On My holy mountain ... there in the land the entire house of Israel will serve Me, and there I will accept them.
~ Ezekiel 20:40
The Temple Mount
The Temple Mount in Jerusalem is disputed territory and a possible flashpoint for conflict in the Middle East. The Jewish first and second temples stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. They were destroyed. There is a spiritual battle going on over occupation of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Significant events have occurred on the Temple Mount and the Bible says that significant events will occur there in the future.
There are approximately 1.27 billion Moslems in the world and many contend with Israel over possession of the land and over the Temple Mount.
The Temple Mount is a holy place. It is where Abraham was sent by God to sacrifice Isaac. It is the place where King David bought land for an altar to avert God’s judgment and where his son, King Solomon, built the First Temple. It is also where the Second Temple stood until it was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.
Islam was established hundreds of years later. Jerusalem is not mentioned specifically in the Koran but there is a Moslem belief that Mohammed ascended to heaven from this spot.
Christians have no direct interest in the Temple Mount. The Bible says that we are looking forward to a new Jerusalem coming down from heaven, and our eyes are fixed on eternity and the unseen realm [2 Corinthians 4:18, Galatians 4:24-26].
2 Corinthians 4:18
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar.
Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother.
However, as Christians who believe the Bible, we know that God has promised the land of Israel, and the city of Jerusalem, to the Jewish people. The Bible also speaks about a climax of events in Jerusalem.
- ca 1940 BC
God sent Abraham to the region of Moriah with instructions to sacrifice his son Isaac [Genesis 22:2].
- ca 1010 BC
Land on Mount Moriah was bought by King David for 50 shekels of silver from Araunah the Jebusite [2 Samuel 24:18-25].
2 Samuel 24:18-25
On that day Gad went to David and said to him, “Go up and build an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.” So David went up, as the Lord had commanded through Gad.
When Araunah looked and saw the king and his men coming toward him, he went out and bowed down before the king with his face to the ground. Araunah said, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?” “To buy your threshing floor,” David answered, “so I can build an altar to the Lord, that the plague on the people may be stopped.”
Araunah said to David, “Let my lord the king take whatever pleases him and offer it up. Here are oxen for the burnt offering, and here are threshing sledges and ox yokes for the wood. O king, Araunah gives all this to the king.” Araunah also said to him, “May the Lord your God accept you.”
But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels of silver for them.
David built an altar to the Lord there and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. Then the Lord answered prayer in behalf of the land, and the plague on Israel was stopped.
- ca 997-990 BC
Mount Moriah became the site of the First Temple, built by King Solomon
[1 Chronicles 21:18, 22:1, 2 Chronicles 3:1].
1 Chronicles 21:18
Then the angel of the Lord ordered Gad to tell David to go up and build an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.
1 Chronicles 22:1
Then David said, “The house of the Lord God is to be here, and also the altar of burnt offering for Israel.”
2 Chronicles 3:1
Then Solomon began to build the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the Lord had appeared to his father David. It was on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite, the place provided by David.
- 586 BC
The First Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians under King Nebuchadnezzar.
- 539 BC
Cyrus the Medo-Persian conquered Babylon and issued a proclamation to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem [Ezra 1:1-3].
In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and to put it in writing:
‘This is what Cyrus king of Persia says:
“The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and He has appointed me to build a temple for Him at Jerusalem in Judah. Anyone of His people among you – may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem.”’
- 520-515 BC
The Temple was rebuilt by Zerubbabel. The Second Temple was a shadow of its former glory.
- 18 BC
Herod the Great renovated the Second Temple. In total, this took 46 years [John 2:20].
The Jews replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and You are going to raise it in three days?”
A great retaining wall was built around the Temple Mount at this time.
This is the Temple that Jesus visited during His lifetime.
- 70 AD
The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans during the First Jewish Revolt. The Arch of Titus in Rome commemorates the Roman victory. This detail of the relief sculpture on the Arch records the Temple treasures being taken from Jerusalem.
- 132-135Second Jewish Revolt under Bar Kochba
The Romans put down the revolt with great ferocity.
- 135The Romans subdued Israel
The Temple Mount was ploughed with salt and Jews were banished from Jerusalem on pain of death. Jerusalem was renamed Aelia Capitolina and the land was renamed Syria Palestina (or Palestine, as it was known until 1948). This was done in a deliberate attempt to humiliate Israel by favouring their ancient enemies, the Philistines. The Arabic word for Philistine is Falastin, from which comes the English word for the Palestinians.
- 638Caliph Omar conquered Jerusalem
Under Moslem rule Jews were permitted to return to the city, although very few did and they were greatly impoverished.
Moslems built the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount, on the site where the First and Second Temples of Israel had stood.
The Al Aksa mosque (seen in the background of the above photograph) was built on the southern end of the Temple Mount platform some 20 years later.
The Dome of the Rock has decorative inscriptions around its interior.
One of these inscriptions makes the statement in Arabic: “Jesus Christ is not the Son of God.” Most Jews, and all Moslems believe that it is blasphemy to say that God has a Son.
The State of Israel was declared
Britain had taken Jerusalem from the Ottoman Turks during World War I and had been granted a mandate to govern Palestine. The League of Nations voted to partition Palestine and Britain anounced that they would withdraw from the land. Israel, as a Jewish State, came in to being on 14 May 1948 [Isaiah 66:8].
“Who has ever heard of such a thing? Who has ever seen such things? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labour than she gives birth to her children.”
The War of Independance followed. Arab armies invaded Israel but the Jews managed to hold West Jerusalem. East Jerusalem, the Old City and the Temple Mount were in the hands of Jordan at the end of the conflict.
Six Day War –Israel captured the Old City of Jerusalem
Israel gained control of East Jerusalem and the Temple Mount when they forced Jordan to withdraw during the Six Day War.
Israel was unwilling to risk international criticism and the government granted the Moslem Wakf administrative rights over the Temple Mount platform and mosques, but not over the remainder of the Old City of Jerusalem.
The Western Wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem with the Dome of the Rock in the background.
This is a small part of Herod’s retaining wall around the Temple Mount. After the destruction in 70 AD, and mostly during the Moslem occupation, layers of stones were built up on the original foundation stones. Jews have come here to pray through the centuries. It is Judaism’s most holy site.
The Temple Mount is lower than the surrounding hills
God selected this site. It is not on a trade route to anywhere. It is not the highest mountain in the region. The area is not fertile. It would not be the natural choice for a major city and the meeting place with God. But, in the choice of this site, God was saying something to His people. He will protect and preserve. And, what seems insignificant now will be exalted in His timing.
“As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people both now and forevermore.”
~ Psalms 125:2
The Mount of Olives (background, right) and the other hills surrounding the Temple Mount are higher than the holy site.
“In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it.”