An Encouraging Word: An experience to remember

By HOWARD COOP

Contributing columnist

On Thursday, Oct. 26, 1972, I experienced a never to be forgotten moment. It, indeed, was awesome.  

After entering the Dome of the Rock, the third most important mosque in the world that occupies the site of King Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem, we were, without a doubt, in a historic place. After descending to an area below the main floor of the mosque, we looked at a massive rock that gives the mosque its name, but that rock is much more than a big chunk of stone for which a magnificent building is named.

That massive stone is the stone in the land of Moriah upon which Abraham, a man who lived about 4,000 years ago, prepared to offer his only son, Isaac, as a sacrifice to God. Also, that massive rock is, according to tradition, the threshing floor of Araunah, the Jebusite, which David, about 3,000 years ago, purchased for 50 shekels of silver, or about $40, as the site on which to build an altar to the Lord. During the reign of Solomon, who ruled from 962 to 922 B.C. in the “Golden Age of Hebrew history,” a magnificent temple, the first in Jewish history, was built over the large rock.   

Across the years, many traditions have developed and many stories have been told about the massive rock. The Jews consider Jerusalem to be the center of the universe and believe that rock is the foundation stone of that center. It is also believed that on the final judgment day, the throne of God will be placed there and all humanity, past and present, will gather in the Valley of Jehoshaphat before it.

Muslims, too, hold that massive rock in awe.  They believe that Mohammed rode his horse, Lightning, from Medina to Jerusalem, a distance of at least 500 miles, in one night and ascended to heaven from the rock leaving his footprint upon it. 

To stand beneath that massive boulder and listen to the history and legend connected with it is an awesome experience to remember.