Who will worship on the Holy Mountain?





“Thus says YHVH of Armies, ‘I will return to Zion and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem.  Then Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth, and the mountain of YHVH of Armies will be called The Holy Mountain (Zechariah 8:3).

In June of 1967, the mountain just west of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem came under Jewish rule for the first time in 2500 years.

This was the mountain in the land of Moriah upon which Abraham had offered up Isaac.  It was the “Mountain of the LORD’s Inheritance,” about which Moses and the children of Israel prophetically sang after crossing the Red Sea, The Mountain to which the He would “bring them in and plant them” (Exodus 15:16b-17).

It was this same “Mount Moriah”  upon which David had purchased a threshing floor from Ornan the Jebusite for 600 shekels of gold, and built an altar there at the command of the LORD (I Chron. 22:25). On it his son Solomon built a magnificent temple, following the plans given by the Spirit of God to his father (I Chron. 28:11-12; II Chron. 3:1). And when the work was all completed during the Festival of Sukkot, it was into the Temple upon this mountain  that the Cloud of the LORD’s Presence came, filling it so that the priests could not stand.

For almost 400 years this Skhinah—this glorious Presence of the LORD dwelt  there—until a terrible day when, because of His people’s grievous sin, it departed, was carried out of the Temple, over the city, over the Mount of Olives, and was gone (Ezekiel 10:18; 11:22-23).  The people whom He had brought to His mountain, to whom He had untrusted its custodianship, beheld it invaded, the holy Temple destroyed, and they and their children uprooted and  taken away into captivity.

But Ezekiel had also a redemptive prophetic word regarding this Mountain and this covenant people in latter days: 

 ‘For on My holy mountain, on the mountain height of Israel,’ says Adonai YHVH, ‘there all the house of Israel, all of them in the land, shall serve Me; there I will accept them…I will accept you as a sweet aroma when I bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you have been scattered; and I will be hallowed in you before the Nations’ (Ezekiel 20:40-41).

And Isaiah 27:13 prophecies a day when ‘A great shofar will be sounded, and they will come, who are about to perish in the land of Assyria, and they who are outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship YHVH in the holy mount at Jerusalem.”

Yet the Ezekiel passage above goes on to say that after being brought back into the land, Israel will come to a place of deep knowledge and conviction concerning her sin—“all your doings with which you were defiled; and you shall loathe yourselves in your own sight because of all the evils that you have committed.  Then you shall know that I am YHVH, when I have dealt with you for My name’s sake” (vs 43-44).

Praise God, there is an awakened and growing remnant of Messianic Jews in Israel today—but for the most part this section of the prophecy has not yet taken place.  Nor has the Spirit of grace and supplication spoken of by Zechariah the prophet (12:10) been poured out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem so that they “look on Me whom they pierced.”   Israel still does not have “clean hands and a pure heart”— she is not yet ready to “serve and worship” the Holy One on His mountain.


In the 1967 war, Israel wrested control of the Temple Mount from Jordan.  Yet she was immediately faced with a dilemma. It was not only Jordan—Muslims all over the world have been taught that this mountain is Al Aqsa—the “farthest place” or “farthest mosque” which Mohammed visited (in a dream or otherwise) in 621 A.D., and from which he ascended to heaven to speak with Allah and to bring back the tenets of their faith (Interestingly, Al Aqsa wasn’t finally identified with Jerusalem until some 50 years after Mohammed’s death).  The Mountain is thus considered the 3rd most sacred place in Islam—and bears upon its surface the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa mosque.

Because of this, shortly after the war Israel’s secular leaders established an arrangement which become a sort of status quo.  Although Israel considers the Mount to fall within its national sovereign boundaries, there are no Jewish or Christian buildings on the mountain, only Islamic.  Muslims are its primary visitants.  They are allowed general freedom to worship in the mosque, visit Dome of the Rock, sit or walk among the gardens.  The Mount is administered and overseen by a Jordanian Waqf force. Non-Muslims may also visit the mountain during certain hours, but are not allowed openly to pray. The Mount is jointly patrolled by Israeli and Jordanian security forces.

The Temple Mount has been a place of contention which has simmered and at times flared since Israel gained control.  The King of Jordan would like to build a fifth minaret there; Israel has so far not allowed it.  During the Barak/Arafat/Clinton peace talks, the absurd proposition was floated of allowing the Palestinians to “have” the surface of the mountain and fly their flag there, and the Jews could claim what was underneath (although they durstn’t attempt to go down there!).  This resulted in a massive demonstration organized by Natan Sharansky in which some 500,000 people (the authors among them) on short notice gathered around the Old City’s walls to declare that the Temple Mount was integral to Israel’s identity and must ever remain a part of Jerusalem and of the Jewish State.

From time to time, especially when Israel begins digging or building new structures anywhere in the vicinity, this has been seen as occasion for Muslim Arabs in Israel and the surrounding nations to sound alarms that Israel is coming in to destroy Al Aqsa, calling Muslims to arms.  The truth is that the Israeli Government has not known what to do with the Temple Mount.   Although there are some relatively small religious groups which have declared to prepare for building a temple there, reports of this in the West are greatly exaggerated.

Most of Israel is secular and not interested in a temple, although hesitant to ‘let go’ of such an ancient and vital part of our history and culture.  Among the religious there is great dispute as to what might constitute the circumstances for beginning building it.  In fact, because of the present desecration by the Muslim buildings on the mountain, or fear of desecrating it by walking inadvertently in holy areas, many sects do not allow their followers to ascend it at all.

Yet in recent months, tensions have markedly increased on both sidesMore and more religious Jews are questioning the right of Israel to attempt to “keep the peace” by not allowing them openly to express their faith and to pray at this, the most holy site in Judaism.  Religious MK’s have recently introduced legislation in the Knesset aimed at allowing Jews by law to be allowed to pray on the mountain, and demanding that Israel use force when necessary to insure their rights be honoured  (at present, violent demonstrations most often result in the police simply closing the place down to non-Muslims for the rest of the day).

The Muslims, meanwhile, have begun more and more to harass Jewish and even Christian visitors.  Youth are enlisted to gather stones and even fire-bombs in the vicinity of the Mosque, with which to attack visitors, or those worshipping at the Western Wall below.  The Israeli forces have for years had stocks of large plastic shields laid out for use in fending off the stones when they are forced to storm the Mount in order to bring order.  Groups of Muslim women position themselves at strategic positions round the top of the mount, and when they spot someone or a group in openly religious Jewish garb, they pull coverings over their faces and descend upon them shrieking abuse and demanding that they leave.  Presently religious Jews visiting the mountain require police guards around them even to come for a few moments.

 Last Wednesday, following intelligence suggesting Arab youth were waiting on the mountain with intention to riot, the Israeli commander ordered what is often resorted to in such circumstances:  only Mulsim worshippers over 50 would be allowed up that day. But this time it resulted in a massive demonstration of hundreds of Muslims, including several Arab members of the Knesset.  Some of the protestors held signs “Al Aqsa belongs to us, not to the Jews” and “We will enter the mosque with force and sacrifice our lives and our families’ lives for al-Aqsa.”  One female Arab MK, notorious for showing up at such occasions argued with soldiers, “There is no solution without Palestinian sovereignty over Jerusalem, even if Netanyahu doesn’t want this!”

On Friday Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared that Israeli “settlers” have no right to “desecrate” the mount, that Jews should be prevented from entering the site “by any means…It is our sacred place, al-Aqsa is ours, this Noble Sanctuary is ours.  They have no right to go there and desecrate it.”  The following day the President referred to Jewish visitors as “a herd of cattle.” This from the president with whom Israel is supposed to be pursuing peace.  On Sunday graffiti was discovered on the mountain equating swastikas with the Star of David.

  It has been said that the last great battle will be over Who shall be worshipped on this Mountain! 

 On the NW side of the outer octagonal arcade of the Dome of the Rock can be found the following inscription in Arabic, “There is no god but Allah, He is One.  Praise be to Allah, who hath not taken unto himself a son, and who hath no partner in the sovereignty, nor hath he any protecting friend through dependence.”

In Psalm 2:6-7 of the Hebrew Bible the God of Israel declares, “Yet I have set my King on My holy hill of Zion.  I will declare the decree:  Yehovah has said to me, ‘You are my son, Today I have begotten You.  Ask of me, and I will give the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for your possession.’”

A great collision is coming.  Satan hates the ultimate holy destiny of the place.  Israel is for the most part not yet at a place where she knows how to defend or administer the mountain which has been released into her care—or how to pray for it.  Psalm 122:6 (Hebrew) calls upon us to “ask after the peace of Jerusalem.”  In our asking, may it include a request for guidance in our prayers regarding this place where God has forever placed His name, and where His Son will one day reign. We believe it is a praying His Kingdom Come to pray for His purposes on the Holy Mountain:

  *For Daniel in Babylon, it was important to present “my supplication before the LORD my God in behalf of the holy mountain of my God.”  (Daniel 9:20)

*Isaiah 65:11 appears to equate those “who forget My holy mountain” with those “who forsake the LORD.”

*Isaiah 56:6 says of the sons of foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to serve Him and to love His name, “Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer.”


*For divine guidance for the Israeli government in administering the Temple Mount today.  Pray for a realization that it is Holy, and true wisdom for its administration will require the Fear of the LORD and guidance from Above.

*For protection and leading in Truth (Psalm 25:5) for the many believers from the nations and from right here in Israel who ascend the Mountain (some weekly) and move about on it praying God’s Kingdom Come!

*For houses of worship and prayer about Jerusalem.  We are aware of at least four which the LORD has raised up which have a physical view of the Mountain.  Pray for the deep unction and inspiration of the Holy Spirit as they “Exalt the LORD our god, and worship towards His Holy Hill—for holy is YHVH our God!” (Psalm 99:9).

*For the Kingdom of Jordan.  The King of this land (which encompasses ancient Moab) considers himself to be a direct descendant of Mohammed, and a divinely chosen custodian of this Muslim holy site.  Isaiah 25:10-12 predicts a profound humbling of the proud power (Islam?) represented by Moab/Jordan, a humbling under the Hand of the LORD which will take place on this mountain.

*For revelation of Elohei-Yisrael—the Israel-God, who is the God of all the Earth—and of His Son to the thousands of Muslims who journey to worship on the Temple Mount.  Pray Isaiah 25:6-8 (see below) over the veil of Islam which is “spread over all nations”—that its power will be broken on this mountain!

  “And in this mountain the LORD of Armies will make for all people a feast of choice pieces, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of well-refined wines on the lees.  And He will destroy on this mountain the surface of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations.  He will swallow up death forever, and Adonai YHVH will wipe away tears from all faces;  the rebuke of His people He will take away from all the earth; for YHVH has spoken!”

(Isaiah 25:6-8)

–Martin and Norma Sarvis


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