Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Third Temple of Solomon; God's Will?

The issue of whether Solomon's Temple - which was leveled by the Romans almost 2,000 years ago - should ever be rebuilt is so inflammatory that it could start another Mid-East war. A mosque now stands on the Jerusalem site, and Muslims guard it with extreme measures. Jews and Christians are discouraged from approaching it. Many Arab leaders - such as the late Yassir Arafat - deny there ever was a Jewish temple on the site, which is absurd. The historic record, from Roman times backward, documents its wonders. There were two, an original, and a rebuilt one paid for by Herod the Great. Both were crafted with precious woods, metals, gems, and fabrics; the ultimate statement of the grandeur and power of the age. In 70 A.D., Jews rebelled against Rome and lost. They were punished by the destruction of the Temple, down to its foundations, and the city.

In June 1967, Israeli paratroopers entered Jerusalem after Israel's miraculous victory in the Six-Day War. The city had been under Jordanian control for nineteen years. The paratroopers made their way to the Temple Mount, the holiest piece of ground in all Judaism, site of the First and Second Temples of Solomon, and, by tradition, the ark itself. Three paratroopers climbed to the top of the Muslim Dome of The Rock (built on the foundation of the Second Temple) and unfurled the Israeli flag. Four hours later, Defense Minister Moshe Dayan ordered it removed. Then Dayan handed over the Temple Mount to the Muslims, and it remains in their control. Dayan announced that he did this to prevent the building of a Third Temple, which Jews do certainly pray for. But the likelihood of a Third Temple arising was about zero, a fact that doesn't stop Muslim clerics from saying, "the Israeli occupation and its executive arms are making increasing efforts...to hasten the building of the alleged third Temple in place of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque...." (Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Jan. 4, 2011).

Meanwhile, the Muslim plan to erase Jews from all of Jerusalem continues. Jews are allowed only limited access to the Mount, and are strictly forbidden to pray.  If a Jew is seen so much as moving his lips there he runs the risk of being attacked, and will very likely be arrested by the Israeli police. In spite of constant Israeli assistance, however, just last month the Jordanian Information Minister demanded the removal of the police station and its surveillance cameras.

The ultimate question is whether or not it is God's intention to re-establish a temple on the Mount.  Jesus appears to say no.  In John 2:13-22, it says, "The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there.  And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father's house a house of trade.” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken."

This is one of the most important lessons we can learn in this life. God's Kingdom, and the greatest gifts we can receive in this life, are not material things. To us, in this world of heavy substance, what we often call "reality", is dull and dense as lead. The world to come is much finer and exponentially more desirable and durable.
"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Matt. 6:19-21