Mike and Martin were responsible for the Tribe of Judah, which covered all of the Middle East, as well as East Africa. When the Temple in Jerusalem was nearing completion, the pair made a rare trip away from their computers in Ankara to visit a tiny team of workers in the holy city. One reason for the trip was that they wanted to see for themselves what all the fuss was about. Mike's archaeological background included a keen interest in architecture as well.

 

The Pope had made good on his offer to move to Jerusalem, and a palatial residence was being built for him not far from the Temple Mount. The move was seen by experts to be on a par with Constantine's conversion to Christianity. By declaring Christianity the state religion, and himself the head of that religion, Constantine had lured early Christians out of the catacombs and into his courts, where they have been ever since. In a similar tactic, the Pope was now reaching out to embrace Jews and Muslims as "brothers" (whether they liked it or not), and in so doing, he was setting himself up as the unofficial patriarch of all three religions.

 

The Jews wanted their Temple badly enough to overlook such a move on the part of Rome; and the overwhelming presence of U.N. military might in Jerusalem at that time left Muslims with little choice but to go along with whatever their other two "brothers" had decreed.

 

Although 2,000 years of tradition had made Vatican City almost as sacred as the Pope himself, there could be no disputing the fact that Jerusalem outweighed Rome in the holy city stakes. The Vicar of Christ could not do better than to set up residence in the holiest of all holy cities.

 

In January of that year, the agreement had been made to build the twin temples. Now, some seven months later, construction was already nearing completion. Mike and Martin toured the site to observe the progress for themselves.

 

The Dome of the Rock, where Mohammed was said to have ascended into heaven, had been pretty much left untouched. This was possible because the Jewish Temple had been positioned in an East-West direction (rather than North-South) over the Dome of the Tablet, which was located just a few yards north of the Muslim mosque. The Temple entrance was perfectly aligned with the Golden Gate of the Eastern Wall. Following the original pattern for the Temple's construction (but using a slightly longer "cubit"), the new Temple fit perfectly on the northern end of the platform that had originally been built for visitors to the Dome of the Rock.

 

 

There was a matching Catholic basilica, called The Cathedral of the Divine Creation, built on the southern end of the Temple Mount. Outwardly it appeared to be a twin of the Jewish Temple; but the interior was laid out differently, in order to accommodate large crowds for mass, and a cathedral choir. Where the "holy of holies" was located in the Jewish floor plan, there was a Catholic tabernacle, to hold the blessed sacrament.

 

The entire platform area had been enlarged, so that there was plenty of courtyard space for the Temple, the Mosque, and the Cathedral. The two Christians could not deny that the golden Dome in the middle of two pure white matching temples was a masterpiece of religious architecture.

 

Religious leaders were abuzz with talk of how Jerusalem ("the city of peace") was finally going to live up to its name. The matching temples were a sure omen that world peace was on its way.

 

Prefabricated sections had appeared for the Temple, as if out of nowhere, reducing the time needed for construction. There was no waiting for materials or fittings either, as they had almost all been purchased or fashioned in advance and been stored nearby.

 

Much of the secular world did not care about the Temple one way or the other; but there were some to whom it meant a great deal. Most surprising amongst this group, however, was Secretary General Xu Dangchao, a man who had never been known to show any religious interest in the past. He had cancelled more important appointments in order to be in Jerusalem when key decisions were being made about the Temple project.

 

While Mike and Martin were in Jerusalem a report came out in Time magazine (now based in Hong Kong) about Dangchao's ancestry. It was not given prominence in the magazine, but it did offer an explanation for Dangchao's interest in the Temple which Mike, in particular, was drawn to.

 

It seemed that, although Dangchao had been born and raised in Tibet, his parents had actually come from Kaifeng Province in China. Xu was one of seven Chinese names that had been adopted by some wandering Jews who had settled in China a thousand years earlier. The Jewish women had married Chinese men for so many generations, that their descendants were not racially distinguishable from their full-blooded Chinese neighbours. Nevertheless, because Chinese genealogy is so important, and because Jewish ancestral roots are traced through the mother, the Xus of Kaifeng never forgot that they were Jews.

 

Few of the accessories of Judaism remained. But Dangchao's mother had left one reminder of his roots. She named her son Levi Xu Dangchao.

 

The use of a third name in China was not unusual; but a Jewish third name was almost unheard of... outside of Kaifeng Province. Young Xu Dangchao had ceased to use his Jewish name when he moved from Tibet to England to study at Oxford University; and the question of him having another name had never been brought up after that, until now.

 

The news report suggested that Dangchao's Jewish ancestry was the reason for his keen interest in getting a Temple built in Jerusalem. Obviously, it said, he was showing loyalty to his ancestors, which touched the hearts of many. Of course, that did not explain why Dangchao was also instrumental in getting the Cathedral of the Divine Creation built on the Temple Mount.

 

Mike sensed something far more sinister, both in Xu Dangchao's third name, and in the three Temples. When he had read the story, he went back and studied Dangchao's full name, counting the value of the letters in it.

 

"There it is!" he said to Martin, who had read the article with him. "The missing numbers in his name. Add them up now, and see what you get!"

 

Mike was talking about the letters L, V, and I in the name Levi. They represent 50, 5, and 1 in Roman numerals. Together with the Roman numerals X, D, and C from the name Xu Dangchao, which represent 10, 500, and 100 in Roman numerals, the numeric value of his name came to 666, the predicted number for the name of the world's final global leader... the Antichrist. Mike knew Rayford had been pondering the significance of Dangchao's name, and so he passed the article on to him.

 

Rayford responded with a prediction to the Twelve Tribes: "In less than three years," he said, "Dangchao will cause the sacrifices to cease, and he himself will take control of the Temple. Of course, he's interested in every detail of its construction. It will one day be his throne, and he will be demanding that the whole world worship him."

 

Rayford had written previously regarding what he saw as significant about the Temples themselves.

 

"They, like Dangchao, are a clever counterfeit," he had said, quite frankly. "They represent mankind's belief that peace can be found through the works of their own hands, and not through humble faith in God.

 

"It all seems harmless enough to people who have never taken Jesus seriously. Most of the church is still living in the Old Testament, where Temple worship was acceptable. So a building, even a complex of three different buildings, which unites three of the most powerful religions on earth, must, in their eyes, be a good thing. But that's only because they recognise faith through buildings, and not through personal conviction."

 

The coming together of the institutional church was, according to Rayford, a diabolical imitation of the coming together of the invisible church, as was happening in the formation of the Twelve Tribes. World religions placed their hopes in political solutions, he said, while true believers were in tune with the Spirit of God, who would bring them together in his own way.

 

"Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain who build it," he quoted from the Old Testament.

 

Mike and Martin were back in Ankara when the official opening came. But they watched live coverage on TV, along with the rest of the world.
* * *
The Cathedral of the Divine Creation was not quite finished when it came time for the opening of the Temple, on a hot summer day near the end of July. The media was not bothered by what was, or was not, happening with the Cathedral, however. They could see cathedrals any day, and almost anywhere. Their interest was the Temple. There could only be one Jewish Temple.

 

Although the high priestly tribe of Levi had long since died out, a new tribe of priests had been artificially produced by raising selected Jewish boys under a strict priestly code of discipline. From these, a high priest had been chosen to preside over the affairs of the Temple, including its high profile opening.

 

Prominent Jewish religious leaders were present, along with many Jewish political personalities. Although non-Jews were not allowed inside, photos and drawings of the interior were given to the Press. Solomon himself would have been impressed. Almost everything was solid gold or silver, or at least gold or silver-plated. Plush carpets, a closed circuit security system, air-conditioning, and a top class sound system, all represented improvements on either of the two earlier Temples -- the one built by Solomon, or the later one built by Zerubbabel.

 

The first two Temples had featured the Ark of the Covenant, a sacred box in which the original Ten Commandments and other holy relics were held. Only the high priest could enter the "holy of holies" where the Ark resided, and he could only do it once a year. When he did, he would have a rope tied around his waist, in the event that he should die while there. It was believed that, if there was unconfessed sin in his life, he would be struck dead by the presence of God.

 

The new Temple had nothing to compare with the original Ark or the original Ten Commandments. But it did have a veritable museum of Jewish artefacts, honouring their history, both in Old Testament times and in more recent times. The housing of these artefacts was not limited to the holy of holies. They were displayed throughout the Temple complex.

 

When Solomon dedicated the Temple, fire came down from heaven and consumed the sacrifice. That miraculous flame had been tended continuously after that, to keep it burning. But no one expected God to honour the new Temple with such a display of power; so other arrangements had been made, which were arguably more sensational in their own way. A remote-controlled laser beam was triggered to strike in the centre of the altar, igniting a huge eternal flame, into which the sacrifices would be thrown.

 

Dignitary after dignitary came forward with speeches of hope and rejoicing for this obvious fulfilment of Israel's destiny as God's People. Sacrifices continued throughout the day and on into the night, as lesser dignitaries waited patiently for their opportunity to make up for almost 2,000 years without a proper sacrifice on their behalf or on behalf of their ancestors.

 

There were tears of joy, and partying throughout the city all that night. The Wailing Wall had turned into a wall of rejoicing, and much of the world rejoiced with the Jews, who had suffered so much over the centuries, and who were now back worshipping in their own Temple... or at least in one that U.N. Secretary General Levi Xu Dangchao had arranged for them to use for a while.