Tomorrow is Jerusalem Day in Israel. The Pope has been carefully picking his way through the political minefield of Jerusalem's holy sites and places of importance on the last day of his trip to Israel. There is no city like it on earth - none with so much atmosphere and none with so much conflict and controversy. It's a central point for the three main monotheistic faiths, but is there a better connection to God if you worship in Jerusalem? No, of course, not. However, the Bible does portray Jerusalem as the most important city in the world, and in Scripture it is called the 'City of God'. It becomes clear that man didn’t chose Jerusalem, God did! So how important is this city to God, and why?
The word “Jerusalem” occurs 881 times in the Bible, 667 times in the Old Testament (or Tenach, as it is called here in Israel) and 144 times in the New Testament. God Himself refers to it and to no other place, as “My City” (Isaiah 45:13) . God has declared that Jerusalem is the place from which He will reign and He says that He is "exceedingly jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion" (Zechariah 1:14). Certainly, Jerusalem is very important to God. It is the place that “He has chosen for Himself to put His name there.” (1 Kings 11:36)
Foreshadowing of World Redemption
Over 4000 years ago, God told Abraham to take his son Isaac and sacrifice him on Mt. Moriah, which is where Jerusalem stands today. Isaac climbed up that very mountain, carrying the wood on his back that would be for his own sacrificial death, if the Lord had not stopped Abraham and provided a ram as a substitute to die in his place. This story is clearly a foreshadowing of God's willingness to sacrifice his own precious son for us, on the same mountain. Yeshua also carried the wooden cross on his back on which he would be killed as our sacrificial lamb. God said that all nations would be blessed through Abraham because He did not spare his son and heir, and it was through the descendents of his son Isaac that our Messiah came. Jerusalem was also the very spot where where God commanded Solomon to build the temple (2 Chronicles 3:1), and where the Israelites rebuilt the second temple in its place. The design and details of the temple itself and all the sacrificial worship conducted there at God's command was another foreshadowing of the mighty redemption and sacrifice that would be accomplished in that place. Yeshua's trial, death and resurrection in Jerusalem allows us to enter through the veil, into the holy of holies. Jerusalem is the city in which God decided long ago would host the events that would redeem the world. God did not choose for the Messiah to be sacrificed in Jerusalem because it is somehow a special place, but rather it is special because that Jerusalem is the place which God ordained for his son to die for our sins, in order to restore our relationship with him.
Destruction and Restoration
Even though we know that God delights in the city of Zion (another name for Jerusalem) and that he was extremely concerned that all the temple worship was to be done correctly with purity, God was willing to destroy his own temple and the whole city of Jerusalem because of Israel’s disobedience. This shows us that it is not so much the building nor the city which have top priority in his heart, but the holiness of his people and his relationship with them. Both the temple and the city have great significance in God's estimation, but not as much as right relationship with his children. However, in Zechariah 2:12 we read that when God brings his people back and plants them in their own land, Israel, He will again choose Jerusalem. Jerusalem is very important in the end time Bible prophecy because we know that when the Messiah comes back, he will come to Jerusalem.
A Battle Rages in the Heavenlies
For all these reasons, Jerusalem is the central hotspot of spiritual battle, which we can see to this day. Somehow, it always ends up in our headlines around the world. Jerusalem is the most contested and sought after city in all of history. Many nations and peoples have come against it: Assyrians, Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Persians, Arabs, Crusaders, Turks, Jordanians. Geographically, it was always located off the main trade routes and has no strategic importance to a conquering army. If this were only a physical battle, it would be hard to understand the reasoning behind this. However, the heart of the battle is spiritual. God declared that He will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem (Zechariah 8:3). How much do you think the enemy hates the place where God dwells? The enemy can’t succeed in this battle against Jerusalem but he is trying hard to cause as much tension, bloodshed, pain and strife as possible.
The Uniqueness of Jerusalem
In 1947 the General Assembly of the UN passed a resolution that forever changed the status of Jerusalem in relation to its position in the world. This resolution established Jerusalem as a "corpus separatum". This is a legal term meaning a "body of separate covenant". This has never happened before in history. No city has ever been set aside by a human government so as to abide by different laws than the rest of the world. Jerusalem truly is a "corpus separatum". However, it is set aside by God, not by the United Nations.
In is an interesting fact that politically Jerusalem has been a capital to no other nation except Israel. Many Christians and Jews alike see the restoration of Jerusalem into the hands of the Jewish people in 1967 as a fulfillment of the Bible prophecy. Certainly, we saw a remarkable wave of Jewish people coming to faith around the world from that time, and some would say that it signalled the end of the "time of the Gentiles" that Yeshua referred to in Luke 21:4. However, most other people around the world see this same event as a very sensitive issue, a political hot-potato. You won’t be very popular if you stand in favor of God’s prophetic plan to prepare this city for the coming of the Messiah, for His coming back to Israel, to its capital, Jerusalem. But no one who stands up for biblical positions ever becomes popular in our modern world system.
Jerusalem's Significance for the End Times
"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." (Zechariah 12:2-3).
It is good to keep an eye on what is happening in Jerusalem. God will prove Himself faithful with final events in this city. Jerusalem seems to be a time-clock for events of the last days. We can actually celebrate the fulfillment of God’s prophetic plan for Jerusalem as He sets the stage for the coming of the Messiah. Wouldn’t you want to pay attention to what is happening to a city where the King of Kings is coming soon?
The Bible says in Psalm 122:6, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem”. Why? Because the peace of the whole world depends on the peace of Jerusalem. In Isaiah 62 we are called to continually intercede for Zion and give God no rest until He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth. Maybe that’s why King David said (Psalm 137:6), “May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy.” It is to Jerusalem that Messiah returns. May we all be ready!