On Friday, July 14, Moslem terrorists struck on the Temple Mount, killing two Israeli policemen and injuring another before being killed themselves. This incident serves to focus our attention on the real spiritual-based conflict centered around Israel. While Israelis grieve for those who lost their lives, Moslems are celebrating their martyrs. These terrorists will be celebrated as most honored defenders of Islam because they perished in the effort to drive out what they see as Israel’s occupation of their “holy”site.
Consider the nature of the conflict, firstly from the Israeli (Biblical) perspective and secondly from the Moslem (Koran and Hadith) perspective. This analysis will demonstrate how deep the divide is and reveal the truth that a compromise solution is impossible.
The God of Israel Chooses Jerusalem, Forever
From the very beginning of Biblical revelation, God began to show the importance of the area which would become the Temple Mount. Abraham named the site “God will see” and “God will be seen here” (Genesis 22:14). Six centuries later, God used Moses to deliver Israel from Egypt. Israel was led around in the wilderness for 40 years before they were prepared to enter the land. They camped in what is now Jordan, waiting for the command to cross the river and begin the conquest of the land promised to them. At this point, Moses’ last exhortation to Israel is recorded as the book of Deuteronomy. In this exhortation, Moses repeatedly declared that God would eventually choose a specific site in the land where He would establish His name. (Please see Deuteronomy 12:5, 12:11, 12:14, 12:18, 12:21, 12:26, 14:24, 14:25, 15:20, 16:2, 16:6, 16:11, 16:15.) I suppose God wanted to ensure that His people got the point!
Four hundred years later, God used King David to identify this site (I Chronicles 21:18-22:1). On this site David’s son, King Solomon, built the First Temple (2 Chronicles 3:1-2). God promised to establish His name at this place forever (forever – for all time – not to be interpreted as a “short forever” as some seem to believe). About 400 years later, Judah (the Southern tribes of Israel) was judged by God and was driven from the land. It seemed as if all was lost, but prophet after prophet spoke declaring that God would eventually gather His people from all corners of the earth to the land of Israel and that He would dwell in their midst. Jeremiah, the prophet of record at the time of the dispersion, declared:
“It shall be in those days when you are multiplied and increased in the land,” declares the LORD, “they will no longer say, ‘The ark of the covenant of the LORD’”. And it will not come to mind, nor will they remember it, nor will they miss it, nor will it be made again. At that time, they will call Jerusalem ‘The Throne of the LORD.’ And all the nations will be gathered to it, to Jerusalem, for the name of the LORD, nor will they walk anymore after the stubbornness of their evil heart. In those days the house of Judah will walk with the house of Israel, and they will come together from the land of the north to the land that I gave your fathers as in inheritance. (Jeremiah 3:16-18)
The ark that sat in the Most Holy Place in the Temple represented the throne of God. At some future date, Jerusalem will serve in this expanded function. Isaiah saw a future time when something like the “cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night” will serve as a canopy over Jerusalem (Isaiah 4:5). Ezekiel saw that with the promised ingathering God would once again establish His sanctuary in the midst of Israel (Ezekiel 37:24-28). Six hundred years after Jeremiah, Jesus came preaching a radical new concept of the Kingdom of God. Nothing that Jesus nor His immediate disciples taught altered the promises concerning Israel, Jerusalem and the Temple Mount in any way.
Today, the Jewish people have been ingathered to the land. The ingathering process has been ongoing for almost 140 years depending on what date is recognized as beginning the process. Every square inch of land that Israel possesses was gained through armed conflict and in opposition to global consensus. Perhaps the most significant point in this struggle came in 1967 when Israel took the Old City of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. I have heard the testimony of multiple Israelis who fought in the Six Day War and experienced something utterly supernatural when word came “The Temple Mount is in our hands.” There exists a large core of Israelis who are full of faith believing that they are the fulfillment of the Biblical promises cited above. They are quite aware of the importance of establishing Jewish presence throughout the land and are growing more and more intolerant of de facto Moslem control of the Temple Mount. How long will they permit the “status quo” to continue?
The State of Israel and Jewish Control of The Temple Mount Directly Challenge Moslem Faith
Moslems view the situation of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount in a diametrically opposite way. The Moslem perspective formed from both the Koran and the Hadith embraces global jihad. Two primary principles define the Moslem attitude relative to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. (See Yohanan Friedmann, “Islam is superior..“ The Jerusalem Quarterly, Spring 1979.) The first is the idea of Moslem conquest (jihad). In Moslem thought, once a land has been conquered by Moslems it is forever considered Moslem territory (dar al-Islam). Areas beyond “dar al-Islam” are seen as “dar al-harb” or areas of war until these areas too are conquered. The obvious goal is global domination.
The land of Israel (and Jerusalem) came under Moslem control in 638 A.D. and remained so until WW I when the area fell under British control. In 1948, the state of Israel gained independence and in 1967 the heartland of Israel, including Jerusalem, came under the sovereignty of Israel. The state of Israel lies in the heart of “dar al-Islam” and, as such, is the most serious affront to the fundamental doctrines of Islam.
The second principle that adds to the significance of the Temple Mount is the doctrine that Islam must be demonstrated superior to all other religions. Typically, Moslems, after conquering an area, will either convert important religious sites to Islamic sites or build new mosques to demonstrate the superiority of Islam over the religion of the conquered area. The Al Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock were built on the Temple Mount to demonstrate that “Allah”, the Moslem deity, is superior to the God of the Bible. When the Temple Mount was delivered from Moslem control and came under Israeli sovereignty in 1967, Israel compromised their victory by allowing the Moslem authorities (the Waqf) to continue to exercise authority on the Temple Mount. This policy was implemented then and continues today in the hope of avoiding a wider conflict with the entire Moslem world (currently about a quarter of world population). Any change in the status on the Temple Mount is seen as a threat to the declaration of the superiority of Islam.
No Compromise on The Temple Mount is Possible
For any serious Moslem, the existence of the state of Israel in the heart of “dar al-Islam”, not to mention the expectation that Israel will one day eliminate the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa mosque and build a Biblical Temple there, is intolerable. To the faithful Jewish believers and to many faithful Christian believers it seems intolerable that Moslems can desecrate the site where the God of Creation declared that He would establish His name forever.
There is no compromise solution possible. A temporary fix or ceasefire may be agreed upon for a time but it will not last. Only a Godly intervention of “Biblical Proportions” will resolve this issue. Meanwhile, Israeli control of the Temple Mount will be continually challenged. Their ability to sanctify God’s name at this most holy site will depend on their willingness to assert their authority there and to actively fight off all attempts to oust them from the site.