The Temple Site, Past, Present And Future

by Joseph Hunting

Shortly after the Six Day War I stood on a small clearing in the midst of rubble and dust caused by excavations close to the Wailing Wall.

Earth-moving equipment had removed about fifteen feet of overburden that resulted from Jerusalem being destroyed and rebuilt several times during the past two thousand years. The massive blocks of masonry that had been uncovered at the base of the Wall had in all probability been laid during the reign of King Solomon.


In my mind's eye I recalled the events associated with the construction of the original Temple. The foundation stones were huge solid blocks, some of which were up to fifteen feet in length and estimated to weigh up to twenty tons. These massive stones were not placed into position until the chief corner stone had been set into position. The entire layout of the Temple depended upon the perfect setting of the chief corner stone.

Perhaps the most astonishing thing about these stones which Israeli workmen were uncovering was the fact that, once they were brought into the Temple area, no further cutting or trimming was permitted in order that they should fit perfectly one upon another. "There was neither hammer nor axe, not any tool of iron heard in the house while it was in building." (I Kings 6:7)

The great blocks of masonry used in the construction of the Temple were taken from deep quarries in Jerusalem itself. Each stone was fashioned with consummate skill by master craftsmen to exact dimensions according to its particular function before being placed into position on the Temple site. How they did this remains a mystery to this day. There before my eyes lay the evidence of this skill, and I pondered the mystery that all the handiwork of the master craftsmen had been wrought deep in the heart of Jerusalem. Does this throw light on the words of King David? "I am fearfully and wonderfully made . . . when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth." (Psalm 139:15)

The Apostle Peter throws further light on the spiritual application of these stones by declaring: "Ye also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Because it is contained in Scripture. Behold, I lay in Zion a chief corner stone, elect, precious; and he that believeth in Him shall not be confounded." (I Peter 2:5,6)


After 3,000 years the descendants of the workmen who laid the original stones were excavating in the Temple area adjacent to the Wall. I watched modern earth-moving equipment that quickly removed the layers of overburden. Paratroopers, sailors and soldiers mingled with tourists and ultra-orthodox Jews where 4,000 years of Jewish history had unfolded.

I thought of a day long ago when a man and his son built an altar within a few yards of these stones. The son himself was to be the sacrifice. The knife was about to flash into Isaac's heart when a voice arrested Abraham and, turning about, he saw a thorn-crowned ram that God had provided for the sacrificial offering.

A thousand years passed and again the Divine spotlight falls on this same spot. David had sinned greatly before the Lord, and he was given the choice of one of three punishments. David was given the choice of three years' famine upon the land; three months to be destroyed by the sword of his enemies or three days during which time the sword of the Lord, even pestilence would strike throughout all the coasts of Israel. After a time of great heartsearching David's decision was "Let me fall into the hand of the Lord; for very great are His mercies: but let me not fall into the hand of man. So the Lord sent pestilence upon Israel: and there fell of Israel seventy-thousand men. And God sent an angel unto Jerusalem to destroy it: and as he was destroying, the Lord beheld, and He repented Him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed. It is enough, stay now thine hand. And the angel of the Lord stood by the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite . . . . And David built there an altar unto the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings, and called upon the Lord, and He answered him from heaven by fire upon the altar of burnt offering" (I Chronicles 21).

Another thousand years roll by and again the Divine spotlight illumines the same sacred area where an even greater drama was enacted. Where the thorn-crowned ram became Isaac's substitute as an offering to God, so the thorn-crowned Lamb of God "offered Himself without spot to God". Then, in my mind's eye I substituted the modern Israeli workmen with their massive earth-moving machinery for the scene described by Solomon and tried to visualize the erection of what may well have been the costliest building ever constructed.

Labour costs alone in the building of Solomon's Temple were astronomical. Ten thousand men were detailed to hew the cedars of Lebanon. The logs were floated as huge rafts down the Mediterranean coast to the mouth of the Yarkon river where Tel Aviv now stands. The cedars were then hauled over the rugged Judaean hills to Jerusalem. Even with today's sophisticated methods of transport this would be a major undertaking. Furthermore Solomon employed an army of eight thousand stone masons, seventy thousand labourers, in addition to three thousand eight hundred and fifty overseers who were employed for seven years on the building project.

An American Society of Architects has made the following calculation based on Biblical evidence. Materials other than gold reached the staggering figure of $12,726,685,000! The priests' vestments and silver trumpets were valued at $11,050,000. The talents of silver and gold used in the construction were estimated at the colossal sum of $34,399,110,000! The total cost was estimated at a staggering $87,000,000,000. The above figures were based on monetary values in 1925. On present day values this figure would be at least four times greater.

One may well ponder what the future holds for this sacred spot. The Lord Jesus prophesied that the glorious Second Temple would become a desolation with not one stone standing upon another.

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often I would have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens, but ye would not!

Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, ye shall not see Me henceforth, until ye shall say, Blessed be He that cometh in the Name of the Lord." (Matthew 23:37-39)

Just how long the Dome of the Rock will occupy the sacred Temple site no one knows. One day a third Temple will be built, and "the man of sin be revealed . . . so that he as God sitteth in the Temple of God, showing himself that he is God". (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4)

The construction of the third Temple will usher in the awful time of Jacob's Trouble foretold by the prophets.

Daniel warns that there will be one who causes "the sacrifice and oblation to cease" (Daniel 9:27). Jesus Christ also referred to these days with the warning: "For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not from the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days be shortened, there should no flesh be saved . . . " (Matthew 24:21-22).

For those who will receive the warning, God's grace to mankind is still extended through the Kinsman-Redeemer of Israel, Jesus Christ.