exodus 19:6), and
(b) becoming a light unto all the nations (Isaiah 42:6) so that the Name of G‑d may be revered by all nations and the biblical way of life may be propagated throughout the world.[vii]
Bolton concludes: “Regardless of what any Israeli government states, these are the ultimate objectives which messianic Zionists believe are ordained by their God. They will never be relinquished.” For example, the first prime minister of Israel, David Ben Gurion, a “moderate” and a socialist, asked by Look to describe his vision of the future, alluded to this:
In Jerusalem, the United Nations (a truly United Nations) will build a shrine of the prophets to serve the federated union of all continents; this will be the seat of the Supreme Court of Mankind, to settle all controversies among the federated continents, as prophesied by Isaiah.[viii]
Other secular writers appear similarly suspicious that Trump recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving the US embassy there and the more recent “peace deal” extends end-times “messaging” to his conservative Christian base, which has not gone unnoticed by the appropriate members of his audience. Enlisting the well-known craft of “actions in place of words,” the president is viewed as encouraging his compatriots in Armageddon-planning to probe beneath the surface of his exploits where, sotto voce (“under voice”), he is telling them he understands and sympathizes with their eschatological worldview and that, when the time is right, he will offer full-throated voice in support of the Third Temple.
Nancy LeTourneau for the Washington Monthly suspects as much too, writing: “The most obvious gesture he’s made towards Israel since he became president was to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. That was targeted at his base of support among white evangelicals, and it isn’t because they have so much affection for Jews.” LeTourneau cited what Diana Butler Bass, a theologian, wrote:
For decades, conservative evangelicals have been longing for this recognition. They believe it is necessary in order to regain control of the Temple mount. That is important because rebuilding the Temple is the event that will spark the events of the Book of Revelation and the End Times.… They’ve been waiting for this, praying for this. They want war in the Middle East. The Battle of Armageddon, at which time Jesus Christ will return to the Earth and vanquish all God’s enemies. For certain evangelicals, this is the climax of history. And Trump is taking them there. To the promised judgment, to their sure victory. The righteous will be ushered to heaven; the reprobate will be banished to hellfire.[ix]
Let me take a moment to make issue with LeTourneau and Bass, as I’ve been at the center of mainstream evangelical Christianity for five decades and have been blessed to personally know many leading prophecy scholars and theologians, and have yet to meet a single one who wants “war in the Middle East. The Battle of Armageddon, at which time Jesus Christ will return to the Earth and vanquish all God’s enemies.” We simply believe what Jesus taught, that “when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28). Movement toward the construction of a Third Temple could signal the imminent return of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and that is what we “want.” While the objectives listed by the antagonists above do reflect some of the accomplishments many Jews and Christians anticipate, it is not for the reasons they insinuate, as they obviously don’t seem to comprehend the “blessed hope” Christians have for the Second Coming of Jesus, which a Third Temple could signal, or that which Jews have for their final redemption and Messianic era.
Having said that, any successful attempt at garnering support for a reconstructed Temple in Jerusalem will indeed require enough multicultural and international support. Thus, prejudices by Bolton and the other writers quoted above aside, their feelings about behind-the-scenes discussions and deals that could witness the materialization of a Third Temple is warranted, and, in this writers’ opinion, they certainly should be suspicious that a plan is under consideration wherein international players are quietly moving chess pieces clandestinely toward a sooner-than-later realization of a rebuilt Temple.