This Wednesday marks "Jerusalem Day" in Israel and commemorates the 43rd anniversary (on the Hebrew monthly calendar) of the liberation of Jerusalem on June 4th, 1967. The return and re-conquest of Jerusalem by the Jewish people was prophesied by Yeshua in Luke 21:24. (See also Zechariah 12:6).
Unfortunately, Islamic Jihadists and Secular Humanists see this event not as a liberation, but as an occupation. The issue of Jewish ownership of Jerusalem has become the most controversial topic in international politics. The fact that this issue would become the center of conflict was itself prophesied in Zechariah 12:2-3.
Jews, Christians, and Muslims look to Abraham as their father of faith. The biblical account opens in Genesis 12:1 with God's instruction to Abraham to go to a place he did not know. That place, of course, was Jerusalem, also known as Mount Moriah. It was there that Abraham was instructed to "sacrifice" Isaac (Genesis 22).
Rabbinic commentary on Genesis 12:1 states that "all of Abraham's journeys were toward Jerusalem." Islamic belief is that Abraham offered not Isaac but Ishmael. Jerusalem (or Zion) is mentioned over 800 times in the Bible. It is not mentioned even once in the Koran. Muslims look to Mecca as their "Holy City," and when Muslims in East Jerusalem pray, they turn their backsides and their feet to the Temple Mount in order to bow toward Mecca.
Jerusalem is seen by the Hebrew prophets as the religious and political center of the Messianic kingdom (Isaiah 2:1-4; Micah 4:1-8). It was the capital of David and Solomon's kingdom and the location of the priestly Temple. In John's apocalypse, Jerusalem is portrayed as the place where heaven and earth are joined together and the Garden of Eden restored (Revelation 21:2, 10; 22:2).
In Christian tradition, the heavenly aspects of Jerusalem are given more emphasis, whereas Jewish tradition focuses on Jerusalem in its geographic location. Here are a few examples of the centrality of Jerusalem in Jewish culture (Begun, Machon Meir):
In the Jewish prayer book, the daily list of 18 prayers includes the restoration of Jerusalem as David's capital.
The Passover meal (seder) is concluded with the wish for "Next year in Jerusalem."
Every Jewish wedding concludes with the breaking of a glass and the proclamation, "If I forget you, Jerusalem, let my right hand forget… Let my tongue cleave to my mouth if I do not exalt Jerusalem above my chief joy" – Psalm 137:5-6.
In the daily blessing after the meals, religious Jews pray for the restoration of Jerusalem.
Around the world, Jewish synagogues are built so that the Ark and the direction of prayer are toward Jerusalem.
In the New Covenant Scriptures, Jerusalem has just as much a prominent place if not more. Prophecies about the coming of Yeshua are given in the Temple in Jerusalem (Luke 1:10-11, 2:25, 2:36). Yeshua is circumcised in Jerusalem (Luke 2:21). Yeshua cleans the Temple and teaches there (Luke 19:45, 20:1). He is crucified in Jerusalem and raised from the dead there. From Jerusalem He rose into heaven and to there He promises to return (Acts 1:10-11).
In Jerusalem the Holy Spirit was poured out on the first disciples (Acts 2:1-4), and from there they launched their mission of world evangelism (Acts 1:8). The council of the apostles in Jerusalem was seen as the center of spiritual authority for the early churches around the world (Acts 15:6, 22, 30).
The importance of Jerusalem in the New Covenant is not only what happened 2,000 years ago, but its place in future prophecy and the coming of the Messiah. From Jerusalem will spread a revival that will cover the world (Acts 2:17). From Jerusalem the end times' Messianic movement will cry out, "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord" – Matthew 23:39 – to invite Yeshua to return.
The fact that Yeshua will return to Jerusalem and that He made the Messianic revival in Jerusalem a pre-condition to His return, gives importance to this city beyond what happened in David's kingdom, what happened in the gospels, and what happened in the early church. God's plan for the human race comes to its culmination in Jerusalem.
For this reason, Jerusalem is such a controversy today, both politically and spiritually. All the prophecies of the end times speak of a period of tribulation, culminating in a great war in which all the nations will come against Jerusalem to attack (Zechariah 14:1). At that point Yeshua will return. His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4). He will destroy all the nations that came against Jerusalem to battle (Zechariah 12:2, 9, 14:3, 12), and set up a kingdom of peace and prosperity (Isaiah 2:4, Micah 4:4-6, Joel 3:17-18, Zechariah 14:14).
The battle over Jerusalem is not primarily for a city. Jerusalem represents the capital of Yeshua's kingdom, His authority on earth. The controversy has to do with God's right to determine who will run the government on this planet and how that government will operate. "The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Messiah" – Psalm 2:2.
God has chosen a Man (Jesus) and a Place (Jerusalem). The rejection of one of those, or both of them, is ultimately a rejection of God's authority. The lordship of Jesus and the location of Jerusalem are the points of confrontation between God's authority and mankind's rebellion. "I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion" – Psalm 2:6. It is God’s right to choose whom and how He wants to govern (Psalm 132:13, 17).
I invite you this week to join together with us for "Jerusalem Day" and to "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; May they prosper who love you" – Psalm 122:6.