One of the most photographed places in the world is the view of Jerusalem’s old city, taken from the vantage point of the Mount of Olives. Dominating that view today is the golden Dome of the Rock, a Muslim shrine. It hasn’t always been there.
On a recent trip to Israel, I was confronted with a fascinating fact that is as obvious—when heard—as that Dome is in any photograph.
While the Dome of the Rock is a Muslim shrine, it was actually built in the form of an early Christian church—octagonal in shape. It was built on the site of the Second Temple of Israel, which itself was constructed on the foundation of the First Temple built by King Solomon.
That land, as we read in the Old Testament’s book of 2 Samuel, was purchased by Solomon’s father, David, from Araunah, a Jebusite. The land was the top of a hill known as Mount Moriah, where sometime around 2,000 years before the birth of Jesus—and 1,000 years before David’s reign—Abraham was asked by God to sacrifice his son Isaac.
Of course, God did not want Isaac to be sacrificed—but He did want to test the faith of Abraham.
That rock became the foundation of the First Temple and the seat of the Holy of Holies—the place of the Ark of the Covenant. That rock remained even as the First Temple lay in ruins. When the Second Temple went up, the rock was there. When the city of Jerusalem was destroyed by fire in A.D. 70 during the Jewish Revolt, the rock was unmoved.
Even when the pagan Roman Emperor Hadrian set a temple honoring Jupiter on the site, the rock was still there. And, yes, when Jupiter was kicked off Mount Moriah and the early Muslims built their shrine after the pattern of the Christian churches of the day… the rock was still there.
Whatever structure rests on that rock in the future, it has served as a sturdy foundation. Because while the things made by man are destined to fade with time, those things made—and sanctified—by God are made to last until He is done with them.
And scripture tells us that, yes, even that rock on Mount Moriah will not last for eternity.
The surest foundation is found not in nature or monuments, but in Christ alone. As the old hymn goes, “Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee.”