Mount Moriah – the 2000 Year Connection

Mount Moriah had a direct connection to the Messiah by reason of the place going back 2000 years. The Mount’s sacred religious history first gained importance during the days of Abraham.[1]

By birth a Chaldean, Abraham followed God’s instruction to leave for an unknown land with a blessing that his name would be great, the father of a great nation in whom all the families of the earth would be blessed.[2] Eventually Abraham settled in Canaan at Hebron about 20 miles south of the mounts of Moriah and Salem, the city one day to be called Jerusalem.[3]

Beyond childbearing years, God tested Abraham’s faith by telling him to offer Isaac, his only son with his wife Sarah, as a sacrifice in “the land of Moriah…on one of the mountains that I shall show you.”[4] Known as “The Binding of Isaac” in Jewish tradition, the story in Genesis is read on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.[5]

Faithfully Abraham built an altar on God’s chosen Moriah mount and was in the act of offering Isaac as a sacrifice when an “angel of the Lord” stopped him. A ram caught in a thicket became a substitute sacrifice.[6]

Moriah means “chosen by Jehovah” yet Abraham was so moved by the experience with his only son, he called this particular Mount of Moriah hwhy har or Y@hovah ra’ah.  Some Bibles translate the word as “Jehovahjireh,” the Hebrew words meaning “the LORD will Provide.”[7] Jewish sage Rabbi Rashi explained the significance:[8]

“The Lord will choose and see for Himself this place, to cause His Divine Presence to rest therein and for offering sacrifices here…that [future] generations will say about it, ‘On this mountain, the Holy One, blessed be He, appears to His people.’” – Rabbi Rashi

Several hundred years later the Hebrew nation encamped at Mount Sinai soon after the Exodus from Egypt. God handed down the Law to Moses which included prophetic promises about the place hinting that the land of Moriah was part of God’s future master plan.

One promise was that God would lead Israel to the land he swore to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In two, God promised He would provide a permanent place for His Name to dwell and to observe the Passover.[9]

In the land of Abraham, King David established his throne in the city of Jerusalem encompassing Mount Moriah. A most unusual set of circumstances brought the Mount to center stage.[10]

King David angered God due to his lack of faith by conducting a census leading to a severe judgement on his kingdom of Israel. Taking responsibility, David pleaded with God to stop the judgement on the people because it was his own sin, not theirs.

Through the prophet Gad, God instructed David to offer an atonement sacrifice for the people of Israel on the threshing floor of Araunah (Ornan) located on Mount Moriah.[11] Once again, just has He had done with Abraham, God chose Mount Moriah for this sacrifice.[12] Ensuring it was a true sacrifice, not one where the sacrificial possessions of wealth were merely usurped by the King, David personally purchased the entire threshing floor, its oxen and its equipment.[13]

On Mount Moriah David built the altar, slew the oxen for the offering and used the wood from the threshing floor implements as fuel for the altar’s fire. Then something miraculous happened – fire came down from heaven and consumed the sacrifice.[14] Deeply affected, David proclaimed,

I Ch. 22:1 “This is the place where the temple of the Lord God will be, along with the altar for burnt sacrifices for Israel.”(NET)

God was upfront with David informing him that his son would build the House of God, not him.[15] After David’s death, in the fourth year of King Solomon’s reign, the building of the Temple commenced on Mount Moriah:

2 CH 3:1 Then Solomon began to build the house of the LORD in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the LORD had appeared to his father David, at the place that David had prepared on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. (NASB)

Seven years later the Temple was completed.[16] To commemorate the occasion, Solomon held a public consecration and blessing acknowledging the fulfillment of God’s promises:

2 CH 6:2, 4 “I have surely built You an exalted house, and a place for You to dwell in forever.” …  “Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, who has fulfilled with His hands what He spoke with His mouth to my father David, saying,

2 CH 6:5-6 “‘Since the day that I brought My people out of the land of Egypt, I have chosen no city from any tribe of Israel in which to build a house, that My name might be there, nor did I choose any man to be a ruler over My people Israel. Yet I have chosen Jerusalem, that My name may be there; and I have chosen David to be over My people Israel.’(NKJV)

In spectacular fashion, God once again sent fire down from heaven to consume the first sacrifices offered at the new Temple that day on Mount Moriah. The celebration continued for seven days.[17] With the completion of the Temple, it became the place to permanently offer the Passover sacrifices:

DT 16:2 “You shall sacrifice the Passover to the LORD your God from the flock and the herd, in the place where the LORD chooses to establish His name…”

DT 16:5-6 …You are not allowed to sacrifice the Passover in any of your towns which the LORD your God is giving you; but at the place where the LORD your God chooses to establish His name, you shall sacrifice the Passover…”(NASB)[18]

A thousand years later on the sacred Mount Moriah in the holy city of Jerusalem, Jesus of Nazareth stood on trial before the Priests and Scribes of the Temple, the House of God, and declared himself to be the Son of God. Perceived as a blasphemy, it triggered a string of events in the following hours leading to the crucifixion of Jesus on the first day of the Passover.

United States Federal legal definition of the Doctrine of Chances is the premise for the obvious question: What is the probability of chance that the location, the timing, and the circumstances of the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth were all an accident?

 

Updated October 17, 2021.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

REFERENCES:

[1] “Abraham.” Jewish Virtual Library. 2018. <https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/abraham>
[2] Genesis 12.
[3] Genesis 11-15. “Hebron.” Bible-History.com. 2017. <http://www.bible-history.com/geography/ancient-israel/hebron.html>
[4] NRSV.
[5] Genesis 22. “The Binding of Isaac.” My Jewish Learning. 2018. <https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/the-binding-of-isaac> “The Great Test: The Binding of Isaac.” Chabad.org. 2018. <https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/246616/jewish/The-Great-Test-The-Binding-of-Isaac.htm>
[6] Genesis 22. Quote – all mainstream Christian and Jewish Bible translations. Josephus, Flavius. Antiquities of the Jews. Book I, Chapter XIII.  The Complete Works of Josephus. Trans. and commentary. William Whitson. <http://books.google.com/books?id=e0dAAAAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false>
[7] Net.bible.org. Genesis 22:2, Hebrew text Mowriyah <04179>; Genesis 22:14, Hebrew text “ra’ah <07200>;” Y@hovah <03068>;” “Y@hovah yireh <03070>”
[8] Rashi, Shlomo Yitzchaki. The Complete Jewish Bible with Rashi Commentary. Bereishit – Genesis 22:14 commentary. <https://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/8217#showrashi=true>
[9] I Chronicles 17.
[10] I Chronicles 17; 2 Samuel 5, 7. Josephus. Antiquities. Book VII, Chapter III.
[11] II Chronicles 3.
[12] I Chronicles 21; 2 Chronicles 3; 2 Samuel 24. Josephus. Antiquities. Book VII, Chapter III. “Herod’s Temple.”  Bible-History.com. 2017. <http://www.bible-history.com/jewishtemple/JEWISH_TEMPLEThe_Site.htm>
[13] I Chronicles 21; 2 Samuel 24.
[14] 2 Samuel 24; 1 Chronicles 21.
[15] I Chronicles 22, 28.
[16] 1 Kings 6; 2 Chronicles 3.
[17] CR Leviticus 9.
[18] NASB. Deuteronomy 16; Exodus 23:14-20.

“The Place” – Five Big Promises God Made at Mt. Sinai

Mt. Sinai is famed as the location where God gave the 10 Commandments to Moses. What many may not realize is that God also made five big promises at Mt. Sinai about “the place” that were key to the Israelites’ destiny and building blocks to the future Messiah.

The place – what were these five promises?  God promised to lead the Israelites to the land He promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as the place for their descendants to possess; the place to establish a kingdom; the permanent place for His Name to dwell; the exclusive place for Israel to observe the Passover; and the place for the Judgement Seat of Israel.[1]

God just didn’t say exactly where the place would be. Great faith in these promises was required for a fledgling nation of people who had just fled the only life they had ever known – slavery in Egypt. 

Moving to the place seemed like an impossible task, especially for a ragtag nation of former slaves without a military. Doubts and lack of faith by the Exodus generation would cost them from seeing God’s promised land.[2]

Spies on a recon mission found the land of Canaan to be occupied by many enemies with their kings and militaries. Everywhere they would trek, the local inhabitants would go to war to defend their lands to keep out the Israelites.

Enemy nations had a king with a Seat of the Throne for their kingdom, the monarchy’s base of power, in a fortified city protected by a military. An Israelite kingdom would require a king with dominion over a land with boundaries, but the wandering Hebrews were a people isolated in the desert wilderness without a king or even a country. If there was no king, no land, and no fortified city for the Throne, how could there be a kingdom?

A permanent place for the Name of God to dwell required a temple to replace the temporary Tabernacle tent with its Most Holy chamber. Fundamental to a theocracy, this temple had to be located near the Throne in the nation’s capital protected against heathen enemies.

According to the Law, the Passover was to be celebrated at its appointed time requiring sacrifices to be offered by the priests of God at a central permanent place of worship. This temple would need enough open space to accommodate tens of thousands of people and priests who would attend the annual Passover to offer sacrifices.

To be the Judgement Seat of Israel meant the most important and most complicated cases of the nation were to be judged in finality in the place God chose. For a theocratic government, it had to be located in close proximity to both the Throne and its temple.[3]

None of these promises seemed like even the remotest reality to the Israelites who, after 400 years, were starting from scratch after escaping from under the harsh rule of Pharaoh. Yet, against all odds over the coming centuries, these five prophetic promises did become a reality.

Israel conquered its enemies and took possession of the land promised by God to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob where each of the 12 tribes of the sons of Israel were allotted their own land. Their formidable military protected the nation even before the establishment of a kingdom.

A king, the most famous in Hebrew history, born in Bethlehem in the lineage of Judah, fulfilled the royal prophetic blessing of Judah by his own father, Israel. This giant slayer, King David, conquered and occupied the fortified city of Jebus or Salem, soon thereafter called Jerusalem. The city became the Seat of the Throne of David reigning over the kingdom of Israel.

King Solomon, son of David, built the  the Temple on Mt. Moriah still known to this day as Solomon’s Temple. Its Western Wall remnants have become a most holy place in Israel today.[4] This new Temple was consecrated and blessed by Solomon where the first sacrifices offered on its permanent alter were burned by fire sent down from heaven.[5]

The Passover was observed at its appointed time at the Temple where the sacrifices were offered by the priests of God.[6]Annual pilgrimages to the Passover would resume after the Babylonian captivity at the rebuilt Second Temple until Jerusalem was destroyed by Rome.

Lastly, the capital city of Jerusalem became the Judgement Seat of Israel where both civil and criminal cases were decided. In a theocratic government, God’s Law served both as the civil and criminal code.

Civil cases, initially decided by the famed wisdom of Solomon on the porch of the King’s palace, were judged in the Hall of Judgement.[7] Criminal cases involving the highest level of offenses, including capital death cases, were tried in the Chamber of Hewn Stone [8] The Chamber or Hall was built into the northern wall of the Temple which also served as the meeting place for the 70 elders of Israel, later to become known as the Great Sanhedrin.[9]

God’s five big promises at Mount Sinai laid the ground work for the place and subsequent more specific Messiah prophecies. Over the coming centuries prophets Isaiah, Zechariah, Jeremiah and Micah would reveal prophecies announcing details about the Messiah who would come from the House of David .[10]

Isaiah’s prophecy of “My Servant” described a cruel sacrificial-type judgement resulting in a death verdict which, during the period of the Second Temple, could only be rendered in the Judgement Seat of Israel, Jerusalem.[11] Jeremiah and Zechariah each issued two prophecies foretelling the Messiah would come from the Branch of David.

Zechariah prophesied God would comfort the descendants of David in the city of Jerusalem as they mourned over the death of the one whom they had pierced, the depth of mourning as deep as for the death of a first born only son.[12]

Complete fulfillment of all five big promises made by God at Mt. Sinai about “the place” fulfilled the prophetic promises made to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Judah as well as set the stage for the Messiah. What are the odds it was all just an extraordinary coincidence? [13]

 

Updated September 21, 2021.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

REFERENCES:
[1] Genesis 17, 22, 35, 49; Exodus 23, 33; Deuteronomy 12, 16, 17.
[2]  Numbers 14.
[3] Exodus 18; Deuteronomy 1, 17, 19; Numbers 11.
[4] 1 Kings 6; 2 Chronicles 3.
[5] I Chronicles 6; Leviticus 9; Nehemiah 11.
[6] II Chronicles 8.
[7] 1 Kings 3, 4, 7.
[8]  Schoenberg, Shira. “Ancient Jewish History: The Sanhedrin.” 2017.  <http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/the-sanhedrin>   Shachter, J. and Freedman, H.  “ Sanhedrin.”
[9] Exodus 18; Deuteronomy 1, 17; Numbers 11; I Chronicles 19.  Shachter and Freedman.  “Introduction to Sanhedrin.”  Soncino Babylonian Talmud. <https://israelect.com/Come-and-Hear/sanhedrin/index.html>  Ariel, Yisrael. “The Chamber of the Hewn Stone.” The Temple Institute.  2014.  <https://www.templeinstitute.org/illustrated/hewn_stone_description.htm>  Ariel, Yisrael. “Blueprints for the Holy Temple.”  <http://www.templeinstitute.org/blueprints-for-the-holy-temple.htm>[10] Isaiah 7, 9; 11; Jeremiah 23, 33; Zechariah 3, 6, 12.
[11] Isaiah 52-53. Sanhedrin 16a, 17a. Shachter, J. and Freedman, H.  “Sanhedrin.” Josephus.  Antiquities. Book IV, Chapter VIII.14; Book XX, Chapter IX.4.  “Ancient Jewish History: The Beit Din.” Jewish Virtual Library. 2017.http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/the-beit-din>
[12] Zechariah 12.
[13] 2 Chronicles 6.