Sunday, February 6, 2011
The Temple: Destroyed and Built by Fire
This last week we have witnessed extraordinary events in the Muslim Arab countries of the Middle East, especially those in Egypt, the single most populous of Arab countries. Since the Camp David Accords of the late 70’s, (Carter administration) Egypt has been at peace with Israel and has even assisted Israel in many efforts to combat radical Islamic terrorism and stemming the flow of arms to Palestinian militants. It has been an uneasy peace at times and ultimately cost the life of Egypt’s immediate past President Anwar Sadat.
As I have watched these events this week unfold and transform entire countries in mere hours, I can’t help but think of the prophets and what they have to say about these times in which we live. There is a Jewish prayer that is recited on the 9th of Ave, Tisha B’Av, that speaks of a Jerusalem in ruin. But this prayer also speaks of a hope in the rebuilding of Jerusalem and says in part:
“For you, HaShem destroyed the Temple in fire, and in fire you will rebuild it.”
God did not literally destroy the Temple with fire in a supernatural way, but allowed it to be destroyed by fire from man, such as a military action. The word for “fire” in Hebrew is “aysh”. Just as the word fire in English can mean both a fire as in a house fire and fire as in fire a gun, aysh has the same double meaning in Hebrew. So both the 1st and 2nd Temples were destroyed by “fire” in the later sense. This same Jewish prayer refers to a passage in Zachariah chapter 2 from the Stone Edition of the Tanach.
5. And I lifted my eyes, and I saw-and behold!-a man with a measuring line in his hand. 6 And I said, "Where are you going?" And he said to me, "To measure Jerusalem, to see how much is its breadth and how much [is] its length." 7 And behold, the angel who was speaking with me was coming forth, and another angel was coming forth toward him. 8 And he said to him, "Run, speak to this young man, saying: 'Jerusalem shall be inhabited like unwalled towns, because of the multitude of men and cattle therein.' " 9 But I will be for it-says the Lord-a wall of fire around, and for glory I will be in its midst. 10 Ho, ho! Flee from the land of the north, says the Lord; for I have spread you as the four corners of the heavens, says the Lord. 11 Ho, Zion! Flee, she who sits among the nation of Babylon. 12 For so said the Lord of Hosts: After glory, He sent me to the nations that plunder you, for whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye. 13 For, behold! I raise My hand over them, and they shall be prey for those who serve them. And you shall know that the Lord of Hosts sent me. 14 Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for, behold! I will come and dwell in your midst, says the Lord. 15 And many nations shall join the Lord on that day, and they shall be My people; and I will dwell in your midst and you shall know that the Lord of Hosts sent me to you. 16 And the Lord shall inherit Judah as His share on the Holy Land, and He shall again choose Jerusalem. 17 Silence all flesh from before the Lord, for He is aroused out of His holy habitation.
Aside from the deep prophetic significance in our day of the entire chapter, I was particularly drawn to verses 9 and 13. Verse 9 speaks of a wall of fire around Jerusalem. I am reminded of the Exodus when the Children of Israel are about to cross the Red Sea and the LORD stands between them and the Egyptian army as a wall of fire. In verse 13 the subject is the nations who “plunder” (vs. 12) them. It speaks of how these nations will be brought down. The LORD will move against them by turning those whom they oppress against them. In Egypt we have an oppressive dictatorship in the guise of a democracy which has “enslaved” their people for generations. The government is now become “prey” for the people of Egypt.
As we watch the Arab world transform in the blink of an eye, we need to keep our Jewish brothers and sisters in prayer. Pray for the land of Israel. Pray that the hand of God will be upon them and protect them. Pray that the LORD will be a wall of fire around them and the He will be in their midst.
Shalom and be Blessed
Dan and Brenda Cathcart