O Jerusalem, Jerusalem

by: Bill Bratt

Email: info@icogsfg.org

Jerusalem is one of the most interesting cities in the world. It is always in the news. Jerusalem is a holy city for three religions of the world: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Jerusalem is known as the city in which Jesus was crucified, the Dome of the Rock and Solomonís temple. The word "Jerusalem" means "city of peace."

Jerusalem has many titles that identify it as the Ďcity of Godí (Psalms 46:4, Revelation 3:12), the city of Jehovah (Isaiah 60:14), the mountain of the Lord (Isaiah 2:3), the mountain of Jehovah of hosts (Zechariah 8:3), the holy mountain of Jehovah (Isaiah 27:13) and Zion of the Holy One of Israel (Isaiah 60:13). Generally, the phrase, "the holy mountain", refers to Jerusalem (Psalms 48:1, Isaiah 11:9, Daniel 11:45). Jesus lamented over Jerusalem and said: "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! {38} See! Your house is left to you desolate." (Matthew 23:37-38).

Jesus uttered with great emotion the words: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her!"

Letís look at a few passages where it talks about persecuting and killing the prophets: "And the LORD God of their fathers sent warnings to them by His messengers, rising up early and sending them, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place. But they mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against His people, till there was no remedy" (2 Chronicles 36:15-16). God's wrath is the inevitable result of people's determined refusal to obey God.

"Nevertheless they were disobedient And rebelled against You, Cast Your law behind their backs And killed Your prophets, who testified against them To turn them to Yourself; And they worked great provocations" (Nehemiah 9:26). When men hate the message, many times they kill the messengers. In the Old Testament the messengers of God were the prophets and the rebellious people killed the prophets. In the New Testament the greatest messenger was Godís only Son, Jesus Christ, and the rebellious religious leaders managed to have Him beaten, crucified an killed.

Jesus exclaimed: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, 'If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers' guilt" (Matthew 23:29-32).

The Jewish leaders were scrupulous about maintaining the traditions of their fathers. Jesus said they succeeded well in killing God's messengers, just as their ancestors persecuted and killed prophets, so they were about to bring the tradition to its ultimate fulfillment by rejecting and killing Jesus, the greatest Prophet, the anointed Messiah who came to fulfill prophecy and provide God's promised salvation.

Jesus loved Jerusalem. He wanted to be itís protector, just like a mother hen which gathers her chicks under her wings but they were not willing! (Matthew 23:37-38). The religious hierarchy of Jerusalem claimed loyalty to Scripture yet had a history of killing the authors of Scripture. They hated Jesus and sought to take His life.

Jesusí Prophecy of the Temple

Jesus says in Matthew 23:38: "See! Your house is left to you desolate." Notice that Jesus said "Your house". He is referring to the Temple. Jesus has turned His back on the Temple and calls it their house.

When Jesusí disciples marveled at the temple, Jesus prophesied again regarding the Temple. "Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. {2} And Jesus said to them, "Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down" (Matthew 24:1-2.)

Jesusí words concerning Jerusalem were fulfilled literally, within forty years. The magnificent buildings of marble and gold, were so completely demolished by the Roman army, (A.D.70 ) that Josephus said it looked like a site that had never been inhabited.

Destruction of Jerusalem

The following is from Halleyís Bible Handbook page 655: "Jewish Wars, in revolt against Rome, began A.D. 66. Titus with his Roman Army arrived before the walls of Jerusalem on the day of Passover, A.D. 70. Banks of earthwork were built, battering rams were placed, and the siege began. The Roman Army numbered 30,000; the Jewish Army, 24,000. The city was crowded with 600,000 visitors, according to Tacitus. After 5 months the walls were battered down, the Temple burned, and the city left ruined and desolate, except Herod's three great towers at the northwest corner, which were left standing as a memorial of the massive strength of the fortifications which Titus had demolished. 'The Roman Army moved down to Caesarea. Over 1,000,000 Jews were killed. 95,000 captives were taken, among them Josephus."

"For the 50 years following, Jerusalem disappeared from history. In A.D. 135, Barcocheba, a pretended Messiah, led a revolt, got possession of the city, and attempted to rebuild the Temple. The revolt was suppressed by the Roman Army. 580,000 Jews were killed, and Judah desolated. Jews were forbidden to reenter Jerusalem, on pain of death. A temple to Jupiter was erected where the Temple of God had stood. Under Constantine, A.D. 326, the temple of Astarte was torn away from the site of the present Holy Sepulchre, and the city again became a leading Christian center. In the 5th century it became the seat of one of the Five Patriarchs who quite largely dominated Christendom, the other cities being Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, Alexandria. In the year A.D. 637 Jerusalem fell to Mohammedans, and remained a Mohammedan city, except for about 100 years in the Crusade Period, till 1917 it returned to control of Christendom."

In 1947 the United Nations approved the establishment of a Jewish state. The modern nation Israel was born. Then war broke out between the Arabs and the Jews and Jerusalem became a divided city. Jordan controlled the east portion, Old Jerusalem, and the territories on the West Bank of the Jordan River. The Israelis controlled modern Jerusalem in addition to its original territory.

In 1967 war once again broke out between Israelis and the Arabs. During the Six Day War the Israelis recaptured all of East Jerusalem, the West Bank territories, the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip and the Sinai. Jerusalem was united and the entire city thus became the capital of the state of Israel.

Jerusalem Surrounded by Armies!

Jerusalem is always in the news. It may be a terrorist attack or a peace summit. Jerusalem is where the action is. Sometime in the future, the headlines will read: "Jerusalem is surrounded by armies." Jesus proclaimed in the Olivet prophecy: "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).

Zechariah prophesied: "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" (Zech 12:2-3).

Notice in reading these scriptures the phrase: "in that day". This phrase refers to the end time latter days just prior to Jesusí return to the earth when He will rule as King of kings and Lord of lords for a thousand years. (See Rev. 19:16, 20:4).

Jerusalem will be the World Capital of the Kingdom of God

The prophecies against Jerusalem tell of much destruction. But, the fate of Jerusalem has a happy ending. Notice that God will again choose Jerusalem: "Again proclaim, saying, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts: "My cities shall again spread out through prosperity; The LORD will again comfort Zion, And will again choose Jerusalem"' (Zechariah 1:17).

"Now it shall come to pass in the latter days That the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, And shall be exalted above the hills; And peoples shall flow to it. Many nations 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 the law shall go forth, And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem" (Micah 4:1-2).

"And in that day His (Jesusí) feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, Which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, From east to west, Making a very large valley; Half of the mountain shall move toward the north And half of it toward the south. Then you shall flee through My mountain valley, For the mountain valley shall reach to Azal. Yes, you shall flee As you fled from the earthquake In the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Thus the LORD my God will come, And all the saints with You." (Zechariah 14:4-5)

"And in that day it shall be That living waters shall flow from Jerusalem, Half of them toward the eastern sea And half of them toward the western sea; In both summer and winter it shall occur. And the LORD shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be; "The LORD is one," And His name one" (Zechariah 14:8-9).

In conclusion: Jerusalem will be a city of peace only after Jesus Christ returns and establishes the Kingdom of God.