The Controversy of Worship

The conflict over Jerusalem is ultimately an issue of worship because God has stated plainly that His Son will rule from that city.

6“As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” (Psalm 2:6 ESV)

1The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” 2The LORD sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your enemies! (Psalm 110:1–2 ESV)

God has set a controversy with the nations in motion by giving that city to His Son and then warning the nations to respond to His divinely chosen King.

10Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. 11Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 12Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him. (Psalm 2:10–12 ESV)

The temple mount is ultimately ground zero for God’s challenge with the nations over the right of His Son to rule. The Islamic world has brought the ultimate challenge to God’s statement by building a dome and a house of worship on the temple mount inscribed with the statement that “God has no Son.” In the very place that God says the throne will be established, Islam challenges the very existence of the Son and the reality of the promise. Night and day Islamic worship rises from the city of the great King challenging His right to rule as an entire people group tries to secure their own destiny apart from God’s divine Son.

The great tragedy is that at the bottom of that mount you find another people group bowing, praying, and weeping also trying to secure their destiny apart from God’s divine Son. While God made a permanent covenant with the Jewish people to live in that city, He also requires them to come into the fullness of their calling through His divinely chosen Son.

God asks the same question of both people groups in conflict over the temple mount:

1Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? (Psalm 2:1 ESV)

And He gives both people groups the same answer:

6“As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” (Psalm 2:6 ESV)

God is going to resolve the controversy of Jerusalem and He is going to deliver the Jewish people. However, Zechariah tells us that Jerusalem’s deliverance is directly tied to Jerusalem’s agreement with God on the issue of His Son. Zechariah 12 tells us that Jerusalem is going to first become a “cup of staggering” to the nations (Zechariah 12:2), but Zechariah also tells us that this controversy is going to be resolved when God pours out a spirit of repentance on the Jewish people in the city of Jerusalem (Zechariah 12:10-11). Repentance must come in Jerusalem because there must be agreement with God on His divinely chosen King in that city because Jesus refused to rule over that city until there was agreement (Matthew 23:39).

What’s often missed is that this is one of the most prominent hopes of the New Testament. Jesus quotes Zechariah’s prediction of repentance in Jerusalem in Matthew 24:30 and John quotes it in Revelation 1:7 as the reason for the vision described in the book of Revelation. Because our New Testament translates Zechariah’s prophecy into english as the mourning of the “tribes of the earth” we assume it is the mourning of the nations over Jesus’ judgments, but it is the mourning of the tribes of the land, a mourning of repentance – it is the resolution of the conflict around Jerusalem and the heart embrace of the Jewish people for their King. That alone will end the controversy around Jerusalem.

The temple mount is ultimate a microcosm of a global issue. The nations will try to seek their own destiny apart from God’s Son, but God has a firm answer – no people will come into their calling apart from God’s Son.

7I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. 8Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. (Psalm 2:7–8 ESV)

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