The Temple Mount in Jerusalem is the most contested land in the world, and for good reason. Two of the world’s monotheistic religions lay claim to the site but for different reasons. The Temple Mount is considered by Jews to be the site of both Solomon’s and Herod’s temples, and the ancient location of the holiest site on the planet, the Holy of Holies, that place where the presence of God literally dwelt. 1 Kings 8:11 NASB. To Muslims, the “Haraam al-Sharif” (translated, “Noble Sanctuary”) is the location of the Dome of the Rock1 and al-Aqsa Mosque. (Read more). The entire site is considered a mosque in Islam. Further, to Muslims, the site is where Abraham bound Ishmael, his first-born son by Hagar, for intended sacrifice. Hagar was Abraham’s slave woman to whom a barren wife, Sarah, bedded her husband. Genesis 16:2 NASB. To Christians, Hagar was the bondwoman of the flesh (Galatians 4:22-23 NASB). To Jews, it was not Ishmael that was bound, but Isaac, the second-born of Abraham and the son-of-promise by Sarah, his wife (Genesis 17:19). These two sons are the fathers of two ancient peoples, Arabs and Jews, and the enmity that has existed since the days of their youth (Psalm 83:2-8 NASB) continues to fuel conflict in the modern day.
Of late, however, conflict over prayer has brought world attention to this oft-contested ground. Jews, long denied prayer-rights on the Temple Mount, are making renewed efforts to claim access to the Mount. Muslims are just as vociferously, but much more violently, denying same. A recent statement made by Palestinian Chairman of the Supreme Council for Shari’ah Law, Sheikh Yusuf Ida’is, demonstrates the Palestinian anger over Jewish prayer on the Mount:
“All that Israel wants is to Judaize the Holy City, take over the Al-Aqsa Mosque [located on the Temple Mount], destroy it and build the alleged Temple [the 3rd Jewish Temple].” (A video of his statement aired on Official Palestinian Authority TV Dec. 3, 2014 and may be found here.)
A picture of the Western Wall and its adjoining courtyard demonstrates the plight of modern-day Jews. The Western Wall is the closest that a praying Jew will get to the Temple Mount. Access to the Temple Mount has been denied the Jews since 70 AD when the Romans overcame Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple. Over the years following 70 AD, the Jews regained some access to the Mount only to lose it totally in 132 AD, in the Second Jewish Revolt, the Bar Kokhba Revolt, when Roman Emperor Hadrian constructed a temple to Zeus on the Mount. The Jews revolted against Hadrian, and once again, were defeated by the Romans. Thereafter, they were completely banished from the entire city of Jerusalem, under threat of death. (See my book, Islam the Cloak of Antichrist, pages 125 – 129, for a complete discussion.)
In the 1967 Six-Day War, Jews experienced the miraculous blessing of Yahweh. In six short days, Israel tripled the land under its sovereignty, including East Jerusalem as well as the West Bank (captured from Jordan), the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula (captured from Egypt), and the Golan Heights (taken from Syria).2 Prior to the Six-Day War, Jews were outlawed from all areas of the Temple Mount, including the Wailing Wall (name changed to Western Wall following Six-Day War). Hence, even with the termination of the British Mandate in 1948 and the declaration of Israel’s statehood, Israel was denied access to its most venerated of locations, the Temple Mount, that location upon which the 1st and 2nd Temples had once stood. The Old City of which the Temple Mount was located had been occupied by Jordan since 1948; and the Temple Mount had been under the control of a Jordanian Arab Council ever since the 12th century.3
Perhaps you are wondering why Jews do not have prayer-rights on the Temple Mount since the Temple Mount was taken from Jordan in the Six-Day War? The absence of prayer-rights can be traced to the actions of Israeli General Moshe Dayan, who led the Israeli Defense Forces in the Six-Day War. Moshe Dayan is reported to have used the Temple Mount as a bargaining chip for peace with Jordananian Arab Muslims. Here is one account of Dayan’s efforts:
Ten days after the capture of the Temple Mount, Dayan returned to Al-Aqsa and sat on the carpet in his stocking feet with the Waqf, the charitable trust in charge of managing the Mount. There, on his own authority, Dayan made a momentous gesture. He told the Waqf directors that, while all of Jerusalem now belonged to Israel, day-to-day control over the Haram al-Sharif would remain in their hands. Jews would be allowed to visit the Mount but forbidden to pray. Since then, the Temple Mount has been an Islamic island in an increasingly Jewish, and increasingly Orthodox, city– and, as such, it has become a flashpoint for religious extremists of both faiths.4
Jews demanding the right to pray on the Mount are making it more and more difficult for the Israeli government to maintain security on the Mount. The latest Palestinian-Israeli conflict began with the attempted assassination of a “prayer-rights” activist, Rabbi Yetuda Glick, on the morning after he made a speech at an event entitled “Israel Returns to the Temple Mount.” The attempted assassination of the “temple-rebuilding” advocate resulted in the temporary closing of the Temple Mount to all visitors for security reasons. Once regarded as a fringe movement, the temple rebuilding advocates are growing in number and in boldness which has resulted in the Palestinian’s fierce response. Quoting from Al Monitor, 11/30/14:
Until about two years ago, events surrounding the Temple Mount were the exclusive domain of a few dozen, lone right-wing Israeli militants considered to be from the surreal, messianic margins of society. Following intensive daily activity, broad public campaigns and a number of Knesset members and politicians jumping on their bandwagon, thousands of right-wing Jewish activists, including key Knesset members, have been flocking to the Temple Mount in recent years. An Israeli security official knowledgeable on the West Bank expressed to Al-Monitor serious concerns over the situation spiraling out of control. “A religiously tainted intifada is possible, and could lead to unprecedented doomsday scenarios,” he warned. “Imagine today a hand grenade thrown at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound or near the Wailing Wall.”
Extending prayer-rights to Jews on the Temple Mount is like throwing gasoline on a roaring fire to Palestinians. Any such action is one-step closer to the rebuilding of the 3rd Temple, an act that will necessitate the destruction of the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s two holy sites on the Mount. Such an occurrence will, no doubt, usher in World War 3. In a recent article by the Economist, Jewish prayer-rights advocates were labeled as “militants.” Apparently, Jews visiting the Temple Mount (Jews can visit the Temple Mount but not pray) did so while holding their cell phones pretending to speak, all the while “praying surreptitiously.” Why liken Jewish prayer-rights advocates to “terrorists,” i. e., “militants”? Because its not about prayer. Its about ultimately removing the two Muslim holy sites because they are “standing where they should not be” (Matthew 24:15 NASB, Mark 13:14 NASB). In their place, the rightful holy Temple will one day stand — the Third Temple, the Millennial Temple; but that day will not come until the world is cleansed in the Great Tribulation and the second coming of the only Begotten Son (Revelation 19:11-18 NASB). The nations of the world may be circling for the kill, but they have yet to gather against Israel. Zechariah 14:2-3 NASB. Makes you wonder though — Will the Temple Mount ultimately be used by God to gather the nations for judgment (Daniel 11:45)? Only time will tell. In the meantime, every time a Jew’s cell phone is really a concealed prayer while strolling the Temple Mount, we are likely one day closer to the Great Tribulation and the second coming of our Lord.
Jesus come quickly.
Blessings. (If you would like a free copy of my book for the cost of the postage, let me know by email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Also see www.whenthepiecesfit.org, the website for my book, published in 2011.)
- The Dome of the Rock is the oldest building in Islam. Its construction is in the shape of an eight-sided geometric creation described as “three rectangles encompassing a circle.” Its interior and exterior walls are emboldened with Arabic script quoting from the Qur’an and embellishing Muhammad as the messenger of Islam and Jesus not to be the Son of God (see my book, Islam the Cloak of Antichrist, chapter 6). [↩]
- On 29 November 1947, the United Nations General Assembly recommended the adoption and implementation of the Palestine Plan of Partition for Mandatory Palestine. The end of the British Mandate for Palestine was set for midnight on 14 May 1948. That day, David Ben-Gurion, the president of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, declared “the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz Israel, to be known as the State of Israel,” which would start to function immediately upon the termination of the British Mandate. Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and the Armistice Agreement signed between Israel and Jordan on April 3, 1949, Jerusalem was divided between East and West sections. The Temple Mount (including the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque) and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre are on the Jordanian Eastern side of the city as is the Western Wall. Jerusalem was literally on the boundary line that divided the city between the state of Israel and the Arab state of Jordan. The holy sites of Jerusalem, i.e., those on the Temple Mount and the nearby Church of the Holy Sepulchre, were a part of the eastern section, the “Old City” and were occupied by Jordan. [↩]
- In 1980, the Knesset passed the Jerusalem Law, which was declared a Basic Law, which declared Jerusalem to be the “complete and united” capital of Israel. However, United Nations Security Council Resolution 478 declared this action to be “null and void.” On June 19, 1967, the National Unity Government [of Israel] voted unanimously to return the Sinai to Egypt and the Golan Heights to Syria in return for peace agreements. On June 27, 1967, Israel “annexed” East Jerusalem by extending its laws, jurisdiction, and administration to East Jerusalem and several nearby towns and villages, and incorporated the area into the Jerusalem Municipality. Israel has since been referred to as the “occupier” of these lands. The international community has yet to recognize Israeli sovereignty over East Jerusalem (nor does it recognize Israel’s claim that Jerusalem is its capital. [↩]
- “Forcing the End,” by Lawrence Wright. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/apocalypse/readings/forcing.html [↩]
As always Dr Jack, you have a God given ability to get right to the heart of the matter. Many thanks from your faithful readers. You turn up in our prayers often. Blessings to you and yours!
Thank you, Mike for the encouraging words. Always.