If you won’t listen to Isaiah, or to the Israeli police, will you at least listen to Tom Petty? The other night I watched the Netflix documentary, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Runnin’ Down a Dream. The documentary ends with the band singing a Van Morrison song called “Mystic Eyes.” Ad libbing, Petty sings, “And I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be great, wouldn’t it be great if for just one moment everything was alright? If for just one moment, one moment in time, everything was alright? I want to give that to you, I want to give you a moment, where everything is alright. A moment where everything’s good, everything’s safe, everything’s warm.”
Wouldn’t it, though? Wouldn’t that be so great to have a moment where everything is alright? It seems as if the entire world is longing for such a moment. And in case you didn’t know, Israel, you are the key to everything being alright.
I read a rather poetic translation of Psalm 29 during the week I watched the Petty documentary. The Psalm ended with a description of God blessing His people with peace. This particular translation described the blessing as “a kiss of peace.” So naturally, after hearing Petty’s version of “Mystic Eyes” and reading about a kiss of peace I thought about the Temple Mount.
A few years ago I visited the place on earth that was the last place to publicly experience God’s kiss of peace. That place was the Temple Mount.
As many of you know, God readily meets a person one-on-one. Every person on earth can have a personal connection to God. But there is a profound connection that the world has been missing for a couple of thousands of years. It’s an in-your-face, this-feeling-is-so-tangible, there-is-no-mistaking-God-is real kind of connection. And the last place this kind of connection occurred was on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
Jerusalem, and more specifically the Temple Mount, is the one place on earth God decided to concentrate the largest amount His Divine Presence. The thing about God, though, at least as far as I can understand, is that He likes a two-way relationship. He will go out of His way over and over again to give people chances to connect to Him. But apparently, a few thousand years ago, He got tired of the way people He was intimately trying to connect with did not reciprocate that connection. So the Book of Ezekiel describes when God decided that, at least for awhile, He was done with public intimacy. The part of God that could be unmistakably and tangibly felt by everyone departed Jerusalem. “God has left the building,” and the world has suffered since.
Israel, you and the world sorely needs to experience God’s unmistakable and undeniable public Presence again; a Presence so strong that every man, woman, and child, no matter their beliefs, education, or spiritual perception, will all agree that God is real and, therefore, will act accordingly. Isaiah describes the mind-boggling result of this kind of experience as a time when warfare will end.
As I said, the last place the world experienced that kind of Presence of God was on the Temple Mount. Do you know how I left the west side of the Mount where that Presence was last experienced? I backed away. My Jewish friend told me to walk away without turning my back on that specific spot in order to show a reverence toward the last place the Divine Presence, a.k.a. a kiss of peace was experienced. But besides reverence, walking away backward was a way to show a longing for the return of that Presence. It was an outward expression conveying the message of “I don’t want to leave this place. I want to linger as long as possible at the place You last were.”
The Temple Mount is the last place that experienced the kiss of God’s Divine Presence, not the Western Wall. Is it special that Jews gather to connect with God at the Western Wall/Kotel? Yes. Kind of. It’s special when any human connects to God via prayer anywhere. But the Kotel is not special compared to the place where the Temple stood and where the Divine Presence last publicly dwelt. The Kotel was a retaining wall. And now it is where Jews are relegated, sent to stand in the corner, so to speak, because a certain populace does not want Jews ascending or praying on the Temple Mount, and politicians are willing to appease this populace by taking away your rights to pray there.
But who are the Arabs, certain rabbis, and politicians to tell you, or even me, where to pray? They have no right to keep you from halachically ascending the Mount and showing reverence and longing at the place where Heaven last kissed the earth.
Will God kiss the earth again with peace? I think He will. I don’t know when or how. But I believe that people who have a heart full of longing for His Presence and for His peace, who ascend the Temple Mount, somehow expedite the return of His Presence and peace.
But what do I know? Maybe Rabbi Yeschezkel, Moshe Dayan, and Levi Eshkol were the ones who really knew what you, Israel, and the world wanted and needed when, via their chain of command, they stated in 1967, “The people of Israel have no interest in the Temple Mount.” And that the UN should be notified that, “We (Israel) have no interest in the Temple Mount.” Maybe their way of thinking, their modern way of handling things, was better suited for our times rather than what your prophet Isaiah envisioned for the world. After all, maybe rock-stars, poets, and prophets are the only ones crazy enough to long for and believe that just for a moment, or maybe even forever, everything could be alright.
Isaiah answered Petty’s question be foretelling how everything will be alright, good, and safe. And the Temple Mount is the key to Isaiah’s answer, which means it’s the key to your answer, Israel, which means it’s the key for the world. Isaiah said, “It will happen, the mountain of the Temple of God will be firmly established as the head of the mountains, and it will be exalted and all nations will stream to it. Many peoples will say, ‘Come, let us go up to the Mountain of Hashem, to the Temple of the God of Jacob, and He will teach us of His ways and we will walk in the paths.’ For from Zion will the Torah come forth, the word of Hashem from Jerusalem. He will judge among the nations, and will settle the arguments of many peoples. They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks, nation will not lift sword against nation and they will no longer study warfare.” That’s all.
A few years ago, my friend who lives in Israel and works for Jewish rights on the Temple Mount, went to a conference on security and heard how the fulfillment of this prophecy might start to happen. The Israeli police said, “If only more Jews would visit the Temple Mount on a regular basis, the entire balance of power would shift. There would be a paradigm shift; the attitude of the government and the police would be different towards the Jewish visitors on the Temple Mount. The Muslim terror would be abated. Many Jewish people visiting the Temple Mount would be the cure to the overall security situation.”
What if it were that “simple?” What if the Divine Presence returning to the Mount, which will lead to the end of all warfare, which will mean everything is finally alright, was contingent on more Jews visiting the Temple Mount? Wouldn’t that be great? Or what if that’s crazy, and instead the vision Isaiah saw was contingent on the “status quo” of the Temple Mount being maintained as is?