There is no place on this planet that is more fiercely contested than those few acres of land located on the east side of the old city of Jerusalem above the Kidron Valley. Christians and Jews call it “The Temple Mount” because that is where the two ancient Jewish temples were located. The Arabs call it “Haram Ash-Shari” because in the religion of Islam that is the place from which Mohammed ascended into heaven.
As the dispute continues the weight of world opinion is with the Arabs and, they obviously exploit that endorsement at every opportunity. The Temple Mount is frequently the scene of Moslem attacks upon Jews praying at the Western Wall. Further, hate-filled sermons which are delivered in the Al-Aqsa mosque at the southern end of the mount are often used to incite Arab violence against Jews.
Yet the majority of professing Christians not only have no real idea about the mount and the on-going dispute between the Jews and the Arabs but, most of them simply do not care. They see the entire scenario in the Middle East as one big “non-issue” because they do not believe any of it is spiritually relative to events of the 21st century.
Additionally, most in the so-called world of Christendom are anti-Semitic. Unfortunately, that about sums up the situation with the last-days church regarding what she believes about Bible prophecy, Israel and where we are on the time-line of history. The modern church believes nothing going on in the world has less spiritual significance than Jerusalem and the Temple Mount.
Basically, the dispute is about ownership of the land of Israel, Jerusalem and of course, the Temple Mount. To complicate things even further, the issue of ownership will not be settled until the world admits to who is God. And moreover, that question will not be settled until Jesus reveals Himself to the world as King of kings at His Second Coming, and that will not happen until the end of the Tribulation.
So, there is no short-term solution and as long as there is no solution, the Temple Mount issue will not go away. Regrettably, a lot more blood is going to flow in the future over the issue of who owns the land.
Actually, the place in itself had no real importance prior to the time of Abraham. In those days its only advantage to the Canaanites was its elevation, which had less to do with defense and more to do with threshing and winnowing grain because of the prevailing wind atop the mount, a characteristic of most elevated places.
But something happened in the early history of the Hebrew people that changed it from a mere threshing floor to a holy place. The beginning of this interesting transformation is found in Genesis 22 where the account is told of Abraham bringing his only son, Isaac, to a place where God tested the patriarch by telling him to offer Isaac as a sacrifice.
God, appearing as the angel of the Lord, intervened of course, and personally provided a ram for sacrifice instead of Isaac. The point is, the place where God sent Abraham was Mount Moriah, which is today called the Temple Mount. Both the event and the place eventually became exceptionally significant for Abraham’s descendants through Isaac.
It is also the place where God spoke to the great King David regarding his sin of taking a census of Israel as found in 1 Chronicles 21. This resulted in God sending a plague among the people. Several things happened in that saga, but not to be missed is the fact that another special sacrifice happened there.
You see, David bought the site with his own money from a Jebusite named Ornan (Araunah) for the price of 600 shekels of gold. He immediately built an altar there, presented a sacrifice, called on the name of the Lord, and God accepted David’s sacrifice with fire from heaven. Thus, the plague ended.
There appears to have been a divine purpose behind this incident that could have very well been connected with God making the mount the designated place for the Temple. At the time of those events associated with David’s sacrifice the Ark of the Covenant was in Jerusalem, separated from both the tabernacle and the sacrificial altar. Both of those were in Gibeon, about 5 miles northwest of Jerusalem.
It seems clear that God wanted this sacrifice to happen on Mt. Moriah in Jerusalem instead of in Gibeon. He accomplished this by bringing such a terror upon David during the plague that he was fearful of going to Gibeon, the official place of sacrifice. As a result, David was compelled to present the offering on Ornan’s threshing floor, the same place where Abraham presented his sacrifice 1,000 years earlier.
Concerning those two sacrifices, it is clear that God explicitly directed Abraham to Moriah and, He essentially gave David no option but Moriah. Coincidence? Impulse? Not hardly, for God does nothing capriciously. Though we must never put words in God’s mouth nor intentions in His mind, yet history indicates His affinity for Moriah because the two ancient temples were constructed there.
Further, prophecy indicates the third temple will be built on the same spot, which will be directly related to the Eastern Gate (Ezekiel 43:1-4), the most famous, but closed, entrance to the mount.
Still, the modern argument over who owns the mount goes on with flaming passions essentially ruling the day. It is true that, generally speaking, there are times when each party in any dispute might have a measure of truth as part of their argument. But, that is not the case regarding who owns the Temple Mount.
The truth of the matter can be summed up very simply: the mount belongs to God because He created it, and He later gave it, and the entire area to the descendants of Abraham through Isaac (Genesis 15:18ff; 17:18-21). Presently the entire world, including the systematized, organized and self-authorized last-days church recoils at this answer but, compared to what God has said, such disagreement will eventually prove to be meaningless.
The root of this volatile issue goes back to Abraham’s unwise decision to listen to Sara’s advice regarding his taking Hagar, the Egyptian slave-girl, as a concubine (Genesis 16). Ishmael, the son born to Hagar, was an illegitimate child with absolutely no connection to the land-grant promise made by God to Abraham. God prophesied Ishmael would have the nature of a wild donkey (v. 12), and his descendants today, the Arabs, still carry this trait as seen in their emotional and often violent character, especially in groups.
A good example of that wild, irrational and beastly nature was evident in the Arab lynching of two young Israeli soldiers on October 12, 2000 near Ramallah. After becoming lost they stopped at a Palestinian police station to ask for directions. They were arrested, beaten, stabbed, their eyes were gouged from their sockets, they were disemboweled and their internal organs held up for public viewing in the bloody hands of the Arab attackers (www.masada2000.org).
The Arabs claim to be descendants of Abraham through Kedar, the second son of Ishmael. It is from this basis that they launch their claim that Ishmael was the son of promise, not Isaac. They continue from that assertion vehemently denying any Jewish claim to any promise God made to Abraham, especially any promise associated with the land-grant in Genesis 15:18. Their conclusion is they own every square inch of ground in what they call “Palestine” which of course, includes all of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount.
The recent history of the Temple Mount can be told briefly. Israel became a nation again on May 14, 1948. On that day, their war of independence began and it lasted until January 7, 1949. One of the armistice agreements was that Jordan would get Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and the old city of Jerusalem, which included the Temple Mount.
The Arabs immediately set about destroying everything Jewish, including synagogues and libraries. They then built a road across the Mount of Olives, unnecessarily going straight through a Jewish cemetery. The Jordanian Arab Legion used Jewish headstones to pave roads and to floor latrines in their military barracks.
The Temple Mount was recaptured in the Six-Day War in June of 1967. However, IDF General Moshe Dayan almost immediately gave control of the mount back to the Moslem Waqf, an Islamic endowment that oversees the Temple Mount. Why did he do such a thing?
Although he was a famous general, he was also a secularist. He gave the Temple Mount back because he did not see it as having any religious significance at all, only historical, and certainly not worth any future trouble that would be necessary in order to keep the mount in Israeli hands.
During WW2 Dayan was part of a reconnaissance force attached to the Australian 7th Division. On June 8, 1941 during the invasion of Syria-Lebanon, Dayan was observing enemy activity using binoculars. A soldier of the Vichy French government (a government of Nazi collaborators) fired a bullet that struck Dayan’s binoculars and took out his left eye.
Most Israelis today are secularists also, which is why they refuse to interpret current events in light of what their ancient prophets wrote. They do not want to be known as God’s special people because that would make them stand out in the world community. They want to be like all the other nations and, to be accepted on the basis of world citizenship instead of their relationship with God.
Most are agnostics at best, or they don’t even believe in God at all, so they don’t look for Messiah whose coming is directly related to Jerusalem (Zechariah 14). They ask what is the use of going to war over the Temple Mount, or Judea and Samaria, or Gaza, or the Sinai, or the Golan if giving away all that land will bring the peace and acceptance they want. In the ridiculous words of an infamous criminal of some years ago, they ask, “Why can’t we all just get along?” What buffoonery!
There is no wonder whatsoever that it will take seven years of hell-on-earth ending with the Jews being on the verge of total annihilation by the same world they want so much to be a part of before they will accept their Messiah. When they do, they will see He has nail-scars on His hands! The words of God through their Prophets will ring in their ears:
“Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever…Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him, for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him” (Genesis 13:14,15; 17:19).
Nearly 500 years ago the Moslem conqueror, Suleiman the Magnificent, walled up the Eastern Gate to the Temple Mount. It is said he did so to prevent the Jewish Messiah from entering. Plus, he established an Islamic cemetery in front of it thinking the Jewish Messiah would not defile himself by walking through it.
The truth is it would be easier to hold back the morning sun. Messiah Jesus will enter what is His, His by right of creation and His by right of redemption, and no Moslem wall or cemetery will stop Him. In that day the entire world will, without question, know who really owns the Temple Mount.