Mount Moriah – the 2000 Year Connection

 

Mount Moriah has 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 promises, 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 under Solomon’s reign.[16] To commemorate the occasion, the King 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 and with the completion of the Temple, it became the place to permanently offer the Passover sacrifices:[17]

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)

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 November 22, 2022.

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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.  Wiemers, Galyn. Generation Word. “Chapter 21 – Solomon’s Temple Mount.” image. 2018. <https://www.generationword.com/devotions/photos-diagrams/diagrams/oct-digrams/29a-solomons-temple-mount-retaining-wall-2500-jpg.jpg>
[17] CR Leviticus 9.

“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. Many may not realize God also made five big promises at Mt. Sinai about “the place” that were key to the Israelites’ destiny and the building blocks to the future Messiah.

The place – five promises made by God:  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 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]

Finally the Hebrews readied to enter Canaan and sent spies on a recon mission. They found the land occupied by many enemies with their kings and militaries. It was nothing new…along their journey to the place, the local inhabitants went to war to defend their lands to keep out the Hebrews.

Enemy nations each had a king with a Seat of the Throne in a fortified city, the monarchy’s base of power, protected by a military. A kingdom for the Hebrews would also require a king; a Seat of the Throne; and 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.

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.

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

None of these promises seemed like 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, initially ruled without a Seat of the Throne until he conquered and occupied the fortified city of Jebus or Salem, soon thereafter called Jerusalem.

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] The new Temple in Jerusalem was consecrated and blessed by King 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 sacrifices were offered by the priests of God.[6] Later, King Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the Temple and pillaged its gold contents. During the Persian Empire, the Temple was rebuilt, its gold contents returned, and the annual Passover pilgrimages resumed until Jerusalem was destroyed by Rome in 70 AD.

Lastly, the capital city of Jerusalem became the Judgement Seat of Israel under the reign of Solomon 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 King Solomon on the porch of the his palace, were eventually 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 future, more specific Messiah prophecies. Over the coming centuries prophets Isaiah, Zechariah, Jeremiah and Micah would reveal prophecies foretelling details about the Messiah who would come from the House of King David.[10] Isaiah’s prophecy of “My Servant” described a cruel sacrificial-type judgement, during the period of the Second Temple, could only be rendered in the Judgement Seat of Israel.[11]

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?[12]

 

Updated September 26, 2022.

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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. “The Twelve Tribes in Canaan.” Maps Database Source. map. 2020. <https://mapdatabaseinfo.blogspot.com/2018/05/32-map-of-promised-land-joshua.html#
[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] 2 Chronicles 6.

Jerusalem – the Messiah Connection

 

Jerusalem’s Old City today

Jerusalem, an ancient, world-famous city with no natural wealth or strategic value – no harbor, no navigable waterway, no major trade routes, militarily isolated with valleys on all four sides, not even a natural water source within its walls – an improbable city in the desert.[1] Could Jerusalem play a role in weighing the possibility that Jesus is the Messiah?

Happenings of great religious significance began at the place about 1000 years before the future city would ever come to be called Jerusalem. Its entire existence is based almost solely on its religious heritage. A 2000-year history leading up to the era of Jesus of Nazareth produced a legacy of kings, births, deaths, prophecies, angels, sacrifices, blessings, wars, exile and restoration.

One day God instructed Abram to move from Haran in Canaan to an unnamed location. By faith, he and his family resettled in a strange land near Salem.[2] During these years, God blessed Abram, changed his name to Abraham and promised he would become the father of a great nation.[3] His miraculous-born son, Isaac, would be the first step in fulfilling God’s promise.

Isaac would pass on his father Abraham’s blessing to his own son, Jacob whose name was changed by God to Israel.[4] Many years later Israel, along with his 11 sons and their families, moved to Egypt under the protection of his long lost son, Joseph, who had become the second most powerful man next only to Pharaoh.

Over the next 400 years, the 12 tribes of the Children of Israel became slaves of Egypt. Meanwhile back in Canaan during the absence of the clan of Israel, the Jebusites occupied Salem coming to be known as Jebus.[5]

Fleeing Egypt through the Red Sea, the Hebrews arrived at Mt. Sinai. Five big promises in the Law given to Moses atop Mt. Sinai were tied to the place. All required a city – a new homeland for the city;  the throne for a king; a permanent place for His Name to dwell; a permanent place to observe the Feasts; and the place of the judgment seat of Israel.

God just didn’t yet say exactly where the place would be.[6]As a visual sign of His promise, God sent an angel in the form of a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night to lead them to the place that He had chosen.

First fulfillment of the five big promises was a return to the land of Abraham, “The Promised Land,” when the Hebrews crossed the Jordan River. Hinting at the city location of the place, God twice called out the occupants of Salem – the Jebusites:[7]

EX 23::20, 23 “See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared.… “For My angel will go before you and bring you in to the land of the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites and the Jebusites…”(NASB)

EX 33:1-2 “Then the LORD spoke to Moses, “Depart, go up from here, you and the people whom you have brought up from the land of Egypt, to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘To your descendants I will give it.’” I will send an angel before you and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite.” (NASB)

A kingdom would become the second of the five big promises tied to the place.[8] God predicted to Moses the Hebrews would one day want a king to rule them like the other nations and when that time came, He would choose the king from among their own people.

As predicted, centuries later the people wanted a king to lead them like the other nations. Instead of God choosing their king, the Hebrews chose their own first king, Saul, by casting lots.[9]

As time would bear out, the people’s choice failed. Saul did not seek God’s guidance and it would cost the lives of himself and his three sons on the battlefield. With Saul’s failed kingship and death, Israel accepted God’s choice for a new king, David, son of Jesse of Bethlehem.[10]

Promise of a kingdom for Israel had only been partially fulfilled. David was a king without a place for his throne and he had an eye on Jebus still occupied by the Jebusites. Up to this point, every attempt by the fledgling nation to defeat the Jebusites had been unsuccessful.[11]

David had become famous as a skilled warrior and giant slayer while serving in King Saul’s army. As King himself, David gathered the people of Israel from the surrounding areas to form a large army, went to war with Jebus and took the city.

Jerusalem about 1000 BC.

Salem – Jebus – was now called the City of David. Soon thereafter, encompassing Mount Zion and Mount Moriah, it became known as the City of Jerusalem.[12] A city with no logical reason for existence, Jerusalem became the capital of Israel, the throne of King David fulfilling three of God’s promises.

Fourth and fifth promises were fulfilled within Jerusalem with the building of the Temple on Mt. Moriah, the place where the Passover was only to be celebrated at its appointed time.

The Chamber of Hewn Stone, part of the Temple, became the place of the highest court in the land, the judgement seat of Israel. It was there final judgments were made to enforce God’s Law for criminal offenses that included capital death cases.

An interwoven trail of blessings, testing of faith, much drama, prophecies made and fulfilled over the course of a millennia, all climaxed with the glory days of Jerusalem under King David. Splendor would be short lived – the end of David’s reign marked the beginning of the nation’s deterioration. The downhill slide eventually spiraled out of control to the point all would be eventually lost when Jerusalem with its Temple was destroyed and its select inhabitants were exiled to Babylon.

A millennium after its height of glory during David’s reign, a comeback for Jerusalem came under King Herod. Jesus of Nazareth appeared on the scene, born in the same place as David, Bethlehem, and in the royal lineage of King David.

Six prophecies by three prophets predicted the Messiah would come from the House of David.[13] Was the timing of the arrival of Jesus; born in the same town as David in Bethlehem and in the royal lineage of King David; all a mere coincidence culminating with Jesus being placed on trial in Jerusalem and crucified … or was it God’s plan for Jesus as the Messiah?

Updated September 2, 2022.

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

REFERENCES:

[1] Gersch, Lili Kalish. MyJewishLearning. “Whose Jerusalem?” photo. n.d. <https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/whose-jerusalem>  “Jerusalem .”  New World Encyclopedia.   “Jerusalem Archaeological Sites: Biblical Water Systems.”  Jewish Virtual Library. 2014.
[2] Genesis 11-15.  “Historical Timeline.” The Biblical Zionist. 2009.  <http://www.biblicalzionist.com/timeline.htm>  Uittenbogaard, Arie. “Salem meaning | Salem etymology.”  <http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Salem.html#.U5SQqCjyTih> Josephus. Wars of the Jews. Book VI, Chapter X.
[3] Genesis 17.
[4] Genesis 32, 35.
[5] I Chronicles 11; Judges 1, 19; Joshua 15; Psalms 76.
[6] Exodus 23, 33; Deuteronomy 12, 17.
[7] Ryrie Study Bible. Ed. Ryrie Charles C. “Laws relating to conquests” ref. Ex. 23:20-33.
[8] Deuteronomy 17.
[9] I Samuel 10.
[10] I Chronicles 11.
[11] I Chronicles 11.
[12] I Chronicles 17. Josephus, Antiquity of the Jews, Book VII, Chapter III.1-2. “The Temple.” The Victor’s Place. photo. Feb. 2. ? <https://images.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search;_ylt=AwrCwOUslAdjzRoASQ0PxQt.;_ylu=Y29sbwNiZjEEcG9zAzEEdnRpZAMEc2VjA3BpdnM-?p=The+Temple%2C+Jerusalem&type=yhs-adk_sbnt_appfocus1_sm_ff&param1=20210118&param2=00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000&param3=searchmanager_%7EUS%7Eappfocus1%7E&param4=%7Efirefox%7E%7E&hsimp=yhs-adk_sbnt&hspart=adk&grd=1&ei=UTF-8&fr=yhs-adk-adk_sbnt#id=96&iurl=https%3A%2F%2Fvhoagland.files.wordpress.com%2F2021%2F02%2Fdsc00129.jpg&action=click>
[13] Isaiah 9; 11. Jeremiah 23; 33. Zechariah 3; 6.