That is precisely the reason, however, that “Peace” is so urgently necessary there. We are called upon to pray specifically for Jerusalem’s peace, since it is such a hotbed of conflict, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces” (Psalm 122:6-7).
City of the Mysterious King
The first reference to Jerusalem is found in Genesis 14:18. There, Abraham meets Melchizedek, the King of Salem (about 4,000 years ago). At that time, Salem was part of Canaan, which in turn was a province of Pharaoh’s Kingdom of Egypt.
City of King David
Jerusalem wasn’t claimed by the Israelites until the time of King David (about 3,000 years ago), and was ruled instead by the Jebusites. David conquered and claimed the city (1 Chronicles 11:4-7; 2 Samuel 5:6-10). Since it wasn’t part of the land allocated to any of the twelve tribes of Israel, it was an ideal location for the new capital, providing a common identity for the entire nation. Later, David brought the Ark of the Covenant with the Mercy Seat to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6; 1 Chronicles 13-15).
City of the Living God
In 967 BC, King Solomon built the temple as the place where man could meet with the living God. During the festive dedication of the temple, we read how God Himself was present in a unique way in that city, “But I have chosen Jerusalem, that my name might be there; and have chosen David to be over my people Israel” (2 Chronicles 6:6; cf. 2 Chronicles 5:11-14; 6:5; 7:11-12, 15). God’s presence filled the temple. That’s what makes Jerusalem so special and different from every other city in the world.
City of the Jewish Heart
Jerusalem reached its zenith under David and Solomon around 3,000 years ago. Since then, Jerusalem lies at the heart of Jewish culture, tradition and religion. Although the city has been destroyed 17 times, it has always remained in the memories of Jews everywhere. Even in post-biblical times, Jerusalem always remained the object of desire. The holiest of Jewish holidays, Passover, ends with the prayer, “Next year in Jerusalem!” Even at weddings, the greatest day in most people’s lives, Jerusalem is remembered during an integral part of the ceremony by breaking a glass. This is to symbolize the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem.
City of Unfaithfulness and Defeat
In 586 BC, Jerusalem was conquered by the Babylonian armies of Nebuchadnezzar. The city was torn to the ground and its heart, the temple, was utterly destroyed. Jeremiah asked God in that situation, “Hast thou utterly rejected Judah? hath thy soul lothed Zion? why hast thou smitten us, and there is no healing for us?” (Jeremiah 14:19). Why didn’t God help them anymore? When God removed Himself from Jerusalem, it was unprotected. The city was destroyed because of the sins against God (see Jeremiah 14:17-22; 15:1). God’s answer was, “For who shall have pity upon thee, O Jerusalem? or who shall bemoan thee? or who shall go aside to ask how thou doest? Thou hast forsaken me, saith the LORD, thou art gone backward: therefore will I stretch out my hand against thee, and destroy thee; I am weary with repenting” (Jeremiah 15:5-6).
City of Jewish Desire
Jerusalem always remained the object of desire. The prophet Daniel, who was deported to Babylon, could never forget his homeland. We read of him, “Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord’s sake. O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies” (Daniel 9:17-18).
City of the Messiah
Jerusalem was the place where the Messiah taught, was crucified, rose and ascended to heaven—and according to His prophecy, it is also where He will return in the end times (see Zechariah 14:1ff.). Jerusalem was the birthplace of the first messianic-Jewish community. Ten-thousand Jews came to faith in those times. Jerusalem was also the place from which the gospel message was spread to the entire world!
The Past 2,000 Years – A Tumultuous City
Jesus spoke prophetically of Jerusalem’s future (Luke 19:41-48; 21; 24). The foretold destruction of Jerusalem took place in 70 AD. At that time, 1,100,000 Jews were killed and 100,000 more were deported as slaves to Rome.
After Jerusalem was razed, Caesar Hadrian built a typical Roman city, and a temple for Jupiter was constructed at the site of the former Jewish temple. The city was renamed Aelia Capitolina. Under the penalty of death, Jews were forbidden entry into their own city! At the same time, the Land of Israel was renamed Palestine. Jerusalem was Christian from the fourth to the seventh centuries AD, and became a place of pilgrimage. Churches, shrines and monasteries were everywhere.
The city was captured by Islam in about 638 AD. The Dome of the Rock was built in 691, and in 715 the Al-Aqsa Mosque (distant Mosque, according to Sura 17:2) was built. Since then, Jerusalem is called “Al-Quds” (The Holy) by Muslims and is the third most holy city in Islam, after Mecca and Medina.
For almost 1,900 years, Jerusalem was ruled by various nations. Even after the founding of the modern nation of Israel in 1948, it took several years until all of Jerusalem was back in Jewish hands (1967). It has now been 40 years since the core of Jerusalem belongs to Israel.
Thus, the words of the prophet were fulfilled, “But Zion said, The LORD hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me” (Isaiah 49:14-16).
City That Reminds of God
Have God’s promises lapsed? Should the Dome of the Rock be torn down and a Jewish temple built in its place, as some Jews and Christians believe? Should a Jewish temple be constructed alongside the Dome of the Rock? Should things remain as they are, where the Jews have the Western Wall (or Wailing Wall) and the Muslims have the Dome of the Rock? Is that place where the temple once stood now meaningless to God?
Regarding the temple site, God Himself said, “But if ye turn away, and forsake my statutes and my commandments, which I have set before you, and shall go and serve other gods, and worship them; Then will I pluck them up by the roots out of my land which I have given them; and this house, which I have sanctified for my name, will I cast out of my sight, and will make it to be a proverb and a byword among all nations. And this house, which is high, shall be an astonishment to every one that passeth by it; so that he shall say, Why hath the LORD done thus unto this land, and unto this house? And it shall be answered, Because they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, and laid hold on other gods, and worshipped them, and served them: therefore hath he brought all this evil upon them” (2 Chronicles 7:19-22).
The decisive issue for Jerusalem is spiritual: The issue of the personal relationship of its citizens to the Creator God, who in the Messiah was made man and entered history as the King of the Jews. Whoever seeks true peace in Jerusalem cannot ignore God (Matthew 23:39). Jerusalem will remain under pressure until real peace comes (see Zechariah Chapters 12 – 14).
The New Jerusalem – City of God’s Presence
Jerusalem will be the crown of the completely new creation that the Lord will build in the future. It will be the symbol and the epitome of God’s faithfulness in His plan of salvation. The new Jerusalem will be the center of God’s presence (Revelation 21:1-5; Zechariah 2:10-13).
The presence of God will make Jerusalem the City of Peace, and it will be the center of peace for all mankind. It will finally be the city it was always destined to be, the City of Peace (Zechariah 14).
News From Israel - September 2013
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