THE SIGNIFICANCE OF JERUSALEM

The important revelations to humankind through events in JERUSALEM will be resumed at the Second Coming of Christ.

JERUSALEM, WHERE GOD PUT HIS NAME ON

Almost a thousand years before Christ, king David conquered JERUSALEM from the Jebusites, moved to the new city from Hebron and declared it the capital of Israel. Three names were used for the city, i.e. ‘JERUSALEM’, ‘Zion’ and ‘the City of David’. ‘JERUSALEM’ means ‘Founded Peacefully’. God has chosen JERUSALEM as the city where He has put His name on forever.

David wanted to build a house for the Lord’s name in JERUSALEM, but God said that David’s son would do that (2 Samuel 7:12-13). After having built the temple, God said to Solomon: “And the LORD said to him: “I have heard your prayer and your supplication that you have made before Me; I have consecrated this house which you have built to put My name there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.” (1 Kings 9:3).

In 1 Kings 11:36 God once again said, “And to his son I will give one tribe, that My servant David may always have a lamp before Me in JERUSALEM, the city which I have chosen for Myself, to put My name there.” that JERUSALEM is “the city which I have chosen Me to put My name there.” Psalm 48:2 calls it “the city of the great King.”

HISTORY AFTER THE TEMPLE OF SOLOMON

Solomon built the first temple there and the glory of God entered it. God was worshipped in the temple and He revealed Himself to Israel through the service of the priests and prophets. As long as the people served God and obeyed His commandments, JERUSALEM would be a safe fortress.

However, times of spiritual decay set in, leading to the neglect of the temple service in JERUSALEM. A few God-fearing kings restored the temple service during their reign, after which decline only once again sets in. Due to the persistent apostasy of the nation and their leaders, the glory of God eventually departed from the temple and He surrendered them to their enemies. During the Babylonian siege in the 6th century BC, the city and the temple were plundered and destroyed and many of the Jews taken captive to Babylonia.

These events did not terminate God’s eternal commitment to JERUSALEM. After seventy years of captivity Israel was restored to their land, they rebuilt the temple and re-instituted the temple service. Then once again, apostasy set in, leading to the departure of the glory of the Lord. After Malachi, there was a four hundred year long ‘prophetic silence’ in Israel as God sent no prophets during this time. Relying only on their own strength, Israel could not prevail against their enemies. The temple became completely dilapidated and fell into ruins while spiritual darkness prevailed in Israel.

Since about 40 BC, Herod the Great ruled as king over Judea. To win the favour of the Jews, while also intending to suppress their messianic expectation, Herod built a new temple in JERUSALEM. This temple was known as the second temple and temple service was again instituted.

JERUSALEM AND THE FIRST COMING OF THE MESSIAH

By far the most significant revelation of God to Israel and the whole world was the birth of His Son, Jesus, from Jewish parents. In JERUSALEM Christ proclaimed the message of eternal life and taught in the temple. However, the majority of the leaders and inhabitants of the city rejected Christ. In doing so, they brought great sorrows and peril over themselves.

During the triumphal entry of Jesus into JERUSALEM, He was moved to tears because of the dire consequences of Israel’s spiritual blindness:
“Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” (Luke 19:41-44)

In a planned betrayal of Jesus He was falsely accused, arrested, tried and convicted innocently in JERUSALEM. The Jewish leaders insisted upon His crucifixion so strongly that the Roman governor, Pilate, conceded to their request for the sake of popularity among the Jews.

Christ was crucified just outside JERUSALEM in the stone-quarry of Solomon. Here He made atonement for our sins by paying the price for the transgressions of a lost humanity to God. He was buried outside the gates of JERUSALEM but rose from the dead three days later. On the Sunday of His resurrection He preached in JERUSALEM in what can be describes as the first service of the dispensation of the Christian church. A week later the second sermon was delivered (John 20:19-29). Just prior to His ascension from the Mount of Olives forty days after His resurrection, He gave the Great Commission to His disciples.

That ministry would only commence after something very important happened in JERUSALEM. Jesus said to them:
“ Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at JERUSALEM. And you are witnesses of these things. Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of JERUSALEM until you are endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24:46-49).

That was the promise of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit: “ But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in JERUSALEM, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8). On the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was poured out over the disciples, the process of world evangelism began. On that day, three thousand souls were saved and became members of the church of Christ in JERUSALEM.

From that day onwards, the gospel of salvation would be preached in JERUSALEM and beyond, even to the uttermost ends of the earth.

THE CONTINUED ROLE OF JERUSALEM

Many people, especially those who follow Covenant theology (just another form of Replacement theology) argue that the divine purpose of JERUSALEM expired with the moving out of the disciples to preach the gospel in the rest of the world. They conveniently forget about God’s decision that His name would forever dwell in JERUSALEM. The long-term future of JERUSALEM was always, still is, and always will be securely fixed in the divine counsel and purposes of God.

To clarify this issue, we only need to study the Olivet discourse of Christ where He discussed the first and last generations of the present dispensation of grace between His first and second coming. Both these generations are identified in terms of events that have occurred (or will in future occur) in and around JERUSALEM.

The first generation started when the inhabitants of JERUSALEM rejected Jesus as their Messiah. It ended with the destruction of JERUSALEM by the Romans in 70 AD. After that, Israel was dispersed among the nations (the Diaspora).

During the times of the Gentiles (of unspecified duration) JERUSALEM is trodden down by the Gentiles while the gospel message is preached to all the nations on earth.

The last generation started with the restoration of Israel as a nation in 1948 and when Israel captured the Old City of JERUSALEM from Jordan during the Six-Day war in 1967. It will end when the Christ comes back to the Mount of Olives in JERUSALEM and the remnant of Israel accepts Him as their Messiah.

Regarding His rejection by the spiritually blinded Jewish leaders during the first generation of the dispensation of grace, Jesus said the following to them:
“Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt.… that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. “O JERUSALEM, JERUSALEM, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’” (Matthew 23:32, 35-39).

The generation referred to by Christ includes the people who were alive when He made this pronouncement. Within the life-span of most of them, the prophecies about the destruction of JERUSALEM were fulfilled. Luke described the destruction of JERUSALEM and the dispersion of Israel as follows:
“But when you see JERUSALEM surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And JERUSALEM will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” (Luke 21:20-24).
The first generation began with the rejection and crucifixion of Israel’s Messiah in JERUSALEM, and was terminated by the destruction of JERUSALEM. That was followed by the long Diaspora of Israel, during which time JERUSALEM was trodden down by the Gentiles. At the end of the time of world evangelism, when the gentiles had the opportunity to enter the kingdom of heaven, Israel, their land and their city JERUSALEM will again be restored. Physical restoration has already started in 1948 and spiritual restoration will take place during Daniel’s 70th week, also known as the time of Jacob’s trouble.

Paul wrote, For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob.” (Romans 11:25-26).

Before their national spiritual revival will occur, a time of severe testing and affliction awaits the restored Israel in their land, and particularly also in the city of JERUSALEM:
“Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Because you have all become dross, therefore behold, I will gather you into the midst of JERUSALEM. As men gather silver, bronze, iron, lead, and tin into the midst of a furnace, to blow fire on it, to melt it; so I will gather you in My anger and in My fury, and I will leave you there and melt you.” (Ezekiel 22:19-20).

The time of Jacob’s trouble, which is aimed at the spiritual revival of a remnant in Israel, form part of the events of the last generation of the present dispensation, at the end of which the Messiah will come back. This will be the time of Israel’s testing. Jeremiah says: “Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it” (Jeremiah 30:7).

THE 70TH YEAR-WEEK

The last seven years of the last generation are described as the 70th year-week of Daniel (Daniel 9:24-27). That will be the tribulation period under the reign of the false messiah (Antichrist). Shortly after his revelation he will authorise the building of the third temple in JERUSALEM. In the middle of the seven year period he will declare himself to be God in the rebuilt temple, defile the sanctuary by having an image of himself placed there, and command all people to worship the image (Daniel 9:27; 2 Thessalonians 2:4; Revelation 13:14-15). Israel will be severely shocked and disillusioned when they realise that they accepted and worshipped a false messiah. They will break their covenant with him and flee to the wilderness. The ensuing 3½ years are described as the great tribulation (Matthew 14:15-22). God says: “…in their affliction they will seek Me early” (Hosea 5:15).

The Antichrist will be aware of the fact that the true Messiah will return to JERUSALEM at the end of the tribulation period of seven years, and for that reason he will deploy a multi-national military force in Israel to fight against Him. The Antichrist and his forces will be utterly defeated and destroyed on that day (Revelation 19:19-21).

JERUSALEM AND THE SECOND COMING OF THE MESSIAH

All nations will be gathered against JERUSALEM on the day of the Second Coming.
“Behold, I will make JERUSALEM a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and JERUSALEM. And it shall happen in that day that I will make JERUSALEM a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it. In that day,” says the LORD, “I will strike every horse with confusion, and its rider with madness; I will open My eyes on the house of Judah, and will strike every horse of the peoples with blindness. And the governors of Judah shall say in their heart, ‘The inhabitants of JERUSALEM are my strength in the LORD of hosts, their God.’” (Zechariah 12:2-5)

The remnant of Israel will also know from biblical prophecies that the Messiah will come to JERUSALEM to save them. During the siege of JERUSALEM they will go the Mount of Olives at the risk of their lives to await the arrival of Messiah:
“And His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before JERUSALEM on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach to Azal: Yes, ye shall flee as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with Thee… And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from JERUSALEM; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder seas; in summer and in winter shall it be. And the LORD shall be King over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and His Name one…. And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against JERUSALEM shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles” (Zechariah 14:4-5, 8-9, 16).

Daniel says there will come a time for the people of Israel and the city of JERUSALEM “to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy” (Daniel 9:24). That time is fast approaching and will dawn at the end of the 70th year-week. Then the whole remnant of Israel will be reconciled with the Messiah and all of them will serve Him wholeheartedly:
“But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” (Jeremiah 31:33-34).

There will be a moving reunion between Israel and their Messiah when they say to Him: “Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord.” That will only happen after the Holy Spirit has been poured out over the people of Israel who humbled themselves before the Lord:
“And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of JERUSALEM, the Spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for Him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn… In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of JERUSALEM for sin and for uncleanness… they shall call on My name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is My people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God” (Zechariah 12:10, 13:1, 9).

After Israel has been reconciled with Christ, He will also restore the throne of David in JERUSALEM. Then, the promise will be fulfilled which the angel made to Mary before the birth of Jesus: “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.” (Luke 1:32). Jesus never ruled from the throne of David, but after His Second Coming this promise will be fulfilled:
“After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof; and I will set it up: that the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my Name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things” (Acts 15:16-17; compare Amos 9:11-12 and Isaiah 16:5).

JERUSALEM AS WORLD CAPITAL

JERUSALEM will be made capital of the whole world. The Lord Jesus will be the King of kings and lasting peace will prevail everywhere:
“Many people shall come and say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, To the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, And we shall walk in His paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, And the word of the LORD from JERUSALEM. He shall judge between the nations, And rebuke many people; They shall beat their swords into plowshares, And their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, Neither shall they learn war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:3-4).

“At that time JERUSALEM shall be called The Throne of the LORD, and all the nations shall be gathered to it, to the name of the LORD, to JERUSALEM. No more shall they follow the dictates of their evil hearts.” (Jeremiah 3:17).

Satan will be bound during the millennial reign of Christ and consequently be unable to deceive the nations into hating and fighting one another (Revelation 20:2-3). They will seek the favour of the Lord in JERUSALEM and also honour His people, Israel:
“Yes, many peoples and strong nations Shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in JERUSALEM, And to pray before the LORD.’ “Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.” (Zechariah 8:22-23).

In the coming dispensation, JERUSALEM will be a city of brilliance and glory. Every child of God should earnestly look forward to this time of divine harmony and peace on earth when JERUSALEM will rise from the ashes of shame and deprivation:
“Awake, awake! Put on your strength, O Zion; Put on your beautiful garments, O JERUSALEM, the holy city! For the uncircumcised and the unclean Shall no longer come to you.” (Isaiah 52:1).

“Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities: thine eyes shall see JERUSALEM a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken. But there the glorious LORD will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams… For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; He will save us” (Isaiah 33:20-22).

“And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and the kings to the brightness of thy rising… thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night; that men may bring unto thee the forces of the Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought. For the nation and the kingdom that will not serve thee shall persih; yea those nations shall be utterly wasted… The sons of them that afflicted thee shall come bending unto thee; and all they that despised thee shall bow themselves down at the soles of thy feet; and they shall call thee, The city of the LORD, The Zion of the Holy One of Israel… Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise” (Isaiah 60:3, 11-12, 14, 18).

Because JERUSALEM will be a blessing to the whole world after the Second Coming of Christ and the setting up of His millennial reign, we should join Isaiah in exclaiming: “For Zion’s sake I will not hold my peace, and for JERUSALEM’s sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth” (Isaiah 62:1).

PRAY FOR THE PEACE OF JERUSALEM

In these dark days of hostility and attacks against the City of God, we should constantly remind the Lord of His promises to bless JERUSALEM. He commanded us to intercede for JERUSALEM:
“I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O JERUSALEM, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that make mention of the LORD, keep not silence, and give Him no rest, till He establish, and till He make JERUSALEM a praise in the earth” (Isaiah 62:6-7).

We should never forget JERUSALEM as a place of divine revelation – not its past, neither its wonderful future. David said: “Pray for the peace of JERUSALEM: they shall prosper that love thee” (Psalm 122:6). The struggle for the control of JERUSALEM is a struggle between light and darkness. The Lord Jesus will return to JERUSALEM and rule the world from this city. That is why the kingdom of darkness does everything in its power to conquer JERUSALEM or to estrange it from Israel with a view to converting it into a heathen city.

Let us pray for the peace of JERUSALEM in the words and in the deep longing of the Jewish captives at the rivers of Babylon: “If I forget thee, O JERUSALEM, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not JERUSALEM above my chief joy” (Psalm 137:5-6).

With inhabitants such as these during the coming millennium, ruled by the Messiah Himself, JERUSALEM will indeed be a blessing to the whole world.

THE NEW JERUSALEM

In the future creation of God there will be a new JERUSALEM in which all the saved ones will dwell. The apostle John said:
“Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New JERUSALEM, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.” (Revelation 21:1-5).
Be sure that you are born again and by virtue of that a member of the bride of Jesus Christ and a future resident of the new JERUSALEM. You will then share in the eternal glory and joys of the kingdom of God. The great deeds of God’s salvation that were done and revealed in earthly JERUSALEM should be proclaimed in the whole world as that is the only doorway to heavenly JERUSALEM.

(MAIN SOURCE: Johan Malan, University of the North, South Africa)

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