Note: the following, like all human attempts at interpretation, is my understanding of the meaning of certain references in the Bible to the end times. The following is in response to the two questions shown below which were emailed to me. My answers are the result of Bible study and the study of history. Questions and comments are welcome. Contact us.
Barry Setterfield


The Midnight Cry of Matthew 25

Question: Is the Midnight Cry the building of the Temple in Jerusalem? The rebuilding of the Temple has received prominence in the Jewish Press this week as the Black Fast commemorating its destruction occurs on Tisha B’Av, 26 July 2015.  Jewish publicity indicates the Temple plans are now completed, and implements, furniture and vestments are ready.  If it is not the Temple rebuilding, what other options exist for the Midnight Cry?

In the parable of the wise and foolish virgins in Matthew 25, there was a warning that the bridegroom was about to come, and take them into the wedding feast. This warning is often called the Midnight Cry. This warning was sufficient to alert the wise virgins, as well as those that were not ready, that the time was at hand for the Bridegroom to appear and take them into the wedding feast. The unwise went away to buy the oil they needed for their lamps to keep them burning so they could participate in the event. But, while there was some time, most of the unwise obviously did not have enough time to get the needed oil before the bridegroom came and took the wise virgins, with their prepared lamps, into the big event, and the door closed.

Jesus gave this parable in the context of His coming for His bride, the true believers. This event is sometimes called the Rapture or the Translation of the Church, where the genuine Christians are caught up to be with the Lord in the air and taken into Heaven and the door closed. Jesus’ parable about this suggests that there will be a short period of warning immediately prior to His coming for the Church. Just how long this period might be we have no idea. But that is not the point. The point is that if there is indeed a warning given, it must be something very specific which will alert even the foolish virgins that Christ is about to come for his Bride. In that case, it is probably something that Heaven does rather than some man-made event.

Let us deal with the Temple to begin with. The research of Dr. Asher Kaufman, with which I was indirectly involved, suggests that the Holy of Holies of the Temple was situated where a small cupola, the Dome of the Tablets, now stands. The outlines of both the first and second Temples have been discerned by archaeological investigative techniques. Though the axes of the two temples differed in orientation by about 6 degrees, their common meeting place was the Holy of Holies where the bedrock comes up through the paving under the Dome of the Tablets. A map of the area with the two temples superimposed is attached. The 8 sided Dome of the Rock is to the left of the temples. The red arrow points to the Dome of the Tablets and North is to the right:

temple plan

The following image shows the Dome of the Tablets in the foreground and the Dome of the Rock in the background. The area around the Dome of the Tablets is clear. Consequently, the Temple could be built independently without interfering with any other structure on the Temple Mount. On the map, the Dome of the Rock is off to the left (south) of the Temple itself.

Dome of the Tablets

Therefore the Temple could theoretically be built anytime, providing the Muslim keepers of the Mount (the Waqf) agree. However, notice that if the Court of the Gentiles were to be included in the building, that would involve the Dome of the Rock as that is inside the perimeter of that court as shown here for the Second Temple, where north is again to the right

Gentile Court

That point is important, because, in talking about the Third Temple, Revelation 11:1-2 specifically states that the Court of the Gentiles is to be left out of the Temple complex “for it has been given to the Gentiles.” That is in accord with current reality.

The problem is that the Muslim Waqf make it impossible to build the Temple. The question then becomes, when or how is it going to be built? The answer comes from Daniel 8:13-14 which gives us some good information. There we find that from the inception of the daily sacrifices in the Temple to the cessation of the abomination of desolation set up by Antichrist, and the cleansing of the Temple, is a total of 2300 days. We know from Daniel 11:31 and 9:27 that the abomination is set up in the middle of the 7-year Covenant period of 2520 days (7 Babylonian years of 360 days). This means that the abomination is cast out and the Temple cleansed 1260 days after the abomination is set up. From these figures we can then work out that, since the sacrifices started 2300 days before the sanctuary was cleansed, then they started 220 days after the signing of the 7-year Covenant. The most logical reason why is that the Temple was being built and prepared in that period of 220 days. That in turn implies that the building of the Temple is part of the Covenant itself, which is one reason for the prominence of the Covenant in Scripture. From Revelation 11, it appears that, at the same time as permission is given to build the Temple, the city of Jerusalem may be internationalized, one probably being a political trade-off for the other.

Under these circumstances, it appears that the Temple construction does not begin until Antichrist makes his 7-year Covenant with Israel to bring peace to the Middle East. But Luke 21:36, 2Thessalonians 2:1 ff, and Revelation 3:10 all indicate that the true Christians will be “caught up” to heaven before Antichrist can sign the Covenant which is part of the Tribulation. In that case, we do not have to see the Temple construction begin. What we have seen, according to the recent publicity, is that all the preparation for that event is essentially complete, so it cannot be long.

The question then remains, what is the Midnight Cry? Associated with the Temple in Revelation 11:1-2 are the two witnesses. They are also mentioned in Zechariah 4:3-14, and Malachi 4:4-5. These verses in Malachi are the last words in the Old Testament. They promise "Behold I will send you Elijah BEFORE the great and terrible Day of the Lord comes (the Tribulation). The word is definitely "before". In the LXX Greek it is "prion" a word used 14 times in the New Testament and each time translated as "before". It can also mean "sooner than" or "prior to."

From Jesus comments, the tribulation commences as we go into Heaven, just like the rain started as Noah went into the Ark [Matthew 24:38-39 compared with Genesis 7:16 (literally 'the Lord rained him in')]. So for Elijah to come before the Tribulation means he should also appear before the Rapture. How long before, we do not know. But if the disciples recognized him on the Mount of Transfiguration, so will all Christians today. His appearance in Jerusalem will bring to mind the Malachi prophecy and recall the words of the Pharisees that "Elijah must come first." While John the Baptist came in the spirit of Elijah at Christ’s first coming, that is very different from Elijah himself. In addition, the great and terrible day of the Lord, the Tribulation, was not imminent then, but it is now.

So it might be possible that Elijah could make an appearance, being sent from heaven, just before Christ comes for the Rapture, and, as such, may be the Midnight Cry announcement.

Further Questions in response: “I agree that the two witnesses of Revelation 11 are Moses and Elijah and that they are mentioned in Zechariah 4:3-14 and Malachi 4.The Revelation passage says that these two men witness for 1260 days or 3.5 years. In view of the fact that this is related to the Temple and its sacrifices in Revelation 11, does not the Temple have to be there when they start their ministry? Also, do not two “Woes” occur during their ministry with the third shortly after? And does not the Antichrist only rule for 42 months or 3.5 years? How does this all fit in to a Pre-tribulation Rapture – or should we be looking at a Mid-Tribulation start to the ministry of Moses and Elijah?

Setterfield: Basically, the questioner is asking whether or not the Temple must be in place before the ministry of the two witnesses begins and is also asking about the timing of the sequence of subsequent events in the Tribulation.

First, there is nothing that says that the Temple has to be complete as these two start their ministry. If Elijah comes before the Tribulation, as Malachi indicates, he must be here before the Temple is built according to the data from Daniel. Whether or not Moses is with him initially, we do not know. Further, there is nothing that says that those 1260 days of their joint witness (in Revelation 11) has start at the same time as the Covenant is signed; they could start before. Alternately, it is possible that only Elijah may appear initially as a warning to Christians. Then, sometime soon after the Rapture, Moses may join him. Their joint ministry then lasts 1260 days. So there are several options here all fitting in with a Pre-Tribulation Rapture. It does not fit a Mid-Tribulation time-line either for the Rapture or for the events to occur with the Temple, as given by the dates in Daniel 8, 9 and 11 and Revelation 11. 

The conclusion from this is that the witness of these two men will start before the Sacrifices start and may also start before the Temple building begins. Their witness ceases in the middle of the Tribulation, by which time two woes have occurred as the questioner points out. The 3rd woe is Satan being cast out of heaven and down to earth (Rev. 12:12). That occurs at the middle of the Tribulation   Once Satan has been cast down to earth, he seems to personally energize Antichrist who sets up the Abomination of desolation in the Temple.

It may be about that time that Antichrist gets his fatal wound and lives, or is energized, by satanic power (Revelation 11:7). It is also from that point in time that Antichrist has control over the whole earth for the last 3.5 years. This is the 42 months of Revelation 13. This is made clear in Daniel 11, where Antichrist arises in verse 21 and continues on to verse 45.The abomination of desolation is set up in verse 31 which is the middle of the Tribulation. But it is the same king of the North, Antichrist, who continues on throughout those verses. His program from there to the end of the Tribulation, including the intense persecution, is outlined in verses 32-45. So Antichrist's reign over the whole world does not commence until the last 3.5 years with the mark of the beast and the world-wide economic program being instituted at that time. It may be just before that time that the predicted massive world economic and financial collapse occurs to pave the way for the Mark of the Beast. 

So the key point for these questions is to remember that Daniel makes it plain that Antichrist has a 7-year rule from the time the Covenant is signed until the battle of Armageddon. However, his world wide control does not occur until Satan energizes him and he sets up the Abomination of Desolation and institutes the Mark of the Beast. He then controls the world for 42 months or 3.5 years. Daniel 12:11 states that there will then be 1290 days from the setting up of the Abomination of Desolation. That is an extra 30 days beyond the Abomination being cast out and probably marks the beginning of the Armageddon campaign. But Daniel goes on to say that blessed is the person who comes to 1335 days. Those extra 45 days beyond the beginning of Armageddon and their blessedness probably mark the Crowning of Christ as King and the beginning of the Millennium.

I hope that gives a broader context for these events and options of how this may all work out time-wise.