Jerusalem’s Mount Moriah is steeped in significance. To the Jews, it is the Temple Mount. To Muslims, it is the Noble Sanctuary. It is known as a place “where Gods collide,” because of the deep ties in Jewish, Christian, and Muslim history. For this reason, this site is one of the most controversial and desired pieces of real estate on the earth. There is so much history and prophetic significance in this place, so I’m going to do my best to briefly summarize both for you. (I’ve linked some resources at the bottom if you want to look into it more.)
For the Jewish people, this is their holiest site. Both the First and Second Temples stood in this location. The First was built by King Solomon in about 957 BC based on a vision that his father, King David, had to build a house for the Lord. The Second was built in around 356 BC and was destroyed in 68 AD. Parts of the four walls currently surrounding the Mount date back to the second temple.
Jewish tradition places this as the location of very important events such as where God gathered dust to create Adam (Genesis 2:7), Jacob’s dream (Genesis 28: 10-22), and the prayer of Isaac and Rebekah (Genesis 25:21). Biblically, this is where Abraham nearly sacrificed his son Isaac (Genesis 22:1-19).
[Fun fact: We went shofar shopping after we visited Temple Mount without realizing that the reason we have shofars is because of the Abraham and Isaac story that happened in this location. When God provided the ram as the sacrifice in Isaac’s place, it was caught by its horns in the thicket. Thus, one of the main reasons shofars are blown are to declare and remind ourselves of the faithfulness of God- both in providing the ram for Isaac, but also the Lamb for us. It was neat to have those dots connected.]
Despite the ties to three major monotheistic religions, it is currently under Muslim control. This is their third holiest site after Mecca and Medina, and they are quite protective of the land. This is evident when you visit, starting with the need to be dressed according to their modesty standards.
If men aren’t wearing pants and a shirt that covers their shoulders, they will be given long pants and a long shirt to put over their clothes in order to enter this holy site. Women need to have a shirt with a high neckline (up to collarbone) and sleeves that go past their elbows. Many travel sites will say that women can wear pants, skirts, or dresses as long as they come below the knee. The first time we visited, I was wearing loose pants that went all the way down to my feet and was given a skirt to wear because “Women need to wear skirts.” The second time we went, I wore a dress that went almost to my ankles and was still given a skirt to wear. My dress did have a slight slit in the side, but even then it covered my legs to about halfway down my calves. (Once we were inside, I saw women wearing shorter skirts than mine and many women wearing pants. So that didn’t help bring clarity either.) It seems like it just depends on who is sitting there at the gate, so if you’re a woman looking for a practical tip: just focus on wearing a decent shirt that has a high neckline and longer sleeves because the long sleeved shirt they give you is quite warm. And don’t stress about the skirt/pants thing. Wear something that falls below the knee and if they want you to cover up more, they’ll give you a skirt. You won’t be barred from entry for what you wear; you’ll just need to wear the provided clothes.
The reason this is such a holy site for Muslims is because they believe that this is the place where Mohammed made his night journey to the throne of Allah. In the seventh century, they built the Dome of the Rock when they conquered Jerusalem to commemorate this piece of their religious tradition. This gold-topped shrine stands as one of the most recognizable features of Jerusalem as seen in many pictures, post cards, and sketches of the city. Al-Aqsa Mosque also stands as their place of worship on the Temple Mount.
According to Jewish tradition, their Messiah will come through the East Gate (also known as the Golden Gate or Gate of Mercy). Ezekiel prophesied that “the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the east… And I fell on my face. As the glory of the Lord entered the temple by the gate facing east, the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the Lord filled the temple” (Ezekiel 43:1-5).
Once the Messiah comes and His glory fills the temple, it is said that He will reign there on Temple Mount. “This is my resting place forever,” the Lord said, “here I will dwell, for I have desired it’” (Psalm 132:14, ESV). This will be the location of His throne forever. For anyone looking and longing for the Jewish Messiah, this makes this location very significant!
Even if you’re not excited about it, like Ottoman Sultan Suleiman, these prophesies are still important. In fact, Suleiman had the Eastern Gate filled in and a Muslim cemetery placed in front of it in response to these prophesies. The graves are there in an attempt to defile any Jew who would walk on the hill to enter the gate. All of these measures were taken to ultimately deter the Jewish Messiah from coming as prophesied. Suleiman was not the first to seal the gate, but he was the last and the gate remains sealed to this day- waiting for the Messiah to break through once and for all.
The heart and cry of “Maranatha” was what first marked our hearts in this journey of catching the Father’s heart for Israel. It’s an Aramaic word that can be read “maran atha” (our Lord has come) or “marana tha” (our Lord- come!). The second division can also be interpreted as, “Our Lord is coming!”
Biblically, this expression is found in 1 Corinthians 16:22, and some have seen the relationship between this and Revelation 22:17 (“Come!”) as well as Revelation 22:20 (“Come, Lord Jesus!”). Historically, this word had Chaldean and Syrian roots where it served as an exclamation used to urge people to prepare for the coming of the Lord. “Our Lord is coming!”
The Holy Spirit started making this truth a reality in our hearts and minds. Our Lord is coming back! Woah. Our Lord is coming back. So how should we then live? How do we engage each other, our community, our families, school work, careers, everything… in light of this reality? What does that look like?
We knew about worship. We knew about living presence-centered lives and building family around it. But then the Father started speaking about something a little different for both of us… He started sharing His heart for Israel. He’s telling us about how He loves Jerusalem. He loves her people… they’re His. And if it matters to God, it matters to us. We love Him that much. We adore Jesus so much that we want to know everything about Him. How He grew up, where He lived, what His people are like.
This is the place that He chose. How wild is that? He’s “chosen Zion; he has desired it for His dwelling place.” (Psalm 132:13, ESV).
And so we’re here, in this season, getting a close and personal tour of the Lord’s land. Where He’s been, where He’s going to be, who He’s coming back to. It’s amazing.
And it stirs our hearts all the more to cry, “Maranatha, Lord Jesus come! We see where you’ve been, we see where you’re coming back, and we want to see you come back! So come!”
Jesus, how I long for the day when you return! You are my hope and my heart’s desire. Holy Spirit, guide my heart and my mind deeper into Truth. Prepare me for the day when Jesus returns and help me to long to see Him. I want to partner with you and the rest of the Bride to cry out, “Come! Maranatha, come Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:17)
if you have an extra moment:
read: Matthew 24 and Psalm 132. if you want to learn more about the History of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, the East Gate, and find out what could be beneath the Temple Mount, click the titles to be redirected to the articles I looked at.
listen: “East Gate” by Upperroom and “Maranatha” by Lindy Cofer
watch: our Temple Mount vlog
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