Friday, October 16, 2009

Third Temple Thoughts

Jews had controlled the Temple Mount for over a thousand years prior to the Romans destroying it in 70 AD. Even after the Roman expulsion that turned into the last Jewish Diaspora a Jewish presence has been in Jerusalem and their homeland. Israel may have had different names given by foreigners (e.g. Romans changed the name into the Latin version of Palestine) yet still a remnant of a Jewish presence remained.

Muslims controlled the Temple Mount from 638 AD through the present (as of this writing – 2009). There was a brief interlude of Crusader Christian control from 1099 – 1187 AD. Still Jews resided in Jerusalem and even then the Wailing Wall was a place of holy reverence by Jews. The Wailing Wall (Western Wall or Kotel HaMaaravi) has a long history of access for the Jews except during periods of intolerance by both Christians and Muslims. Relevant to this age the Jews were forbidden access to the Wailing Wall from the time of Jordanian conquest in 1948 until Jordanian defeat in 1967.

If you are a Christian Right prophetic oriented or Evangelical Christian (like I am), then you are among a group of Christians that believe the Second Coming of Christ and the construction of a Third Temple are very relevant. Detractors of this belief call this group Christian Zionists.

Zionism was and is the Jewish movement that paved the way for the creation of a Jewish State after the butchery of the Holocaust that occurred during WWII. Although Zionist and Christian Zionists are considered epithets by those that consider the creation of Israel a mistake, I wear the Christian Zionist badge with honor.

Ironically Zionists and Christian Zionists do not always see things eye-to-eye. Zionism is Jewish and for good reason Jews look on Christianity with great disfavor. A lot of nations and various religions persecuted Jewish people of the Diaspora. People and nations calling themselves Christian are definitely part of this list of persecutors.

For clarity’s sake you have to know that Muslim people and nations of the past and present have also been huge persecutors of Jewish people. If any historical revisionist tells you otherwise it is merely Muslim apologetic propaganda.

The agenda that Christian Zionists and Zionists have in common is the creation and protection of the Jewish State of Israel. For Jews this is a place where gentile governments will no longer persecute Jewish individuals. The Jewish individuals are not necessarily practicing religious Jews. The range of Jews returning (Aliyah) to a Jewish homeland ranges from the Ultra-Orthodox to the complete Leftist atheist.

For Christian Zionists Israel’s modern creation in 1948 signaled a red alert; viz. the scenario of the New Testament promise of Christ coming for His own.

Nineteen years later in 1967 there seemed to be a verification of the prophetic when Israel preemptively attacked Jordan due to Arab provocations in the Six Day War and recaptured all of Jerusalem as well as Judea and Samaria (aka West Bank). Hence in 1967 Jerusalem became a united city under Israeli sovereignty and the Temple Mount within the control of the Israeli government.

Sadly, the hero general that recaptured land from Jordan left the administration of the Temple Mount to the Muslim Waqf. The Israeli government’s reasoning lay more with the guilt trip from the West when the reasoning should have the Jewish heritage indelibly linked to the Temple Mount.

The Muslim heritage over the Temple Mount and Jerusalem was more about Islamic imperialism which was not a pretty sight to see for the vanquished. Evidently the actual conquest of Jerusalem was bloodless due to Muslims trouncing the surrounding area first. For Jews and Christian sects not part of the Orthodox Church, Muslim conquest was viewed in a favorable light. Evidently having to face the status of a second class citizen with nearly zero rights plus a non-Muslim profile tax all for the purpose of humiliation was better than the treatment received by the Greek Orthodox Church of the Byzantine Empire.

The favorable time for Jews and Christians under Islamic oppression was during the Umayyad Caliphate. These guys were the last ruling Muslims to give a hoot about Jerusalem. The Umayyads built the Dome of the Rock between 688 and 691 AD which was roughly 50 years after Islamic hegemony over Jerusalem. Al Aqsa Mosque was completed on the Temple Mount around 710 AD. By the time of the last Umayyads in 750 AD Muslims could care less about Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. Interest only peeked momentarily among Muslims when Christian Crusaders re-conquered the Holy Land. The Crusaders lasted just under 200 years.

After the Crusaders were booted from the Holy Land whichever Muslim ruler had suzerainty over Jerusalem accomplished nothing to keep the city up. Jerusalem was barely an existing town with the combined majority of Jews and Christians eventually exceeding the Muslim population. Jerusalem began to rebuild when the Jewish population of the latter Ottoman and British Palestine Mandate experienced the phenomena of Zionism. As more Jews immigrated to Palestine (1948 – Israel) the land began to be reclaimed which brought prosperity to the area. Prosperity brought a Jerusalem renewal. And prosperity brought more Arabs looking for work as the result of Jewish ingenuity.

Again jumping to the Israeli reacquisition of all of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount we begin to see Jews and Christians to begin to look for the construction of a Third Temple. Although the Third Temple concept is immensely popular with Christian Zionists, the concept has somewhat divided Judaism.

In 1967 most of the Conservative and Ultra-Conservative Orthodox Jewish Rabbis felt it would be sacrilege for a Jew to possibly stumble upon a part of the Temple Mount in which the Holy of Holies was located.

As time has progressed couple with the Muslim Waqf doing all it can to rid the Temple Mount of archaeological evidence of the First and Second Temples, Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox have began weakening on the position that Jews should not visit the Temple Mount. There is definitely a move among Jewish Rabbis for the building of the Third Temple in the midst of some Ultra-Orthodox hold-outs.

Indeed there is a Jewish organization in Israel called the Temple Institute which is dedicated to the preparation of the Third Temple. This means re-sanctifying a Levitical Priesthood, the proper construction of Temple furnishing and utensils and the preparation for Temple sacrifices. Zionists and Christian Zionists are looking for the “red heifer” to begin the first sacrifice.

Here is good old fashioned speculation from The Last Crusade blog implying the two Muslim Mosques on the Temple Mount are to be removed to make way for the Third Temple. Now that would really be a God-thing to pull that off with the U.S. and the West pressuring Israel to give up half of Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.

JRH 10/16/09

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