Will Trump Hasten the Arrival of the Messiah? Jews and Evangelicals Think So

U.S. President Donald Trump touches the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest prayer site. Reuters

In the wake of President Donald Trump's controversial decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, some Jewish activists argued that the U.S. president was being guided by God to restore Jewish control over sacred sites.

Activists lobbying for the construction of a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem said Trump was playing a similar role to the Persian emperor Cyrus the Great, who allowed the Jews to return to Israel from exile.

Jews also praised Cyrus for helping them build a second Jewish temple in the same place where the first had been destroyed.

Judaism's First Temple stood from around 957 B.C. to around 586 B.C., and its Second Temple stood from around 515 B.C. to 70 A.D., according to the Hebrew Bible. Now, some Jews said Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital paved the way for the construction of a Third Jewish Temple in the same place the Second Temple had been before it was demolished.

"There have been amazing advances towards bringing the Temple this year. It was clear that Trump was part of that process, guided by Hashem [God]," said Asaf Fried, official spokesman for the United Temple Movement, an association lobbying for the Third Temple's construction on the Temple Mount.

U.S. President Donald Trump (right) receives a gift from the Western Wall Heritage Foundation. Reuters

The Temple Mount is the elevated area above Jerusalem's Western Wall that was once the site of Judaism's two temples. The site is the third holiest place in Islam and has been the source of conflict between the two religions. It is currently under Israeli sovereignty but is administered by a Muslim religious trust. Jews are permitted to visit the site but are not allowed to pray there.

Jerusalem is currently controlled by Israel, but half of the city was seen as the future capital of a Palestinian state if a two-state solution were reached between Israeli and Palestinian authorities. Trump's controversial decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel was widely criticized by U.S. allies, who viewed the recognition as the death of a negotiated peace settlement.

The Temple Mount is believed to be the site where Abraham demonstrated his devotion to God by taking his son Isaac to be sacrificed. According to Islamic tradition, it also was the place from which the prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven in the 7th century.

The Hebrew Bible describes both temples that stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Solomon's temple, also called the First Temple, stood in ancient Jerusalem until its destruction around 587 B.C. by the army of the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar.

An Israeli woman and a Palestinian woman during a protest by Palestinian women against Jewish visitors to the compound known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount. Reuters

The Second Temple, meanwhile, was rebuilt with the support of Cyrus but destroyed after the Jews revolted against the Roman Empire. The Western Wall is all that is left of the Second Temple.

Advocates for a Third Temple were supportive of Trump even before he recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital on Wednesday. Evangelical Christians, who are staunch supporters of Trump, believed that a Third Temple would be built before the "end times" that would usher the second coming of Jesus Christ. Jewish tradition also holds that the Third Temple will be built during the time of the messiah.

"A number of Christian leaders have been comparing Trump to the Biblical King Cyrus. They point out that King Cyrus was a leader called and appointed by God," wrote Enoch Lavendar for Prophecy Newswatch.

"If President Trump really has a similar calling to King Cyrus, could it be that God would use this real estate developer turned president to facilitate the greatest property development of modern time—the rebuilding of the Temple?"