“No site in Jerusalem affected me more than the western wall.”
– Edward Wilmot Blyden (1866, African American Author; – From West Africa to Palestine; 245)
The Western Wall, sometimes called “The Wailing Wall”, is known throughout the world as a Jewish place of prayer. Jews have been praying here for centuries, still weeping over the destruction of the Temple or reciting ancient prayers, looking for the Messiah. Many will write their prayers on paper and stuff them in the cracks of the wall to keep their prayers continually before God.
If you have been to Israel, you have most likely visited the Western Wall, as it’s an awe-inspiring location. Unfortunately, many non-Jewish visitors who have seen it may have dismissed the passionate devotion that can be seen at the wall as misguided religious fanaticism. Even those who have prayed at it may have missed the profound biblical promise that was waiting for them to access.
At this location, God made a stunning yet little-known promise, not to the Jewish people, but to those from the nations who would come to seek Him in Jerusalem.
There is nothing mystical or spiritual about the Wall itself. The Western Wall is simply a portion of the western retaining wall built by Herod in the first century, to flatten the top of Mt Moriah for a large Temple to be built on top of it. Through the centuries, the exact boundaries of the destroyed Temple and its courts on top of the Mount were in dispute, so many religious Jews would not ascend the Temple Mount for fear of transgressing God’s instructions without realizing it.
Instead, a location was found where they could pray as close to the holy of holies as possible, while being safely outside any possible boundaries and off the mount altogether. For centuries this prayer spot was in an inconspicuous narrow alley until after the Six Day War in 1967. The Israelis cleared out dilapidated housing to make way for what we now know as “the Kotel” or the Western Wall Plaza. It has since become the ironic place of prayer for the Jewish world.
Biblically, the Temple Mount is a very significant location to God, as it is where the first and second Temple stood. For this reason, I will be referring to the Western Wall as part of the Temple Mount complex, the location where the Temple was dedicated. There are a few verses that make this location unlike any other in the world.
Many are familiar with 2 Chronicles 7:14:
“ If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
But have you read the next 2 verses?
“Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.I have chosen and consecrated this Temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.” (1 Chronicles 7:15-16)
The context of this popular verse is the dedication of the Temple at the time of Solomon. God said that His eyes are open, ears are attentive to prayers at this place and His heart will be there forever. Not just until Messiah comes or until you sin so grievously that I change my mind. Forever.
Regardless whether the Temple is standing or not. Forever. While it is true that God sees everything all the time, hears our prayers and that we can access His heart anywhere else in the world, there is a particular place on earth that we can go to and know that we are directly in the gaze of the Creator, He is attentively listening and we have full access to His heart. That alone makes this location unique.
Perhaps more significant is an oft overlooked portion of Solomon’s prayer in 2 Chronicles 6:32-33:
“As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm—when they come and pray toward this temple, then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name.”
Notice that this is not a request for Israel, but for the nations who come to seek the Lord in Jerusalem.
Later when the Lord visits Solomon He said, I have heard your prayers and have chosen this place. Solomon prayed for the acceptance of the nations’ prayers, and the Lord answered! To paraphrase, there is a biblical promise made here, not to Israel, but to non-Jews who make the sacrifice and leave their home nation to come and seek the Lord in Jerusalem. When you do, He will hear from heaven and do all that you ask, so that you will go back to the nations you came from and share how you encountered the Lord. That same location remains significant today – it is the Temple Mount complex and the Western Wall.
Every group I lead that goes to the Western Wall is confronted with this biblical truth. While standing in the Western Wall plaza and reading these scriptures, I encourage my groups,
“If you are a Gentile who has traveled to Israel to meet the Lord, have your Bible come alive, and experience His land, this promise is for you. Take hold of it. What would you ask of the Lord if you knew for sure He would answer your prayers? This not a “genie in a bottle” but a biblical promise just for you. He is blessed that you are here, that you made the journey for Him and He promises in the Bible to respond when you pray in this place. The Scriptures say that, right now, you can be confident that you are directly in His gaze, He is listening to answer you and you are standing in the midst of His heart. This is like no other place on earth. My friends, when you pray here, this is not a time to ask small. Pray and believe as big as you can!”
With that, I send them off to take their time to step into this promise, enjoy the moment and talk with the Lord at the place where Jews have been praying for millennia. Many times, we are there for an hour or more, in what feels like 10 minutes. The stories I hear in the following months of answered prayers are stunning.
It’s amazing what happens when we step into Biblical promises in the very places where those promises were made.
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