The Temple Mount

In early October, attacks on Jews in the Old City of Jerusalem led to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu restricting his Cabinet ministers and lawmakers from visiting the Western Wall. Why? The uptick in attacks on Jews in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv have left a mother and father dead and orphaned their four children. In another attack, two others were killed by a knife-wielding assailant, and the wife of one victim and their child were wounded. Another man died after his car was pelted with stones until he crashed.

At the center of these recent attacks is the Temple Mount, the location of Solomon’s and Herod’s Temples. It is also the site of the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa mosque. It was there that David met the angel of death, and was the same mountain where 1,000 years earlier, Abraham had been sent to offer his only son, Isaac. It was there that Solomon built the Temple.

Muslims revere the spot as the place where the prophet Mohammed is said to have traveled to heaven. Israel has been charged with attempts to increase its presence on the Mount, a charge which Israeli officials unequivocally deny. The location is historical and sacred to Jews, Muslims, and Christians like. This is more than just than just a physical contest for control of land, though.

The Temple Mount is the target of Satan. We see this recorded by the ancient prophet in Isaiah 14:13-14 as Satan staked his claim: “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.” This is a direct reference to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

It was not by accident that one of the three temptations Jesus faced was in this location. It was nothing less than an attempt by Lucifer to wrest control of that sacred place from the beloved Son of God. In Matthew 4:5- 7, we read: “Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. ‘If you are the Son of God,’ he said, ‘throw yourself down. For it is written: “He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”’ Jesus answered him, ‘It is also written: “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”’”

Many Bible scholars believe that the location would have been the intersection of the Royal Portico and Solomon’s Porch. From that vantage point, one can look down a dizzying 450 feet into the Kidron Valley. A jump from that height would have meant certain death for the Son of Man and a vast departure from His Father’s plan for the Son of God. Satan, the Deceiver, was willing to go to any lengths—or heights—to stop God’s redemptive design.

The Temple Mount on an overcast day

Just as Satan tried to thwart God’s plan then, he continues his work today through those determined to drive the Jews from their beloved land. Nowhere is this more clearly seen than in the conflict over control of the Holy City, and especially the Temple Mount. This is the very center of spiritual warfare for the entire world today.

The remaining stones of the Western Wall have become a symbol of the enduring hope of the Jewish people. Even nonreligious Jews venerate the Wall as a national monument. The plaza in front of the Western Wall can accommodate 100,000 congregants. It is the gathering place of the people of Israel, the scene of both joyous celebration and solemn memorial. The Wall remains a testimony of God’s all-encompassing providence and a reminder of His faithfulness. It is the last remnant of the Temple complex that stood in the time of Christ...on the mountain that was home to the Temple that Solomon built to worship the God of Israel.

In the 13th century bc, the children of Israel entered the Promised Land. For the next four centuries, they went about the work of setting boundaries, subduing enemies, and waiting for God-appointed men who would accomplish His purposes—Saul, David, and finally Solomon. Not until then could the Temple be erected in the heart of Jerusalem.

It is difficult to imagine a building being erected without the sound of hammer striking stone or nail, but that is exactly what God commanded. Jehovah wanted no reminders of the bloody battles of David’s reign, the sounds of sword clashing with sword. Solomon was a ruler of peace, not of war, and it was he whom God had selected to oversee the construction. For seven long years (the Biblical number of completion), the work was diligently undertaken day after day. The huge stones that defy description were chiseled out of the quarries and prepared before being transported to the building site.

The Temple Mount is, without a doubt, the most prophetic piece of land on the earth. It all began there, and it will all end there.

One feature of the Temple that caused such awe was its magnificent furnishings set in an interior overlaid with pure gold. Its architects were on loan from King Hiram of Tyre; therefore, the design was typically Phoenician. The design of the Holy of Holies and the mercy seat—the throne of Jehovah—were borrowed from the tabernacle constructed by Moses. The portico of the structure held two columns that bordered the entrance into the Holy Place.

While the tabernacle held one golden lampstand, Solomon outfitted the Temple with ten lampstands, which stood within the gold-overlaid cedar panels that formed the Holy Place. They sat five on the north and five on the south sides of the room (2 Chronicles 4:8). Each of the ten tables of the bread of the Presence sat alongside the lampstands and held the shewbread formed from the finest of flours. 100 sprinkling bowls were divided among the tables, along with other dishes of pure gold that were used in service to Jehovah.

The altar of incense, also covered with pure gold, held a prominent place in the room. On it, special incense was burned as a savor to the Lord Most High. It was outfitted with ten gold censers used by the high priest when he entered the Holy of Holies during the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur).

Separating the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies was the temple veil, a replica of the one in the tabernacle. II Chronicles 3:14 is the only description provided by Scripture: “He made the curtain of blue, purple and crimson yarn and fine linen, with cherubim worked into it.”

The Holy of Holies was a perfectly fashioned cube measuring about 30 feet on all sides. Within the room sat a platform covering the Foundation Stone atop Mount Moriah, also believed to have been the site where Adam was formed by the Creator, and atop that dais rested the Ark.

Even though El Elyon could not be contained in a mere building, as a symbol of God’s presence with His people, Israel, the Temple stood in all the earthly magnificence that could be summoned. It was made of the best materials that could be found and would be a constant reminder of Jehovah-’Immeku—the Lord Who is with You. It symbolized another promise that Jehovah “has given rest to his people Israel just as he promised” (1 Kings 8:56).

[caption id="attachment_2694" align="alignright" width="236"]Ambulances at the Western Wall Ambulances at the Western Wall evacaute injured Israelis following a terror attack in which a Palestinian woman stabbed an Israeli man near Lions’ Gate of Jerusalem’s Old City on October 07, 2015.[/caption]

Yet, King Solomon desired not the approval of the people, but the blessing of Jehovah. The building rising from the top of Mount Moriah was not just an ordinary house; it was God’s house. It was the site from which sacrifices would be made; the covering for the Ark of the Covenant that would rest inside the Holy of Holies. This was the place where God would communicate with man. It was the Temple, and Solomon wanted to know that God was pleased with his efforts.

The king sent out invitations to all the elders of Israel—the statesmen, heads of tribes, and family patriarchs. Once assembled, he called for the Levites. Gently, reverently, they prepared the Ark of the Covenant according to Mosaic law and then transported it to the new edifice. All things were in readiness: ten golden candlesticks each with seven lighted candles, the table of shewbread laden with the loaves prepared for the occasion, each of the golden utensils lovingly sculpted and set in their respective places ready for use. The treasuries were overflowing with riches from the tabernacle and from King David’s coffers.

Carefully, the Levites bore the most treasured possession of all into the Holy of Holies and rested it between the wings of the two golden cherubim. Priests in white linen filed from the Holy Place just inside the Temple doors. They joined musicians, also clad in white linen, as the trumpets began to resound. Soon, they were accompanied by cymbals, harps, and psalteries as the assembled choir began to sing what could have been Psalm 136.

Today the Temple is gone and has been for nearly 2,000 years. Yet, the sacred ground on which it stood is still there...and its future is hotly contested.

As the voices rose toward the heavens, something inexplicable happened—the shekinah glory of God Almighty settled on the mountaintop and filled the Temple so that the priests were unable to perform their duties. All came to a standstill. Instruments were silenced; the people fell prostrate to the ground in overpowering awe. Only when God fills the house can there be such unity, such accord.

The Temple Mount at sunset

Today the Temple is gone and has been for nearly 2,000 years. Yet, the sacred ground on which it stood is still there...and its future is hotly contested. The question most often asked in regard to the End Times is: will the Temple be rebuilt in Jerusalem—where, when, and at what cost? Many Jews, especially the ultra-Orthodox, pray unceasingly for the Temple to be rebuilt on Mount Moriah, the same location as the two previous structures. Those interested in prophecy are also aware of the reconstruction significance.

In the Old Testament book of Daniel, chapter 9, the writer prophesies that the Temple will be rebuilt. Members of the Temple Institute in Jerusalem have made a concerted effort to gather all the significant items needed to prepare for a third Temple—utensils, priestly robes, the altar on which the daily offerings are to be made, and the breeding of a red heifer needed for sacrifices. Members of the Levite tribe have been trained to assume the role of priests in the new Temple.

Of course, we must acknowledge that understanding and interpreting Bible prophecy is not an exact science. At best, God-given visions of the final stages of this age have come in scattered sound bites and fragmentary visions spread between the interpretations of a dozen different writers. It has been left to prophecy scholars to interpret what was shown to Daniel, Ezekiel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Joel in visions, and what Jesus told us in the Gospels. Added to what John saw in the Book of Revelation, the snippets provided in the Epistles, and the chorus of other prophets in the Old Testament, it is possible to arrive at an overall pattern for prophetical events. This will inform us of approximately where we are in God’s perfect plan.

The exact order in which these events will occur is still under debate by those who study End-Time prophecy. Will the Gog coalition attack before or after the Rapture? Will Gog’s attack be after the rise of a one-world government that creates a covenant of peace with Israel? Or will Gog’s attack be the catalyst for the rise of the oneworld government? Will it be the last attempt of desperate nations to hold on to self-rule in the face of a rising one-world superpower? Will it be the first step in another attempt by Islamic radicals to destroy the United States and Israel? The exact details of when and how this attack will come about seem to perplex many. We can, however, see the gathering of the storm and the players coming into position. Even the motivations for such an attack on Israel are becoming clearer as the rhetoric of war and revolution in the Middle East rises toward a crescendo.

A spiritual war is taking place in Israel today, and evil principalities and powers are speaking into the ears of men. A new book from Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei lays out in no uncertain terms what one Islamic country’s leader thinks about the future of Israel. A review of the 416- page diatribe by conservative Iranian author Amir Taheri points out that the Ayatollah believes “Israel has no right to exist as a state.”

Today, great darkness surrounds the nation of Israel. Everywhere Iran’s proxies are circling—Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza, just waiting for an opportunity to strike. ISIL, another deadly threat, has made inroads into Syria and the Sinai. Sadly, in the midst of threatening times, her friends are too often walking away, leaving Israel isolated and alone just as she faces her most dangerous threats. With the recent addition of Soviet troops on the ground, its air force flying bombing sorties targeting not ISIS so much as anti-Bashar al-Assad rebels, and Russian warships offshore lobbing cruise missiles at Syrian targets, the threat to Israel becomes even more menacing. The entire region is on the brink of war—a war that could very quickly become the most bloody and devastating in decades.

Yet, regardless of what human leaders may declare as their intentions, lurking behind many of the geopolitical and military moves being made is the hidden dream of control of the Holy City and the Temple Mount. This is the ultimate battle, which we must fight and win.

The Temple Mount Map