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UCGia Bible Insights Thursday, October 31 2019

Jerusalem: A past and present vortex

The three great religions of the world—Christianity, Islam and Judaism all reference Jerusalem as a very important area and even in the 21st century tensions have not subsided. Jerusalem still smolders as one of the enduring areas of conflict.

Jerusalem: A past and present vortex
A tourist captures a photo at the Temple Mount area.

The Bible tells us that before Christ returns “all nations”—not just followers of the three major religions—will become involved in the earth-shaking events that will take place in and around Jerusalem.

Christianity, Islam and Judaism all trace their roots back to the patriarch Abraham who, on Mount Moriah (now known as the Jerusalem Temple Mount) faced the great test of nearly offering up his son Isaac (see Genesis 22).

The city of Jerusalem first rose to real regional importance some 800 years after Abraham’s death when his descendants, the Israelite slaves in Egypt, were miraculously freed and led by God to settle the Promised Land. Then around 1000 B.C., King David conquered the Jebusite stronghold and renamed it the “City of David” (2 Samuel 5; 1 Chronicles 11:5).

Jerusalem’s greatest physical glory was reached under King Solomon, David’s son, who built a temple for God as well as his own elaborate palace and greatly enlarged the city. The Bible mentions the wealth of Solomon in 1 Kings 10:14 and describes gold as being so plentiful that nothing in the palace was made from silver because it was considered of little value (verse 21).

In spite of these blessings, because of the terrible sins of the Israelites including sacrificing their children to the pagan god Moloch, God allowed King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon to conquer and destroy Jerusalem in 586 B.C. Seventy years later, during the rule of the Persian Empire, the temple was rebuilt under Zerubbabel. Then after more than 50 years the city walls were rebuilt under Nehemiah.

Thus began a cycle of destruction and rebuilding that has gone on for thousands of years. In A.D. 70, Titus, a Roman general, destroyed the city again. Then Jerusalem was briefly reestablished after this defeat only to have it destroyed again by the Emperor Hadrian.

In the 600s, shortly after the death of Muhammad, Muslims gained control of the city and built holy sites for Islam. Then in the Middle Ages during the Crusades the known world was drawn into the battle over control of Jerusalem with the Muslims.

After many years of military and religious conflict General Allenby entered Jerusalem in 1917 bringing the city under British jurisdiction. Thirty years later in 1947 the nations of the world, via the United Nations, passed a resolution partitioning the land and setting the stage for the birth of the modern nation of Israel, which exists today.

Prophecy tells us that this continual conflict over Jerusalem is destined to increase and involve the whole world just before Christ returns. God says He will “make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all the peoples; all that burden themselves with it shall be sore wounded; and all the nations of the earth shall be gathered together against it” (Zechariah 12:3, American Standard Bible).

Then during a dreadful climaxing war we are told in Zechariah 14:3-4 Christ will return to the Mount of Olives, with his first task being to defeat the armies encircling Jerusalem (Revelation 19:16-21). Then Jerusalem will be transformed from a “burdensome stone” to a source of life—described poetically as pouring forth “living water” (Zechariah 14:8-9)— and Christ will establish Himself as ruler over the whole earth.

Once His government is set up in Jerusalem, all nations will come to worship Him. Isaiah 2:1-4 begins by specifically mentioning Jerusalem and says the Lord’s mountain (government) will be established above all the other governments, and all nations will flow to Jerusalem to be taught the right way to live. Finally Jerusalem becomes the “city of peace,” and the source of godly instruction and government leading to worldwide tranquility.

Then after all mankind has been given the opportunity to choose to live in accordance with God’s way of life New Jerusalem will descend from heaven (Revelation 21) and God the Father and the Lamb will dwell there with people transformed to spirit (verse 3), since those allowed there will be written in the Book of Life (verse 27).