Temple Mount in Jerusalem is perhaps one of the most hotly-contested pieces of real estate in the entire world. It is where Solomon built the first Temple, and Herod built the second. Before the temples stood there, though, the place was known as Mount Moriah…the location Abraham took his son, Isaac, to sacrifice him to the Lord. (Of course, God spared Isaac’s life by providing a sacrificial lamb. Read the entire account in Genesis 22.)
Following the destruction of the Temple and the dispersion of Jews in 70 AD, Jews had no access to Temple Mount. Furthermore, in the mid-600’s AD, according to Muslim tradition, Allah spoke to Mohammad on that hill, beckoning him to heaven, mounted on a flying horse. Later, the Dome of the Rock (a Muslim shrine) was built on Temple Mount, as was al-Aqsa Mosque; and the place became the third holiest (after Mecca and Medina) for Muslims.
Following Israel’s War of Independence in 1948, Jordan retained control of Temple Mount and refused entry to the Jews. But during the Six Day War (1967), the Israel Defense Forces liberated Temple Mount, enabling Jews to go there for the first time in over 1900 years! Consistent with Jewish efforts for peace, though, management of Temple Mount was handed over to the Islamic Waqf (an Islamic religious committee), while Israel security forces were given responsibility for security on Temple Mount. It remains that way today.
Needless to say visiting Temple Mount is controversial for Jews in terms of Muslim prohibition of any sort of non-Muslim prayer on Temple Mount (in order that no Muslims are offended). That is why the Western Wall carries the greatest spiritual significance to Jews. They are free to pray and conduct Jewish ceremony there.
In recent years, however, the number of Jews visiting Temple Mount has increased, particularly around Passover. With that important Jewish holiday approaching, Jewish visits to Temple Mount are spiking, despite the rigorous preparations which include a mikvah (ritual bath) prior to setting foot on what the Jews still consider to be holy ground.
While on Temple Mount, non-Muslims (particularly Jews) are often accompanied by Waqf guards to insure they do not pray or make any gestures that might be construed as offensive to Muslims. Jews are also limited as to what days and times, and for how long they may remain on Temple Mount. No such restrictions apply to Muslims.
As the end times draw nearer to a close, we can anticipate that more and more Jews will be drawn back to their most sacred place. In fact, the Bible teaches that a third temple will be built and temple sacrifices will resume. Yet, only for a short while. That occurs during the Tribulation, in the middle of which the antichrist will establish his throne in the very center of that temple and will demand to be worshipped there.
Jews returning to Temple Mount is yet another sign of the last days. Pray for God’s hand of protection as increasing numbers of Jews make that pilgrimage to Temple Mount this Passover season. Pray, also, that Jesus will be revealed to them as the Passover Lamb!