The Temple Mount is the focus of a greater battle than meets the eye. Most commentators agree that the struggle for sovereignty is a key factor in the dispute; and certainly, some Arab leaders exploit the religion card to keep the street agitated. But this ancient battle has multiple layers of truth, including the apocalyptic—the destiny of Israel and the nations surrounding her. Its center axis pivots not so much on conflicting religious systems, but on worship: Who is worshipped at the Temple Mount? Who is worshipped at Al-Aqsa Mosque? How does this spiritual side of life impact our world?
Why are the Temple Mount and Jerusalem dead center at the crosshairs of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict—and a flashpoint of global Muslim wrath? Though in Jerusalem, religious zeal seems to evoke more passion than politics does, a parallel conflict looms behind the tense stand-off between Israel, the Palestinians, Jordan, and others in the Muslim world.
Has anyone ever wondered why Islam’s third holiest place has become so hotly contested when Muslims have Mecca and Medina in their back pocket? Or why Ramallah is not considered as a possible capital of a future Palestinian state instead of Jerusalem, with its 3,000-plus years of Jewish history and holy temple? Why are so many nations lining up against Israel in the UN and across the globe? Why is anti-Semitism spinning out of control while ruthless tyrants elsewhere inflict human suffering without censure?
On the religious side, why have the Jews and their worship been threatened with annihilation for millennia, time and again? Though other nations and faiths also have faced persecution and genocide, the Jews and Israel have broken the world record.
From the 13th century BCE through the present, attempts to annihilate the Jews include pre-Exodus Egypt; Haman; King Herod’s slaughter of the innocents; Moorish Spain; the Crusades; the Black Death massacres in Europe; pogroms in the Russian Empire and Ukraine; Hebron and Safed during the Palestinian Mandate; the Holocaust, and many more. This list does not include massacres in Israel after 1948, or threats today from Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, the Palestinian Authority and others.
Some Jewish streams believe that Satan is an angel who tries to lure Jews away from righteous living and their life’s mission. Is not a part of that mission to worship G-d in the place that He chose and where His Name dwells?
The question of “who is being worshipped” is crucial. The prophet Isaiah received the understanding that a satanic power behind the king of Babylon sought to be worshipped. “How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! … You said in your heart, I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of G-d; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will make myself like the Most High.”
The Jewish Scriptures have encouraging words for Israel and for us. G-d is true to his word, which says he will punish “the powers in the heavens above and the kings on the earth below,” and the G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem. Islam will never own the Temple Mount. The deed belongs to Israel and the Jews.