Jan 29, 2018

Denying History

My dear friend, Alex Grobman, is a world-class scholar. His specialty is Holocaust studies, and his 2009 book, Denying History, deals with the motives of Holocaust deniers. Alex has spent his life defending Israel and the Jewish people from their detractors. We have spent many years working on various projects together. From him, I’ve gained an appreciation for the importance of defending Jewish history.

I was reminded of all that this week, when I was having a conversation with a few people. Out of the blue, one in our party offered that Jerusalem’s Temple Mount is not in fact the location of the two ancient Jewish temples.

Say what?

I’d heard Palestinians and their friends deny Jewish history, and claim that there was no ancient Jewish presence in Jerusalem (this follows such whoppers as Yasser Arafat claiming to be descended from the Canaanites. The deadly dwarf was in fact Egyptian, and his hammy claim about Canaanite/Palestinian heritage is absurd).

It is unconscionable for Christians (who claim to support Israel) to engage in irresponsible speculation and claims about Jewish history. The first question I have is, why would someone do this?

I think I have an answer.

I’ve noticed among some in the Bible prophecy community that in the last 10-20 years, as speaking opportunities and book deals dry up, there is a tendency to seek “new” theories and “new” revelations. Some claim to find hidden things in the Bible, or (as we see concerning the Temple Mount), new claims about archaeology and history.

In short, this is a way to stand out and perhaps write a scintillating book. The problem is, most of that stuff is junk.

I’m always amazed that some move away from the settled revelation of Scripture to their own vanities. There are solid clues in the Bible as to the Temple’s obvious location.

Just one of the problems with the prophecy community now—infighting is perhaps just as big of a problem—is the trend toward sensationalism. How tragic. Bible prophecy is a great evangelism tool; wackiness is not.

One of the most well known proponents of the theory that the Jewish temples were never located on the Temple Mount is Bob Cornuke. One of his arguments goes this way:

“Jesus warned His disciples of the coming destruction of the temple and that not one stone of the temple would be left on top of another. Matthew 24:1–2 says, ‘Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them, ‘Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.’ Christ’s words clearly state that the entire temple, each and every stone, would be dug up, dislodged, and tossed away. It is interesting to note that there are massive stone blocks by the thousands set in the wall supporting the Temple Mount platform. Was Jesus wrong in His prophesying that not one stone would remain standing?”

It seems clear to me that this is a real stretch. In a quote below, David Reagan addresses this quite well. In order to shore-up his view, Cornuke must make the text say that the Temple Mount complex was uprooted and thrown down. Obviously, Jesus was talking about the Temple complex only.

Cornuke speculates that the Temples were actually located south of the Temple Mount, in the City of David; Reagan addresses this as well.

I’ve been to the area many times, including underneath the Temple Mount, in the place known as Solomon’s Stables. From this location, Temple-era artifacts have been unearthed. Temple-era artifacts have not been found in the City of David.

In addition to contributing to the junk research plaguing the Bible prophecy community, theories like Cornuke’s ironically make strange bedfellows with Israel’s real, mortal enemies. A UN vote two years ago is still galling:

“In a 24-6 vote, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization on Thursday gave preliminary approval to a resolution that denies Jewish ties to its most holy religious sites: the Temple Mount and the Western Wall.

“The official spokesman of the Palestinian Presidency Nabil Abu Rudeinah said on Thursday evening that the continued international decisions against the occupation and its policy including that of UNESCO regarding Jerusalem and the al-Aksa Mosque form a clear message from the international community that it does not agree with the policies that protect the occupation and contribute to the creation of chaos and instability.”

Again, the PLO loves such nonsense. Denying Jewish history is a key element in anti-Semitism. As the Boston Globe noted:

“THE UNITED NATIONS’ animus toward Israel took a truly deplorable turn last week with the passage of a resolution implicitly denying the Jewish people’s historic connection to the holiest site in Judaism.

“That site is Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, so named for the two Jewish temples that stood on the site for almost nine centuries — the first built by King Solomon nearly 3,000 years ago, the second destroyed by the Roman legions under Titus in 70 A.D. One needn’t be a Bible scholar or a historian to know that the cultural, religious, and emotional bonds that link the Jews to Jerusalem are unparalleled. For millennia, Jerusalem and the Temple Mount have been central to Jewish self-awareness — and thus to Christianity as well, since the Temple figures prominently in the Gospels’ account of the life of Jesus.

“Alas, that didn’t stop the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO — the UN’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization — from adopting an Orwellian resolution on the status of conservation in Jerusalem that pointedly ignored Judaism’s connection to the Temple Mount. By a 10-2 vote, with eight abstentions, the committee approved a document that not only accuses Israel of endangering the revered compound, but also refers to the site throughout solely by its Arabic name, Haram al-Sharif. This was no innocent oversight. An earlier draft of the resolution had even more aggressively airbrushed the Jewish ties from Jerusalem’s Old City. For example, it had identified the Western Wall by its Islamic name, while placing the far more familiar Jewish title in quotation marks.”

Back to the Christian sources trying to distort Jewish history. The aforementioned analysis by David Reagan is a must-read:

“One of Cornuke’s cornerstone arguments that he emphasizes repeatedly is that Jesus prophesied that the entire Temple complex would be destroyed to the point that ‘not one stone will be left upon another’ (Matthew 24:2). He then points out that the retaining walls of the Temple Mount remain standing to this day. Therefore, he concludes that the Temple could not have been located on the Temple Mount. In contrast, he points out that nothing is left of the Temple in the City of David.

“This argument is nothing but hot air. Jesus did not prophesy the destruction of the Temple complex, and the reason there is nothing left of the Temple in the City of David is because it was never there.

“You can find Jesus’ prophecy in three places: Matthew 24:1-2, Mark 13:1-2 and Luke 21:5-6. In all three places it is very clear that His prophecy relates only to the buildings on the Temple Mount and not to the retaining walls around the Mount.

“I think it is important to note that the leaders of the Temple Mount Institute in Jerusalem are the world’s leading experts on the Jewish Temples. They have spent their lives studying the ancient manuscripts related to the Temple, and their conclusion is that ‘…there is no doubt that the Dome of the Rock is the location of the First and Second Temples…’19

“One of Christendom’s foremost experts on the Temples, Randall Price, agrees with this conclusion. He further observes, ‘…while evidence of the First Temple’s construction is scarce… evidence for the Herodian Second Temple is replete, both in the original documentary sources and the archeological remains.’20 And he then points out that the Bible explicitly states that the Second Temple was built on the foundation of the First (Ezra 2:68 and 9:9).”

I’d be interested in hearing Cornuke’s replies.

I so tire of this sort of thing. I always love going to Mount Vernon when I’m in Washington. But what if someone proposed that George Washington’s famous home was not in fact at Mount Vernon but was located in Silver Spring, Maryland?

Where is the end to such amateurish “research”?

When I’m in Jerusalem, I love ascending the Temple Mount and looking across the Kidron Valley, to the Mt. of Olives, where Jesus will one day return. From the place where I stand and look, I am in the place where Jesus threw over the money changers’ tables. Where Abraham was prepared to sacrifice Isaac.

And where the Roman 10th Legion pulled down the Temple.

Exactly as Jesus predicted in Matthew 24.