During the Millennium the Lord will have two capitals from which he will govern the world. One capital will be in the New Jerusalem (Independence, Missouri) which will be his political seat of government. The other capital will be in the Old Jerusalem which will be his ecclesiastical seat of government. Both capitals and their temples must be in place before the Lord's second coming. Today the Old Jerusalem and the temple mount is one of the most controversial pieces of real estate on the face of the earth. A major world war will be fought, and this area will be part of the focus of the war.
Here is what the Prophet Joseph Smith said about Jerusalem and its temple,
Judah must return, Jerusalem must be rebuilt, and the temple, and water come out from under the temple, and the waters of the Dead Sea be healed. It will take some time to rebuild the walls of the city and the temple, &tc.; and all this must be done before the Son of Man will make His appearance. (emphasis added) There will be wars and rumors of wars, signs in the heavens above and on the earth beneath, the sun turned into darkness and the moon to blood, earthquakes in divers places, the seas heaving beyond their bounds; then will appear one grand sign of the Son of Man in heaven. But what will the world do? They will say it is a planet, a comet, etc. But the Son of man will come as the sign of the coming of the Son of Man, which will be as the light of the morning cometh out of the east. (April 6, 1843.)
(Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding Smith, p.286)
There are controversies as to how the temple will be built, where the temple will be built, which temple will be built, and who will build it.
How the temple will be built according to Jewish thought:
Some Jews feel that the temple will be built in heaven and will descend upon the correct spot. Others feel that the Messiah will build the temple miraculously at his coming, other feel he will build the temple, but not miraculously. Others feel a prophet must be commanded by God to build the temple and start sacrifices. Others think that man will build the temple and then God will lower the heavenly temple. Some Christian Jew believe the temple will be built before Christ comes, it will exist only a short time, then be destroyed, and then Christ will then come and build the fourth temple after the pattern of Ezekiel 40-45. (For more information see Jerusalem, The Eternal City by, Galbraith, Ogden, and Skinner pp. 477-479)
Where the temple will be built:
Some Jews feel that the temple has to be built on the exact spot where David was shown by the angel. The Holy of Holies must be properly located to be accepted by God. There are no less than twelve different locations that some feel the temple must be built. (see Secrets of Jerusalem Temple Mount by, Leen and Kathleen Ritmeyer)
Some Latter-day Saints feel that the temple can be built on the property owned by the Church where the Jerusalem Center now stands.
Which temple will be built:
As already pointed out, some Jewish Christians feel that it will the the Ezekiel Temple that will be built. I had a chance to speak with a representative of one of the groups that is active in preparing to build the Third Temple. I asked him which temple they were planning on building? His answer was, "Herod's Temple." I asked him why they were not going to build the temple in Ezekiel? His answer, "No one is righteous enough to interpret the Ezekiel Temple."
One highly respected LDS scholar, who will remain anonymous, that I had a conversation with felt that it would be the Temple from the Dead Sea Scrolls that would be built in Jerusalem.
Who will build the temple:
There are at least two groups in Jerusalem that are anxious to build the third temple. 1. The group from the Temple Institute (see website), they have already manufactured many of the implements to be used in the temple including the priestly clothing. 2. The Temple Mount Faithful (see website). This group has made several efforts to move a cornerstone to the location of the temple mount.
We have several important statements by LDS Prophets and an Apostle about who will build the temple:
The following is part of a conversation that President John Taylor had with Baron Rothschild (as Jew) while showing him the Salt Lake Temple,
said I, "you will build a temple, for the Lord has shown us, among other things, that you Jews have quite a role to perform in the latter days, and that all the things spoken by your old prophets will be fulfilled, that you will be gathered to old Jerusalem, and that you will build a temple there; and when you build that temple, and the time has arrived, 'the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple."
. . .
Said I-"You can do nothing unless God directs. You as a people are tied hand and foot, and have been for generations, and you can't move a peg unless God strikes off your fetters. When he says the word the things spoken of by the prophets will be fulfilled. Then, the measuring line will go forth again in Jerusalem, then your Messiah will come, and all those things spoken of by the prophets will be fulfilled."
(John Taylor, The Gospel Kingdom: Selections from the Writings and Discourses of John Taylor, selected, arranged, and edited, with an introduction by G. Homer Durham, p.293)
President Wilford Woodruff made this statement,
. . . the Jews have got to gather to their own land in unbelief. They will go and rebuild Jerusalem and their temple. They will take their gold and silver from the nations and will gather to the Holy Land. When they have done this and rebuilt their city, the Gentiles, in fulfilment of the words of Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and other prophets, will go up against Jerusalem to battle and to take a spoil and a prey; and then, when they have taken one-half of Jerusalem captive and distressed the Jews for the last time on the earth, their Great Deliverer, Shiloh, will come. They do not believe in Jesus of Nazareth now, nor ever will, until he comes and sets his foot on Mount Olivet and it cleaves in twain, one part going towards the east, and the other towards the west.
-JD 15:277-278, January 12, 1873.
(Wilford Woodruff, The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, edited by G. Homer Durham, p.118)
Elder Bruce R. McConkie felt that the Jews who build the temple will be members,
A house of the Lord-the Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah of the Jews-shall rise again in Jerusalem, perhaps on the very site where the ancient holy house stood, because the remnants of Judah shall accept their King, believe his gospel, and walk in his paths. A holy temple, the house of the Lord-a sacred sanctuary with its Holy of Holies where the Divine Presence, the Shekinah of old, shall once more be manifest to Israel-shall be built in Old Jerusalem. It shall be built by the Jews: Jews who believe in Christ; Jews who are converted to the truth; Jews who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Jews who hold again the powers and priesthoods possessed by their ancestors. The keys and powers whereby temples are built vest in the President of the Church, the presiding high priest among the Lord's latter-day people. These keys, first conferred by angelic ministrants-Moses, Elijah, Elias, and others-upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, have come down in direct succession and rest upon and are exercised by the prophet of God on earth, the one who, as it were, wears the mantle of Joseph Smith. And so it is that the Jews shall build their temple, and the Jews who do it will be Mormons; they will be Jews who are the converted and baptized saints of the latter days.
(Bruce R. McConkie, The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, 4 vols., 1:, p.116)
We all have our eyes on this sacred site. We are watching and waiting to see how our marvelous, sacred, and holy Savior will bring about the miracle of preparing Jerusalem for his coming.