THE FUTURE OF JERUSALEM
AFTER a stormy history dating as far back as 2500 B.C., the spotlight of world interest is again focused on the city of Jerusalem. Although its original name, Urusalim, from which the word Jerusalem is derived, means “City of Peace,” it is estimated that the city has been captured and destroyed some twenty times.
Jerusalem was associated with sacred tradition and righteousness long before the establishment of David’s throne over Israel. It is generally agreed that Jerusalem is the Salem of Melchizedek’s time. If this is true, it emerges in Biblical history in the days of Abraham, approximately eight hundred years before Joshua’s conquest of Canaan, according to the revised chronology of present-day archaeologists who date the birth of Abraham about 2160 B.C., and the conquest of Canaan between 1400-1360 B.C. Genesis 14:18-20 gives the following account of Abraham’s visit to Melchizedek at Salem:
“And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: and blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.” - (See also Hebrews 7:1-4.)
Manetho, an Egyptian priest and historian of the third century before Christ, handed down a tradition to the effect that the nation of the Shepherd Kings, 240,000 in number, was driven out of Egypt by Thoummosis. They fled to Syria and built a city in the area now called Judea and named it Jerusalem. Manetho tells us that this expulsion of the shepherds took place several centuries before the Egyptian Exodus of the Israelites, and must not be confused with the latter event. The earliest mention of Jerusalem in an existing original document, dated about a hundred years before the Exodus, indicates that the city still had a Semite governor but that he was subject to Amenophis IV, King of Egypt.
When the Israelites entered Canaan, Jerusalem was occupied mainly by the Jebusites; therefore, in the narrative of Joshua’s conquest of the land, the city is sometimes referred to as Jebus. However, after David captured the city and made it his capital, the older name Jerusalem, or its abbreviation Salem, was used exclusively. David also brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, thus making it their religious centre - the Holy City - of the United Kingdom of Israel. During the reigns of David and Solomon Jerusalem enjoyed its most glorious interval of peace and prosperity.
Soon after Solomon’s death Shishak, King of Egypt, invaded Jerusalem and raided the Temple and royal palace of their treasures (I Kings 14), and about eighty years later Philistine and Arab bands plundered the city (II Chronicles 21: 17). Jerusalem was not only a target of marauding aliens, but it suffered severe blows from the impact of almost constant warfare between the two kindred kingdoms of Israel and Judah, until the northern kingdom of Israel was captured and deported by the Assyrians in the eighth century B.C. In the reign of Zedekiah, Judah’s last king, Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Jerusalem for the third time. Finally the city was taken, its buildings were razed, its walls were demolished, and most of its inhabitants were deported to Babylon (II Kings 25). The Holy City then lay in ruins, keeping in silence her Sabbaths which had been desecrated by the defiance of a “disobedient and gainsaying people”.
At the time appointed by God’s prophets Zerubbabel and almost fifty thousand volunteers returned to Jerusalem in 538 B.C., and began laying the foundation of the Temple (Ezra 2 & 3). Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of the city about 445 B.C. Persian power, which had authorized the rebuilding of Jerusalem, passed first into the hands of Alexander the Great, and then to the Macedonian Greeks. From this time to the advent of our Lord, the “City of Peace” was tossed like a football from one ruler to another in the following order: to Antiochus the Great, to the Egyptians, to Antiochus Epiphanes, to the Maccabees, to Pompey, to Crassus, to the Parthians, and, in 37 B.C. to the Herods, appointees of the Romans. In 70 A.D. the Roman emperor Titus fulfilled Jesus’ sorrowful prophecy of doom by laying the city waste in the devastating manner which He had foretold.
What, briefly, is the story of Jerusalem since the days of Titus? First, the Romans under Hadrian began to refortify the city for Gentile occupation, forbidding residence therein to the Jews. This seems to have led to the Jewish revolt of 132-135 A.D., led by Bar-Cocheba, or Bar Kokaba. When the revolt had been suppressed, rebuilding of the city was completed; its name was changed to Colonia Aelia Capitolina; and a temple to the heathen deity Jupiter Capitolinus was erected on the very spot where Solomon had dedicated the original Temple.
In 326 A.D. Constantine’s mother, Helena, had one church built at Bethlehem and another on the Mount of Olives; and ten years later the first church of the Holy Sepulchre was built by order of the Emperor himself. Violence again took Jerusalem by storm in 613 when the Persians, under Chrosroes II, massacred thousands of the inhabitants and took other thousands to Persia as prisoners. In 628 the city was recaptured by the Roman emperor Heraclius, only to be surrendered in 637 to the Arabs under Omar. It was the latter who built the Dome of the Rock, or Mosque of Omar, very near, and probably upon, the site of Solomon’s Temple.
When the Turks displaced the Saracens in 1077 A.D., their savage oppression aroused the apprehension of central Europe and brought on the Crusades. The first expedition of Crusaders took Jerusalem on July 15,1099, and established a Christian Kingdom which lasted until 1187, when it was forced to surrender to Saladin, Sultan of Egypt and Syria. With the exception of two brief periods, the Egyptians remained in control until the Turks, under Selim I, again took possession in 1517. Four hundred years later - on December 9,1917- Jerusalem was wrested from Mohammedan hands by the triumphant but reverent entry of Britain’s General Allenby and his troops. This achievement and the subsequent establishment of a Christian mandate over the Holy Land may yet prove to be the major outcome of the first World War.
The foregoing review brings us up to a consideration of the present state of Jerusalem. Details connected with the rise of Zionism, the declaration of an Israeli state, and the accompanying Jewish-Arab war are so well known to all that it is not necessary to reiterate them here. We are more concerned with the effects these movements will have upon the future of Jerusalem - and upon the future of the world.
Is the present Israeli state in Palestine to culminate in the fulfilment of prophetic utterances relating to the future destiny of Israel and the Holy City, as many church leaders are now teaching? Or will it turn out to be just another abortive and disastrous attempt to establish a Jewish state, like that of Bar Kokaba, only on an inconceivably vaster scale? The peace of all nations, even the life or death of millions of Christians, hangs in the balance at this moment because our people do not know the right answers to these questions.
In order to arrive at the truth we must determine what special place or destiny, if any, Jerusalem occupies in the plan of God. For reliable information on this subject one must turn to Bible history and prophecies. When Solomon dedicated the great Temple at Jerusalem, he prayed:
“0 Lord my God, hearken unto the cry and the prayer, which thy servant prayeth before thee: that thine eyes may be open upon this house day and night, even toward the place of which thou hast said, My name shall be there.” - (II Chronicles 6:19-20.)
Solomon refers here to the promise in Deuteronomy 12:11:
“Then there shall be a place which the Lord your God shall choose to cause his name to dwell there.”
In his prayer the king identifies Jerusalem as the place where God would put His name and dwell in a special sense with His people. The following passages are only a few from among many on this subject:
“Howbeit I will not rend away all the kingdom; but will give one tribe to thy son for David my servant’s sake, and for Jerusalem’s sake which I have chosen .... And unto his son will I give one tribe, that David my servant may have a light alway before me in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen me to put my name there” - (I Kings 11:13, 36.)
“But I have chosen Jerusalem, that my name might be there; and have chosen David to be over my people Israel .... Rehoboam ... reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which the Lord had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, to put his name there.” - (II Chronicles 6:6; 12:13)
“And to carry the silver and gold, which the king and his counsellors have freely offered unto the God of Israel, whose habitation is in Jerusalem.” - (Ezra 7:15).
“Blessed be the Lord out of Zion, which dwelleth at Jerusalem.” - (Psalm 135:21.)
Jerusalem is far from being a peaceable habitation today. How can this be if it has been set apart as the Lord’s holy place? Yet it is for this very reason that it has ever been the target of the enemies of righteousness. It is Satan’s goal to destroy every place, every institution and every nation that has any part in God’s plan for a righteous kingdom on earth. It is because the Lord Himself has a plan for Jerusalem that powerful evil forces are turning the world upside down to gain control of the Holy Land. In the struggle to thwart God’s purpose Jerusalem is now becoming a cup of trembling to all people, as Zechariah foretold:
“And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.” - (Zechariah 12:1)
The main burden of Zechariah’s message is the fate of Jerusalem. He visions the controversies over its possession through the centuries. He sees the adversary at work afflicting and spoiling the nations to defeat the Divine plan. The following illustrations are found in his book:
“I lifted up mine eyes again, and looked, and behold, a man with a measuring line in his hand. Then said I, Whither goest thou?And he said unto me, To measure Jerusalem, to see what is the breadth thereof, and what is the length thereof. And, behold, the angel that talked with me went forth, and another angel went out to meet him, and said unto him, Run, speak to this young man, saying, Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls for the multitude of men and cattle therein: for I, saith the Lord, will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and will be the glory in the midst ofher.” - (Zechariah 2:1-5.)
“And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. And the Lord [Angel of the Lord] said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, 0 Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee. “ - (Zechariah 3:1-2.)
Anyone with the smallest grain of discernment should be able to see by this time that the people now laying claim to Jerusalem are leagued with Satan rather than with the Lord. Their very character and methods belie their claim to the land and its holy places, and reveal them to be impostors. They are aliens of non-Israel stock and have no rights in the land. In dealing with them, Anglo-Saxon leaders need the insight and courage, which Nehemiah exercised when he began rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. Faced with a similar situation of aggression from Sanballat and other outlanders, Nehemiah challenged them unflinchingly with this truth:
“The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build: but ye have no portion, nor fight, nor memorial, in Jerusalem” - (Nehemiah 2:20.)
In all probability we are now seeing the day of which Joel and Obadiah wrote when they declared:
“Foreigners entered into his gates, and cast lots upon Jerusalem ... and parted my land.”
As it was in Jesus’ day, “The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.”
The fog of confusion will lift quickly if our people ever come to know the Scriptural teaching that the future of Jerusalem is linked with the destiny of ten-tribed Israel, and not with the Jews. The prophets state this important distinction so clearly that it seems incredible any Bible student could miss it. Our Lord certainly implied it in His fiat to unbelieving Jewry,
“The kingdom shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.”
If unbelieving Palestinian Jews are to have no part in the kingdom, on what grounds can Christ-hating, Zionist pseudo-Jews lay claim to Jerusalem? The better class of informed Jews are saying openly that Zionists are not of Israel stock and that their ancestors never lived in Palestine. This fact was admitted by a Zionist leader when he explained that the “I” was added to “Israeli” because the citizens of the new state are not Israel people. They are, as one writer has said, “but an arm of the Kremlin endeavouring to secure control in the Middle East.” How much longer will well-meaning Christians remain ignorant of this highly important fact?
The latter part of Isaiah’s great prophetic book deals almost exclusively with Israel of the northern kingdom those mysterious, migrating “lost sheep of the house of Israel” - who never returned to Palestine after their Assyrian captivity. He forecasts their acceptance of Christ; their rise to worldwide influence and power as Christian people; their missionary activities; and their forgetfulness of their origin in Abraham and Sarah. He shows also that because they are blind as to their origin and their relation to the Abrahamic Covenant, they are unmindful of their responsibility as custodians of Palestine and the Holy City. Since “blindness in part is happened to [Christian] Israel” (Romans 11: 25) - and remains to this day - they permit the land of their own sacred memorials to be desecrated by those who despise the very name and works of the Lord Jesus Christ.
A careful study of Isaiah 62 will throw much light on the future of Jerusalem and on the identity of the branch of Israel which will rejoice in the coming exaltation and splendour of the Lord’s beloved city. Addressing the people who inherit the promises made to the fathers, God speaks as follows through Isaiah:
“For Sion’s sake I will not hold my peace, for Jerusalem’s sake I will never rest, till her triumph shines out brilliant, and her deliverance like a blazing torch, so that the very nations see your triumph, and every king beholds your splendour. You shall he called by a name that is new, a name to be fixed by the Eternal. A fair crown shall you be, in the Eternal’s hand, a royal diadem carried by your God.”
“‘Forsaken’ shall no longer be your name, your land shall no more be called ‘Desolate’; you shall he ‘my Delight,’ your land shall he ‘my wedded wife,’ for the Eternal takes delight in you, and your land shall again be married. As a young man weds a maiden, so your Founder marries you, and as a bridegroom thrills to his bride, so shall your God thrill to you.”
“I have set sentinels upon your walls, Jerusalem, who never hold their peace by day or night. Remembrancers of the Eternal, never rest, never let the Eternal rest, till it is done, until he makes Jerusalem renowned on earth.” - (Isaiah 62: 1-7, Moffatt Trans.)
Ferrar Fenton's version of verses six and seven gives a still more impressive reading of the last line:
“On Jerusalem’s Walls I fix watchmen by day and by night, They never keep silence reminding the Lord, - They never are dumb, - They will give Him no rest, Till He fixes and places Jerusalem the Glory of Earth.”
The watchmen will not hold their peace, they will never rest, until He makes Jerusalem “the Glory of the Earth.” The city chosen of God was not the glory of the earth in those first centuries of the Christian era when it was under the sovereignty of pagan Rome; moreover, Jerusalem was not a praise in the earth during the long period of Moslem domination; and now it is suffering violence at the hands of a blasphemous people who “say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan” (Rev. 2:9).
God declares that it shall not always be thus with the place, which He has sanctified for his own holy purpose. For in this very same chapter He sends out the call to His redeemed people to awake and proclaim the coming glory of Jerusalem and the restitution of all things. Let us read it in verses 10-12 of Moffatt’s translation:
“Pass through the gates, pass out to make a path for the returning exiles, bank up a causeway, clear out the stones; signal to the nations to ... To the very ends of earth the Eternal has proclaimed this: ‘Tell the citizens of Sion, their deliverer is coming, bringing his reward with him, bringing his recompense; their name shall he The sacred People, “The Redeemed of the Eternal ‘You shall be then a city much sought after - no forsaken city” - (Isaiah 62:10-12, Moffatt Trans.)
Dr. Moffatt leaves verse 10 unfinished, as shown above; but Ferrar Fenton ends the verse with this significant clause, “And raise the flag over the Tribes.”
Jeremiah and Joel, writing of these same climactic events, declare:
“At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk anymore after the imagination of their evil heart.” - (Jeremiah 3:17.)
“And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call.... The Lord also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the Lord will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel. So shall ye know that I am the Lord your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more.” - (Joel 2:32; 3:16-17.)
Is the Israeli state in Palestine a fulfilment of Israel prophecy? In the light of Scripture one may assuredly answer, “No.” Renegade communistic and atheistic Zionists are not the inheritors of the Promised Land. Their high-handed regime is doomed to extinction. It will soon be crushed, but not until the nations are again gathered for war, as it is written in Zechariah 14, in Daniel, and in the Revelation. It could have been otherwise, but it is too late now to prevent the holocaust. The Lord’s redeemed, like Israel of old, have been asleep - and they never know who their enemies are in time to prevent bloodshed and tears.
Who are the sentinels - the reminders - who refuse to keep silent or give the Lord rest until His promises become a reality in the earth? Are they not to be found within our own fellowship of Israel, pleading in season and out of season, by day and by night, for citizens in Christian nations to look to the rock whence we are hewn - unto Abraham our father, and unto Sarah that bare us? Are they not keeping lonely vigil here and there - publishing, preaching, teaching the Gospel of the Kingdom and proclaiming the coming of the King? By faith these watchmen envision Jerusalem as a city of Peace - the Glory of the earth.
Back To Archive Contents