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We are a Christian Fellowship meeting in North London with a strong interest in teaching the Bible and understanding our time in

the light of Bible prophecy

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The Temple Mount - the heart of the conflict

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Speaking of the Jewish attachment to the Temple Mount, British Chief Rabbi,

Jonathan Sacks, said that Jerusalem is 'the home of the Jewish heart and the

heart of the Jewish home. Israel may no more give away the Temple Mount than

a human being may donate his heart'. He said that Jerusalem had been given

in 'sacred trust' to the Jewish people 'on behalf of God and humanity' long

before Christianity and Islam. He added that there was 'no story in all of

history to compare' with the Jewish people's love for Jerusalem and, in

particular, the Temple Mount, 'where almost 4000 years ago Abraham and Isaac

walked to their great trial of faith.' (Jewish Chronicle 19/1/01)

 

By contrast the Islamic leader of Jerusalem, Mufti Sheikh Ekrima Sabri,

issued a fatwa (Muslim religious edict) on January 8 proclaiming that the

entire Temple Mount area, seven stories below and seven stories above,

belongs to the Muslim Waqf authority. The area, continued the Mufti, is the

property of Allah and cannot be transferred to anyone else. Speaking at a

press conference at his office on the Temple Mount, Sabri said the Western

Wall and the plaza in front of it are also Waqf property. The fatwa

compelled 'a billion Muslims around the world to act accordingly'.

(Ha'aretz, January 9, 2001)

 

When questioned about the Jewish claim to the Temple Mount, Sabri said,

'There is not the smallest indication of the existence of a Jewish temple on

this place in the past. In the whole city, there is not even a single stone

indicating Jewish history. The Jews do not even know exactly where their

temple stood. Therefore, we do not accept that they have any rights,

underneath the surface or above it.'

 

The reference to what is 'underneath the surface' is significant because in

the last 18 months the Muslims have been engaged in extensive digging,

causing irreversible damage to the most important archaeological site in the

world. Tons of earth have been removed and simply taken in trucks to be

dumped in a landfill site. Archaeologists are devastated that none of this

is being protected, studied or saved. Many see this as not just carelessness

or sloppy building practices, but a purposeful attempt to destroy all

evidence of the presence of both the First and Second Temples that stood on

the Mount. One of the tunnels that have been constructed leads from the

direction of the Dome of the Rock to the Al Aqsa Mosque, digging up the area

on which most experts believe the Jewish Temples were centred.

 

'Jerusalem the burdensome stone' (Zechariah 12.3)

 

It is an amazing fact that the conflict between Israel and the Islamic world

is not just over Jerusalem, but the Old City of Jerusalem, and not just the

Old City, but the Temple Mount area, and not just the Mount itself but the

ground under the Mount where the Jewish Temple once stood. And let us be in

no doubt that the Temple did stand there. Sheikh Sabri's denial of this fact

is not just an attack on Judaism; it is also an attack on Christianity. The

major events of the Gospels and the Book of Acts were played out in this

place. If there was no Jewish Temple, then the New Testament, which is one

of the main source books for information on life in first century Jerusalem,

is a lie. In fact Sheikh Sabri is denying Muslim scholarship as well, since

a booklet about the site published in 1930 by the supreme Muslim body in

Jerusalem during the British Mandate states categorically that the site's

identification with the First Temple is "beyond dispute." A man who claims

to be speaking for a billion Muslims is rewriting history with a lie so big

that it defies all reason.

 

Nevertheless the fact that this place is such a contentious issue lines up

with Bible prophecy and authenticates the fact that the Bible is not only

the accurate record of what has already happened, but also the only true

source of information about what is to come. God, who knows the end from the

beginning has given detailed insights into the past, present and future

history of this place.

 

Jeremiah prophesied that the first Temple built by Solomon would be

destroyed because the people of Judah had turned away from the Lord and

worshipped idols. He said they would be taken away into captivity in Babylon

from where they would return after 70 years and rebuild the Temple (Jeremiah

29.10-14). While they were in Babylon God raised up Daniel as His prophet

not only to the Jewish people but also to the Gentiles who were ruling them,

showing that ultimately He is in control of history.

 

In Daniel 9, after confessing the sins of the people, Daniel received a word

through the angel Gabriel concerning the rebuilding of the Temple in

Jerusalem (Daniel 9.20-27). In the days of the second Temple he was told

that 'Messiah shall be cut off (i.e. die a violent death) but not for

himself (i.e. not for his own sins, but as an atonement for others); and the

people (the Romans) of the prince to come (the coming Antichrist) shall

destroy the city (Jerusalem) and the sanctuary (the Temple).'

 

This prophecy teaches that Messiah would come before the destruction of the

second Temple, which took place in 70CE. In fact Jesus came and died a

violent death for the sins of others, thus fulfilling the prophecy of

Messiah's suffering and rejection in Isaiah 53, exactly 40 years before this

event (a significant time period). Jesus also prophesied the coming

destruction of Jerusalem and gave the failure to recognise his Messianic

mission as the reason for it: 'If today you had known the things that make

for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will

come when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and

close you in on every side, and level you and your children within you to

the ground; and they will not leave one stone upon another, because you did

not know the time of your visitation.' (Luke 19.42-44).

 

Then in Luke 21.24, He said, 'Jerusalem will be trodden down (ruled) by the

Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.' By this He

indicated that there would be a long period of Gentile rule over Jerusalem,

which would come to an end at the set time appointed by God. This time is

connected to His second coming. Psalm 102 states, 'You will arise and have

mercy on Zion; for the time to favour her, yes the set time has come. For

your servants take pleasure in your stones, and show favour to her dust (NB

they don't dump them in a land fill site) … For the Lord shall build up

Zion; He shall appear in His glory.' See also Acts 1.6-8.

 

Prior to this glorious event there will be one final period of trouble

centring on Jerusalem which will see 'the abomination of desolation spoken

of by Daniel the prophet standing in the holy place' (Matthew 24.15).

Exactly what this abomination will be remains to be seen, but the Bible

indicates that at the end of this age a wicked ruler (the Beast or

Antichrist) will make a false peace treaty with Israel leading to the

'abomination of desolation'. His motive for making peace will be to capture

the Temple Mount for his purpose, which will result in an act of idolatry to

be imposed on the whole world (Revelation 13.11-18).

 

A possible scenario to bring this about is as follows. The present stand off

between Israel and the Palestinians leads to a limited war involving the

nations surrounding Israel (Psalm 83). In the process the Dome of the Rock

is destroyed and the world comes close to all out war involving weapons of

mass destruction. A leader emerges out of the EU, which becomes a superpower

controlling the Euro-Mediterranean area in the manner of the old Roman

Empire, and mediates a 7-year peace treaty. This leader is looked upon as a

saviour by many in Israel and the rest of the world but turns out to be the

greatest deceiver of all. He unleashes the final conflict, which leads to

the Messiah Jesus, returning in power and glory to save the world from

destruction and to bring judgment on the wicked and deliverance to his

people.

 

A prophecy of this event is to be found in Zechariah 12-14, which contains

the revelation of the identity of the Messiah to the Jewish people. 'And I

will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the

spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on me whom they have

pierced; they will mourn for him as one mourns for his only son.' One who

has been pierced (died by crucifixion) will come at the time of Israel's

greatest crisis to rescue the people he loves and died for and to set up his

Messianic kingdom in which there will be peace and justice at last.

Something to look forward to and something to get ready for by accepting him

as Saviour right now!

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