Focus On Jerusalem


The Memory of Ancient Temples
By David Haggith

The Memory of Ancient Temples

"Tens of thousands of Jewish worshipers are to arrive this (Tuesday) morning to the Wailing Wall for the Tish'a Be'av (Jewish day of fast in memory of the destruction of the first and second temple) prayers. Police decided this morning that Jews will not be allowed to enter the Temple Mount today.... According to right-wing 'Kahane-Chai' extremists, 'If the police close the Temple Mount on Tish'a Be'av, they shouldn’t be surprised if some Jews try to bypass their checkpoints. The people of Israel will not stand aside while police ... give the Arabs the control of the mount.'" July 27, 2004

Jews from around the world gather today to read the book of Lamentations and mourn the loss of their ancient temple and their ancient city, Jerusalem. They mourn as one mourns the loss of an only son, except that they do not mourn over the loss of their Messiah. What they mourn is the loss of an old sacrificial system and the temple that represented the old religion that passed away forty years after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Ironically, it was forty years that the Children of Israel wandered in the wilderness before they entered the Promised Land. Forty days was also the length of the period for mourning the dead in Egypt, from which the Children of Israel had fled prior to entering the Promised Land. And, so, forty years was the perfect amount of time for mourning the Messiah, who was dead to them, before having to leave the Promised Land ... and the temple ... and the old religion that required the temple in order to be practiced. The Jewish way of life and religion in the Holy Land that had come into being and existed throughout the Old Testament, all came down forty years after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

Tisha Be' Av

It is an amazing fact (a coincidence of history or something more?) that both the temple built by Solomon and the temple that replaced it in Jesus' day were destroyed on the same day, the Ninth of Av. Even more amazing is the fact that it was on the Ninth of Av that the Children of Israel were told they would not be allowed to enter the Promised Land and began their forty-year wandering in the wilderness because they lacked faith in God. The Ninth of Av is also the day on which the Jews were expelled from England and the day on which they were expelled from Spain in 1492 when Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Tisha Be' Av means the "Ninth of Av," considered the saddest day in Jewish history. In one further irony, Jewish tradition holds that the Messiah will be born on Tisha Be' Av. Perhaps he was, making the day even sadder for it is not recognized.

Two-thousand years later, Jews still wonder how God could have allowed the temple to be destroyed? What grievous sin had the people of Israel committed that God would completely abandon his temple and the Holy Mount on which the temple stood and that great capital city, Jerusalem, and all of the land of Israel? What sin of the people was possibly so great that God would abandon even the people themselves, allowing them to be taken from the land that was "rightfully theirs" and to be sent adrift among pagan nations? Why two-thousand years later are they still searching for the answer to those questions?

Because they don't want to see the one answer that stands right in the center of it all. Unwilling to see that answer, two-thousand years later, they still look for another, mourning the lost temples and not the lost Messiah.

The occasion that brought the temple down was nothing different than what we see today. Jews tried to take the Promised Land back by strength. They tried to wrest it back from Rome, claiming it was "rightfully theirs", and they knew they would win because God had promised them the land when he promised it to Abraham. They believed, if they showed their faithfulness to God by trying to fight for the Promised Land, God would join the battle as he had in the days of King David. (Some believe that today, too.) But God did not.

Their effort, just like their effort today, was only half baptized in faithfulness. Many of those who rebelled against Rome were faithless, political zealots, who merely wanted the land and power and cared nothing about God. They proved their faithlessness when they turned God's temple into a military fortress. As their members fell to the Roman assault on the temple, they stacked the corpses of their compatriots on the altar of God -- an act of ultimate abomination that brought great desolation. The sacred temple, which was never to have a drop of human blood even accidentally spilled upon its floors, was now drenched in human blood, which ran down from the heap of corpses on the altar and overflowed the gutter around the altar and collected in pools in the temple courtyard. And, so, the temple fell under this complete abomination, and the zealots' cause was lost, and the land became desolate.

Jerusalem - City of Peace?

Nearly two-thousand years later, Jews gather today to mourn that loss, still unsure why the temple and Jerusalem fell. Two-thousand years later, they still cling to the land as if the Promise can be had by force, and their effort is still mostly political, mostly secular, but most of all, without the Messiah.

If only Jews today could recognize that it is only through the Prince of Peace that they will inherit the Promised Land and live there in peace. Jerusalem (Jeru Shalom) means "Vision of Peace" or "They shall see peace." They shall only see peace their through God, and so it has existed as the least peaceful city on earth throughout many centuries because no one choses to let God be the one to deliver the city in peace. And that is why the Messiah is called the Prince of Peace for only the Messiah can bring this vision of peace to Jerusalem.

The Jewish struggles there continue because their rejection of the Prince of Peace -- God's anointed King for the City of David -- continues. As their rejection covers more time, their struggles will grow worse. Those who are religious Jews think that what God really wants is to give them is the Promised Land, as if God cares most about real estate, but he doesn't. People care about real estate. What God really wants to give them is the Promised Prince of that land, and only when they mae the Prince their King will they acquire the land that is his alone to give and live in it in peace -- as will all followers of the Prince of Peace, for it will become their world capital -- a truly international city.

For now, God has given them only enough of the Promised Land to cause them to grasp for more so that they will learn the hard way that they cannot even hold onto what they have already grasped. The loss of what they covet most is now beginning to tear Jew from Jew. The Promised Land is slipping through their fingers piece by piece where there is no peace. "Painful concessions" are being made, even by the most stalwart of Jewish settlers and military generals. In yet another irony, that General, Ariel Sharon, bears the name used for some long-lost reason as a reference to Jerusalem in only one short passage in the Bible -- a prophecy in Isaiah:

"Woe to you, Ariel, Ariel, the city where David settled! Add year to year and let your cycle of festivals go on. Yet I will besiege Ariel; she will mourn and lament, she will be to me like an altar hearth. I will encamp against you all around; I will encircle you with towers and set up my siege works against you. Brought low, you will speak from the ground; your speech will mumble out of the dust. Your voice will come ghostlike from the earth; out of the dust your speech will whisper. But your many enemies will become like fine dust, the ruthless hordes like blown chaff. Suddenly, in an instant, the LORD Almighty will come with thunder and earthquake and great noise, with windstorm and tempest and flames of a devouring fire. Then the hordes of all the nations that fight against Ariel, that attack her and her fortress and besiege her, will be as it is with a dream, with a vision in the night-- as when a hungry man dreams that he is eating, but he awakens, and his hunger remains; as when a thirsty man dreams that he is drinking, but he awakens faint, with his thirst unquenched. So will it be with the hordes of all the nations that fight against Mount Zion. (Isaiah 29:1-8, NIV)

Today, in the City of God's Peace, a new lot of zealots is saying the Temple Mount must be cleansed. It must be purged of its mosque and shrine, and some Israeli intelligence people warn that these zealots may plot such an act for the Ninth of Av, as a human-engineered turnabout of justice. Such an act could cost Israel its very existence. Some year, this one or another, at a time when Jews are commemorating the sad festival of Tisha Be' Av, such an act could even bring about the prophecy quoted above -- causing surrounding nations to come together around Jeru-shalom in a whirlwind of fury and blazing anger.

The Cornerstone the Builders Rejected

Among the accused in this plot are the new temple builders, the Temple Mount Faithful. These wannabe builders of a third temple continue to reject the true cornerstone of truth in favor of cornerstones carved out of mineral, as if God still preferred to dwell in temples of stone, rather than in human hearts. They believe if they raise their huge blocks of mineral to the top of the Temple Mount, this Holy Hill will become theirs again because God will bless their act of faith, and their old religion will be resurrected in a third temple. But their stones may well be the next "Abomination that causes Desolation standing on a wing of the holy place," the site where the temple Holy of Holies once stood. Their stones are an abomination because they stand as pure idolatry, a preference for rock carved by human hands over God's anointed Holy One, whom they reject again. These stones are an abomination because they try to resurrect the religion of animal sacrifice that Jesus brought to a close with his own sacrifice. As such, those stones stand in the face of the one true sacrifice. When they are finally raised to the top of that Holy Hill, they will stand as a testament to man's way over God's way, the ultimate rejection of God's plan for Israel, even after 2,000 years in which the Jews have had time to learn, even after seeing the Promised Land slip from their grasp so that Jews in Israel will know God is not blessing their efforts to take the Promise by force or by craftiness. He has merely given them enough to make them grasp for more so that they will learn they can never have by grasping.

And, so, Jerusalem could become a firepot in the midst of the entire human race, inflaming the hearts of mankind, setting all ablaze, pitting numerous nations against the Jews for the atrocity of bringing down the Al Aqsa Mosque or the Dome of the Rock or both and perhaps causing other nations to come against those nations. All it takes is a few zealots to spark the flame. The fuel has already been laid. It has been gathering for some time. A single fool with the right match could light this tinderbox on fire. This is a stable-minded Jew's worst nightmare.

Many prophecies, like the one quoted above, indicate that it is only in the midst of such horror and dire need of salvation that the Jews, as a nation, will recognize the Prince of Peace. Then all the firepower that has gathered will be blown away. Perhaps it will merely dissipate like dust in the wind. Or perhaps it will consume itself in Armageddon; but city that is a Vision of Peace will be as if such anger and mourning was never there -- as if it had all been a bad dream.

In my humble opinion,
David Haggith

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