Mystique is a word that accurately describes my feelings in 1999, when the Messianic Christian Israeli tour guide led his small group through a small doorway adjacent to the Wailing Wall, which symbolises the 'promise' of the rebuilding of the Temple on Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
If you are fortunate to visit this holy place, take this 800m walk, which is a favourite and a highlight for many tourists.
I was spell bound as I bent slightly to fit through the doorway, it took a little time to adjust to the surroundings as there was scaffolding. The path went to the right, then down steps, a walkway heading north from the Wailing Wall, down more steps, and another pathway. It was here one could look down through an opening to a maroon ceramic floor which dates from Solomon's time.
A little way further along, down a small flight of steps, you will find yourself beside Herod's Western Wall foundations, which are part of the retaining walls surrounding Herod's Temple area, built in 1BC.
Some of these stone blocks were 75 feet in length, an astonishing size. You will follow a tunnel, lit by lights, north along the entire length of Herod's Temple, then you will walk for 15 minutes up a sloping pathway until you come out into the sunlight through an inconspicuous unguarded door onto a walkway in the Old City.
The tunnel was wet, this was the ancient city's water supply from springs. Our guide made several stops giving explanations. Much of this underground area adjacent to the path was in the process of excavation at the time we were there."
These foundations for Solomon's Temple hold much history. Solomon's Temple was the location of the Holy of Holies and the Ark of the Covenant which was returned with the Exiles.
Due to the political climate, archaeological excavation is sometimes halted, saw several doors which gave an appearance of use. The guide expressed absolute confidence a new Temple would be built, and awaits for an opportunity.
Palestinians had been excavating under the 1900 year al-Aqsa Mosque, which was built on the same site as the Temple Mount, and which is considered the third holiest site in Islam. This may create structural weakening, but the Israelis are completely confident that a new Temple will stand on Temple Mount - only the "how" is uncertain at this time.
The Apostle John wrote The Revelation about AD95, so when he speaks of the Temple (The Revelation 11 verses 1 and 2), it must refer to a new Temple as Herod's Temple was destroyed 25 years earlier, in 70AD.
Jesus predicated that not one stone of Herod's temple would stand upon another. We now know why it had to have its rocks thrown down and burned. That was the only way to extract the gold (by melting it).
There are passages in the Bible, such as Matthew 24 verse 15; 2 Thessalonians 2 verse 3; The Revelation 11 verses 1 and 2, that coincide with many incidents that have happened at Solomon's and Herod's Temple's.
Reading these with the knowledge of the history, helps the theology make sense today. There are references to a reinstitution of animal sacrifices (which can only be undertaken at the Temple); and stories of a political international figure who establishes a world peace and breaks this protocol of peace. Certainly the political double crossing resonates with a host of incidents in modern times!!
Solomon's and Herod's Temples were both built on Mount Moriah, the location of today's Mosque which was rebuilt on the site of earlier Mosques after several earthquakes, in about 1036. It was completed to its present al-Aqsa Mosque which is in the same 'precinct', or Haram al-Sharif ("the Noble Sanctuary"), by Suleiman 1520-1566.
The Temple Mount 'precinct' is same rock on which are the variously built, altered and renovated structures: the Temple; the Mosque; and during the Crusader times a Church. It is also believed to be the site that Abraham offered up Isaac, and the threshing floor which David purchased and sanctified as the location for the Temple.
The site has a 4,000 year history.
The Mosque and the original Temple foundations are separated by layers of centuries old rubble. The Wailing Wall is an exposed section of this ancient Western Wall of the area that surrounded the Temple. Its lowest visible part are the Herodian stones of Jesus' time, and on top are the Byzantine and Crusader constructions, then further up to its present level, is where the Mosque square sits.
It's sacred to the Moslem for they hold Mohammed ascended into heaven off this rock (in the centre of the Mosque).
Although a face value reading of the scriptures indicates the Temple will be rebuilt, many ultra-religious Jews believe the Temple cannot be rebuilt as no one today can show a direct descendent line to the Tribe of Levi and the family of Aaron who are the only ones able to enter the Holy of Holies.
This is the reason why such Jews oppose any plans for a reconstruction.
And there is yet another issue for consideration. 'Measurements' in the Bible also refer to people's spiritual condition, as described in Ezekiel 40 and Zechariah 2.
It is not for us to know how the Temple could be rebuilt, The Revelation 11: verses 1 and 2. "Who could have fortold that the Berlin Wall could have come down so quickly. Some events are just beyond astonishing!"
Many Christians believe that the miracle of a rebuilt Temple may be the very event that may create a change of heart for Jewish peoples to recognise Jesus as Messiah as did old Simeon in Luke 2 - "For mine eyes have seen Thy Salvation".
Mystique is a reasonable word for this subject, and this leads us into the sixth and final lecture (article) which reflects on some very interesting historical theological movements; and theological movements have changed the course of history more than once.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html