Friday, November 28, 2008

Third Temple

As I have said elsewhere here, God works in his own time and in his own way.

I have spent many hours reading and researching the concept of the Third Temple.

The first Temple was built by Solomon. It was rebuilt or restored after the Babylonian captivity.

Then you have the aftermath of Alexander’s world empire collapsing on itself and the Jews in Judea being in the middle of politics and religious persecution at the hands of Hellenistic rulers which results in more revolt and lack of peace in the Middle East and this happening a hundred and fifty years before the time of Jesus.

The rebellions against the Greek rule resulted in a short peace and headed by a family dynasty called the Hasmonean Dynasty that lasted until the so called Herod the Great. Herod of course is mentioned in the Gospels and he was as nasty as King Henry VII of England who married an heir to the throne and then killed off all rivals or pretenders to the throne (his throne).

This favored son of Rome was able to seize power and crown himself as the King of Judea with his Roman puppet master’s approval.

Herod the great took the Hellenistic Alexander the Great view of the world and started to build and rebuild on a scale only rivaled in the city of Rome itself. No amount of taxes or slaves’ sweat or blood would keep Herod from trying to outshine the not forgotten with the people Hasmonean Dynasty. It had been they that recaptured Jerusalem and the defiled Temple and the story of Hanukah comes from this period and the miracle of oil in the Menorah, the ultimate symbol of Judaism, which burned for eight days.

In the end Herod’s cutting edge technology port part of the city of Caesarea fell back into the sea. The rebuilt expanded second Temple disappeared in several waves of recycling and eradication. His Xanadu, his Masada Palace, is remembered not for its builder but for the courage of the last vestiges of the Revolt of 66-73 C.E.

I have no doubt that Herod the Great ordered the death of many innocents in many places including Bethlehem in his syphilis crazed paranoid rule of Judea that was signed off on by the elites of Rome.

Fast forward on the timeline and in the Six Day War the Israeli Army takes all of Jerusalem but not Temple Mount. The Islamists have a thirteen hundred year real estate claim. In real time and real money and real estate, their claim is legitimate.

The Temple Mount remains a sore thumb in any perception of or resolution of present political tensions between Israel and Palestine.

Putting aside the political issue, nobody is quite certain where the second temple was located and of course saying that the Dome of the Rock mosque is the exact place puts a lot of stress into any formula for archeological research or digging. The Islamists will never concede any territory atop the Temple Mount. Barring a massive earthquake or an act of God, the Temple Mount is likely to stay the same for decades or centuries to come.

This brings me to an idea. Why does the Third Temple, as many Jews want to build, have to be built on the present Temple Mount in Jerusalem? Build it nearby. Extend Temple Mount and build. There is no eminent domain in the state of Israel to build next door??? If the Third Temple is inches or mere feet from the original Second Temple, what really matters ? - location, location, location or the heart and desire to build and to please the Lord.

Of course if they actually were able to build a third Temple anywhere in the vicinity of the present Temple Mount I think that looking back is a bad idea. I for one would have to side with animal rights advocates on the number and frequency of the slaughter of animals as sacrifice to God. I believe that the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross was the whole idea of Christianity moving forward out of a primitive pagan like era of blood sacrifice.

Another suggestion - Why not just build a replica of the second Temple on a mountain top in a desert somewhere and treat it with respect and a place to acknowledge the idea of a sacred place dedicated to the one God?

And if politics and bureaucratic inertia stops the rebuilding of the Temple in the middle east why not build it elsewhere on God's planet?

There are many mountain tops in the desert southwest United States and northwest Mexico that could accommodate a second Temple replica to become a place of pilgrimage both as a museum and a functioning place of worship. I think of the suggestion of the late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and his idea to build a Mosque, a Synagogue and a Church together on the top of Mount Sinai. That idea died with the man and got entangled in politics. And these days, the meal ticket academics would dispute where the real Mount Sinai is located, it being the place where God handed down his laws to Moses.

Don’t make it a tourist trap, make it a place of pilgrimage, walk up a mountain and limit parking at the base and put the food court at the base with the parking. Imagine it, a second temple replica and a simple basilica like church and a mosque. It would be unique and more importantly than that it would be a universally recognized sacred place.

There are so few sacred things truly left in this growing secular global world. Why not create a new one?

Just a thought.