Uncover the intricate layers of the Temple Mount's history, a site claimed by both Judaism and Islam and etched deeply into the heart of global religious and political conflicts. We take you on an enlightening journey through the epochs, from the building of the first and second temples by King Solomon and King Herod, to their devastating destruction by the Neobabalonians and Romans, and the rise of the al-Aqsa mosque. Feel the pulse of the enduring Jewish presence praying at the western wall's base for 2000 years, a testament to their unbroken spiritual bond with this most sacred site.
Widen your understanding as we analyze the profound biblical prophecies concerning the Jewish people and Israel. Witness the transformative power of Christ’s reach, as exemplified by the son of the Hamas co-founder, who left the confines of his father's ideology to embrace Christianity. As we navigate the volatile currents of the Middle Eastern climate, we bear in mind the biblical exhortation to pray for peace in Jerusalem, reminding ourselves of the eternal resonance of these timeless issues.
It's nearly impossible to summarize the Israeli-Palestinian conflict concisely, but if you're looking for, say, the most potent symbol of the conflict, the Al-Aqsa mosque, as it's known to the Muslims, and the Temple Mount, as it's been known historically, is the holiest site in Judaism and what the Muslims refer to as the third holiest site in Islam, which makes it some of the most contested real estate in the world. So who actually owns the land, and how did this site become the biggest flashpoint in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? No place encapsulates Jerusalem's turbulent history quite like the Temple Mount, whose iconic golden dome has come to define the city's skyline. This is where the stories and hopes and aspirations of three faiths converge, but if everyone claims it as their own, who does it really belong to? To answer that, we have to try to start at the beginning. In Jewish tradition, the large flat stone in the middle of the Temple Mount complex is the center of the universe. This is where God breathed life into Adam, where Abraham nearly sacrificed his son and where the Israelite King Solomon dedicated a temple to God 3,000 years ago Now. Temples were a dime, a dozen in the ancient world, but not for the Jews, who typically used to travel with a single portable temple which had been with them for hundreds of years, since their wanderings in the desert. After leaving Egypt, solomon, however, wanted to turn that portable temple into a permanent temple that could draw pilgrims from all over. You see, at the time of Solomon, the Israelites were the world's only monotheists, and their beautiful temple served as a type of PR for the one true God. So the King invested considerable resources to make the Jewish temple the destination for pilgrims of all nations. Solomon got his wish. Emperors and kings flocked to Jerusalem with offerings and gifts and weapons, and imperial ambitions and violence as well. For 400 years, solomon's temple served as Judaism's focal point. Its fame extended to the distant corners of Europe and Africa. If Jerusalem was a prize situated at the crossroads of Asia and Africa, then the temple was its crown jewel. Here's the thing about prizes, though. Everyone wants one, including the Neobabalonians, who set their sights on Jerusalem in the 6th century BCE. The Jews weren't excited about submitting to a larger empire, but the Neobabalonians didn't take kindly to being denied. They sacked Jerusalem, destroyed the temple and hauled off huge numbers of Judeans. But then something amazing happened. As prophesied the Persian ruler, sires the great rose to power and allowed the Jews to return to their homeland and rebuild their temple. 71 years after the first temple's destruction, the second temple was open for business. Like its predecessor, the second temple was magnificent, especially once the Roman puppet king Herod, started expansions in the 1st century BCE. But Herod's renovations didn't last very long, because history repeats. Another empire had its eye on Judea and just like that, as mentioned before, the Jews refused to submit. So in 70 CE, as prophesied by the prophet Daniel and Jesus Christ himself, the Romans, borrowed from the Babylonian playbook, burning Jerusalem, destroying the temple, killing one million men, women and children and deporting the rest of the Judeans to Rome in chains. In a final insult, the Romans used the temple mount as a garbage dump, literally the Jews holiest place, reduced for centuries to a heap of trash. All that was left of the once great temple included sections of the retaining walls. A small part of the Western retaining wall became a site of Jewish pilgrimage and prayer, a symbol of both Jewish pride and Jewish tragedy. Why do Jews flock there today? Why worship among refuse and ruins? Because it was never about the wall. The wall was merely the closest the Jews could get to the foundation stone, the holiest place on earth according to them. So what changed? The Muslims built the golden domed mosque on the site where the temple stood about 700 years after the destruction of the temple, also prophesied by Daniel the Prophet, which is what some believe to be the actual abomination of desolation. Now the holiest site in Islam is Mecca, which is about a 17 hour road trip if one were to get in a car from Jerusalem. But according to Muslims, the Prophet Muhammad didn't drive. Based on Muslim tradition, however, he made the journey from Mecca to Jerusalem in a single night on the back of a magical winged creature called a barak, which means an actual likelihood. The Prophet Muhammad never actually went to Jerusalem, according to their belief. From there he ascended to heaven to meet and pray with other prophets. So the Muslims do believe the place is a big deal, but it is based on a story with absolutely no corroboration whatsoever, unlike the biblical narrative, which is replete with historical and archeological corroboration. Islam, however, did spread quickly through armed conquest, and the holy land was a growing part of the Arab empire. To commemorate Muhammad's quote unquote night journey, the Umayyad Caliph built the golden domed mosque, which can be seen from the Jerusalem skyline, on the very top of the temple mount where the Jewish temple once stood. This is the center of the universe for the Jews and it's the place where all three Abrahamic faiths agree that Abraham nearly sacrificed his son. So from the building of the golden domed mosque, the al-Aqsa mosque, roughly 500 years after Muhammad's quote night journey, christian crusaders marched from Europe to take back the holy land from the Muslims. When the crusaders encircled Jerusalem in 1099, the city's Muslims banded together to hold off the threat. But the crusaders won, killing off the Muslims and turning their mosques into churches. So for 88 years the golden domed mosque in Jerusalem was the headquarters for the night's temple. But the crusaders didn't hold Jerusalem for long. In 1187, salah Adin pushed back the Christian forces and the temple mount remained in Muslim hands up until modern times. So the Jews have been praying at the base of the western wall for 2000 years since the destruction of their temple. But the Jews returned to their homeland in the 1900s en masse and Muslim authorities did their best to restrict Jewish access to even the wall. Clerics whipped up their people with lies, claiming that the Jews were planning to take over and destroy Muslim holy sites. In August 1929, after months of incitement, arab imabs descended on the Jews of Jerusalem, ebron and Svax, massacring them and mutilating over 133 Jews. The fight over this holy site has powered this conflict ever since. After Israel declared independence in May of 1948, the Arab world came calling, confident that they could stamp the tiny new state out of existence. As we know, they failed. But the old city, including the Jewish quarter, fell to the Jordanians, who pointedly ignored that pesky clause in the ceasefire agreement that guaranteed Jews access to their religious sites. So from 1948 to 1967, no Jew could approach the western wall. And all that changed when tensions exploded in 1967. The resulting war was brief, but it permanently altered the Middle East, famously known as the Six Day War. Israel dramatically expanded its borders and regained control of the old city. The Temple Mount was once again in their hands and within a week, a quarter of a million Jews flocked to the wall. After 2000 years of waiting, the Temple Mount was once again under Jewish control, but unfortunately, the miraculous victory of 1967 opened up a whole new world of complexity. Ultimately, jewish tradition and Muslim pressure prevailed, and since 1967, the Jews have not been allowed to pray on the Temple Mount itself. To this day, the only Jews regularly allowed on the sacred complex are soldiers and other security personnel, and for good reason. The mere hint of a change in the status quo has set the entire country ablaze on occasion. At this moment, control and maintenance of the site ultimately rests with a Jordanian funded Muslim trust known as the Jerusalem Islamic Waf, which means that Judaism's holiest site is under the third holiest site in Islam and in a territory controlled by Israel and entrusted to a Muslim religious organization that's funded by another country, simple right. Shocking that there's been any controversy there. The Waf and the Israeli authorities had some pointed disagreements over the years about everything from archaeological research to the presence of metal detectors. For example, in 1999, the Waf decided to build an emergency exit in one of the mosques on the Temple Mount. In order to do so, they decided to use bulldozers to clear an area four stories deep into the ground, cutting away literal tons of soil embedded with ancient artifacts. As Israeli historian Ayel Maron put it, a toothbrush would have been too large for brushing that soil and they did it with bulldozers. As Muslims often do destroy archaeological evidence, you can guess what happened next. The Jews accused the Waf of destroying archaeological evidence of the ancient Jewish presence on the site. The Waf's chief archaeologist responded by snapping that every stone is a Muslim development. If anything was destroyed, it was Muslim heritage, according to them. The controversy encapsulates the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with the Temple Mount serving as a shorthand for each side's legitimacy. So, while the Jews have legitimate historical claim, in order for the Muslims to lay their hands on the place, they need to rely on deception. In 2010, the Palestinian Authority released a study claiming that the Western Wall wasn't a Jewish holy site at all, but rather part of the Al Aqsa Mosque. They said this was never part of the so-called Temple Mount, but the Muslim tolerance has allowed for the Jews to stand in front of it and weep over its destruction. Today, muslims and non-Muslims alike refer to the entire complex, not just the Al Aqsa Mosque, as Al Aqsa. This very act has served as a rallying cry, inciting Muslims against Jews. So who owns the Temple Mount? After the wars and the fighting, I think that every Jew and every Arab would agree that there's only one true owner. What do you think? So? It seems like every generation since the time of Christ has believed that they were in the end times, but since the War of Israel began the most recent one, at least it appears that we may have legitimate reason to believe that, and here's why you can't read the Bible without noticing just how important a role that the Jewish people play in God's plan to redeem humanity, not only in terms of redemption through Christ, but also in terms of the role Israel plays in the end times. Now, of course, there's more than a few different views of the end times and how things will actually unfold, but what I would like to do is give a really condensed version of just a few of the main prophecies that some Christians believe prove that we might truly be approaching the end times. Bear in mind, I don't believe that anyone knows the day, just as Christ said, but he did indicate that we would know the season, and it seems very likely that we are approaching the season. The first prophecy that I'd like to bring up is Ezekiel 3721. We read Behold, I will take the people of Israel from the nations among which they have gone, and will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land. Now, keep in mind this passage was written about 600 years before Jesus even walked to the earth, and it says that the Jews would first be scattered and then regathered to their homeland. Now, when it comes to being scattered. This happened several times, but most notably when Rome sent General Titus Vespasian into Jerusalem to conquer it in 70 AD, killing 1 million men, women and children. As soon as he arrived, the killing of the Jewish people went on and by 135 AD, all of the Jews were officially banished from their land. This resulted in the Jews being scattered all around the world to around 70 nations. The scattering lasted for almost 2000 years and only seemed to get worse during the Holocaust, after Hitler succeeded in killing 6 million Jews. It was during that time that people especially thought the Jews would never be regathered to their homeland again. Didn't know was that it was precisely this event, which generated compassion among people, which led to a call for Jews to have refuge in their homeland once again. In the face of insurmountable odds, the Jews were gathered once again into their homeland on May 14th 1948. But when it comes to Bible prophecy, this is not where the story ends. The scripture also says that after the Jews would be regathered in their homeland, they would come under attack. And unfortunately, that's exactly what's been going on ever since Israel returned in 1948, leading us all the way up to what we see today, and that leads us into the next prophecy, psalm 83. In the first four verses we read that Israel's neighbors would conspire against Israel with the purpose of destroying them as a nation. With cunning, they conspire against their people. They plot against those you cherish. Come, they say. Let us destroy them as a nation so that Israel's name is remembered no more. Now, I want you to remember that this was written about 3000 years ago, long before the existence of Hamas, who stated in the first sentence of their charter that their goal is to destroy Israel so that Israel would no longer exist as a nation. It reads Israel will exist and continue to exist until Islam obliterates it. Iran has also been recorded saying death to Israel and that they have a nuke that could wipe Israel off the map. So in those verses we learn that not only the people from the Gaza Strip, but other neighbors who live in places surrounding Israel will be united in eradicating Israel, but they would also conspire against Israel together in order to wipe it off the face of the map. Now here's where things get more interesting. Ezekiel 37 and 38 talk about how, after Israel is regathered in their homeland, a large force from the north will attack Israel, and it's referred to as Magog in the Bible. Many biblical scholars and interpreters believe that Magog refers to Russia, since Russia is a large force from the north, among multiple other reasons, the scripture talks about how Magog will be pulled into a conflict with Israel by the hooks in her jaw, possibly implying reluctance, and the one who's doing the pulling is Persia, which is what would be modern-day Iran. So if this interpretation is correct, that means Iran will bring Russia with it to attack Israel in the end times. But what also makes this interesting is that we only recently learned that Iran and Russia began a new relationship, as Iran has been helping them with their weapons for the Ukraine war. This is why some believe that if Russia gets involved in attacking Israel, then it's yet another sign of the times. But it doesn't stop there. In Zechariah, god says that he will make Jerusalem like an intoxicating drink that makes the nearby nations stagger when they send their armies to besiege Jerusalem and Judah. Now, what's interesting about this is that Israel is a small place on the map, slightly smaller than the size of New Jersey, and the fact that it's been able to stay protected in spite of its neighboring countries wanting to completely destroy it makes it really remarkable when all things are considered. But as we continue to read, we learn that eventually all nations are going to be against Israel. But of course, we must humbly submit that only God knows the specifics about what's going to happen next, and we should all keep in mind that there are different views and theologies that have an impact on how people are going to view the end times. The real purpose of this message is to say that we are living in unprecedented times and that many of the tick boxes have been checked and many of the stars are aligning. That we see in Scripture, so that, while no man knows the day nor the hour, we should approach the topic with humility, but should also remain in prayer. The Bible asks us to pray for peace in Jerusalem, and we should also never forget to pray for the people who are suffering right now, as the violence continues to escalate. Both the Israelis and those who would wish to obliterate them both require prayer, as God would ask of us, as no one is too far from God's touch. Keep in mind the son of the Hamas co-founder left Hamas and became a Christian, and that itself proves that God can save anyone. So, in essence, know that you can trust the prophecy and remain in prayer and keep your eyes on Christ. Redemption draws near.