History’s Focal Point

From the February 2005 Trumpet Print Edition

Only one city on Earth is called the City of God. And for good reason: Jerusalem was founded by the Creator Himself. It was the location to which God sent Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. A millennium later, King David placed Israel’s capital there, and his son Solomon built there the house of God, a temple whose brilliant opulence attracted worldwide renown.

But the “city of peace” has been the locus of war ever since.

Nebuchadnezzar captured it in 597 b.c. and subsequently razed it. Shortly after, the city was conquered by the Persian King Cyrus, during whose reign the Jews built their second temple. Alexander the Great then took control for the Greeks, after which it was briefly recaptured by the Jews, and then, in a.d. 63, the Romans. Following a major unsuccessful Jewish revolt, in 135 the Romans banned Jews from entering the city.

Islamic conquest of the region began in 633. In a.d. 635, Muslim armies captured Jerusalem, and set about Islamicizing the Temple Mount, first by constructing the al-Aqsa mosque, then the Dome of the Rock on the biblical site of Abraham’s sacrifice and Solomon’s temple. Quite unlike the hostility that persists between these groups today, the Muslims allowed Jews access to the city during this period.

In 1099, Catholic Crusaders invaded, mercilessly expunging all Muslims and Jews. They occupied the city for 88 years, converting the Dome of the Rock into a church. Salah al-Din (Saladin), the Egyptian and Syrian sultan, recaptured the city in 1187, defended it against Catholics during the Third Crusade, and restored its position of prominence within the Islamic community.

At the beginning of the 16th century, the Turks conquered and ruled the city until the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire in the early 20th century. The British liberated it in World War i and it was subsequently split between Jewish and Arab interests. The State of Israel was born in 1948, and, in the face of Arab attack, overtook the whole of the city in 1967.

Over the decades, Muslim desire to recapture Jerusalem has been carefully nurtured, spawning dozens of state and non-state attacks on the Jewish nation that presently controls it. Bible prophecy shows that, in the time just ahead, Islamic forces will succeed in capturing half of the city, before it is completely overrun once again by the crusading Catholics from the north at the start of the bloodiest period in human history.

After this, however, Christ will return to the city of His crucifixion, cleanse it of its corruption, and establish the headquarters of His world-ruling Kingdom in the City of God.