How to Heal Jerusalem Syndrome
The following is from a Trumpet Brief sent out yesterday. These daily e-mails contain personal messages from the Trumpet staff. Click here to join the nearly 20,000 members of our mailing list, so you don’t miss another message.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives in the United Kingdom tomorrow. Together with some British leaders, he will participate in a series of events that commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the Balfour Declaration. Written by Britain’s foreign secretary Arthur Balfour, the Nov. 2, 1917, statement announced Britain’s official support of the creation of a “national home for the Jewish people.” The Balfour Declaration helped pave the way for the eventual establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.
Unsurprisingly, this week’s Balfour centenary, like nearly everything related to Jerusalem and Jewish sovereignty, has created tension and ignited ferocious debate. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has refused to attend the special dinner with Benjamin Netanyahu. Instead of focusing on commemorating Jewish sovereignty, many in Britain are using this anniversary as an opportunity to further the Palestinian cause and even call for a Palestinian state.
Behind this week’s Balfour melee is a familiar reality: Jerusalem is the world’s most contentious and intractable city, and the struggle for control of it continues to produce instability, tension and conflict.
The question we’re interested in is, why?
Think on some of the causes and issues that have kindled debate and conflict over the millennia. Has any issue over the past 3,000 years been more controversial, more tension inducing, more intractable than Jerusalem? This region of the planet, and this topic of thought and debate, has not experienced prolonged and uncontested peace since the time of King Solomon. Isn’t that remarkable? For going on 3,000 years now, Jerusalem has produced contention and has been driving people crazy.
In some cases, literally. Each year more than 100 people are institutionalized for a recognized mental illness called Jerusalem Syndrome. But it’s not just a few mentally unstable people who are thinking about Jerusalem and losing their marbles. Inside Israel and around the world, in homes, in synagogues, churches and mosques, in parliaments and castles, the issue of Jerusalem is engulfed in perpetual misunderstanding, tension and conflict.
Simon Sebag Montefiore discusses this in his excellent book Jerusalem: ”Jerusalem has a way of disappointing and tormenting both conquerors and visitors. The contrast between the real and heavenly cities is so excruciating that a hundred patients a year are committed to the city’s asylum, suffering from Jerusalem Syndrome, a madness of anticipation, disappointment and delusion. But Jerusalem Syndrome is political too: Jerusalem defies sense, practical politics and strategy, existing in the realm of ravenous passions and invincible emotions, impermeable to reason.”
Is there a greater misnomer than the name Jerusalem? It means “city of peace.” Yet Jerusalem—as a city and as a religious and political subject and aspiration—hasn’t had meaningful peace since King Solomon, almost back to 1000 b.c. Why is this? It’s easy to look at Jerusalem and all the effort that has been put into trying to understand its history and solve its problems and conclude that there are no answers. But there are answers.
One can understand why peace has eluded Jerusalem and the source of all the contention and conflict. One can understand Jerusalem’s past, present and future. Amid all the delusion, there are clear, definitive answers. We have lots of literature that will help you begin to understand Jerusalem. (The best book to start with is The United States and Britain in Prophecy, by Herbert W. Armstrong, which you can request here. After that, read Jerusalem in Prophecy, by Gerald Flurry.) Right now I’d like to consider an enlightening prophecy in Zechariah 12.
In this prophecy God actually prophesies that Jerusalem will be a cauldron of confusion and conflict, and that any nation or religion that gets involved with Jerusalem without God’s direction will experience confusion, sorrow and pain. In Zechariah 12:2-3, God says: “See, I am about to make Jerusalem a cup of reeling for all the surrounding peoples …. On that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples; all who lift it shall grievously hurt themselves. And all the nations of the earth shall come together against it” (New Revised Standard Version).
There is a lot in this chapter about end-time events in Jerusalem, but what a perfect description of this city!
The King James Version says that God has made Jerusalem a “cup of trembling” and a “burdensome stone for all people.” Is there a politician, historian or journalist, a Jew, Muslim or Christian who couldn’t at least agree that Jerusalem has been a “burdensome stone for all people”? “Every nation that has ruled Jerusalem has experienced serious problems,” wrote Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry in Jerusalem in Prophecy.
Take a breath and consider the following summary of Jerusalem’s history. Following Solomon’s death in the late 10th century b.c., Israel split into two competing nations. For the next few hundred years, Judah endured attacks by Israel as well as from some of its Gentile neighbors. In 585 b.c., the Chaldeans conquered Judah and completely devastated Jerusalem. Seventy years later, some Jews were allowed to return to Judah and rebuild Jerusalem, but they experienced great opposition and conflict. Between the fifth century b.c. and roughly 100 b.c., the Jews experienced much civil tension and conflict, as well as a series of battles with the Syrians.
In the first century b.c., Jerusalem was taken by the Romans and occupied for the next three centuries. In a.d. 70, Jerusalem was destroyed (again), and the Jews extinguished (again). In the fourth century, Jerusalem was ruled by the Byzantines and vigorously appropriated by Catholicism. The city was captured again in a.d. 638, this time by Muslims who made the city Islam’s third-holiest site. Wars over Jerusalem raged between Catholics and Muslims between the 11th and 14th centuries. In the 16th century, the Ottoman Turks conquered Jerusalem.
Then, in World War i, the Allies conquered Ottoman Turkey, leaving Palestine under British control. The 1917 Balfour Declaration led to Jewish statehood in 1948. There were significant wars in 1948, 1967 and 1973, with plenty of terrorist attacks and localized conflicts ever since.
The point is: Zechariah’s prophecy was fulfilled—Jerusalem has been a “cup of reeling” and a “heavy stone for all the peoples”!
The late Herbert W. Armstrong understood a great deal about Israel and was close to many of Israel’s highest leaders. In a February 1979 Plain Truth article, Mr. Armstrong wrote about the Israel-Palestinian struggle, and specifically the involvement of foreign powers. “Do you know the prophesied fate of these nations who interfere in a quarrel not their own?” he asked. “Listen!” Then he quoted this prophecy in Zechariah 12.
Is there a solution to Jerusalem Syndrome?
There is. But first we must accept that the secret elixir that will heal Jerusalem Syndrome is not in the possession of Jews, Christians or Muslims. And it’s certainly not in the possession of any politician, intellectual or journalist. These groups have all been trying to heal Jerusalem for 3,000 years. And their efforts have failed. Jerusalem remains a “heavy stone” with which nations, religions and politicians continue to “grievously hurt themselves.”
To understand Jerusalem, we must look to God for understanding and insight. The Bible overflows with truth about Jerusalem. Through the pages of the Bible, God reveals the identity of the Jews and Palestinians and explains the origins of the tension between Jews and Arabs (hint: it pertains to Abraham and his sons). The Bible contains prophecies that explain the creation of the Jewish state and its behavior and relationships with others in the end time. The Bible also contains manifold prophecies about Jerusalem’s future, both its short-term and long-term future. Through the Bible, God also reveals clearly and definitively how Jerusalem Syndrome will finally be healed!
This is what I think about when I read about the Balfour commemoration and watch the delusion and contention that rapidly engulfs any event or conversation regarding Jerusalem and Jewish sovereignty. Watching it all, I am ever more grateful for the Bible, for The United States and Britain in Prophecy and Jerusalem in Prophecy, and for all the other booklets and articles explaining the truth about Jerusalem.