The fall of Jerusalem, deportation of its inhabitants, and destruction of the Temple by the Babylonians in 586 BC did not alter God’s ultimate plans for them. He had sealed the destiny of the land and the Jewish people dating back fifteen hundred centuries with His promises to Abraham. In addition God had revealed His eternal purposes for Jerusalem and the Temple mount to David and Solomon four hundred years earlier. Nevertheless, this catastrophic event did set in motion an unimaginable cycle of judgments and restorative miracles, the repercussions of which are still unfolding today in God’s relentless pursuit to fulfill that destiny.
News & Reflections
At the dedication of the Temple, following Solomon’s prayer, “fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple” (2 Chronicles 7:1 NIV). This took place around 950 BC. Later the Lord appeared to Solomon one night reassuring him again that his prayer had been heard. “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices” (7:12). But it was much more than a simple personal reassurance. God’s intent was to spell out for all the people of Israel, including every succeeding generation, three predictions that would shape their destiny for nearly three millennia. First, He promised to answer their prayers. “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place” (7:14-15 emphasis mine). Second, He confirmed once again the sacredness of Mount Moriah and the temple built upon it. “I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be here forever. My eyes and my heart will always be here” (2 Chronicles 7:16 NIV emphasis mine). And finally, accompanying these eternal promises of answered prayer and His lasting presence in this place was also a solemn warning. Should Israel turn away from Him and worship other gods, He cautioned, they would be uprooted from the land and made an object of ridicule among the nations. The Temple He predicted, would “become a heap of rubble” (7:21).
It is critically important to pause and reflect upon the foundational significance of these two historical events on Mount Moriah. The similarities are remarkable and underscore emphatically God’s initiative to set aside this ground above all other places on earth as His redemptive meeting place with His people. The two men whom God used are both Judeo-Christian fathers of the faith. Both were sovereignly directed to this place, had the angel of the Lord appear to them, miraculously experienced God’s deliverance, worshipped God there through offering sacrifices, and designated the location as eternally hallowed ground. All debate over the origins of what is now called the Temple Mount or Noble Sanctuary and ultimately Jerusalem’s eternal destiny must begin with acknowledging these facts. They provide the only legitimate reference point from which meaning can be derived in reckoning with the fate of that mountain over the past three thousand years
With Jerusalem’s recent official recognition by the United States as Israel’s capital the city has once again been thrust into a firestorm of contentious world opinion. Jerusalem, of all cities upon the face of the earth, is no stranger to contention and controversy. Three thousand years ago when David penned the appeal to “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem” no one could have imagined how prophetically imperative that prayer request would become. Nobody knew the incessant battles that would be fought, both in the natural and the spirit, in seeking to establish a lasting “peace within [its] walls and security within [its] towers” and yet to no avail.
I’ll never forget that ride home. Mike was in an ecstatic mood. Seated in the middle of the back seat he was leaning forward over our seats with his arms extended behind each of our shoulders and talking excitedly. His pungent odor, more than being an irritant, was the sweet smelling savor of redemption. Between exclamations of praise he began to share with us in dramatic fashion the startling circumstances leading up to our “chance” meeting, moments earlier on the street. We learned that the night before, while he lay shivering covered only with cardboard against the freezing temperatures and seemingly at the end of his rope, he had cried out to God. Pleading for a miraculous breakthrough in his life he gave God a twenty-four hour ultimatum. If by days end, he vowed, his lot in life did not change, he would put an end to it. Our encounter was indeed the unmistakable answer to his prayer of desperation.