The Walls of Jerusalem

Carved at some ancient time in the Western Wall near the southwestern corner of the Temple Mount are the words of Isaiah. Loosely translated, they read: “Joy is with Jerusalem. All peace be with her.”

When the great cathedrals of Europe were built, the walls of Jerusalem had already borne the chisel marks of Solomon, Hezekiah, Nehemiah, and King Herod. When the Great Wall of China first snaked its bulwark across Asia, these walls were ancient. Of course, Jerusalem’s walls have been built over time, leaving mixtures of the originals, those built by the Romans, those built during the Middle Ages, and others. But portions of all remain. The present walls of Jerusalem were completed by Suliman the Magnificent in 1540.

Down the long, agonizing corridor of Israel’s history, Jews longed to return to these walls. When Jesus wept at Jerusalem over Israel’s rejection, He knew it would be almost 1,880 years—after Jerusalem was pulverized by the relentless military might of Rome and other conquerors—before the Jews would return again to kiss the Western Wall.

The History of the Temple Mount

Abraham took his son Isaac to Mount Moriah, now the Temple Mount, to offer him as a sacrifice (Genesis 22:1–2; 2 Chronicles 3:1). David purchased Araunah the Jebusite’s threshing floor to build an altar here (2 Samuel 24:18–25). He collected materials, but his son Solomon built the temple on the site God had chosen (1 Chronicles 22:14–15; 28:11–20; 2 Chronicles 3:1).Solomon’s temple was burned by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC (2 Kings 25:8–9).

When the Jews returned from captivity, they built the second temple, the temple of Zerubbabel (Ezra 3:8–13; 4:23–24; 5:15; 6:15; Haggai). Beginning in 20 BC, Herod the Great enlarged the Temple Mount considerably, adding onto Zerubbabel’s temple and creating a beautiful place of worship. But eighty-three years later, in AD 64, the project came to a halt. And the Romans completely destroyed the temple only six years after that!

Jesus was presented to the Lord in the second temple (Luke 2:22–39). He visited the temple at age 12 (Luke 2:41–50), cleansed the temple twice (Matthew 21:12–13; John 2:12–25), healed the blind and the lame, and taught extensively here (John 8; Matthew 21:23–23:29). Jesus foretold the destruction of the temple (Matthew 24:2). The veil of the temple was ripped in two from top to bottom when Jesus died (Matthew 27:51; Mark 15:38).

Judas cast his pieces of silver (his betrayal money) in the temple (Matthew 27:5). Peter and the other apostles preached and healed at the temple (Acts 3:2, 11; 5:21). Paul, after his third missionary journey, visited Jerusalem, where he was seized by the Jews during a visit to the temple (Acts 21:17–40).

Two Down–Two to Go

Two temples have been built and destroyed. The Bible predicts two more earthly temples in the future:

  • The tribulational temple (Daniel 9:24–27; Matthew 24:15–16; 2 Thessalonians 2:3–5; Revelation 11:1–2) will be built by zealous Jews but used by satanic powers during “Daniel’s Seventieth Week,” the tribulation.
  • The millennial (or messianic) temple is where the glorified Jesus Christ will reign for a thousand years (Ezekiel 40–43; Revelation 20:1–6).

John wrote of heaven in Revelation 21:22, “I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.”