Dear Brother, I guess I was not clear.
You wrote: “Not necessarily. Every successive revelation of Quran ayat over time is simply a continuation of the same goal of guiding etc, even if a future ayat reveals something not discussed in prior ayat, it doesn’t mean since they were not aware of it before they were not guided, the new ayat are simply building upon what came before…”
Even if I throw out this observation of mine, it will not change my subsequent analysis. My previous response was in response to this observation “this new change is in some way related to guiding to a straight/establishing path, and making the believers a balanced/moderate community.” If I read this in the light of your above observation, then we should agree at least to conclude that despite them being on previous Qibla, they were already on the guided path. This much is clearly evident. The same is clarified by God Himself stating: Guidance is not inherent in East or West, rather guidance is through following God’s orders and injunctions.
Now we come to your second observation, “In these verses, 2:142-150, it is discussing a change of qiblah/focus (a change in strategy if you will) but this does not necessarily mean a change in the end goal.” Lets review 2:142 to see what it may tell us.
[2:142]: The foolish among the people will say, "What has turned them away from their Qiblah, which they were upon?" Say, "To Allah belongs the east and the west. He guides whom He wills to a straight path."
We have two choices with respect to the word Qibla: (a) Qibla is a physical direction towards one faces, OR (b) Qibla is a focus, a strategy, a goal. Putting the first part of the verse with the second part of the verse in which East/West is discussed, what is the logical choice for the word Qibla, (a) or (b)? Undoubtedly, Qibla was a physical direction Muslims faced during their prayers, and this was seen by those described fools, and when this got switched, they saw it again, thus, their surprise.
You wrote: “Thus, Quran unequivocally discusses a minimum of 3 qiblah, and the wording obviously implies more but a minimum of 3 we can say for certain.”
When I said the concept of many Qiblah is wrong I was responding to this observation of yours: “in this case the qiblah happens to be al masjid al haram (AMAH, but there are potentially many other qiblah, as individuals could have their own qiblah.” Please note, the reference to “indivdiuals having their own qiblah” was derived from the Arabic word wij'hatun in 2:148. This word could possibly be translated as direction, goal, objective, etc. The author then linked this with the Arabic word “Qibla = physical direction to face” and concluded erroneously these being one and the same. Thus, my response that while man can have many wij'hatun, the same is not true for Qibla. Yes, Jews, Christians, and Muslims all have their Qiblas. Yet, Jews have only one, so do Muslims.
You wrote: “Brother, the word "salat" is not mentioned in these verses. Granted, that is a common interpretation but that does not change the fact the word is not used in these verses.”
This is a good observation. Yes, indeed the word “salat” is not used in these verses. In order to understand this, one has to bring the totality of verses 2:142-150. As noted above, Qibla cannot be anything other than a physical direction in 2:142. So here are my reasons to conclude what I did.
1. Can you imagine people going about their business but facing a particular physical direction all the time? It is impossible. The only possibility is they did face a particular Qibla during prayers (salat) at particular times. People, Jews, Christians, pagans, etc., were aware of this reality since they all knew what is their Qibla. They knew and saw Muslims facing a Qibla in prayers, then changing it, and they mocked it as well.
2. Now move to 2:144.
[2:144]: “We have certainly seen the turning of your face, [O Muhammad], toward the heaven, and We will surely turn you to a qiblah (falanuwalliyannaka Qiblatan) with which you will be pleased. So turn your face toward al-Masjid al-haram. And wherever you [believers] are, turn your faces toward it. ...”
This is an order, an injunction by God to prophet himself as well as to all believers at that time. Think of it how this order be fulfilled unless they all were in prayers (Salat) at the time? The phrase " fawalli wajhaka shaṭra Al-masjidi l-ḥarāmi = Turn your face (physically) to Masjid Alharam" which is also called Qibla for Muslims. Thus, when God said, fawalli wajhaka = turn your face, prophet did physically as he was commanded. Similarly, when he recited “waḥaythu Ma Kuntum Fawalu Wujuhakum = Wherever you all are turn your faces …”, they all did behind the prophet. Thus, the account in traditions that they were doing salat at the time this verse was revealed is sound.
3. Please note, the word “Kharajta=you go out” is missing in 2:144. This word is used in 2:149-150. Did you ask yourself, why this word is added in these two verses and not in 2:144? It is because 2:144 was addressing a situation in progress, i.e. they were in Salat, thus did not need “kharajta”. In contrast, 2:149-150 are meant to lay down a permanent ruling/injunction for prophet as well as all Muslims for all times to face Masjid Alharam whenever they come out to do Salat.