The Ark of the Covenant
The only thing needed for the Temple that the Temple Institute has not produced is the Ark of the Covenant. The reason they have refrained from tackling this project is because they are convinced that the original Ark is located beneath the Temple Mount in a special chamber that was designed for the Ark’s safekeeping.
The last mention of the Ark in the Scriptures is found in 2 Chronicles 35:3, where we are told that King Josiah had it returned to the Holy of Holies of Solomon’s Temple. Presumably, it had been removed by King Manasseh (2 Chronicles 33: 4-5) when he desecrated the Temple by building within it altars to foreign gods.
The Bible does not reveal what happened to the Ark when Solomon’s Temple was later destroyed by the Babylonians.
There never was an Ark in the Second Temple that was built after the Jews returned from Babylonian captivity. The Orthodox believe this was due to the fact that Israel was under either Persian, Greek or Roman control during the Second Temple period (516 BC to 70 AD). Thus, the Ark was kept hidden to keep it out of Gentile hands.
In addition to preparing all the items needed within the Temple in order to revive the animal sacrifice system of the Mosaic Law, the Temple Institute has been heavily involved in preparing architectural plans for the Third Temple. In 2015, the plans were leaked to the public,5 and since that time they have been posted on the Institute’s website, together with a three-dimensional video of the Temple’s proposed interior.6
The Orthodox Jews of Israel do not have a unified view of the architectural features of the Third Temple. The Temple Institute has taken the position that the Third Temple should resemble the second one.7 Others maintain that it should follow the architectural description contained in Ezekiel 40-42. Another group believes the Temple will just descend from Heaven when the Messiah comes. Christians maintain that the Temple described by Ezekiel is the Millennial Temple which will be built after Jesus returns. They also believe that the Third Temple will most likely be destroyed during the Tribulation.
Ashes of the Red Heifer
Orthodox Jews agree that the production of ritually-pure ashes of a red heifer is required for the re-institution of Temple worship. This belief is based upon a mandate found in Numbers 19:1-10 that requires the Temple priests to be purified by the sprinkling of water containing the ashes of a red heifer.
To be kosher, the heifer has to be perfectly red, with no more than two hairs of a different color. It must be three years old and have no physical blemishes. It must never have been used for any physical labor, such as plowing.
The Temple Institute has taken on the task of breeding such an animal, using Red Angus cattle. They have produced several candidates thus far, but each has been disqualified for various reasons.8
In biblical times, it was the practice to mix the ashes of a new red heifer sacrifice with those of the preceding heifer. Some Orthodox believe this is a modern necessity, and therefore, they argue that the ashes of the last red heifer must be found. The Temple Institute has taken the position that this is not necessary.9
Priests for the Temple
The Temple Institute has established a school to train priests for the Third Temple. Only Levites directly descended from Aaron, the first High Priest, are qualified to serve as priests with sacrificial duties. These are referred to as kohanim. Others of the tribe of Levi are qualified only to care for the Temple — its vessels and furnishings.
Genetic testing is being done to determine the descendants of Aaron.10 In the process, it has been discovered that the lineage of male descendants of Aaron has been carefully preserved by God. Thus, over 98% of Jewish men who identify as kohanim (often with the last name of Cohen), have a specific genetic marker in common.11
In the fourth part of this series, we’ll look at the reinstitution of the Sanhedrin.
6) The Mitzvah Project, “Building the Third Temple,” https://themitzvahproject.org.
7) Rivkah Lambert Adler, “Temple Priests Prepare To Serve In Rebuilt Temple With New Training
School.” www.prophecynewswatch.com, page 2.et To Rebuilding Temple,” Prophecy News Watch, http://prophecynewswatch.com.
8) The Temple Institute, “The Mystery of the Red Heifer: Divine Promise of Purity,” https://templeinstitute.org/red-heifer.
9) Lambert Dollphin, page 20.
10) Prophecy Watch Staff, “Rabbi: DNA Holds Secret To Rebuilding Temple,” Prophecy News Watch, http://prophecynewswatch.com.
11) Rivkah Lambert Adler, page 1.