Today we went to the Temple Mount, which is no longer in the hands of the Jewish people. It is in the hands of the Muslims, the Arabs. There is a very strong presence of Islam in the Arab quarter of Jerusalem.
Those who have never been to Jerusalem may not know that it is divided into four sections. While there are Jews living in all four quarters, the different parts of Jerusalem tend to have a majority of different people groups living in them.
Jerusalem is a very big city. There is an inner city that has a wall around it. It is in this inner city, which is called the old city, that we find these four divisions, or quarters. There is a Christian quarter, an Armenian/Turkish quarter, a Jewish quarter, and an Arab quarter. The Temple Mount is in the Arab quarter.
There is only one area in Jerusalem where you go through tight security. If you want to go to the Western Wall your bags will be checked and everyone gets screened. If you go up to the Temple Mount in the Arab quarter there is another screening.
Even though this area is in the hands of the Arabs, it is still policed by the Israeli police. Those policemen who work this area are a mixture of Jewish and Arab personnel. If there are two Jewish policemen there will also be two Arab policemen. This is how the peace is guaranteed in this area.
Again, I want to emphasize that there is a feeling of security and safety as you visit these sites. Both sides have an interest in guaranteeing the area remains peaceful. I walked through the Arab area by myself today and found that the people were very friendly. I did not feel that I was in any danger at all.
I have mentioned before that having grown up in England I have seen many walled cities, and I thought when you had seen one, you had seen them all. Then I visited Carcassonne, where my wife used to live in southern France and thought I had seen a walled city to top them all. It doesn’t compare with what I am seeing here in Jerusalem.
I want to take a closer look at the Temple Mount. This is the location of Solomon’s Temple, of Herod’s Temple, and the prophesied site of the third temple which is yet to be built. At the present time there is an Islamic mosque, the Dome of the Rock, on this site.
The reason Muslims think this is a special site is because Islamic tradition says this is where the Prophet Muhammad was taken up into heaven. This tradition says that Allah took him up to heaven, showed him some things, and sent him back to earth. This is why Muslims claim that this is their holy site and that it belongs to them.
As you know, Muslims pray toward Mecca. In the early days of Islam, before Muhammad was thrown out of Mecca, he used to pray toward Jerusalem. He taught that this was toward where all Muslims were to pray. When he went to Medina and preached to the three Jewish tribes there, thinking that he was a prophet from Allah to the Jews, he was rejected by them. From that time on he turned his prayers toward the Kabah in Mecca.
There are three holy sites for Islam. Of course Mecca is the most holy site, followed by Medina. The third most holy site is here in Jerusalem.
The golden dome is not really considered a mosque, it is a memorial. There is a mosque on the Temple Mount which is much smaller than the Dome of the Rock. It is here that the Muslims believe that Muhammad came riding on a pegasus, a flying horse. Muslims believe that he then walked over to the rock where they believe Ishmael, not Isaac, was offered. This is supposedly the foundation stone for the Dome of the Rock.
The question is, if there is going to be a third temple, does this mean that one day the Dome of the Rock will be demolished? We don’t know exactly how this will all play out.
But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty [and] two months.1 Revelation 11:2
This leads some to believe that it may be possible that the third temple can be built right next to the Dome of the Rock. This is not the most popular belief, but there are some who hold to it. There are also those who believe that the Dome of the Rock must be completely removed for the Jews to build the new temple.
Here is a picture of the Eastern Gate. You can click on the picture to see it in a larger size.
All of the drawings and models of the old temples show them right behind the Eastern Gate. You will notice that the Dome of the Rock is to the left of the gate. This may not be the location of the original Eastern Gate, but where it is located today seems to leave room for the temple without destroying the Dome of the Rock.
We mentioned in an earlier article the worship center that combines Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Why not build the temple beside the Dome of the Rock and please everybody?
In 1514 Suleiman, the Ottoman Turkish ruler, rebuilt the wall around Jerusalem. He closed up the Eastern Gate to prevent the Jewish Messiah from entering through it. In 1917 when General Edmund Allenby, from Great Britain took the city from the Ottoman Empire he stopped the people from opening the gate.
In 1967 King Hussein from Jordan wanted to open the Eastern Gate. At that time Israel won the 6 day war, and the gate remained closed. There is an interesting passage in Ezekiel that talks about this gate.
Then he brought me back the way of the gate of the outward sanctuary which looketh toward the east; and it [was] shut. Then said the LORD unto me; This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter in by it; because the LORD, the God of Israel, hath entered in by it, therefore it shall be shut. [It is] for the prince; the prince, he shall sit in it to eat bread before the LORD; he shall enter by the way of the porch of [that] gate, and shall go out by the way of the same. Ezekiel 44:1-3
It says that this gate will remain closed until the Jewish Messiah enters in by it. The prophecy has been fulfilled, at least until this day. We believe that one day the Messiah, Jesus Christ, will enter Jerusalem through that gate.
As I said in the beginning of this article, I will probably be back in the States before you read this article. It has been great to visit Israel and it has brought many things from the Bible to life for me. It is my hope that this has also helped you see some of the things in the Bible more clearly.