This past week has marked yet another season of murder, violence and tension surrounding the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. What else is new? The Temple Mount area, and the surrounding Old City of Jerusalem, has become the most fought over area in human history. This pattern has seemingly gone on for the last 4000 years or so…..ever since Abraham visited the area with his son Isaac in Genesis 22. When you visit Jerusalem today, one never knows if you will be able to visit the location or not due to the unpredictable political and spiritual issues surrounding the area. It is as though the tensions of the whole world are somehow contained in that small piece of ground. While few may care or even understand the issues, all of our lives are somehow eternally connected to those few acres in Jerusalem, its’ peace and future. Jerusalem has truly become the “Ground Zero” for every event in our world today.
The current tensions on the Temple Mount primarily express a conflict between Jews and Muslims. The Jews see the Temple Mount as the location of their two holy temples built by Solomon and Zerubbabel, where they worshipped the God of Israel. Muslims, however, refuse to even acknowledge that these temples were ever built there, let alone expressed true worship to the true God. Instead, the Muslims believe that this area is central to the Islamic faith. Regarding this issue, Wikipedia states:
“According to Islamic tradition, the prophet of Islam, Muhammad took a single night journey around the year 621. In the Isra part of the journey, Muhammad travels on the steed Buraq to "the farthest mosque" where he leads other prophets in prayer. He then ascends to heaven in the Mi'raj journey where he speaks to God, who gives Muhammad instructions to take back to the faithful regarding the details of prayer.”
The shocking part of this story is that even though the word “Jerusalem” is not mentioned in the Koran, the Islamic world has become convinced that Mohammed’s night journey to “the farthest mosque,” spoken of above, took place in Jerusalem on the Temple Mount. Can you imagine a more fundamental disagreement about what really happened in the Jerusalem? The scary part of this “disagreement” is that both faiths, through the State of Israel, and the Islamic nations surrounding her, have growing arsenals of nuclear weapons and seem to be at increasing at enmity with each other.
While we hear a lot about this tension in Jerusalem between Muslims and Jews over the Temple Mount, the real story is hidden from much of the world right now. You see the Temple Mount area was the area where the Lord Jesus Christ conducted much of His ministry in the Gospels. It is the area where the sacrifices were made, including the Passover lambs. It is the exact area where Jesus was tried by Pontius Pilate at the Fortress of Antonia. It is the area where our Lord Jesus died on the Cross for our sins and gloriously rose from the dead, conquering sin, death and Hell.
You see the real story of the Temple Mount is the real story of life itself, the Gospel. It is the real story of how a gracious Lord chose a piece of ground to show His love to the world. It is a story that started when the Lord sent Abraham and his son Isaac there 4000 years ago to rehearse the story of God offering His Son for our sins on the Cross. The Good News in Genesis 22, and today, was that Isaac got to live; but another Son would die 2000 years later to restore our lives and world to a new beginning.
Somehow the glorious story of the Temple Mount being the real Ground Zero of love, grace and mercy in Jerusalem through the Cross and Empty Tomb is being missed by Muslims, Jews and much of the world. The Temple Mount area, and what really happened there, contains the key to life and life eternal. As the spiritual conflicts continue, centered in the Temple Mount, lead us toward a world war, may all of us find the spiritual peace that only comes from knowing the Lord and His Ground Zero of sacrificial love.