The temple of God was a physical structure that was originally built by King Solomon around 1000 B.C in the city of Jerusalem (1 Kings 7:51). When the southern kingdom of Judah was taken into captivity, King Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the temple of God and left the city of Jerusalem lying in ruins for 70 years (2 Kings 25). After the Israelites captivity was over, a remnant of Jews returned to Jerusalem and rebuilt the temple. It was finished on March 12, 516 B.C. (Ezra 6:15). Eventually, the second temple was rebuilt by King Herod. Begun in 20 B.C., Herod’s new structure towered 15 stories high. The high sanctuary was built on the site of the former temples of Solomon and Zerubbabel (Herod’s Temple, KJSB, p. 1360). This final temple was operational during Jesus ministry on Earth, but was demolished by the Romans in 70 A.D. Since then, the Jews have not had a temple to worship in or been able to offer sacrifices to their God.
It says in Revelation 11:19, “And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.” It can only be assumed that the temple of God that is opened in heaven is a a physical structure because it says the ark of his testament, a physical container where the tablets with the Ten Commandments were to be kept (Exodus 25:16), is seen inside the temple. Jesus talked about his body being the temple of God and warned the Jews, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19). The Apostle Paul also referred to a believer’s body as the temple of the living God (2 Corinthians 6:16). It is possible that after the church is raptured, a new type of physical structure will be used for worshipping God in heaven. The Apostle Peter described Christ as the corner stone and believers as living stones and said that we “are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ “1 Peter 2:5).
After the temple of God is opened in heaven, it says in Revelation 12:1, “And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: and she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.” The description of the woman about to give birth is a sign of the birth of Israel’s Messiah. John went on to say, “And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up to God, and to his throne” (Revelation 12:5). Although this appears to be a reference to Jesus’ ascension into heaven after he was resurrected from the dead, it may also be a reference to antichrist’s birth and his fake resurrection. John recorded, “And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority. And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast” (Revelation 13:1-3).
John identifies the dragon that gives Antichrist his power and authority as Satan (Revelation 12:9). After the woman brings forth a man child, John said he was caught up or in the Greek harpazo (har-pad’-zo) which means to seize or take by force (G726) unto God and to his throne (Revelation 12:5). Then, John said, “And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days. And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the devil, and Satan which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Revelation 12:6-9).
The expulsion of Satan from heaven seems to be related to the world’s complete rebellion against God during the Great Tribulation. Although heaven rejoices over the defeat of Satan, John said, “Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time” (Revelation 12:12, NKJV). Satan’s primary objective during the Great Tribulation is to replicate Jesus’ ministry on Earth, except that he will use force (a rod of iron) to gain the cooperation of his kingdom’s citizens. The beast, also known as Antichrist, will be given 42 months (3 1/2 years) to accomplish the task of getting everyone on Earth to worship Satan instead of God. John said, “And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given to him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 12:6-8).
The critical distinction between the saints or 144,000 servants that have the seal of the living God in their foreheads (Revelation 7:2-3) and the rest of the world during the Great Tribulation is that the saints will be protected from Satan’s influence and will not worship the beast as required. John indicated that the beast will be allowed to make war with the saints and will overcome them, meaning he will be allowed to defeat and kill them in a battle that could be a type of holy war similar to the crusades of the middle ages. John notes that a second beast will arrive on the scene that “exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed” (Revelation 13:12, NKJV). Perhaps, in an effort to root out all the saints that are hiding from him, the second beast “causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name” (Revelation 13:16-17, NKJV).