John's birth foretold to Zechariah
|5There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judæa, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. 6And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. 7And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years. 8And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest’s office before God in the order of his course, 9According to the custom of the priest’s office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. 10And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense. 11And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. 13But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. 14And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. 15For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb. 16And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. 17And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. [*] 18And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years. 19And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings. 20And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season. 21And the people waited for Zacharias, and marvelled that he tarried so long in the temple. 22And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless. 23And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house. 24And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying, 25Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.
For many people, their first view of the Temple Mount is from the Mount of Olives to the east. The most easily recognized area of Jerusalem; the Temple Mount is located within the walls on the eastern side of the Old City. The site of the Temple of Solomon, and of the later Temple built by Herod the Great (which is the temple Jesus visited), is now an enormous stone platform upon which stands the golden covered Dome of the Rock and the Al Aksa Mosque.
Here Jews come to pray at the Western Wall; here Muslims come to pray at the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aksa Mosque. Here Israeli soldiers and the Arab Temple Mount Police protect what may rightly be called the most revered spot on the face of the earth.
Solomon built the First Temple on the threshing floor that his father David had purchased from Arunah the Jebusite (2 Samuel 24:18 25). The site was hallowed as the place where God stayed the hand of Abraham as he was about to sacrifice his son Isaac on Mount Moriah (2 Chronicles 3:1), and where God stopped the plague against the Israelites (2 Samuel 24:15 18). In addition to the Temple and its associated buildings, Solomon built other magnificent structures between the City of David and the Temple Mount.
Southern Steps of the Temple
The main public access to the Temple was from the southern steps. People entered and exited through a double and triple gate, together called the Huldah Gate. These gates had to handle enormous crowds during feast days; estimates as high as 500,000 people at a time. The triple arched gate was the entrance and the double arched gate served as the exit. Although the double and triple gates have been filled in, you can still see their outlines in the walls near the well-preserved steps of the monumental staircase.
The triple gate to the east led to a tunnel that brought worshippers up to the Temple and the columned porches. To leave the Temple they would exit the double gate on the west and go down a staircase 4 times larger than the entry staircase, since everyone was leaving at the same time. The steps below the wider staircase are well preserved and are one of the few places you can walk where you are sure Jesus walked. An interesting exception to the rule about entry and exit gates regarded mourners. According to the Talmud, they were to go in and out against the traffic in order that people would know of their loss. People would then extend their condolences by saying, “May He who dwells in this House give you comfort.”
In this area we will also see ritual baths from the time of Christ, important inscriptions from the Temple, the street that runs inside the Western Wall tunnels, and the ruins from the Roman destruction of Jerusalem.
Video 15: John the Baptist (Kingdom Agenda)
Jerusalem, in the temple