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Monday, February 6 2012
A History Of Jerusalem: Constantine and Muhammad
Constantine and The Sun Religion of Rome
Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus, more commonly known as Constantine I or Constantine the Great, was the Emperor of Rome from 306 to 337 AD. While many Roman Catholics (Roman Catholic or "Protestant" - their core anti-Biblical doctrines are the same) have never even heard of Constantine, he was in fact the creator of the Church of Rome and most of its official doctrines. "The Church of Rome" is a very accurate title.
How and why did a pagan Roman Emperor claim to become "Christian"? On October 27/28 312, Constantine won the Battle of the Milvian Bridge (a bridge over the Tiber River in Rome) in which Constantine claimed to have seen a Latin "cross" in the sky, along with a message of "in this sign conquer." The problem with the claim (assuming that Constantine saw anything at all) is that Jesus Christ was not crucified on a Latin cross - the Messiah was crucified on a "T" (like an uppercase T) shaped cross (see Crossing The T). The alleged incident nevertheless was accepted and formed the supposed justification for the later wars known as the "Crusades" - "crusade" is from a Latin word meaning a Latin cross - a Roman cross that Christ was not crucified on (see the Fact Finder question below).
Although Constantine claimed "Christian" conversion for himself, he actually made very little change in the idolatrous sun-worship religion that he already practiced, including his mythical Sol Invictus, or "invincible sun god" of the Romans. In March 321, Constantine decreed that everyone was to observe the ancient "venerable day of the sun," or Sun Day, as the official "Christian" day of rest and ceasing of business activity for the Roman Empire - the basis of Roman Catholic and Protestant Sunday worship to this day (please carefully read Why Observe The True Sabbath? to understand the truth and reality from the Word of God).
Further, in 325, Constantine presided over the First Council of Nicaea that established all of the fundamental doctrines of the Church of Rome today - and of the "Protestant" churches that centuries later rejected the Church of Rome's leadership, but kept all of the Church of Rome's core doctrines (e.g. Constantine's "Nicene Creed," named after Constantine's Council of Nicaea, is accepted as much by Protestants as Roman Catholics). There was no "Pope" in Constantine's time - the Emperor was the head of the "church" that he created (the Emperor Constantine, not any mere city bishop, claimed the title of Pontifex Maximus, which means the highest priest); Constantine's local bishop, in Rome, was only one of nearly 2,000 such bishops throughout the Roman Empire. It was only after Constantine empowered his local bishop, to be a mere spokesman for the Emperor, that the "Papacy" was born. When the political empire of Rome fell, the Papacy continued on, merely by means of the power that it had been given by Constantine - a reality that has been lost to most people ever since (listen to our Sermon Constantine's Papacy).
When the Roman Empire became officially "Christian" (its own hijacked version of it that is; see Antichristians and Is Your Religion Your Religion?), Jerusalem took on religious importance to the Emperors (whereas before it was little more than a far-flung military outpost of the Roman Empire). Not long after the First Council of Nicaea, Constantine ordered the building of a "church" in what some claimed was the tomb of Jesus Christ - which became the famous "Church of the Holy Sepulchre." Over the centuries, that ancient "church," and the other Roman "holy places," created by Constantine were the focus of the "crusades" - the struggle between the Church of Rome and the religion of Islam that a little later had grown into a major religion, with its own claims upon Jerusalem.
Muhammad and The Religion of Islam
Muhammad (various other spellings in English e.g. Mohammad or Mohammed) was born in the Arabian city of Mecca (which is today in Saudi Arabia, a present-day political, not geographic or historic term, named after the ruling royal family there, that came into existence only in the 20th century; see Paul's Geography Lesson).
At the time of Muhammad's birth in 570 AD, the Holy Scriptures / the Holy Bible had already existed for thousands of years, as first put into writing by Moses according to the Command of the LORD. The Israelites, and the people of Judah within the Israelite tribes, long-existed before the birth of Muhammad. As we've covered in this series, long before Muhammad was even born, Jerusalem had been declared by God as the property of the people of Judah, for the sake of the Messianic line through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Muhammad was an orphan who was raised by an uncle. He lived a relatively ordinary life, working at various jobs, including a shepherd and a merchant. According to Islamic belief, at the age of forty, in the month of Ramadan, Muhammad began receiving "revelations from God." A few years later, he began preaching, and then later declared himself to be a prophet. At the beginning, his preaching was not accepted by the people of Mecca and he was forced to leave in 622. By 632 however, Muhammad had amassed the support of about 10,000 followers from across Arabia, who marched on Mecca and captured the city. Muhammad died a few months later.
Muhammad's religious beliefs of "Islam" (in Arabic meaning submission to God) grew into a very large new religion (the Israelites had, in the time of Muhammad already existed for thousands of years, and the coming of Jesus Christ had occurred nearly six centuries before the birth of Muhammad), based primarily on the writings in the Quran (also spelled in English as Koran). "Islam" thereafter became the primary competitor against the Church of Rome - the "Crusades" were a series of wars of Roman Catholicism against Islam for control of Jerusalem.
The Dome Of The Rock
The Dome of the Rock is a Muslim shrine that was constructed on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem from 689 to 691 AD. It stands where the Temples of the LORD once did (the first built by King Solomon, the second at the time of the return by Ezra and Nehemiah and the Herodian Temple) on the site that was purchased by King David (see A History Of Jerusalem: The City Of David and A History Of Jerusalem: The Temple Of The LORD). The Dome of the Rock has, for centuries, replaced the Temple as the prominent object of the Jerusalem skyline.
As was the case with the Church of Rome's "holy sites" in Jerusalem, during the Crusades the Dome of the Rock occasionally fell into opposing hands e.g. the Augustinians used the Dome for a church, while using the Al-Aqsa Mosque as a stable. When Saladin captured Jerusalem in 1187, he removed the cross from atop the Dome and reconsecrated it as a Muslim holy place. And on and on it went.
When Israel won control of the Temple Mount and the Dome of the Rock that sat upon it during the Six-Day War in 1967 (the wars fought by Israel / Judah since 1948 will be covered in a subsequent study in this series), some of the Jewish troops hoisted the Israeli flag atop the Dome - a highly emotional and symbolic event for the people of Judah who had been forced to watch foreigners, Church of Rome and Muslim, use Jerusalem for their religions for centuries, while the people of Judah themselves were often prevented from even entering the city. The flag was ordered removed by the Israeli leaders at the time in order to not inflame the war any further. The Temple Mount has remained in Muslim hands ever since.
The Foundation Rock
Why is the Muslim "Dome of the Rock" called that? Why do Jews also regard what's under the Dome of the Rock as being important to their religion?
As the name for the Dome implies, there is rock sheltered by the Dome of the Rock. That flat "Foundation Stone," as it is called, is shown in the photograph. The rock has been there far longer than the Dome that was built over it.
With its location where the Temples once stood, Jews generally believe that it was the location of the Most Holy Place, where the Ark of the Covenant was kept. As a tradition, Jews face the Foundation Stone (not the Muslim Dome that covers it) while praying.
That Mount Moriah location was also were Abraham nearly sacrificed Isaac - a historical account that was recorded in the Holy Bible before Muhammad was even born, but which was changed by Muslims for their man-made religion centuries later i.e. Muslims incorrectly claim that it was Ishmael, not Isaac, that Abraham brought there.
"22:2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of." (Genesis 22:2 KJV)
Nevertheless, the Dome of the Rock is regarded as one of the holiest sites of Islam, including with their belief that Muhammad ascended to heaven from there - a tradition that once again disagrees with the actual Word of God that says no one has ever ascended to heaven, except Jesus Christ.
"3:13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven." (John 3:13 KJV; see also What Was The Lesson Of John 3:16?)
The centuries of religious confusion and conflict will continue in Jerusalem until the return of Jesus Christ, the genuine and living "Foundation Stone" (see The Rock Of The Church) Who will rule all of humanity, in Peace and Truth, from that very location of Zion (see Moriah: Separating The Wheat From The Chaff).
"21:42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the LORD doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? 21:43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. 21:44 And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder." (Matthew 21:4244 KJV)
Fact Finder: How do we know, from history, who the prophesied "king of the north" and "king of the south" will be - and have already been?
This Day In History, February 6
1515: Aldus Manutius, Italian editor and printer, died. He printed the first "paperbacks" and invented italics.
1626: Huguenot rebels and the French signed the Peace of La Rochelle.
1685: Charles II, king of Great Britain and Ireland, died. James II became the new king.
1695: Ahmed II, Ottoman sultan from 1691-1695, died at age 53. His reign was marked by the continuing war with "The Holy League" of Austria, Poland and Venice (listen to our Sermon The Ottoman Empire).
1778: The U.S. and France signed treaties that would permit, "without French interference," the U.S. to invade Canada (which happened during the War of 1812-1814 - the only attempted invasion of Canada in Canadian history) and Bermuda, while France would attempt to take the British West Indies (France supported the breakaway of the New England colonies for their own predatory political reasons; France had no interest what-so-ever in anyone's "freedom" - when the New England colonies rebelled, France hypocritically maintained an oppressive grip on its own French colonies in Louisiana).
1804: Joseph Priestley, English cleric, chemist, one of the discoverers of oxygen, died.
1840: New Zealand became a British colony.
1899: The Treaty of Paris was ratified by the U.S. Senate by one vote, ending the "Spanish-American" War. Spain ceded Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines to the U.S. for $20 million.
1922: Cardinal Achille Ratti was elected to succeed Pope Benedict XV as Pius XI.
1923: Edward Barnard died at age 66. He is considered to be the leading observational astronomer of his time; he discovered 16 comets and Jupiter's fifth moon, discovered "Barnard's Star" and published a catalog of dark nebula.
1933: The Nazi government of Adolf Hitler began news censorship in Germany (see Presidential Quotes On War, Terrorism, Religion).
1934: Massive riots in Paris; the government of Edouard Daladier resigned.
1936: Adolf Hitler opened the Winter Olympics in Berlin.
1952: King George VI of Great Britain and Northern Ireland died at age 57. He was succeeded by his 26 year old daughter, Queen Elizabeth II.
1958: An airplane carrying the Manchester United soccer team from the European Cup Match crashed on takeoff in Munich. 23 people were killed, including 8 members of the team and 8 journalists.
1964: France and Britain agreed on the joint construction of an English Channel tunnel.
2001: Ariel Sharon defeated Prime Minister Ehud Barak in Israel's election.