The Eternal Has Chosen Jerusalem
Why You Must Watch Jerusalem
“Angels oversee other places on Earth, but God oversees Jerusalem.”
These words were spoken by a rabbi named Yisrael Ariel at a conference in Jerusalem I attended in 2008.
To some degree, I believe the Bible agrees with him. There is no city on Earth God talks about in the way He talks about Jerusalem. Scripture shows that God’s eyes have been fixed on this piece of real estate throughout human history—and even before that! So many of the Bible’s landmark events, in both Old Testament and New, took place on this sacred soil. It has a rich and inspiring history unlike any other.
However, overlaid on top of its stirring past, Jerusalem has been the stage for terrible tragedy. Salem means “peace.” Jerusalem means “city of peace.” Yet Jerusalem has known almost no peace! Its past and present are deeply stained with bloodshed and desolation. No city on Earth has suffered more. And God has watched that, too.
Yet, oh how God loves Jerusalem! Mainly He loves the Jerusalem that is to come. Over the centuries, through His prophets and apostles, God has inspired a multitude of prophecies about this extraordinary city, many of which reveal His glorious, imagination-stretching plans for it.
Other prophecies, however, foretell the trouble, anguish and warfare that would plague this city. For example, God says, “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem. 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 12:2-3). Truly, every empire and nation that has ruled Jerusalem has had burdensome and painful problems.
To this day, this city is at the heart of the world’s thorniest political and diplomatic dilemma. It is a hot spot for devastating news caused by religious and political resentments, terrorist attacks and other violence. It is a powder keg charged with nuclear potential! No other city is so fraught with international tension.
Bible prophecy shows that events in this city will trigger a nuclear World War iii! That alone is a vital reason to closely watch Jerusalem.
God’s eyes are fixed on Jerusalem—and ours should be too! Jesus Christ Himself instructs us to keep our eyes on this city to observe the signs pointing to the climactic event of all human history: His Second Coming!
That event leads to the greatest news ever. This blood-soaked city is yet to become a city of peace!
But there is also a deeper spiritual reason as to why you need to watch Jerusalem. The spiritual reason is most important of all.
God Chose Jerusalem
God commanded ancient Israel to build a tabernacle to house the ark of the covenant, which represented His presence in the nation.
When Moses was giving the Israelites final instructions before they entered the Promised Land, he told them God would put His name on one place in particular: The tabernacle, which housed the ark, would be the hub and focal point of the nation: “But unto the place which the Lord your God shall choose out of all your tribes to put his name there, even unto his habitation shall ye seek, and thither thou shalt come …. Then there shall be a place which the Lord your God shall choose to cause his name to dwell there; thither shall ye bring all that I command you … and there thou shalt do all that I command thee” (Deuteronomy 12:5, 11, 14).
When the Israelites then inhabited that land, God positioned the ark in Shiloh, but after Israel sinned and lost God’s blessing, the ark was moved to Kirjath-jearim and elsewhere. Finally, in the time of King David, it found its home in Jerusalem. And when Solomon later built the magnificent temple of God there to replace the tabernacle, God said pointedly: “I have chosen Jerusalem, that my name might be there” (2 Chronicles 6:6).
God Himself chose Jerusalem. He didn’t choose Paris or London or New York—He chose Jerusalem. Imagine—a city God has chosen!
This majestic truth is repeated many times in Scripture. For example, when Solomon went astray, and God decided to rend the kingdom from him, He told the rebellious king, “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” (1 Kings 11:13). Solomon’s son was Rehoboam, and 2 Chronicles 12:13 says that “he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which the Lord had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, to put his name there.”
You would think that if God Himself chooses a city, this would be impressive news in this world. But few people even pay attention.
David was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). He wrote this: “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord. Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem. … Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces” (Psalm 122:1-2, 6-7). David had a deep passion for Jerusalem! God was well pleased with that attitude and had it canonized in the Bible.
Another psalm reads, “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy” (Psalm 137:5-6). If you understand why this psalmist put Jerusalem above his chief joy, you will see why all believers of the Bible should do the same!
Why is Jerusalem so important to God? What does it mean that God has chosen Jerusalem? The answers to these questions are so inspiring, they will fill you with joy and hope!
God has consistently used Jerusalem in His plan of salvation. He had a plan for this city from the foundation of the world—not just for the city you see on Earth today, but for a rebuilt Jerusalem.
When Jesus Christ returns to Earth to rule as King of kings, the headquarters of His Kingdom will be here. “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 any more after the imagination of their evil heart” (Jeremiah 3:17).
This stirring prophecy will be reality very soon—it is almost time to start rejoicing! “Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all ye that love her: rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her” (Isaiah 66:10). Soon everybody will be rejoicing over Jerusalem. This city will have an “abundance of … glory” (verse 11). It is going to dazzle the world with godly brilliance! The whole world will soon look to this city for leadership.
“For thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream: then shall ye suck, ye shall be borne upon her sides, and be dandled upon her knees” (verse 12). Peace, instead of blood, is going to flow out of Jerusalem like a river! This beleaguered metropolis has been flowing with blood for most of the last 6,000 years. What a glorious change we are about to see.
“Jerusalem” is a most inspiring word. Just the name itself ought to inspire people! It is in itself a prophecy of the future!
“As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem” (verse 13). The unparalleled suffering in that city is almost over. Shortly, the whole world will look to Jerusalem for comfort. What a change!
In the Millennium, for a thousand years, the whole world will revolve around Jerusalem. And after the Millennium, throughout all eternity, the whole universe will revolve around Jerusalem!
Here is another stunning truth: In numerous Bible passages, God refers to His Church as “Jerusalem.” If you are a baptized member of this Church, God actually calls you Jerusalem!
In Galatians 4:25-26, the Apostle Paul wrote, “Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother” (Revised Standard Version). He is speaking of Abraham’s two sons: Ishmael, born of Hagar; and Isaac, born of Sarah. Hagar represents the Old Covenant, made with physical Israel, a people born into slavery. Sarah represents the New Covenant: made with a spiritual people, who are free.
“Jerusalem above” refers to God’s New Covenant Church—which is spiritual Israel. The mother of us all, the Church, is free. The headquarters of God’s true Church today is in Jerusalem above! Imagine that! This is the real Jerusalem—the one we should be concerned about!
For God’s people, Jerusalem must be deeply personal. This city embodies our own past and future! This is the real reason why its history and prophecy are so important: They point toward spiritual Jerusalem!
The Vision You Need
We need to watch Jerusalem with the closest scrutiny. God has chosen Jerusalem—and He will yet choose it again. “And the Lord shall inherit Judah his portion in the holy land, and shall choose Jerusalem again” (Zechariah 2:12). This choice will extend into eternity—when that city is replaced by new Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2). God has an eternal view of Jerusalem—and you cannot say that of any other city! When God chooses a city, expect it to be spectacular beyond anything man can even imagine!
Jerusalem is such an inspiring vision. Actually, it is the vision of the Bible!
This book will show you how Jerusalem is at the very heart of the eternal plan of God, and it is the key to your spiritual future—your future with God.
God wants us to be thinking about Jerusalem and where it is leading us and what a future we have!
Oh, does this world need this vision! It desperately needs it to solve its problems and bring real changes, even today. Yet there is only a tiny little group of people who truly understand and are truly concerned about it. Why don’t people even in religious circles hear this message today? Why are they not taught this vision that ought to inspire and uplift us all? Satan the devil has hidden this vision from this world and does all he can to destroy it.
The Eternal has chosen Jerusalem is the deep understanding needed to conquer Satan and remain loyal to God. It is the most inspiring, uplifting, marvelous hope that mankind will ever have! God wants you to learn it today to help you withstand these terrible times in this awful world that is ruled by the devil.
We need this vision to endure the hardships ahead. If you lose this vision, you will fail spiritually. Without this understanding, you will lack the motivation to purify yourself and seek God’s righteousness. If you have not chosen Jerusalem, your trials will overwhelm you. If we cannot keep our vision elevated beyond this material world, we will never succeed in the work God has for us.
But if you realize that God has chosen Jerusalem, and understand this truth as God does, you will be uplifted and moved beyond words to describe!
The Eternal has chosen Jerusalem—and He wants you to choose Jerusalem. Christ instructs us to become perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48). So if God has chosen Jerusalem, then His children, His sons, ought also choose Jerusalem. Have you?
The key is to view it the way God does. Fix your eyes on this city as He does. If you can get God’s view of Jerusalem, it is the most inspiring vision you will ever have! If you see it as God does, you will understand the greatest vision in the entire Bible. It will keep your life filled with hope—as it does God!
Chapter 1: Jerusalem’s Illustrious Origins
“The history of Jerusalem is the history of the world.” This is the opening line of Jerusalem, an illuminating book chronicling the history of this city, written by British historian Simon Sebag Montefiore.
In the introduction, Montefiore describes how central Jerusalem is in the history of human civilization, especially in the history and theology of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Using examples and anecdotes, he shows that Jerusalem has been a focal point for humanity from the beginning.
He then asks this crucial question: “Of all the places in the world, why Jerusalem?”
This question gets to the essence of understanding Jerusalem. Montefiore writes, “The site was remote from the trade routes of the Mediterranean coast; it was short of water, baked in the summer sun, chilled by winter winds, its jagged rocks blistered and inhospitable.” Despite these disadvantages, Jerusalem became the “center of the Earth.” Why?
Anyone even slightly familiar with the Bible knows that Jerusalem is at the heart of the biblical narrative. This city is there from the beginning of the book to the end. But the Bible doesn’t just record events that happen in and around Jerusalem. It also answers the essential question: Why Jerusalem?
Here we will see that the exciting history and prophecy of this city began all the way back in Genesis.
In fact, there is evidence that the history of this utterly unique city started even before human beings were created.
The Garden of Eden
The history of humankind begins in the Garden of Eden. In Genesis 1, God re-created Earth and, on the sixth day, created human beings. Genesis 2 shows that He placed the first man in this magnificent garden, which was a small area in the eastern part of a much larger area called Eden (verse 8).
In this garden, God personally educated Adam and Eve about their incredible human potential. Mankind’s destiny is to help God make the entire universe look like the Garden of Eden!
Where was Eden, and this garden within Eden, located? The Bible gives some fascinating clues.
Notice the remarkable geography described in Genesis 2. A great river originated at a point outside the garden, flowed through it, and then parted into four branches (verse 10). The first branch was the Pison River, which flowed through the land of Havilah. The second, the Gihon River, wended through the land of Cush. Third was the Hiddekel River, which ran through Asshur. And finally, the Euphrates flowed through Shinar (verses 11-14).
The historian Flavius Josephus shed further light on these four rivers in his epic work Antiquities of the Jews. He wrote that the Pison was associated with the Ganges River, the Gihon with the Nile River, and the Hiddekel with the Tigris River. The Euphrates retains its original name today.
As we will see, the biblical record suggests that the greater land of Eden was what we now think of as the entire coastal region on the east side of the Mediterranean Sea—the general area surrounding Jerusalem. It may also have included the region of the Red Sea in the south, down to the conspicuously named port city and gulf of Aden (a location tradition claims is as old as human history).
It is possible that this garden where God placed Adam and Eve was located precisely where present-day Jerusalem is located.
Genesis 2 strongly indicates that the garden existed near the opening of the Gihon Spring. This spring, which is today a mere trickle compared to what it once was, originates just outside of what is now the old city of Jerusalem.
The picture given in the Bible suggests that the Earth at this time was a paradise with a mild climate and that these four tributaries were wide, gentle rivers that flowed eastward toward the seas. Geologic changes, especially those caused by the biblical Flood, would have since altered the drainage pattern. As a result, these rivers now have separate sources and flow in different directions.
Verse 10 says the source that divided into four rivers “went out of Eden.” This indicates that the Garden of Eden was perhaps the highest point in the land. Jerusalem is not the highest point in the region today. However, Scripture reveals that after Jesus Christ returns, a great earthquake will lift up Jerusalem and open up rivers of living waters (Zechariah 14:8-10). A great river will flow eastward out the door of God’s temple into the Dead Sea (Ezekiel 47). Once this sea becomes full of living water, it will spill over and streams will flow through the surrounding region.
Jerusalem is repeatedly named in the Bible as God’s “holy mountain” (Isaiah 11:9; Joel 3:17, etc). Ezekiel 28:13-14 use exactly the same language in connection to the Garden of Eden: “Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; … thou wast upon the holy mountain ….” Could it be because these two are one and the same—that Jerusalem and the Garden of Eden are both God’s “holy mountain”?
It is logical that when God makes this change, He will be restoring the region’s geography to the way it was when He first created man. This picture the Bible paints of the future could reveal how conditions were in the past!
Genesis 3:23-24 show that after Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden tree, God removed them from the garden and placed an angel with a flaming sword “at the east of the garden of Eden.” This indicates that Adam and his family settled in territory east of the garden.
There is further evidence of this in Joshua 3:16, which records that when the children of Israel crossed the Jordan River and entered the Promised Land around 2,500 years later, they returned through “Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan” (rsv). This city was in the region of “the sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea” (rsv), an obvious reference to the Dead Sea, further confirmation that Adam and Eve settled on land east of the garden.
More recently, archaeologists have associated Tel ed-Damiyeh, ancient ruins near the Jabbok River, with the “city of Adam.” Nearby is Damia Bridge, or Adam Bridge, an ancient bridge that crosses the Jordan River. All these signs agree that Adam and Eve settled in territory adjacent east of the Garden of Eden, in the region we now call the Jordan Valley.
Considering how important Jerusalem is to God, and the central role it plays in God’s master plan, wouldn’t it make sense for God to begin His plan for humankind in a beautiful garden that He planted in that very location?
We will see later in this book a scriptural indication that God’s plans for this piece of real estate went back much further in antiquity than even Adam and Eve.
Melchizedek Founds Jerusalem
When Adam’s son Cain murdered his brother Abel, God exiled him from the land of his mother and father. “And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden” (Genesis 4:16). We do not know the precise borders of Nod, but this passage makes clear that it was further east of the Jordan Valley region, where Adam and Eve had settled. “Land of Nod” means “land of wandering,” an apt description of the barren deserts of Arabia.
Verse 17 says that after they arrived in Nod, Cain and his descendants built the first city, called Enoch. Some have associated Enoch with Eridu, an archaeological site in southern Mesopotamia and one of the world’s oldest cities. Enoch has also been associated with Babylon, which is in the same general area. Ancient Sumerian and Babylonian records agree with the Bible, which identifies Babylon as the seat of rebellious government and pagan religion. Genesis 10 and 11, for example, record that the arch-rebel Nimrod, the tyrant who built the tower of Babel, was headquartered in Babylon. Isn’t it rational that Nimrod would have established his headquarters in the same region—and perhaps rebuilt the city—as his forefather Cain, the original rebel and tyrant?
Roughly two millennia after Cain, God founded His chosen nation through a man named Abram. Genesis 12:1 says that God told him, “Get thee out of thy country … unto a land that I will shew thee.” Abram lived in the city of Ur in Babylon, in the same general region as Cain and Nimrod—a region historical records show was steeped in paganism. God told Abram to leave that place—just as He does spiritually with all of us (e.g. Revelation 18:4).
Abram obeyed and “went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came” (Genesis 12:5).
Realize: When Abram left Ur and traveled to Canaan, he reversed Cain’s journey. Rebellious Adam and Cain traveled away from Eden. Obedient and faithful Abram traveled west from Babylon back toward Eden.
After Abram obeyed God and returned to Canaan, God made this wonderful promise: “Unto thy seed will I give this land” (verse 7).
This promise is what made this land, Canaan, the “Promised Land.” It was to this land that God would later bring the nation of Israel, which comprised the descendants of this patriarch. This land was clearly very special to God—likely because it was where God had first created man—not to mention God’s plans for its future!
God made this epic promise, and Abram moved to Canaan, around 1900 b.c. Archaeological excavations and ancient writings confirm that the land of Canaan at this time was already home to some important cities, including Jerusalem.
Genesis 14 describes Abram’s encounter with “Melchizedek king of Salem.” Who was this great king? Verses 1-17 describe Abram’s great military victories over four powerful Assyrian kings. Verses 18-20 record that following these victories, “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 [Abram] gave him [Melchizedek] tithes of all.”
Abram and Melchizedek clearly had a close relationship. Melchizedek had tremendous affection for Abram, and this great patriarch, whom God later renamed Abraham, tithed to this “king of Salem”! Melchizedek was not only a king, he was also a “priest of the Most High God.”
Who was Melchizedek exactly?
Ancient Jewish records, including text on the Dead Sea Scrolls, show that certain Jews in the second and first centuries b.c. believed Melchizedek was a divine being. Many Jews referred to him using the same Hebrew terms used to describe God and believed that he would one day atone for, and later judge, his people.
This early Jewish belief is consistent with the later writings of the Apostle Paul. Note carefully what he was inspired to write: “For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace” (Hebrews 7:1-2). His name means “king of righteousness.” Who could this be? Only God could have such a title!
Notice these additional, crucial revelations Paul gives us about this Melchizedek: “Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually. Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils” (verses 3-4).
Consider how great Melchizedek was! This is no ordinary man! In addition to being a king, he was a priest. He has neither beginning of days nor end of life. He is “made like unto the Son of God.” Who could be without father, without mother, and have neither beginning nor ending of life? Only God can be described this way. And no man has ever seen God the Father (John 6:46).
This Melchizedek was none other than the eternally existing member of the Godhead who later became Jesus Christ! John 1:1 describes Him as the Word.
This eternal God Being was “king of Salem.” Salem was a city that eventually became known as Jeru-salem! It is located right there in the Promised Land, and that is where God brought His chosen servant Abraham.
When Abraham met with Melchizedek in Salem, he was literally back with God at the location of the Garden of Eden.
Jerusalem was chosen by God, and these scriptures show that it was undoubtedly founded by the great Being who became the Son of God. Jerusalem was surely founded by Jesus Christ Himself! No other city has had such an incredible beginning.
God chose Jerusalem from the very beginning. “Salem” is translated as “peace” and “completeness.” In the Bible, Salem is largely synonymous with the terms Zion, City of David, Jebus, Moriah and Jerusalem. For example, Psalm 76:2 says, “In Salem also is his tabernacle, and his dwelling place in Zion.” Jerusalem means “city of peace.” God founded this city in peace. That means the city is itself a prophecy of what is to come. It was founded to be a city of peace and joy and happiness—forever!
Before there was ever a Jerusalem on Earth, there was a “Jerusalem which is above”—a “heavenly Jerusalem” (Galatians 4:26; Hebrews 12:22). God founded this city on Earth to point us toward that heavenly city.
Today, God has turned His back on Jerusalem because of the sinful people. But that problem will be corrected in the near future. This city will shine again.
Abraham loved family. He yearned for a son, yet for decades he and Sarah could not conceive. Nevertheless, God promised him that a son would come—a son through whom He would fulfill His promise and give Abraham descendants without number (Genesis 15:1-5).
Abraham waited 25 years for this promised son. He was 100 years old when Isaac was born. And it is easy for an old man to almost worship a young son.
Yet it was through Isaac that God later gave Abraham the most difficult test of his life—a test unlike any He gave to any other man. Realize how profound Abraham’s obedience test was!
“And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt [test is a better translation] Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of” (Genesis 22:1-2).
What a shocking trial for any person! God’s requirement for Abraham to sacrifice Isaac was a supreme test. There had to be intense emotions and strenuous mental battles.
The land of Moriah includes Jerusalem. This is where Abraham offered his son.
It was also the very place where, some two millennia later, God Himself would sacrifice His own beloved Son! What a stunning parallel and picture.
“And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son” (Genesis 22:9-10). Abraham fully planned to sacrifice Isaac. His son was as good as dead in his mind.
How could this man do this? Abraham knew that giving up Isaac was so little compared to the Father giving up Christ to be crucified! As we will see in Chapter 3 of this book, when God sent His Son to Earth, there was the chance that Christ could have failed. Had Christ sinned, the plan for man would have also failed. Had Christ failed, God the Father would have been alone for the rest of eternity.
Abraham held God the Father’s perspective. He saw the Father’s love and Christ’s love—and he wanted to be just like the Father!
This is why Abraham became the father of the physical nation of Israel. This is also why he became the father of the faithful, spiritual Israel. He had the Father’s view and perspective—the whole Family of God picture.
In this test, Abraham became a type of God the Father, giving up his own son. Abraham and Isaac were a type of God the Father and Jesus Christ. This is another major reason this incident occurred in the same place where God sacrificed His own Son: in Jerusalem.
An Unparalleled Act of Faith
“And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me” (Genesis 22:11-12). God stopped Abraham just short of him taking Isaac’s life. He didn’t require Abraham to actually kill his son, but in his mind it was as good as done.
After this act of faith, God knew that Abraham would withhold nothing from Him.
This was not a mere act of obedience. It may have been an act of faith without parallel by anyone except Jesus Christ Himself!
What an example! This is an example of Abraham’s works—the kind of works that bring faith alive! God wants us to look to Abraham’s example and realize how far he was willing to go in obeying God. We must strive to develop the same faith that Abraham did. With God’s power, it is possible for us to do so.
“Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God” (James 2:22-23).
Abraham didn’t just believe in God’s existence, His sacrifice or His saving Work—he “believed God.” This is where the whole “Christian” world is deceived. Abraham believed every word of God. He believed all of God’s many promises. He did precisely what God said to do.
This living faith was imputed to him as righteousness. Only this living faith makes us God’s friends.
Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac is a major reason he will have one of the highest positions in the eternal Kingdom of God. Look at how richly God blessed him for his faith. The message is, if we build that level of faith-filled obedience in our lives, God will bless us accordingly.
A Vision of New Jerusalem
Paul writes this of Abraham: “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise” (Hebrews 11:8-9).
Exercising faith in God’s promises, Abraham obeyed God, left the home of his father, and lived in tents in a strange country. Why was Abraham able to do this?
“For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (verse 10). This is describing new Jerusalem. Abraham clearly saw a vision that stretched all the way to new Jerusalem, the city and vision described in Revelation 21.
Abraham is known as the father of the faithful (Romans 4:11, 16; Galatians 3:7, 9). He set an example in righteous obedience based on real faith in a very real vision.
It was this vision that made Abraham so willing to sacrifice his son Isaac! Think about the spiritual depth of this man! He and his sons knew that our bodies are temporary—like tabernacles. He looked forward to the city built by God the Father. He was able to look past all of God’s abundant physical promises and focus on the fantastic spiritual promises of new Jerusalem.
We must also learn to see the new Jerusalem vision as Abraham did. We will talk about this in far more depth in Chapter 7 of this book.
What incredible history this city has had! But the richest part of that history is yet to be fulfilled!
God Establishes His Chosen Nation
God had promised Abraham and his descendants the land of Canaan (Genesis 12:5, 7). This promise transferred down through Isaac, then Jacob. Sometime around the 17th century b.c., Jacob, to survive a famine, was forced to move his family to Egypt, where his son Joseph was a high official. They lived in Goshen, the choicest property in Egypt. The Israelites found favor with the Egyptians and prospered.
After Joseph died, however, a new king arose in Egypt “which knew not Joseph” (Exodus 1:8). He was concerned about the rising power of the Israelites. He grew to despise them. To weaken the tremendous power and wealth of the Israelites, the pharaoh made slaves of them.
For several generations, the Israelites were subject to their Egyptian taskmasters. “And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob” (Exodus 2:24). Hearing their anguished cries, God sought to bring His people out of Egypt and return them to the land He had promised to Abraham—back to the area of Jerusalem!
God then raised up a man of character who feared God and obeyed His commands: Moses. Under Moses’s leadership, God freed the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. He brought them through the Red Sea and then led them to Mount Sinai through a series of awesome miracles. He then instructed Moses to tell them, “[I]f ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation” (Exodus 19:5-6). They were to become a kingdom of priests, a holy nation! God’s nation! What a covenant this was. It contained a vision of what God planned to do with New Covenant Christians in bringing salvation to all mankind! (e.g. 1 Peter 2:5, 9).
At Sinai, God gave Israel an unparalleled gift: He spelled out His eternal spiritual law for them (Exodus 20). This was a detailed, codified form of law that had existed even before human beings were created. It is a spiritual law that, if we obey it, brings dazzling blessings—and if we disobey, exacts a toll on our lives.
This law distinguished Israel from every other nation on Earth. It is the same law that will go forth from Jerusalem in the World Tomorrow (Isaiah 2:2-3).
God also gave Moses detailed plans for the construction of a tabernacle (Exodus 25-30). At the heart of this sacred tent was the ark of the covenant, covered by the mercy seat, symbolizing God’s own throne. The Israelites built this impressive movable tabernacle, and God came down and dwelled in it in spirit (Exodus 35-40). God desired to dwell among His people! This tabernacle would later be replaced by a spectacular temple at the headquarters in Jerusalem.
What vision there was in how God established Israel! Imagine this unique event! You can’t compare this with anything that has happened at the beginning of any other nation on Earth! Clearly, God had His complete master plan in mind from the very beginning!
From there, the Israelites were only two weeks’ walk from the Promised Land on the other side of the Red Sea. God wanted to fulfill His promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and it centered on this specific land.
Inheriting the Promised Land
God brought Israel to the frontier of the Promised Land. There He instructed Moses to send spies into the land to preview the marvelous inheritance He was giving them (Numbers 13). However, all but two of the spies brought back a faithless report, and the people grew fearful. They didn’t trust God to deliver the land to them. So God cursed them by withholding the Promised Land at that time (Numbers 14). That generation of Israelites ended up wandering around for 40 years and dying in the wilderness because they would not trust God.
We are about to enter the spiritual Promised Land, the Kingdom of God. He will surely test our faith. We must trust God to lead us through the wilderness and continue building our faith!
After that generation of Israelites died, the next generation entered the Promised Land under Joshua. With a high hand, they crossed the Jordan River, routed the walled city of Jericho, and settled in Canaan. This prosperous land, flowing with milk and honey, was the land of their father Abraham. An abundance of archaeological evidence today confirms the biblical record of Jericho, including its miraculous destruction by God—evidence that the walls really “fell down flat” (Joshua 6:5, 20).
When Joshua and the children of Israel entered the Promised Land, Joshua established the tabernacle in Gilgal. After they completely conquered the land, he moved it to Shiloh. That is also where the ark was. Shiloh is where God had all Israel look—to headquarters, to the tabernacle, to the ark. That is how God will rule the world in the Millennium: He will have people focus on headquarters. That is the kind of government that should rule the nations of Israel, as it does rule spiritual Israel, God’s Church.
Israel served God all the days of Joshua. And the nation prospered and had good success.
During that period, Jerusalem was called Jebus (Joshua 18:28; Judges 19:10). It was on the border of the inheritance of the tribes of Benjamin and Judah. But it remained inhabited by the Jebusites. They were Canaanites, descended from Ham through Canaan.
God promised to drive out the Jebusites if Israel would be His soldiers (Exodus 33:1-3; 34:11-15). But the city of Jebus was such an impressive fortress that it appeared the blind and lame could defend it! It would be many generations before the Israelites would actually conquer this well-fortified city.
David Conquers Jerusalem
Genesis 49:8 states that Judah’s brethren would praise him. This verse is primarily talking about the scepter promise and the fact that Jesus Christ Himself would descend from the tribe of Judah. But it is also referring to the many benefits that Judah’s warlike qualities brought to the nation. Verse 8 states that Judah would have its hands on the necks of its enemies. Historically, the Jews have had a rousing warlike quality that gave security to the nation. From Numbers 2:3 we learn that while in the wilderness, the tribe of Judah was assigned to take the lead in all marches. This was a position of great honor. Caleb, a great-grandson of Judah and one of the original 12 spies, had great skill and strength as a warrior, even into his old age (Joshua 14:11).
And, of course, the greatest Jewish warrior of all time was King David. There is no doubt he fought like a lion.
David assumed rulership around 1010 b.c. He was about 30 years old. For the first 7½ years, he ruled Judah from the city of Hebron, which was situated about 20 miles southwest of Jerusalem within the land assigned to the tribe of Judah. But King David wanted to control Jebus. He knew this was God’s special city; he was aware of its glorious history with Abraham and Melchizedek. As soon as he was coronated king over the northern tribes of Israel, uniting the nation, he set about conquering Jebus. These events are recorded in 2 Samuel 5 and 1 Chronicles 11.
2 Samuel 5:6 records the Jebusites taunting Israel’s king, telling him that even blind and deaf people could defend the well-fortified city. David then made a bold offer to his troops: “Whosoever getteth up to the gutter, and smiteth the Jebusites, and the lame and the blind, that are hated of David’s soul, he shall be chief and captain” (verse 8). Joab accepted the challenge and penetrated the city through underground tunnels used to collect water.
“Nevertheless David took the strong hold of Zion: the same is the city of David. … So David dwelt in the fort, and called it the city of David. And David built round about from Millo and inward. And David went on, and grew great, and the Lord God of hosts was with him” (verses 7, 9-10).
King David’s conquest of Jerusalem marked the start of a golden period in Israel’s history. For a brief moment, the entire nation united under a godly king with Jerusalem as the capital!
Under King David, Jerusalem was once again at the center of God’s Work on Earth! The history of this city from the period of King David onward is well documented, not only in the Bible, but also in secular historical records and by archaeological evidence.
Ruling From Jerusalem
The Israelites had lost the ark of the covenant about 20 years before Samuel judged Israel (1 Samuel 4; 7:2)—the most shameful thing that could have happened to them—and it remained in a border town all during the reign of King Saul (1 Chronicles 13:3). It certainly revealed the degenerate state of their relationship with God at that time.
Once he became king and made Jerusalem his capital, King David wanted to reclaim the ark and bring it into the capital city (Psalm 132:1-8). This was a good desire! But David didn’t go about it the right way. You can read in 2 Samuel 6 about the disaster that resulted. David had some important lessons to learn about following God’s instructions in detail. God used that experience to better train him to rule forever over all Israel!
David repented of his carelessness and then brought the ark to Jerusalem with great fanfare. He then started thinking about building a more permanent structure to house the ark.
David became inspired to build God a spectacular temple in Jerusalem. God was moved by David’s love for Him. He told the Prophet Nathan to give David this promise: “And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever” (2 Samuel 7:12-13). Here is a clear prophecy from the living God that David’s throne would be established forever!
Notice: God made this towering promise after David brought the ark to Jerusalem and determined to build a magnificent temple for the ark in Jerusalem. King David understood how important the ark and Jerusalem were to God—and because of this, God blessed David.
God is establishing an eternal family throne. The next verse reinforces this truth even more: “I will be his father, and he shall be my son” (verse 14). This is a family throne! It is a throne that the Father and Son are opening up in order to build their Family!
Luke 1:30-33 reveal what kind of throne this is: God is going to give it to Jesus Christ, who “shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end”! This is an eternal promise! Christ will rule on that throne from Jerusalem forever! An understanding of David’s throne unlocks eternity!
God was pleased with David’s desire to build the temple, but He did not want David to construct the building. So God told him only to plan and prepare for the temple construction. David embraced the opportunity with all his heart! He “prepared abundantly”! (1 Chronicles 22:5). How abundantly? He gave and gathered a hundred thousand talents of gold and a million talents of silver—so much that most commentaries think this is an exaggeration or an error! Besides that, he gathered limitless amounts of brass and iron, timber and stone (verse 14). During the latter years of his reign, King David devoted his energies to preparing for the construction of the temple. He gave everything to God! He was being prepared to build forever!
Why did David want to build God’s house in Jerusalem? “See now, I dwell in an house of cedar, but the ark of God dwelleth within curtains” (2 Samuel 7:2) David was bothered by the fact that he lived in a magnificent palace and the ark of the covenant remained in a tent. To him, this was a travesty, and he wanted to rectify it. David wanted to build God a house so impressive that it would be famous throughout the whole world—to magnify God’s name forever!
David wanted the temple in Jerusalem to be the center of worship for the whole nation. That is why he was so dedicated and excited to build God’s house. Everything in the nation was to revolve around it. The purpose and work of that nation was to emanate from the temple.
God wanted David’s son, Solomon, to build the temple. Solomon simply had to implement the plan David had laid out for him! That is the fruit of really working to organize for God.
Near the end of his life, David had to learn another powerful lesson. 1 Chronicles 21 records that the devil, who was aware of God’s exalted plans for David, provoked David to get his mind on his armies and on taking a census of them. God was angered by his focus on numbers for defense rather than on God. He brought a plague on the nation, and 70,000 people died! (2 Samuel 24:15)—terrible punishment for David’s sin! But then something truly inspiring happened.
David repented, and God sent the Prophet Gad with a message for him: “Go up, rear an altar unto the Lord in the threshingfloor of Aruanah the Jebusite” (verse 18). The king visited this man and offered to buy his land. But this Jebusite man offered to simply give it to his king (verses 20-23). David insisted on paying for it (verse 24). He wanted to give an offering to God, and he wanted there to be some sacrifice in it.
Once he acquired the land, King David built an altar on it and made offerings to God, and God stopped the plague (verse 25).
The location of that altar ended up being within the temple that Solomon would build. God gave David this special honor. Even though there was a lot of suffering, David’s repentance turned this tragedy into good news.
King David, a man after God’s own heart, will always have a special association with God’s temple in Jerusalem.
The beginning of Solomon’s reign as king of Israel truly was magnificent (2 Chronicles 1:1). Solomon had a humble attitude before God, and that made it easy for God to use him. When God asked the king what he desired most, Solomon asked for wisdom and an understanding heart—a prayer God answered richly, and added physical wealth on top of it (1 Kings 3).
God’s Philadelphians today are God’s priests in embryo. We are preparing to rule as priests over the whole world. We must have wisdom and knowledge from God to fulfill such a heavy responsibility! Pray fervently as Solomon did for wisdom and knowledge. You are going to need it!
Solomon comes from the Hebrew shalom, which means peace. The words Salem and Solomon share the same root: shalam, meaning peace, completeness. He was a man of peace. While he ruled, Israel enjoyed peace and political stability. God prospered Solomon’s kingdom tremendously. The population multiplied, and Israel soared to its greatest heights! (1 Kings 4:20).
This period of Israel’s history is a type of the soon-coming Millennium, when God’s government will rule this Earth!
“And Solomon reigned over all kingdoms from the river unto the land of the Philistines, and unto the border of Egypt: they brought presents, and served Solomon all the days of his life” (verse 21). The whole world began looking to Israel. Surrounding peoples came to Jerusalem to pay obeisance to Solomon and to Israel.
This foreshadowed many prophecies of the World Tomorrow, when the nations of the world will come to Jerusalem where Jesus Christ rules (e.g. Isaiah 60:3-10; Revelation 21:24-26).
“And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, from Dan even to Beersheba, all the days of Solomon” (1 Kings 4:25). The prosperity and peace in Israel during this period foreshadowed what the whole world will experience in the Millennium! (Micah 4:4).
Israel was at the peak of achievement. It was fulfilling the role God had always intended: to be the light of the nations, the example for all peoples!
Much of this fame came from the knowledge and wisdom God gave His king (1 Kings 4:29-33). “And there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all kings of the earth, which had heard of his wisdom” (verse 34). People from all over came to Jerusalem to get educated! And Solomon was happy to share that instruction. This was, after all, God’s purpose in giving it to him. This is the purpose for spiritual Israel: We are to educate the world! God is the supreme Educator.
When Christ returns, it will be a time of the “restitution of all things” (Acts 3:19-21)—a revolution in right knowledge! At that time, people from all over the Earth “shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:3).
What the world experienced in the time of Solomon was just a small foretaste of this marvelous future!
Building the Temple
We can learn many lessons from the history surrounding the physical temple in Jerusalem. The physical temple contains prophecy about the spiritual temple. We can also learn from Herbert W. Armstrong, the man God used to lead spiritual Israel and the building of another physical house for God, in Pasadena, California. These lessons teach us how to build for God.
Solomon had 200,000 workers build the most magnificent structure ever to grace the Earth. He commissioned the most skilled laborers available on the planet. Today, the Father and Christ have a skilled angelic army of many millions helping to build His spiritual temple, the Church of God.
God said of Solomon, “He shall build an house for my name …” (1 Chronicles 22:10). Our building project is not for us; it is for the living God! What a wonderful picture for God’s people to remember today! The very elect are God’s spiritual temple. That is where you will find God’s truth and Work today.
The stones for Solomon’s temple were each precut. No hammer, ax or tool of iron was heard on the building site when the temple was constructed (1 Kings 6:7). This is a great lesson and a powerful prophecy about how the spiritual temple is being built today. God is precutting His individual spiritual stones—future kings and priests—today. God’s “holy temple” today is “fitly framed together” by God through His apostles and prophets—His government (Ephesians 2:19-22). We must each submit to God’s measuring and cutting if we are to be part of His spiritual temple.
Since this work is spiritual, the world is unaware it is going on. But soon God will take all of these precut “stones” to Jerusalem and rule this entire Earth! When Christ returns, that temple will be waiting for Him! The world will be shocked to see a spiritual nation, or temple, that appears to have been built in a day! (Isaiah 66:8). What a magnificent master plan God has in building His temple.
When the temple was finished, Solomon had the ark of the covenant brought in with unparalleled pomp and pageantry, including a huge orchestra with 120 priests blowing trumpets! (2 Chronicles 5:12). God was so pleased that “the house was filled with a cloud … for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of God” (verses 13-14). After all the fanfare, King Solomon stood up and said, “The Lord hath said that he would dwell in the thick darkness. But I have built a house of habitation for thee, and a place for thy dwelling for ever” (2 Chronicles 6:1-2).
Solomon reminded the people that God had told his father David, “Since the day that I brought forth my people out of the land of Egypt I chose no city among all the tribes of Israel to build an house in, that my name might be there; neither chose I any man to be a ruler over my people Israel: But I have chosen Jerusalem, that my name might be there; and have chosen David to be over my people Israel” (verses 5-6).
Of all the cities on Earth, God chose Jerusalem! And He established a righteous king to rule from there. God gave the whole world a picture of what is going to happen again very soon from that illustrious city!
When King Solomon told his people that God had chosen Jerusalem, he was referring to the past, present and future! King Solomon was no doubt aware of Jerusalem’s history with Abraham and Melchizedek. Perhaps he was also aware that Jerusalem was situated in the same region as the Garden of Eden.
Solomon reiterated the covenant God had made with David, and said, “Now then, O Lord God of Israel, let thy word be verified, which thou hast spoken unto thy servant David. But will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth? behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house which I have built!” (verses 17-18). What a mind-stretching question! Will God in very deed dwell with men on the Earth? And the stunning answer is: absolutely yes!
If you study the Scriptures, including Proverbs and the book of Ecclesiastes, it is evident that King Solomon—like his father David and Abraham long before him and all the Jewish prophets—understood God’s future plans for Jerusalem. He understood that the temple he constructed for God was just a type of a future temple, the third temple that will be erected when Christ returns.
Like the first and second temples, the third temple will be constructed in Jerusalem. This is made clear by the prophets, including Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel.
Solomon’s temple captured the imagination of all Israel and even the world! Read in 1 Kings 10 how the Queen of Sheba responded when she came to Jerusalem and saw the temple and everything taking place there. She told Solomon, “Blessed be the Lord thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel …” (verse 9). That is a picture of the effect the magnificent headquarters of the world will have on people all over the Earth when Christ is ruling from there!
In fact, the establishment of the temple points directly to this prophecy in Revelation 21:3: “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.”
The day is coming soon when God won’t simply be dwelling in Spirit within a few Spirit-begotten individuals in a world that is hostile to Him. There is coming a day when God the Father will move His headquarters to the very location of Jerusalem—and rule over everything—and dwell with men on Earth!
This is the future that Solomon’s temple pointed to!
In many ways, this is perhaps the strongest proof that Jerusalem today is situated in land that was part of the Garden of Eden. God does everything with great purpose, logic and design. He plans meticulously, and He follows through perfectly. It makes perfect sense that when the Messiah comes, He will establish His headquarters, the third temple, in exactly the place from which God has worked with man from the very beginning!
Chapter 2: Jerusalem Falls and Rises Again
The dawn and early light of Solomon’s reign was marvelous. If the kings and people of Israel had continued to add luster to that godly glow, the blessings would have multiplied. Sadly, that “golden age” did not last.
After an illustrious beginning, Solomon made some serious mistakes. He led the people of Israel into terrible sins. As punishment, God determined to rend the kingdom from his house.
God sent a prophet with an important message to Jeroboam, a talented and industrious young man in Solomon’s administration. “And it came to pass at that time when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem, that the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite found him in the way; and he had clad himself with a new garment; and they two were alone in the field: And Ahijah caught the new garment that was on him, and rent it in twelve pieces: And he said to Jeroboam, Take thee ten pieces: for thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, Behold, I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and will give ten tribes to thee” (1 Kings 11:29-31). What a horrifying prophecy for Solomon and the nation! What a terrible rebuke!
God would punish the erring king but needed to do so in a way that would not break the promise He had made to Solomon’s father, David. The prophet continued powerfully: “But he shall have one tribe for my servant David’s sake, and for Jerusalem’s sake, the city which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel” (verse 32).
Yes, God remembered His promise to David and would leave one tribe under the control of Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, to fulfill that promise. God also emphasized the link between that promise and His select city! He would retain one tribe in that royal line “for Jerusalem’s sake,” the one city within Israel—and among all cities on Earth—that He had chosen for a special purpose!
This was for David’s sake—and for Jerusalem’s sake. God made clear to Jeroboam the value of the house of David and of Jerusalem!
“But I will take the kingdom out of his son’s hand, and will give it unto thee [Jeroboam], even ten tribes. 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” (verses 35-36).
Despite Solomon’s disloyalty, God’s plan to preserve the royal lineage of David—and its connection with His chosen city—remained fixed.
Israel’s Tragic Fall
God divided the kingdom in two, but in His love and mercy He still desired to prosper both of the resulting kingdoms. He promised Jeroboam that if he obeyed as King David had, “I will be with thee, and build thee a sure house, as I built for David …” (1 Kings 11:38). He also revealed that His punishment on Judah would be temporary (verse 39).
Sadly, the ambitious and self-seeking Jeroboam spurned God’s directive and led an apostasy against David’s throne. Following his lead, “Israel rebelled against the house of David unto this day” (1 Kings 12:19). So antagonistic was Jeroboam that he deliberately led the Israelites away from David’s throne and from Jerusalem by establishing alternative places of worship. He compounded his sin by instituting a counterfeit religion, a fraudulent priesthood and spurious “sacred” festivals (verses 26-33).
These wicked acts represent the extreme opposite of God’s thinking. Whereas God loves David’s house and His chosen city Jerusalem, Jeroboam was stirred by the devil to loathe and scorn them!
Tracing the history of the 10-tribed kingdom of Israel after this moment vividly illustrates the danger of turning away from the Jerusalem vision. It causes you to embrace deceptions and delusions. It invites catastrophe!
From this time onward, Israel never had another righteous king. The kingdom suffered through the instability of nine distinct dynasties and experienced an endless string of curses that culminated in ignominious defeat and captivity. You can read more about this disastrous turn of events in “Israel: The Way of Jeroboam,” Chapter 9 of my book The Former Prophets (free upon request). In describing the cause of Israel’s woes, God repeatedly points back to Jeroboam’s sin of treachery against David’s throne (e.g. 1 Kings 16:2, 25-26, 31; 22:52; 2 Kings 3:3; 10:29-31; 13:2; etc).
It is a stern warning, written in blood, that we cannot afford to forget.
‘A Lamp in Jerusalem’
The kingdom of Judah also suffered tremendously, but for David’s sake and for Jerusalem’s sake, God preserved the throne of David. Unlike the northern kingdom, Judah maintained one continuous line of rulers, governing from Jerusalem. This provided a measure of stability, and even periods of honor, that the northern kingdom never enjoyed.
Most of Judah’s kings were evil. The kingdom endured terrible times under some exceedingly wicked rulers. Yet even then, God perpetuated the royal line and the Davidic covenant. 1 Kings 15 describes the short reign of Abijam over Judah. He was a wicked king, yet verse 4 says, “Nevertheless for David’s sake did the Lord his God give him a lamp in Jerusalem, to set up his son after him, and to establish Jerusalem.” A similar statement is made during the reign of evil Jehoram: “he did evil in the sight of the Lord. Yet the Lord would not destroy Judah for David his servant’s sake, as he promised him to give him alway a light, and to his children” (2 Kings 8:18-19).
Satan is always trying to stamp out the throne of David and to lead God’s people into sin. At one point, a violent plot was executed to erase David’s line entirely (2 Kings 11:1). But God protected one heir—Joash (or Jehoash)—and preserved the royal lineage.
Under Joash’s reign and the influence of Jehoiada the priest, the house of Baal was destroyed and the covenant with God renewed. Joash even repaired the temple that was broken down (2 Kings 12). Sadly, after his adviser Jehoiada died, Joash descended into idolatry. He ended up being killed by his own servants in a conspiracy (2 Chronicles 24:24-26).
Amid these dark and difficult times, a few bright periods arose when a righteous king would restore godly worship to Judah. The kings who followed the virtuous example of their father David enjoyed success. The same is true of God’s kings today—and it will hold true forever!
‘I Will Defend This City’
King Hezekiah was one of the most upright kings to rule Judah after the time of David. “And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that David his father did” (2 Kings 18:3). What high praise from God! Hezekiah cleansed the temple Solomon had built. He restored the priests and the Levites to their God-ordained duties. He reestablished the message of God in the kingdom. Under his leadership, while he strove to follow King David’s righteous example (2 Chronicles 29:2, 25-27, 30), the whole nation turned away significantly from its idolatry and toward God.
Hezekiah’s rule includes one of the most inspirational chapters in the history of Jerusalem.
During Hezekiah’s reign, the northern kingdom of Israel was conquered and taken captive by the mighty Assyrian Empire (2 Kings 17:5-6; 18:9-12). The Assyrians posed a formidable threat. Soon after, they began attacking towns in Judah.
At that point, Hezekiah’s faith wavered. He sent a message to Assyria’s King Sennacherib offering to pay for the Assyrian armies to withdraw. Sennacherib responded by demanding a monstrous sum. Hezekiah weakly complied—but to make matters worse, shamefully, he collected the extortion funds by raiding God’s temple! (verses 13-16).
Hezekiah assumed he could buy protection by looking to a man—a monumental mistake. This tribute only emboldened unscrupulous Sennacherib to redirect his attack on Jerusalem. Sennacherib sent a dispatch to Hezekiah proclaiming that after attacking Egypt, he would sack Judah’s capital city. In it, he insulted and taunted the great God—all to his shame!
At last, Hezekiah chose a different response: He went to the temple and cried out to God (2 Kings 19:14). He would no longer rely on men or wealth for protection. He started looking to God. And marvelous things began to happen.
God heard Hezekiah’s prayer and sent the Prophet Isaiah to him with a message. This king and prophet were now working together. Isaiah said, “Therefore thus saith the Lord concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city [Jerusalem], nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shield, nor cast a bank against it. By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, saith the Lord. For I will defend this city, to save it, for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake” (verses 32-34).
Sennacherib’s army had descended on Jerusalem by this point. A forbidding force of 185,000 soldiers surrounded the city! No one could enter, and no one could leave. The inhabitants faced imminent ruin.
But God fulfilled His promise. One morning, as the watchmen searched the enemy camp, they were met with a shock! Astoundingly, every last soldier in Sennacherib’s immense army was dead! God had sent an angel to destroy them. What power the great God has! A massive, mighty, well-armed, well-trained, ruthless army is no match for a single angel of God!
When Judah’s king turned to God, God miraculously, spectacularly protected the city—for David’s sake and for His own sake! God defended Jerusalem!
This great Gentile king had already conquered Lachish, Judah’s second-greatest city. He proudly recorded that history on wall reliefs in his palace in Nineveh. On the Taylor Prism, he boasted that he “shut [Hezekiah] up like a caged bird in his royal city of Jerusalem.” But that is where the secular record ends. Through artifacts like the Taylor Prism and Lachish wall reliefs, Sennacherib documented his successful conquests. But regarding Jerusalem, he was mute about the one night that changed everything—for that city, for Judah, and for the Assyrian superpower. The truth is, Sennacherib was utterly ashamed to record what happened! But it is recorded in the Bible.
Remember, the former prophets are prophecy for our day. Assyria factors heavily into end-time biblical events. Jesus Christ Himself even prophesied that Assyria will besiege Jerusalem and crush it underfoot! (Luke 21:20; Revelation 11:2—I discuss this in more detail later in this book). God is going to use the Germans, the modern-day Assyrians, to punish His people just as He did Judah anciently. You can prove the identity of modern-day Assyria from your Bible (request our reprint article “The Remarkable Identity of the German People”).
The Jews today could avoid this fate if they would heed this powerful lesson from King Hezekiah! God Himself would defend them if they would only put their faith in Him!
A Mighty Lesson!
The reliability of this biblical history has been emphatically underscored in recent years through archaeology. In 2009, a small excavation on the Ophel, just south of the Southern Wall of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, uncovered a trove of 34 small clay seals, or bullae, dating to the First Temple period. In 2014, subsequent study showed that one of the seals belonged to King Hezekiah; it was the first time ever that the name of a Judean king had been unearthed in controlled scientific excavations. Then in 2018, Dr. Eilat Mazar announced her belief that another of these bullae is that of Isaiah the prophet. These tiny bullae were used to seal important documents and bear the authority of these men. These two bullae, discovered in the same strata of soil only 10 feet apart, offer strong evidence of how closely these two men worked together.
We were honored to showcase those two seal impressions in a world premiere exhibit at Armstrong Auditorium for nearly a year. Many people visited from around the world. (You can request a free copy of the exhibit brochure, Seals of Isaiah and King Hezekiah Discovered.)
The fact that those two tiny seal impressions survived through more than 27 centuries, only to be revealed during our day, is remarkable. I firmly believe God ensured this discovery to thunder this mighty historical lesson to us in this end time! Those bullae prove what the Bible records is true!
The history of the Isaiah and Hezekiah seals contains a potent lesson about how you as an individual, or even whole nations, can be saved from physical and spiritual destruction!
Ninety percent of Bible prophecy is for this end time. If you understand what is happening in the world, you can see that prophecy is being fulfilled by the week. Humanly, what is taking place can be frightening; the world can appear hopeless. Yet there are biblical examples that offer tremendous hope.
The Bible account of Isaiah and Hezekiah is buttressed by archaeology and by secular history. Prove this, and it will strengthen your faith in God’s Word! I can guarantee that if you do, remarkable miracles will occur in your life.
The kind of faith we need is faith that believes God and His Bible, and then moves forward and acts on that faith. Any faith short of that is a dead faith. Despite the abundance of proof, almost nobody has faith in God and His Word today. God commands us to live by His every word (Deuteronomy 8:3). Faith comes by reading, studying and knowing the Bible, and then applying what it says. This is how you build your faith. God blesses anyone who will live by His every word and strive to obey Him.
The Bible is the majestic, royal Word of God. I can guarantee that if you walk by your faith and act on that faith, God will bless you and will fill your life with miracles and blessings. That is an iron-clad promise from God!
After Hezekiah died, his son Manasseh became king. “And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord …. And he built altars in the house of the Lord, of which the Lord said, In Jerusalem will I put my name” (2 Kings 21:2, 4). Manasseh brought Judah right back into the paganism his father had worked to eliminate—and God specifically highlights the enormity of his sin in defiling the temple and the Holy City.
Under Manasseh’s rule, the Jews came to have familiar spirits and wizards—rank demonism—provoking God’s anger. “And he [Manasseh] set a graven image of the grove that he had made in the house, of which the Lord said to David, and to Solomon his son, In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all tribes of Israel, will I put my name for ever” (verse 7). Here, in this disgraceful context, is this reminder: God had His house built in Jerusalem—the city where He said He would place His name forever!
The desecration of Jerusalem outraged God. He wants that city above all others to remain holy. He had specifically dislodged the Gentiles from that land because of their abominable practices. Yet Manasseh led the nation into evil worse than the Canaanites had done before God drove them out! (verse 9).
After Manasseh’s reign, his son Amon followed in his wickedness. He was assassinated after a short rule, and the throne passed to his son: 8-year-old Josiah (2 Kings 22:1). Nearly three centuries earlier, during the reign of Jeroboam, God had specifically prophesied about Josiah’s righteous rule—even naming him (1 Kings 13:2). It was as if the forces of evil were on notice! Surely Satan tried to do everything possible to prevent someone named Josiah from becoming king—but God is more powerful than the devil.
When Josiah took office, the temple had been desecrated and the Jews’ religion had strayed far from God’s law. But just as God had prophesied, Josiah proved to be one of Judah’s most righteous kings. “And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left” (2 Kings 22:2). He oversaw the renovation of the temple and the restoration of God’s law.
When Josiah wanted to repair the temple, he sent Shaphan the scribe to Hilkiah—the high priest at the time—to collect resources for the repairs (verses 3-4). During the renovation, Hilkiah found the book of the law. When he read it, he became excited, convicted—and alarmed. He immediately showed it to Shaphan, and the two realized the king had to have the book (verse 8; 2 Chronicles 34:14-18). When Shaphan read the law to Josiah, the king was so moved, he tore his clothes! (2 Kings 22:10-11).
That is the response we all should have to God’s law. Are you stirred by that law? Are you alarmed by how most of God’s own people have rejected His law and government today? We should be just as roused and alarmed as Hilkiah, Shaphan and Josiah were! We should react even more emotionally. It takes a strong reaction to establish and keep God’s law and government in the spiritual temple today.
Josiah was so upset by what he read that he sent an entourage to a prophetess to learn when God planned to punish the nation (verses 12-14). He recognized that Judah was in severe trouble and wanted to take all necessary action immediately. We ought to react to God’s law and revelation the same way!
The entourage received bad news that God was about to punish the nation severely (verses 15-17). But because Josiah’s heart was right, God would spare him from witnessing the destruction personally—it would not come until after his death (verses 18-20).
2 Kings 23 shows how Josiah continued to provide zealous and righteous leadership, ridding Jerusalem of its evils. He had the law read to all the city’s residents and the nation. He made a covenant to obey God. He cleansed the temple of all its idols. He destroyed the pagan high places. He burned the bones of the priests on the altars, just as had been specifically prophesied about 300 years before! Verses 15-17 show that Josiah knew he had fulfilled that prophecy.
“And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him” (verse 25). Look at the impact this one man had. It is amazing what one righteous man can do!
Sadly, it would be the last bright spot in Jerusalem’s history for many years.
God Rejects Jerusalem
During Josiah’s reign, God sent the Prophet Jeremiah with some terrifying prophecies. “Thus said the Lord unto me; Go and stand in the gate of the children of the people, whereby the kings of Judah come in, and by the which they go out, and in all the gates of Jerusalem” (Jeremiah 17:19). Jeremiah was to place himself where the kings and rulers entered the city and warn them. God always sends a messenger to warn His people. That message must be declared where the people can hear it.
Jeremiah was to say, “Hear ye the word of the Lord, ye kings of Judah, and all Judah, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, that enter in by these gates”—and correct them for breaking the Sabbath. He was to remind them that the Israelites had been punished repeatedly for breaking God’s Sabbath and turning away from God (verses 20-23).
There is a cause for every effect. Jerusalem was destroyed because of Sabbath-breaking. And it has been trodden down ever since! Jerusalem is a city in deep trouble today. Why? Because of sin—breaking God’s law.
When Jeremiah spoke these earnest warnings, the religious leaders did not repent. Instead, they turned against the messenger! Seizing him, they hissed, “Thou shalt surely die. Why hast thou prophesied in the name of the Lord, saying, This house shall be like Shiloh, and this city shall be desolate without an inhabitant?” They were backed by “all the people … against Jeremiah” (Jeremiah 26:8-9).
God’s own temple worshipers in Israel told Jeremiah to stop proclaiming the message or be killed. They were trying to legally put him to death! The more he prophesied, the more their hatred intensified (see Jeremiah 37).
Jeremiah’s message is mainly for today. It describes a nuclear disaster that leaves Jerusalem and other cities “without an inhabitant”! (e.g. Jeremiah 4:7; 9:11; 34:22). Many Bible prophecies tell us that American and British cities will experience this tribulation soon if they fail to repent. Even God’s own chosen city has descended into such wickedness that it too will suffer this calamitous fate!
Jeremiah was not the only prophet who foretold Jerusalem’s destruction. Other leaders reminded the religious leaders that the Prophet Micah had prophesied in the days of King Hezekiah, “Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Zion shall be plowed like a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of a forest” (Jeremiah 26:17-18; Micah 3:12).
This horrifying prophecy was fulfilled in 585 b.c. To punish His sinful people, God allowed His chosen city to fall into the hands of “the worst of the heathen”! The Babylonians came in and decimated Jerusalem. Nebuchadnezzar burned the temple and left the city as a plowed field; it looked like a garbage dump.
The fall of Judah and the desolation of Jerusalem was a terrible tragedy and a profound warning for our day. Zion is a type of God’s true Church today. Jerusalem is a type of all Israel. God’s lukewarm end-time Church will be plowed like a field—torn to pieces. The nations of Israel will become like “heaps” of refuse! These are terrifying prophecies about the nations of Israel, which include America, Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and other democracies of northwestern Europe. Herbert W. Armstrong preached these prophecies for over 50 years, and they are about to come to pass! People must wake up!
Jerusalem and the cities of Judah were emptied of human beings—“no man dwelleth therein”! (Jeremiah 44:1-3). This is a thunderous warning of the crisis we will experience soon!
“Howbeit I sent unto you all my servants the prophets, rising early and sending them, saying, Oh, do not this abominable thing that I hate. But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear to turn from their wickedness, to burn no incense unto other gods” (verses 4-5). God always sends His prophets to warn. He does the same today. Still, the people “burn … incense unto other gods.” This refers to temple worship. In this end time, God’s “lukewarm” saints are still religious, but they are not worshiping the true God (Revelation 3:14-22). They refuse to return to the true God.
“Wherefore my fury and mine anger was poured forth, and was kindled in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem; and they are wasted and desolate, as at this day” (Jeremiah 44:6).
Jeremiah was clearly an eyewitness to much of the tragedy in Jerusalem. You can get a sense of his reactions in the book of Lamentations, which Jeremiah wrote. (I explain this in my booklet Lamentations: The Point of No Return.) Lamentations gives the horrendous details of what national fall and enslavement are like.
Smith’s Bible Dictionary states: “The poems belong unmistakably to the last days of the kingdom, or the commencement of the exile. They are written by one who speaks, with the vividness and intensity of an eyewitness, of the misery which he bewails” (emphasis mine throughout). Clarke’s says, “Misery has no expression that the author of the Lamentations has not employed.” It also quotes a man named Dr. South as saying of this book, “One would think that every letter was written with a tear; every word, the sound of a breaking heart: that the author was compacted of sorrows; disciplined to grief from his infancy; one who never breathed but in sighs, nor spoke but in a groan.”
Lamentations is the expression of profound godly emotion. That is because, most of all, it is about God reaching out to His own Spirit-begotten children, whom He loves with a Father’s love, and who have turned away from Him! God loves His people, and He will use everything He possibly can to reach out to His Family members. God will do all He can to touch them with a powerful message!
Jeremiah’s grief was only a fraction of God’s grief over what happened to His people and to His city. When the people of Judah went into captivity and enslavement, God never lost sight of them.
And He never took His eyes off Jerusalem.
Jeremiah had prophesied, “Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Because ye have not heard my words, Behold, I will send and take all the families of the north, saith the Lord, and Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and will bring them against this land, and against the inhabitants thereof, and against all these nations round about, and will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, and an hissing, and perpetual desolations. … And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years” (Jeremiah 25:8-9, 11).
This is exactly what happened. The Jews were taken captive by the Babylonians in 585 b.c. and served them for 70 years, until the Babylonians were conquered by the Persians in 515 b.c. (2 Chronicles 36:20). “To fulfil the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years” (verse 21). This is saying that from the time they had inherited the Promised Land until the beginning of their captivity, the Israelites had failed to give the land its seventh-year sabbatical rest (commanded in Leviticus 25) 70 times—so God resolved to remove them and give the land those 70 years of rest! What a striking illustration of just how important God’s law is to Him, and how particular He is that it be scrupulously obeyed.
Exactly 70 years later, this remarkable event happened: “Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished”—speaking of the 70-years prophecy—“the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the Lord God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? The Lord his God be with him, and let him go up” (2 Chronicles 36:22-23).
The moment those 70 years of captivity were over, God stirred up the mind of a carnal leader to commission the building of the second temple! What a miracle to receive such support from a Gentile king! God’s Spirit then moved a group of Jews to undertake this construction project by returning to Jerusalem.
Many times God has to correct His people. But He never leaves or forsakes us. And He doesn’t punish more than is necessary to effect our repentance.
In many ways, the work of this small remnant of Jews to rebuild what had been ruined foreshadowed the work of the Philadelphia Church of God (pcg). From our beginning, we have worked to raise the ruins of the work God built through Mr. Armstrong after his successors destroyed it. That makes this history extremely prophetic. You can read all about these parallels in my booklet Ezra and Nehemiah.
The books of Ezra and Nehemiah were written as one book. Read together, these books reveal essential information on building God’s spiritual temple today.
Ezra 2:64 shows that the Jews who returned to Jerusalem numbered 42,360. It was only a fraction of the 2 or 3 million people who were taken into captivity. God always raises up a people to do His Work—but He always starts small. And the job He requires is generally great. When the pcg began, it started very humbly, with two full-time ministers. Then God added 10 other people.
When a small group of people accomplishes an enormous, miraculous task, it shows that God is behind that work. It still takes effort and sacrifice on the people’s part, but all credit must go to God.
Not many people accepted the challenge to return to Jerusalem. But those remaining behind gave generously to support their effort (Ezra 1:6). Also, Cyrus collected the vessels that had been stripped from the temple when the Babylonians despoiled it—5,400 of them—and returned them so they could refurbish the reconstructed temple (verses 7-11). It was another wonderful miracle revealing God’s favor behind the project.
Ezra Established God’s Law
God chose Zerubbabel as the human leader in rebuilding the temple. This pointed to a latter-day Zerubbabel building God’s spiritual temple in this end time (request my booklet Haggai: God Has Begun to Shake the Nations for more information). All these events, and even specific personalities, have prophetic significance to us during this final era of God’s Church.
Later, God sent Ezra, a “ready scribe in the law of Moses” (Ezra 7:6). God wanted to ensure that the people recognized the importance of His law. Solomon’s temple had been demolished because of lawbreaking. For the second temple to succeed, it was imperative that the people keep God’s law! Likewise today, the success of our spiritual building depends on our keeping God’s law and government alive in the Church. Having given us His law, God expects His chosen ministry to administer and enforce it!
The Jews who returned to Jerusalem with Ezra had great courage. Though they had the king’s endorsement, they still faced grave dangers. They traveled through foreign lands and dangerous territory with a weighty offering of gold and silver, making them an easy target for their enemies. Ezra could have received protection from the king, but he chose instead to walk by faith and rely completely on God. He directed everyone to fast and pray (Ezra 8:21-23). With God’s help, they faced their enemies and beautifully passed this test of faith. They made it safely to Jerusalem (verses 31-32).
In the time ahead of us, the pcg will face enemies. We will need God’s protection. We will be tested in our faith. But when we fast and petition God, we will get His attention. God will fully protect us, and we will complete our marvelous commission! Imitating Ezra’s faith will ensure that God supplies the miracles we need.
When he arrived in Jerusalem, righteous Ezra was deeply disappointed by the state of the Jews. Sin was rampant; they had gotten away from God’s law. He prayed a marvelous prayer of repentance on behalf of the people (Ezra 9). He corrected the priests for their lawbreaking (Ezra 10:1-5). Then he corrected the people. He required that all inhabitants come to Jerusalem to hear admonition concerning their grave sins. Anyone who failed to appear within three days would lose their personal belongings and citizenship (verses 7-8). Ezra headed a strong but righteous government.
The men of Judah and Benjamin responded to Ezra’s proclamation and assembled before the temple in Jerusalem. Ezra stood up and corrected them publicly. He personally told them, “Ye have transgressed, and have taken strange wives, to increase the trespass of Israel” (verses 9-10). He was trying to save the nation. Verses 18-44 list the men who had taken strange wives. There were 109 total, including 17 priests and 10 Levites. Ezra listed their names for all to see. Though this would have been embarrassing, it spared the nation grievous punishment. It is a lesson in leadership—God’s way!
The temple restoration was being thwarted by Gentile guerrilla attacks. God comforted His people by sending Nehemiah—whose name means “the Lord has comforted”—to restore the protective walls around Jerusalem.
Nehemiah is an exceptional example of what a man inflamed with the Jerusalem vision can achieve. He put all his skill, energy and dedication into furthering God’s plans for this city, and God used him mightily.
Nehemiah was highly competent. Among the Jewish captives, he had caught the attention of the Persian King Artaxerxes, who commissioned him to serve as something of his personal bodyguard. Nehemiah was also a man of godly passion. He had deep feelings for the reconstruction work taking place in Jerusalem. When he heard of the hardships his people were enduring, he was greatly upset. He wept, mourned and fasted for days, repenting on behalf of his people and praying that God would enable him to assist in some way (Nehemiah 1).
Yearning to help in Jerusalem, Nehemiah courageously approached the king and asked to be temporarily relieved of his duties so he could travel to Jerusalem and support Ezra (Nehemiah 2:5). The king’s kind and supportive response showed that God was answering Nehemiah’s prayer. Nehemiah then asked for letters of recommendation addressed to the governors of territories he would traverse en route to Jerusalem. He also requested a special letter to the “keeper of the king’s forest”: He intended to secure Jerusalem by building an impenetrable wall, and only the finest timbers would do the job. The king granted everything he asked—“according to the good hand of my God upon me,” Nehemiah wrote (verse 8). God will give us similar favor as we rely on Him as this great man did.
As soon as he arrived in Jerusalem, Nehemiah encountered opposition (verse 10). But he worked with the stealth of an expert warrior. He assessed the condition of the walls clandestinely, wisely concealing his movements and even his intentions (verses 11-16). To protect God’s Work, we must always be on guard for enemies and use godly wisdom (Matthew 10:16). We are in a serious spiritual war and must work as men at war.
Nehemiah found that the destruction of Jerusalem’s walls was extensive. Repairing them was crucial if the work in Judah was to continue. Nehemiah realized he would need the help of many hands. He made an impassioned petition to the people, showing them that by rebuilding the walls, they could help alleviate the distress in Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:17).
The people responded with full support (verse 18). Nehemiah organized them in and around the city to help fight off the enemy. He divided them into two groups: half to continue the work, the other to protect the workers. Yet even the workers carried weapons in hand while they worked! It was a time for spades and swords! (Nehemiah 4:17-18).
Nehemiah was a man of great faith and strong emotion. Though violently opposed in the work God had called him to do, through faith he was able to work—and simultaneously fight a war to protect that work! With inspiring leadership, he successfully marshaled the labors of the Jews to rebuild the broken fortresses—and they completed the wall in just 52 days!
This history is essential for us today. Throughout man’s dismal history, God’s Work has always been violently attacked. Satan the devil has always wanted to destroy God’s people and the Work. We must face daily the reality that we are in a war until Jesus Christ returns (2 Timothy 2:3).
This entire chapter of Jerusalem’s history shows the marvelous ruin-raising work that can be achieved when a people have God behind them. It is a tremendous type of the work God’s faithful remnant Church is engaged in today.
And the fact that God did it by bringing the Jews right back to His capital city and allowing them to rebuild there is telling. Again and again God returns His people to His chosen city. Again and again the story of God’s Work on Earth centers around this city. It underscores just how important Jerusalem is to God—how central that city is to our work today—and how important it must be to each one of us!
Chapter 3: The City of God
Most people assume the Bible’s earliest history appears in Genesis. In truth, other scriptures in the Bible reveal considerable history that occurred even before the first verse in the Bible’s first book. Many more expose further events that took place before the second verse in Genesis.
Here is the earliest recorded history in the Bible: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). This describes what existed before there was a universe or anything else. There was only God and the Word.
There are plainly two Beings discussed here. As Herbert W. Armstrong made plain in his masterful book Mystery of the Ages, these two made one God—like one family. They were both God in the same sense that two members of the same family could both be Smith.
This one verse tells the story of a past eternity. Here was a “time” when nothing had yet been created—not even a single angel. God and the Word lived together forever in unity and in love.
Then, Scripture reveals, God created untold millions of angels. And He had a marvelous plan for them.
When God created angels, He taught them His law and government. And He taught them about His ambitions to include them in His spectacular creative plans.
Among the angels, God created varying degrees of ability and rank, and organized them in an orderly government structure. Scripture reveals three of the very highest rank—cherubs that were archangels: Michael, Gabriel and Lucifer. He gave these three special training in administering His government and law.
God specifically describes Lucifer as “the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so” (Ezekiel 28:14). In the Bible’s descriptions of a symbol of God’s throne on Earth—the mercy seat on top of the ark of the covenant—it had two cherubs on top, covering it (Exodus 25:17-20; 1 Kings 6:23-28; 8:6-7). This shows the exalted position Lucifer held: He was a covering cherub, right at God’s very throne! God also says of him, “[T]hou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire” (Ezekiel 28:14). What an exalted position! There he could learn how God thought and watch how God operated. God trained him for an exceedingly significant job.
God gave these three archangels positions of authority. The indication in Scripture is that each of them ruled over one third of the other angels.
Some time after the angelic creation, God created the material universe, including Earth. When the angels witnessed this impressive feat, they “sang together” and “shouted for joy” (Job 38:7). Why was this such an intensely joyful event? Surely the angels were impressed by the creation—but even more: God had revealed that He was giving them the potential for rulership, starting with Earth. He wanted their help in beautifying the whole universe. The angels were exceedingly happy because, at that time, they kept God’s law and were ruled by God.
Earth was the starting point. God, the Creator-Ruler of all, set Lucifer as king to administer the government of God over this beautiful planet. Lucifer must have done such a good job at God’s throne that God set him over Earth with a third of the angels to help him. His name means “light bringer.” He had a lot of God’s light to bring to Earth. And had he succeeded here, Lucifer would have undoubtedly been given the opportunity to fill the whole universe with light and godly beauty!
And where was Lucifer’s headquarters on Earth? Ezekiel reveals: “Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God …” (Ezekiel 28:13). Lucifer’s headquarters on Earth was in the very same location where God later put Adam and Eve.
It was likely the very place where God, in the form of Melchizedek, later founded the city of Jerusalem.
These scriptures strongly suggest that God’s plan has always revolved around this special location—even during the angelic plan, perhaps millions of years before He ever created human beings!
It has very likely always been in God’s mind to plant His throne here on Earth and to create a headquarters in Jerusalem from which to govern the universe!
For some time, worldwide peace prevailed. Lucifer was administering the government of God on Earth. For how long is not revealed—it could have been millennia. The angels were happy and joyful because they obeyed God’s government based on His law.
This joyful relationship could have lasted forever. But there was a colossal disaster!
“Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created,” God tells Lucifer in Ezekiel 28:15—“till iniquity [lawlessness] was found in thee.” Translators always seem to want to soften the word lawlessness by calling it iniquity.
Lucifer introduced a new kind of thinking in the universe that had never been there before. “Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness …” (verse 17). Lucifer had beauty and brightness. He became vain and proud about that—even though it was God who created it. He was like a speck in all of God’s creation, but in his own eyes, he became more important than God and all His creation. God had a plan for him, but instead of thinking about that vast universe and all eternity, Lucifer began to think about his own beauty! How terribly shallow!
Lucifer reached the point where he would no longer keep the law of God, which is the love of God. He stopped loving God. That is where lawlessness leads. If you are breaking God’s law, that is the end result.
Lucifer led the angels under him to rebel. He turned them all against their own Creator, and together they tried to overthrow God. Lucifer (“light bringer”) became Satan (“adversary”).
“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High” (Isaiah 14:12-14). Satan said, I will exalt MY throne. He has a throne. Satan still rules Earth with the angels who became demons (2 Corinthians 4:4).
When Satan and the demons rejected God’s government, they destroyed God’s physical creation on Earth and in much of the universe. In the process, they also destroyed their joy and happiness! True joy and peace can only be produced by submitting to God’s government. For the first time in the universe, there was rebellion, disunity and a lack of love.
God had made angels free moral agents. He knew there was the possibility they would reject their calling and potential. God had devised a “Plan B” in the event that they made such a choice.
The angels’ revolt confirmed that only God Himself had the perfection of character needed to successfully govern the Earth and universe. Thus, God had decided, if the angels couldn’t do that job, He would re-create Himself—actually create more God beings—more beings who possess the same righteous character that He has!
This was to be the supreme pinnacle of all God’s creative accomplishments!
This was God’s exalted plan for human beings, of whom He said, “Let us make man in our image [meaning character image—after His very character], after our likeness [humans look like God] …” (Genesis 1:26). Human beings, though now mortal and composed of perishable flesh, have the transcendent potential to enter into the very Family of God! (You can learn all about this by requesting a free copy of Herbert W. Armstrong’s book The Incredible Human Potential. We would be delighted to send you a copy without cost or obligation.)
The human potential exceeds that of the angels. Angels were never offered the opportunity to become a part of the Family of God. This plan is an altogether more spectacular plan.
At the same time, there was something that made it far more challenging.
The Foundation of the World
As with the angels, God gave man free will. But unlike the angels, He made man mortal, subject to death. And He determined that, for man, death would be the wages of sin—of breaking His eternal law (Romans 6:23). Unlike Satan and the demons, who will live forever in the misery caused by their lawlessness, human beings, if they chose to sin, would mercifully perish.
But to make it possible for people to repent and change—to grow in godly, righteous character in preparation for life in God’s Family—God had to devise a way to pay the death penalty for their sin.
“Plan B” required that one of the members of the Godhead die in man’s stead.
Revelation 13:8 describes the Word—one of the two members of the Godhead who had existed eternally—as “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” As God views it, that “foundation of the world”—the present, evil world as we know it today—was when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden. From that fateful moment, it was certain that the Word would give up His immortality, His glorified spirit status, and become a human being subject to death. This would enable Him to pay the death penalty for the sins of all human beings.
Preparations for that critical event carried on throughout the first four millennia of human history. It was the God Being who would become Jesus Christ who directly interacted with mankind, starting with Adam and Eve. He planted them in the very location that had been Lucifer’s headquarters and that would one day be His own.
When they sinned, He banished them from that place. He continued to work with humanity, at least in part—Cain and Abel, Seth, Enoch and others. As man’s sins multiplied, the need for that divine sacrifice grew clearer and more urgent. Evil grew so rampant that God regretted even making man! (Genesis 6:5-6). He wiped out mankind in a flood, reserving them for a future resurrection at a time when Satan’s influence would be gone, when God would replace him on Earth’s throne. He saved only one man—Noah—and his family—a total of eight people—and started over.
Again evil multiplied. God decided to choose one man to found a new nation, a righteous nation. That man was Abraham. And once again, God emphasized the importance of His geographical headquarters on Earth in an extraordinary way: He appeared in the form of Melchizedek the priest to found Jerusalem. He promised to give that city, along with the surrounding land, to Abraham and his descendants: “Unto thy seed will I give this land,” He said (Genesis 12:7). As Abraham surveyed that homeland, God said, “Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever” (Genesis 13:14-15). This would be the home of His chosen people Israel—and eventually the capital of the world.
It was there, on the central mountain in Jerusalem, that this great God watched Abraham perform a spectacular act of faith and obedience: offering his son as a sacrifice—foreshadowing God’s own sacrifice.
Over four centuries later, this same God redeemed the Israelites from slavery and led them by a pillar cloud to that Promised Land. He later chose Jerusalem as the national capital and installed David as king there. He inspired a magnificent temple to be built there.
He watched as the nation descended into idolatry, and eventually He brought them into slavery and turned His city over to be trodden underfoot by the heathen. But then He again brought His people back and inspired them to build a second temple in Jerusalem.
In the centuries that followed, the Holy City witnessed some inspiring chapters of faith and courage. It also experienced more degradation, particularly when the Seleucid King Antiochus Epiphanes stormed the city, slaughtered Jews, defiled the temple, and forced pagan worship on those who remained. This humiliation was rectified by the Maccabean revolt, which cleansed the temple. Over time, however, God watched as the Jews began to exalt their own traditions over the laws He had handed down to Moses. After the people descended into civil war, God allowed the Roman Empire to conquer the land, including Jerusalem. The Jews became a subject people. But under the rule of Rome’s client-king Herod the Great, the city was built up, the temple was refurbished and expanded, and the people prospered economically.
The time had come for this great God to take on the form of a man and personally return to Jerusalem—for the most dangerous mission of all time.
Jesus Christ’s Ministry
“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). This great God divested Himself of His spiritual glory and was born as a human being, Jesus Christ.
To qualify as the unblemished sacrificial lamb to pay the tremendous price for the sins of all mankind, Christ had to live a perfect life as a mortal man. Were He to sin, His death would then only pay for His own sins, and it would not have been possible to resurrect Him! That would have left only one God Being and no Savior—no family, no future for mankind! That may very well be why God made this “Plan B”: because it was so risky! But it shows how deep God’s love is and how determined He is to have a family.
Virtually the first event in Jesus’s life as a newborn was a trip to Jerusalem. God ensured that His Son would be born and raised in an excellent family. Jesus’s human mother and her husband were law-keeping Jews. After His birth, they brought Him to Jerusalem according to the law of Moses, “to present him to the Lord” (Luke 2:22).
By this law, every firstborn son belonged to God, and parents needed to give an offering to “redeem” the child (Exodus 13:2; 22:29; Numbers 18:15-16). This was a special expression of the “first and great commandment” in God’s law—that we love Him with our whole heart, soul and might (Deuteronomy 6:5; Matthew 22:36-37). He commands that we give Him our first and best. But in doing so, we are only following God’s own example: He gave His firstborn Son! Here, Jesus’s human parents symbolically offered their newborn child to God at the temple in Jerusalem.
It is amazing how many times during Jesus’s life He traveled to and spent time in the city that He Himself, as Melchizedek, had founded.
Each year, Jesus’s parents traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover (Luke 2:41). When Jesus was 12 years old, they found Him in the temple, having discussion with the educated men (verses 42-47). From His youth, Jesus was doing His Father’s business (verse 49)—even there in the temple.
Later, when Christ was ready to begin His ministry, God the Father allowed Him to be tested directly by Satan the devil. Among the tests Satan hurled at him, “he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence” (Luke 4:9). Jesus parried all of Satan’s temptations and thus qualified to replace him as King over all the Earth!
It was from that point that He began to preach the gospel of the coming Kingdom of God, whose capital city will be Jerusalem.
Christ again kept the next Passover in that city. Visiting the temple, He saw merchants and moneychangers buying and selling—and it infuriated Him! He drove them out and cried, “[M]ake not my Father’s house an house of merchandise”! (John 2:13-17).
During those festivals, Christ performed miracles that caused many people to believe on Him (verse 23). He continued keeping the holy days in the Holy City throughout His ministry (e.g. John 5:1; 7:2, 10-11). He also came there at least once during “the feast of the dedication,” a national Jewish holiday in the winter (John 10:22-23), called Hanukkah today. Christ’s ministry showed He had a special love for the city God had chosen.
But the religious leaders in Jerusalem were keenly aware of His activities and felt threatened.
Christ Wept for Jerusalem
As Jesus continued His ministry, His fame spread, and the resentment of the Pharisees, Sadducees and scribes grew. They were convinced He imperiled their authority and might even lead an open rebellion against the Roman government that empowered them.
Jesus began to forewarn His disciples that He would have to go to Jerusalem to face these Jewish leaders—and that it was there He would be sacrificed (Matthew 16:21; Mark 10:32-34). As the event approached, His warnings grew more insistent (Matthew 20:17-18; Luke 18:31).
Several prophecies in the Old Testament speak of a Messiah coming to establish the Kingdom of God and to restore Israel as a glorious nation. However, many more prophecies also make clear that this Messiah would come twice, and that on His first coming, He would not be a conquering hero, but a lowly man who would be brutalized and murdered (e.g. Isaiah 52:13-15; Isaiah 53).
The Prophet Zechariah prophesied of Christ’s entrance into Jerusalem during His first coming: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass” (Zechariah 9:9). Clearly this is describing a different event from His arrival in that city, prophesied elsewhere, in power and glory! (e.g. Zechariah 14:4; Micah 1:3-4; Nahum 1:5-6). But during His earthly ministry, when Jesus entered Jerusalem for the last time, He was seated on an ass’s colt (Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; John 12:12-16).
“And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it,” Luke writes in his account (Luke 19:41). Looking upon this city He loved, teeming with men and women and children, markets and buildings, bustling pathways and parks, His mind filled with a vision of the horrifying fate they would all suffer. Deeply emotional, Christ then prophesied of Jerusalem’s utter destruction (verses 42-44).
Christ then visited His Father’s house. Again He saw the temple polluted with commerce and merchantry, and again He was flooded with grief and indignation. “And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves” (Matthew 21:12-13).
In the days that followed, Jesus was repeatedly confronted by the chief priests, scribes and elders. They challenged His authority as a teacher and sought to draw Him into theological arguments and to expose Him for breaking their stringent religious codes (verses 23-27; Matthew 22:15-33). In their hearts they wanted to lay hold on Him and attack Him bodily! Their only restraint was their fear of how the crowds would react (Mark 12:12).
Finally, in His last public pronouncement, Jesus forcibly corrected the Jewish religious leaders who ruled the city. “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” He said. “[F]or ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. … Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets” (Matthew 23:23, 29-30). These religious people boasted about how they wouldn’t have killed and spilled the blood of God’s prophets as their forefathers had. Yet they were about to spill far more precious blood—that of Jesus Christ! Christ called these corrupt religious leaders serpents and vipers!
Christ then prophesied that God would send messengers that these men would kill and crucify—and warned that they would be guilty of their blood (verses 34-35). “Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation,” He concluded gravely (verse 36).
He then said with fervor, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (verse 37). Throughout the ages, Christ would have gathered the children of Jerusalem (and all mankind) as a hen gathers her little chickens, but they refused. They didn’t want God in their religion—or in their lives! That has been true of all religious and nonreligious people throughout man’s history. This isn’t a message only to the Jews. It’s a message to all people—especially religious people!
And what a price Jerusalem (and all mankind) has paid for that rebellion. Christ says the word woe eight times in this chapter. We shall see that Jerusalem’s history has been filled with woe, woe, woe.
“Behold, your house is left unto you desolate” (verse 38). How “desolate” Jerusalem has been and will continue to be until Christ intervenes. And that desolation is only a type of what will happen to all humanity. Christ wants man to learn a lesson from what has happened in Jerusalem. So far, that lesson has not been learned. But because of far more intense woe and desolation, it will be.
The worst is yet to come. But so is the best, which is greater than we can even imagine.
The Death of Christ
“Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill him” (Matthew 26:3-4). How condemning! Then one of Jesus’s own disciples conspired with these men against Him (verses 14-16).
Jesus knew what was about to happen and the suffering He was about to experience. The Gospels record great detail about the final Passover He kept with His disciples where He instituted the New Testament symbols of broken unleavened bread, symbolizing His physical body which was about to be broken, and wine, symbolizing His blood which would be shed for the sins of mankind (verses 26-29).
Afterward, He led His disciples to Gethsemane, a garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives. There, about to face His fiercest trial, He prayed: “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42). Humanly He wanted an escape, but He cried out to God and submitted to the Father’s will. What a Son!
“And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (verse 44). Christ knew what was coming, and He prayed fervently—to the point that He perspired blood—so He wouldn’t sin! What suffering He endured in order to be perfect! He did all this so He could be our Savior and give us a future.
Later that night, Judas betrayed Him and led Him into the hands of the Jewish leaders. For the next several hours, He endured cruel mocking, scorn and derision. Pilate then had Him scourged (Matthew 27:26).
The Romans called the beating before the crucifixion the half-death! They used a whip that had six to 10 thongs, at the end of which were small pieces of broken bones or metal. Chunks of flesh were ripped out of the victim’s body, leaving a mass of bloody, jagged wounds. Christ’s bones were protruding from His flesh (Psalm 22:17).
Why did Christ subject Himself to that? So you could be healed! There is a healing covenant: By His stripes you are healed (Isaiah 53:5; 1 Peter 2:24).
After the scourging came the crucifixion. During a Roman crucifixion, soldiers would stretch out a person’s hands and feet and nail them onto a stake while it was on the ground. Then they would shove the stake up and let it fall down into a hole, jerking the body and tearing the flesh, causing blood to spurt out. It was great entertainment for those evil Roman soldiers and anyone else watching.
This is what the Son of God endured so we could be forgiven of our sins and reconciled to God the Father. This tells us so much about the Family that God is inviting human beings to enter into. This is the love of God—a love so incredible that nobody can even come close to understanding it unless they have the Spirit of God!
“And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). Christ became sin and was momentarily cut off from God.
But what were the words He first spoke from the stake on which He was being crucified? Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing (Luke 23:34). Christ had no bitterness toward those people.
Think about the magnitude of our sins and how God forgives them all. How God forgives! He purged our sins (Hebrews 1:3).
“Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost [spirit]” (Matthew 27:50). Christ screamed—and then died. Translators leave out from the original inspired Greek of verse 49: “And another took a spear and pierced his side, and out came water and blood.” Satan deceived this world into thinking that Christ died of a broken heart. Christ died because a spear was rammed into the side of His body and His blood gushed out. That is why He died. Christ went through this so your sins could be forgiven.
There, in the same place that God had watched Abraham offer his beloved son, God the Father sacrificed His.
There was an earthquake and rumblings because the Son of God had just died (verse 51). “And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many” (verses 52-53). What a miracle the people of Jerusalem witnessed! It didn’t change their lives, but at least they understood He really was the Son of God (verse 54).
Christ had walked around the vicinity of Jerusalem and within the city for years. When His work was complete, He also was crucified there. He paid the penalty for our sins just outside Jerusalem.
This was a towering event in universe history! We need to think deeply on that. Zechariah prophesied that in the future, “they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn” (Zechariah 12:10). People will think on the crucifixion in a way that leads them to repentance.
We must strive for this kind of repentance today. We have killed the firstborn Son of our beloved Father! And if we are thinking the way God does, we will experience the same intensity of emotion over what we have done as we would over losing a firstborn son!
God the Father and Jesus Christ sacrificed everything to open up eternal life, and positions in the God Family, to mankind. The very Son of God was sacrificed in Jerusalem. God paid a great price to give us a glorious vision of the future! He allowed His Son to be crucified so all humans could be a part of the future spiritual Family!
It is deeply significant that this universe-altering sacrifice took place in the City of God!
The New Testament Church Begins
Three days after He was killed, Christ was resurrected. He came to His disciples, who were still in Jerusalem and gathered together (Luke 24:33-36). He spent 40 days with them, during which He commissioned them with the work they would be doing. He told them “that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (verse 47).
Toward the end of that period, He then told them to wait in Jerusalem until God gave them the power of His Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4). Then, suddenly and dramatically, He shot up into the clouds! (verse 9). While they stared in wonder upward, two angels appeared, saying, “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (verse 11).
Many other prophecies speak of Christ’s spectacular return in this way: He will descend from the clouds in brilliant glory (Matthew 24:30; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; Revelation 1:7). In that day, His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, on the east side of Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:4).
Just days later, the disciples gathered in Jerusalem for the day of Pentecost, a commanded annual Sabbath. As Christ promised, suddenly God sent His Holy Spirit and put it within each of those disciples! (Acts 2:1-4).
It was the beginning fulfillment of the prophecy uttered by Joel: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams” (verse 17; Joel 2:28-29).
The other Jews who had gathered in Jerusalem from surrounding nations for this holy day marveled at what they witnessed! Peter, whom Christ had made chief apostle, preached a sermon that convicted a great many people and brought them to repentance. That day, 3,000 people were baptized and given the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:37-41).
Thus, June 17, a.d. 31, was the official beginning of God’s New Testament Church. It was yet another landmark event in history that occurred there in the Holy City!
These original disciples and new converts were inflamed with a passion to proclaim Christ’s gospel. The newly Spirit-begotten Church had a significant impact on the people and society, beginning at Jerusalem.
These fantastic events created a stir within the Jewish community and among Jewish leaders. After Peter and John then healed a man outside one of the temple gates, they were immediately summoned before the Jewish high council. They were threatened—yet undaunted (Acts 3-4).
The preaching of Christ’s gospel gained momentum. The Church experienced rapid growth from 120 to about 5,000 members (Acts 4:4). People began traveling to Jerusalem, bringing their sick and demon-possessed to the apostles to be healed (Acts 5:12-16).
However, this growth provoked serious persecution. Jewish leaders became incensed and fearful. The apostles were thrown in prison (verse 18). An angel released them and told them to return to the temple and preach. When they obeyed, the religious leaders found them and made this extraordinary statement: “Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us” (verse 28). What an impact these men had in Jerusalem!
After these leaders beat them and again set them free, the apostles continued to preach as Christ had commanded (verses 40-42). “And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7).
Wherever God is doing a work, Satan is close by trying to subvert and destroy it. This has been true from the days of Adam and Eve, and it was certainly true of the New Testament Church.
Jewish leaders wanted to stop this new, overzealous faction. Their persecution became far more intense—and deadly. Men, women and children were slaughtered. Acts 7 records the brutal and tragic martyrdom of Stephen. Under siege, many of God’s people were forced to flee: “And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles” (Acts 8:1).
However, the persecution did not stop God’s Work: “Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word” (verse 4). This scattering of God’s people actually furthered the gospel, causing it to spread throughout the known world. Still, the headquarters of the Church remained in Jerusalem. It was there that the ministers met to discuss important matters that affected the Church as a whole (Acts 15).
However, Satan soon launched a craftier attack: establishing a counterfeit church. The history of how he used a sorcerer named Simon to mix elements of Christianity with the Babylonian mystery religion is crucial to understand. I have devoted four chapters to this in my book The True History of God’s True Church (request a free copy). It shows how Satan infiltrated the true Church with false ministers and erroneous doctrines. The original apostles fought valiantly to beat back these destructive forces, but they increasingly came under personal attack.
The years a.d. 60 through 70 were terribly volatile. When the inhuman, egomaniacal Nero ascended to power in Rome, he set off a terrible persecution against Christians. In the early summer of a.d. 68, Nero beheaded the Apostle Paul in Rome. God’s leading Church elders there were also imprisoned and slaughtered. Peter and most of the other apostles were also martyred not long afterward. This created a huge void in the upper level of leadership of the Church.
A.D. 70 Holocaust and Destruction
The Jerusalem congregation of the Church faced a city in disarray. In a.d. 66, Jewish rebels defied the Roman government in Palestine. A general revolt erupted.
Starting in the spring of a.d. 67, the Roman general Vespasian and his son Titus swept from the north into Judea. Jerusalem was surrounded by armies. Heeding Christ’s warning (Luke 21:20-21), the Church in that area fled northeast to the city of Pella. Located in the Gilead mountains east of the Jordan River, Pella was a safe haven for God’s little flock.
In a.d. 70, Titus conquered Jerusalem. His siege of the city, described in detail by Josephus and Eusebius, was barbaric. Many people died of starvation. Before the siege was over, cannibalism was rife among the inhabitants. Once inside the city, Titus oversaw the slaughter of many people. He burned the temple to the ground and laid waste the city. In all, some 600,000 people—by some accounts, over a million—were butchered!
This holocaust fulfilled the prophecy Jesus had uttered when He wept over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41). He had foretold: “For the days shall come upon thee [Jerusalem], that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another …” (verses 43-44). Proof is abundant and overwhelming that this prophecy was fulfilled in a.d. 70 when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and razed the temple.
The historian-priest Josephus was an eyewitness and recorded the event in great detail. He recorded that Caesar ordered the Romans to “demolish the entire city and temple.” “[I]t was so thoroughly laid even with the ground by those that dug it up to the foundation, that there was left nothing to make those that came thither believe it [Jerusalem] had ever been inhabited,” he wrote. “For the war had laid all signs of beauty quite waste. Nor if anyone that had known the place before, had come on a sudden to it now, would he have known it again. But though he [a foreigner] were at the city itself, yet would he have inquired for it [its whereabouts].” He said anyone looking upon the devastation would never imagine a city had been there!
This agrees with other accounts of the destruction of Jerusalem from eyewitnesses, including that of Titus, the Roman general who oversaw the final ruin of Jerusalem. Eleazar, a historian and leader of the last remnant of the Jewish resistance at Masada, wrote: “Where is this city that was believed to have God Himself inhabiting therein? It is now demolished to the very foundations, and hath nothing left but that monument of it preserved, I mean the camp of those [Romans] that hath destroyed it, which [camp] still dwells upon its ruins ….” Eleazar said the only thing unscathed from the war and still standing was a facility located just beyond the border of ancient Jerusalem.
They all concur that Jerusalem was utterly flattened. (This fact has crucial implications regarding the location of the temple in the first century. If the temple, along with all of Jerusalem, was leveled, then the massive walls of the so-called Temple Mount—where many stones remain on top of each other to this day—should not be standing. The facts show that what is known as the Temple Mount today was actually, as Eleazar wrote, a Roman building located at the edge, but outside, of ancient Jerusalem! You can read this story in my free booklet Jerusalem’s Temples.)
This horrifying history should provoke modern-day Israel most of all to seek God! The Jews want to be religious, but their way, not God’s way. Again and again God has appealed to Israel, but it continues to rebel. It refuses to set an example of godliness for the world. Thus, the worst of this history is going to repeat itself!
The first-century revolt and the terrible tribulation that followed is a type of what is coming upon Britain and America and Judah! The suffering that has occurred in Jerusalem points to what will happen to all humanity before Christ’s Second Coming. Christ wants all mankind to learn a lesson from what has happened in Jerusalem. So far, that lesson has not been learned. This city, so filled with woe and desolation, will soon learn a major lesson from God—because of a far more intense woe and desolation yet to come.
Matthew 24, the Olivet prophecy, which foretells this cataclysmic global destruction, follows Christ’s condemnation of Jerusalem in chapter 23. One of the great signs He gave in this prophecy of what would immediately precede His Second Coming was that Jerusalem would be encircled by foreign armies—and then trodden under foot—utterly razed! (Luke 21:20-24). (We will study more about this and related prophecies in Chapter 6.)
Mankind has reached the point where every human being is about to be destroyed unless Christ intervenes (Matthew 24:21-22). We now face human extinction because Jerusalem and Israel (and the world) have rejected Christ!
They need to understand the consequences they are about to face for that sin! It is all spelled out in prophecy. But they need to see beyond God’s wrath and see God’s hope and why He is watching Jerusalem so closely! It truly is a message all mankind needs to understand!
Chapter 4: The Holy City’s Modern History
God had prophesied anciently that the people of Judah would be invaded, conquered and removed from their Promised Land for a period of 2,520 years (Leviticus 26:14-39; Herbert W. Armstrong explained this prophecy in The United States and Britain in Prophecy; we will send you a free copy upon your request). The clock on that prophecy started ticking in 604 b.c., when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon conquered the kingdom of Judah—in a siege that ended in Jerusalem’s final destruction in 585 b.c.
Thus, for 2½ millennia, command of Jerusalem shifted unhappily from empire to empire, kingdom to kingdom—Babylonian, Persian, Macedonian, Ptolemaic, Seleucid, Hasmonean, Roman, Islamic, Catholic, Ottoman and others.
“Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem” (Zechariah 12:2). Throughout Jerusalem’s history up to the present day, every kingdom and nation that has ruled this city has experienced grievous problems.
This was especially true for the 1,900 years of Gentile rule that began in a.d. 70 with the city’s utter destruction.
“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” (verse 3). God warned that Jerusalem would be a nightmare for those governors, administrators, overseers, peacemakers and diplomats who became entangled with it—not to mention the people who called it their home. Yet the battle for control of the city has raged incessantly, and continues still.
After the nightmares of a.d. 70, the Jews again rebelled in a.d. 132–135 during what is known as the Bar Kokhba revolt. Rome deployed 12 legions to smash the uprising and, with it, all Jewish hopes for controlling the city again. Jerusalem was again razed and purged entirely of Jewish presence. Roman Emperor Hadrian constructed a new pagan city there and named it Aelia Capitolina.
On October 28 of a.d. 312, however, an incredible change took place that transformed not only the Roman Empire but also the city of Jerusalem. This was the date of the Battle of Milvian Bridge.
This battle took place near Rome between two rival Roman emperors, Constantine and Maxentius, over command of the western half of the empire. Constantine’s forces killed Maxentius and won a commanding victory. The outcome ensured Constantine’s undisputed rule—but it did even more than that.
After the battle, Emperor Constantine made an unprecedented move. At that time, the Roman Empire was the chief persecutor of Christians. But Constantine sought a meeting with Miltiades, the bishop of Rome—an office that had become generally accepted as leader of Christianity in the western portion of the empire and was unofficially known as the pope. At this meeting, Constantine explained to the wary bishop that the cause for his victory was divine inspiration. Just before the battle, he had seen a vision of a flaming cross in the sky, above which appeared the words in hoc signo vinces—“in this sign conquer.” Moved by the vision, Constantine had ordered the standards and shields of his army to be emblazoned with crosses, and had fought the battle in the name of the Christian God. Thus he attributed his victory over Maxentius to God Himself. And there, in front of Miltiades, Constantine professed his newfound faith: “Christianity”!
This was a monumental change! Constantine recognized and gave his blessing to this church—which was in fact a false version of Christianity (you can read all about this in my free book The True History of God’s True Church). In a.d. 313, he issued the Edict of Milan granting all Christians full freedom to practice their religion. He encouraged all Roman citizens to follow his example and become Christian—though pagan worship continued to be tolerated until the end of the century. He moved the bishop of Rome into the luxurious Lateran Palace. He also appointed many so-called Christians into high government offices and funded construction on many new church buildings. He devoted state support to this church in ways that significantly increased its power. By a.d. 324, Christianity was the official religion of the Roman Empire.
A year later, Constantine’s mother Helena traveled to Jerusalem and founded the Church of the Holy Sepulchre upon what she believed to be the location of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion. This church building, rather than the more ancient City of David or Temple Mount, became the focus for Christian pilgrimage to Jerusalem and later the rallying point for the Crusades.
Under Constantine’s rule, Jews continued to be barred from Jerusalem. The only exception was once per year, the ninth of Ab, when they were permitted to commemorate the temple’s destruction.
Over the next three centuries, the Roman Empire became increasingly “Christian.” This culminated in the rule of the sixth-century Emperor Justinian, who is known for building the last church in Jerusalem. But in a.d. 614, Persian invaders combined with Jewish forces to kill almost 34,000 Christians and temporarily end Christian rule in the city.
Persian rule there was short-lived. About that time, a man named Mohammed, a descendant of Ishmael, founded a new religion, Islam, that united the Arab world. Soon after Mohammed’s death, Muslims stormed out of the deserts of Arabia and conquered a great portion of Middle Eastern land from the ruling Byzantine and Persian empires—including, in a.d. 637, Jerusalem.
Six centuries of Islamic supremacy followed, in which its dominion expanded through Europe, North Africa and Central Asia. During this “golden age of Islam,” the Holy Land and Jerusalem became the source of ferocious conflict.
The Pope’s Call to Arms
On November 27, 1095, Pope Urban ii trumpeted a call to arms that summoned the faithful to a “holy war.” At the Council of Clermont in southern France, he delivered a rousing speech to thousands of followers. Robert the Monk recorded his words:
“From the confines of Jerusalem and from the city of Constantinople a grievous report has gone forth and has repeatedly been brought to our ears; namely, that a race from the kingdom of the Persians, an accursed race, a race wholly alienated from God, a generation that set not their heart aright and whose spirit was not steadfast with God, violently invaded the lands of those Christians and has depopulated them by pillage and fire. … Let the holy sepulcher of our Lord and Savior, which is possessed by unclean nations, especially arouse you, and the holy places which are now treated with ignominy and irreverently polluted with the filth of the unclean. … This royal city [Jerusalem], however, situated at the center of the Earth, is now held captive by the enemies of Christ and is subjected, by those who do not know God, to the worship of the heathen. She seeks, therefore, and desires to be liberated and ceases not to implore you to come to her aid.”
In their book Crusades, Terry Jones and Alan Ereira wrote, “By summoning an army under the banner of the cross, the pope was extending the church’s mantle over all Christendom. This was the idea at the very heart of the revolutionary papacy; in place of separate local churches at the center of discreet communities, there was to be one overarching church, ruled by one overarching pope. The crusade was to be its expression and its instrument.”
The desire to rule all Christianity was at the heart of the papacy. Catholic leaders do not believe in a democratic philosophy: They have often “converted” people by the sword! This history is extremely relevant considering biblical prophecy that the Catholic Church will at last succeed in drawing its Protestant daughters back under its authority (Isaiah 47). Both history and prophecy show it will mostly accomplish this long-held ambition through bloodshed.
The focal point around which the pope concentrated this martial spirit was the Holy City. “Urban’s army would also rescue Jerusalem, the spiritual (and therefore the physical) center of the universe,” Jones and Ereira continued. “He hoped that the redeemed Jerusalem would be directly ruled by the church. Every man who enrolled for the struggle must mark himself out by wearing a cross and, most important, vow to continue on his way until he reached Jerusalem.”
Jerusalem was the prize. This rallying cry unleashed a savage Catholic army—historians believe 60,000 to 100,000 “Christian” soldiers strong—that marched 3,000 miles to answer the call of this crusade.
The pope convinced people that spilling blood to liberate Jerusalem was not only righteous—it was the way to have sin forgiven, and the path to paradise! In his decree calling for military aid, Pope Urban wrote, “Whoever for devotion alone, not to gain honor or money, goes to Jerusalem to liberate the church of God can substitute this journey for all penance.” Jones and Ereira summarized this thought: “[I]f you killed the enemies of Christ, killing did not require penance—it was the penance. Holy slaughter could be as effective a devotional activity as prayer, or fasting, or pilgrimage ….”
Any Bible student ought to know that only God can offer paradise and forgive sins. But that is the big problem with most Christians: They don’t believe and obey the Bible! The whole world, including the religious world, is deceived (Revelation 12:9). Tragedies and horrors like the Crusades will continue until we confront our own deception.
That toxic notion—that fighting and killing for the pope was the way to salvation—set the Crusades in motion. This succession of indescribably brutal wars between Catholics and Muslims created rivers of blood. And it was all done in the name of God. Of course, the Muslims responded with massive slaughters against the Crusaders, also in the name of God. Does it make any sense for God to be fighting on both sides? Or are these warring factions just giving our God of love a bloody reputation?
Jerusalem is regarded as holy by both religions. Catholics indeed consider it the “center of the universe.” For centuries they have believed that conquering Jerusalem makes them righteous—and they still believe so today. Catholicism views war as an instrument to achieve their religious goals. Their fruits prove that, and by their fruits, you shall know them (Matthew 7:20).
Historian John Julius Norwich wrote, “[O]n Friday, 15 July 1099, amid scenes of hideous carnage, the soldiers of Christ battered their way into Jerusalem, where they celebrated their victory by slaughtering all the Muslims in the city and burning all the Jews alive in the main synagogue.” When the Catholic soldiers invaded, they slaughtered some 70,000 Muslim and Jewish inhabitants like pigs.
Jones and Ereira wrote, “One of the crusaders reports picking his way through a mess of blood and bodies more than knee-deep” (emphasis mine throughout). And all this savagery presumably made Catholics more righteous! A warrior who burned Arab babies in the Crusade was thought to be gaining eternal glory! Does this really make sense to a sound mind?
So gruesome was the battle for Jerusalem, wrote Norwich, that afterward some of the Crusaders, “sickened by the atrocities they had seen committed in Christ’s name,” couldn’t bear to remain in the city they had dedicated their lives to conquering! Haunted by the unspeakable carnage they had committed, many had to leave.
Did you ever wonder how the Catholics reconcile that “holy” slaughter with the Bible, which states, “Thou shalt not kill”? Or how they can read the Sermon on the Mount and still lead the religious world in spilling rivers of blood? Were these killers true Christians? A true Christian is one who follows Christ. In the Gospels, Christ tells us to love our enemies, even die for them—not kill them! But at that time, it was Catholic dogma coming from the pope that ruled Christendom, not the words of the Bible.
These are called the Christian Crusades. That label is a deception; they were primarily Catholic Crusades. Other Christian religions have their problems, but let’s not blame them for what the Catholics did. For nearly 2,000 years, the Roman Catholic Church has been one of history’s most militant institutions. Has it ever truly repented of this condemning history? The answer is no. Yet this world is unwilling to hold it accountable. People seem almost unaware of these monstrous crimes.
In A History of the Crusades, Steven Runciman wrote, “The Crusades were the pope’s work.” The Crusade philosophy has made Catholic popes the bloodiest religious leaders in history! Two hundred years of Catholic crusading left the blood of several hundred thousand to several million people soaking into the Holy Land!
It is important to study the Crusades because they reveal the Roman Catholic Church’s hunger for Jerusalem and the barbaric measures it will take to control this city! And the Bible reveals that the Catholic Church will initiate one final crusade over Jerusalem before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ! (more on this in Chapter 6).
Still, most people try to hide from this frightening reality. That is the main reason why the worst Catholic crusade is yet to come. Mankind refuses to believe the truth and believe God.
This subject is too important to let our emotions stand in the way. The last crusade will be the supreme inquisition of all history! We must understand the blood-soaked history of the Crusades and let it be a warning!
‘Next Year in Jerusalem’
Catholics ruled Jerusalem until their armies were defeated by the famed Muslim general Saladin a century later. For the next 330 years, control of the city shifted between a few competing powers, nearly always accompanied by violence and carnage. Amid almost incessant clashes, the city’s population fluctuated from tens of thousands to, in the darkest of times, no more than several hundred.
In the 15th century, a new power burst onto the scene: the Ottoman Turks. Their empire engulfed areas to the north and finally swallowed up Jerusalem. Turkish rule there lasted 400 years from 1517 to 1917. During these years, there was no independent Arab state, and the Arabs resented the Turks’ strong-arm rule. The Holy Land was unproductive and Jerusalem a backwater.
However, this period also saw the rise of the printing press and the widespread reading of the Bible. As a result, knowledge of the Holy Land as the home of the ancient Israelites spread. Since a.d. 70, the Jews had been a persecuted people, living precariously among strange religions of other lands, but these scattered Jews had never abandoned hope of returning to their ancient homeland. “Next year in Jerusalem” was a common saying and prayer throughout their centuries of exile.
In partial reaction to anti-Semitic persecution, in the 1890s a movement emerged known as Zionism—Zion being the biblical name for the Holy Land. It aimed to achieve a publicly recognized, legal home for the Jews in their historic homeland. The Zionists pleaded for help from Britain while private financiers helped Jews buy tracts of land in the region from the Turks.
This brings us up to the troubled 20th century when the players in today’s drama surrounding Jerusalem really emerge. The time for God’s prophecy to Judah of 2,520 years of punishment would be complete. But beyond that, the stage was set for a showdown, a revival of an ancient family dispute.
Prophecy Precisely Fulfilled!
That prophecy in Leviticus 26 was directed not only to the Jewish people, who constitute the modern descendants of the ancient tribe of Judah, but also to the other tribes of Israel, particularly the birthright nations. These were the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, which descended from Joseph, and to whom the patriarch Jacob specifically bequeathed the birthright blessings (1 Chronicles 5:1-2; Genesis 48:15-20; 49:22-26)—which included possession of the land of Palestine. Judah has been protected often by both birthright nations to this very day.
From 604 b.c. when Babylon began to enslave Judah, 2,520 years brings us to a.d. 1917.
At that time, Jerusalem was still under the rule of the Turks, and the world was engulfed in the inferno of the Great War. Turkey had sided with the Axis powers against the British- and French-led Allies. The British Army swept through the region in what it called its “Jerusalem Operations” against Ottoman forces. After rapid preliminary successes, the British, commanded by Gen. Edmund Allenby, began fighting over Jerusalem itself on November 17, 1917.
In his booklet Proof of the Bible (free upon request), Mr. Armstrong explained: “When it comes to translating time and getting down to an exact day of the year 2,520 years after Nebuchadnezzar came down to Jerusalem and Palestine was surrendered to him, the Bible gives us the date in terms of the Hebrew calendar. That calendar is set up according to the new moons, with every month being 30 or 29 days. Today we’re living under what we call the Roman calendar or, as it was slightly altered by Pope Gregory, the Gregorian calendar. Actually, it is a pagan Roman calendar. The Roman calendar is all that most of us know because we’ve been born in a world that uses that calendar and no other.
“A certain date according to the Hebrew calendar will coincide with a certain date on the Roman calendar one year, but the next year will be about 11 days earlier, or maybe about 18 days later in the year, because the Hebrew calendar—sometimes called the sacred calendar, which came from God—goes according to the moon and runs in 19-year cycles. The Roman calendar by contrast was concocted by men who tried to make it come out right every year, and they’ve never been able to make it do that!
“So, when it comes to translating a certain prophesied date recorded in the Hebrew calendar (in this case the 24th day of the ninth month—see Haggai 2:20-22) to a date in 1917 according to the Roman calendar, it takes some effort to figure. I found the Hebrew date corresponded to December 9, 1917, which was 2,520 years from the time Nebuchadnezzar accepted the formal surrender of the Jews in 604 b.c.
“I looked and found that the Turks, who are Gentiles even though they, in part, descend from Esau, Jacob’s brother, possessed Palestine in 1917. Esau, remember, anciently possessed the birthright from Abraham through Isaac, but sold it for a bowl of red soup when he was hungry. The Turks surrendered Palestine to the British, on, what date? I had heard, and it had been published, that the date was December 11, 1917. December 11, 1917, I found, on further investigation, was merely the date on which General Allenby and his army made their triumphal march into the city of Jerusalem. But it was two days before, on December 9, that the Turks made the surrender.
“That prophecy was fulfilled down to the very day, December 9. And it was on the equivalent date, in 604 b.c., 2,520 years before, six centuries before the birth of Christ, that the Jews formally surrendered Jerusalem and Palestine to the Gentiles from Babylon. God Almighty has been able to keep His prophecies.”
What stunning testimony of God’s omnipotence and the reliability of His Word!
The Birth of the Modern Jewish State
Though the British gaining control of Jerusalem fulfilled Bible prophecy, it did not mean that the struggle involved in possessing the land would end. In fact, Jerusalem would prove to be “a burdensome stone” even for Britain.
The seeds for future conflict had been sown in the midst of the war. The Arabs of the larger Middle East, eager to free themselves from Turkish rule, had joined in alliance with Britain in exchange for Britain’s promise to recognize Arab independence in much of the region. The Arabs helped immensely in the victory over Turkey. At war’s end, however, Britain revealed a secret agreement it had made with France regarding the partition of Ottoman territory: the Sykes–Picot Agreement. Contrary to Britain’s promise to the Arabs, this agreement kept the area under British and French rulership, meaning the Arabs would live on the land, but without the full dominion they had sought.
Also contrary to that agreement, a separate agreement had been made between the British Empire and the Jews known as the Balfour Declaration. This November 1917 document stated that the British government favored the establishment of a Jewish homeland in the land of Palestine.
At the 1922 San Remo conference and the League of Nations a year later, world powers agreed with Britain that the Jews had a historic right to the land, and enshrined the idea of a Jewish homeland in Palestine into international law. In addition, Arabs received massive tracts of land in modern-day Jordan and the Arabian Peninsula.
Large numbers of Jews began migrating to the area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. Vexed Arabs mounted a resistance movement and also moved there. To appease the Arabs, Britain sought to restrict Jewish immigration. The Zionists protested. An Arab terror campaign against the Jews ensued. Violence increased. Still, during this period, the city’s population more than tripled—from 52,000 to 165,000.
The British, unhappily cumbered by this “burdensome stone,” finally gave up trying to resolve these tensions and, in 1947, turned over control to the United Nations.
By this time, public support for a Jewish state was strong. The world had just emerged from the Second World War, and the extent of its horrors had been revealed and broadly publicized. Millions of Jews had been displaced from their homes, herded up, imprisoned, even exterminated. In the aftermath of hostilities, some 1.5 to 2 million Jews refused to return to the countries from which they had been exiled—their communities had been destroyed; the anti-Semitism they had experienced had traumatized them; they feared for their lives. In some of these countries, pogroms against Jews continued even after the war. Much of the world became sympathetic to the idea of providing the Jews an independent state in their historic homeland.
The United Nations sought to accommodate the competing claims to that territory by creating two independent states, one Jewish and one Arab, with international control over Jerusalem. Jewish leaders accepted the plan. Arab leaders rejected it.
Nevertheless, after a bitter struggle, the UN proceeded, and the land of Israel was declared a nation. When British forces pulled out of the area on May 14, 1948, the Jews celebrated their dream come true: a nation of their own!
Many end-time Bible prophecies refer to the Jews as a state—just like America and other modern nations. The Jews were prophesied to have a nation in this end time. So it had to happen!
The Arabs, too, would have had their independent state in that territory. But rather than embrace the UN’s offer, they directed their energies to preventing the Jewish state from happening.
Thus, the very next day, May 15, a league of Arab nations jointly invaded Israel! Arabs and Jews were at war!
Initially, the fledgling Jewish nation had no professional army. For some years, militia groups had been formed to protect Jewish settlements. Suddenly these militias were compelled to combine into a unified defense force. The Jews were determined fighters. This was their first sovereign nation in 2,000 years. Only death could make them surrender their new and only homeland.
Though the Jews fought with stunning success, their poverty of resources put them at an immediate disadvantage to Arab invasion. With Egypt attacking from the south, Jordan and Iraq from the east, and Syria and other forces in the north, the Arabs targeted many Jewish settlements and gained control over significant territory. But after three weeks, a truce was mandated by the international community. Israel used the time to hastily rearm and train its ill-prepared and weary troops.
Soon the Arabs resumed hostilities, but now the Jews were better braced to repel their offensive, which continued for several months. By the time fighting ceased in early 1949 and an armistice was declared, Israel had enlarged its borders to nearly 50 percent beyond the UN-allotted territory. Many of the Jews acknowledged that it was a miracle from God!
This war divided Jerusalem in two. The Jews controlled the west and Jordan the east—including the Old City portion of Jerusalem. Barbed wire and concrete barriers were erected straight through the heart of the city. Nevertheless, the Jews declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel.
Soon after, the Jordanians formally annexed East Jerusalem and began upgrading the Muslim fixtures in the Old City. Contrary to the UN-imposed armistice, they denied Jews access to their holy sites, destroyed dozens of synagogues, and desecrated the 3,000-year-old Mount of Olives Jewish Cemetery. Such indignities continued for nearly two decades.
In its May 1963 issue, Herbert W. Armstrong’s newsmagazine the Plain Truth made this interesting statement: “Old Jerusalem is today almost entirely in the hands of the kingdom of Jordan. But this prophecy unveils a struggle for the possession of Jerusalem by Judah—the Jews.” The prophecy to which they referred was Zechariah 12:2, which in the Hebrew Bible reads, “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of staggering Unto all the peoples round about, And upon Judah also shall it fall to be in the siege against Jerusalem” (Jewish Publication Society).
Zechariah 14 contains an important related prophecy. In the context of events surrounding Jesus Christ’s return, verse 2 has this striking detail: “half of the city [Jerusalem] shall go forth into captivity.” This is clearly before Christ returns. And many other prophecies show that Jerusalem will be entirely captured in the Great Tribulation (e.g. Revelation 11:2; Luke 21:20). So this indicates that just before the Tribulation, half of Jerusalem will be conquered by non-Jewish forces. In fact, the context indicates that this will be the spark igniting a chain of events leading to the Second Coming. (We will study this prophecy in more detail in Chapter 6.)
If half of Jerusalem being captured is that trigger event, that must mean the whole city will be controlled by the Jews prior to that time. This verse indirectly prophesies that the Jews would conquer all of Jerusalem!
Based on these and other scriptures, Mr. Armstrong forecast in the early 1960s that the Jews would take over the entirety of Jerusalem, particularly the Old City.
War and Reunification
Tension between Jews and Arabs grew so intense that by 1967 nearly every nation in the world believed the Arabs were about to attack again; some nations were urging them to do so.
On May 1, 1967, Mr. Armstrong, returning from a trip to Amman and Jerusalem, said in a recorded public address: “Any day, now, you may expect the Israelis of the country that calls itself ‘Israel’ to flood over with a military invasion into the Jordanian half of the divided city of Jerusalem. … Once the Israelis do take over the Jordan sector of Jerusalem, instantly the United Nations and the major individual powers, the United States, ussr, Britain, France, probably will stop further occupation of Arab countries by the Jews. … But the Jews will undoubtedly be allowed to hold the old city of Jerusalem.”
Two weeks later, Egyptian troops poured into the Sinai and ordered UN forces out, and Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping. Then Iraq and Egypt began massing troops in Jordan, at Jordan’s invitation. War seemed imminent.
The Jews felt compelled to strike first. On June 5, they launched a massive surprise attack. Jewish warplanes flew into Egypt and destroyed 300 Egyptian combat fighters in three hours.
The next day, Jordan attacked West Jerusalem. Israeli soldiers rebuffed the offensive and captured East Jerusalem—and all the West Bank along with it! They had regained sovereignty over the holy sites within the city and beyond.
The war was an intense but short six days, during which the Jews also conquered the Sinai Peninsula, the Suez Canal and the Golan Heights. Again, a series of miracles by God saved the Jewish nation.
Zechariah’s prophecy was fulfilled: Jerusalem was reunified.
As we will see in the next chapter, this enabled God to undertake some special activity in the city necessary to prepare it for when His Son would return.
However, portents of the complete fulfillment of what Zechariah foretold—beginning with the fall of half the city and its return to non-Jewish control—were evident. Though the Jews were jubilant about their victory, conflict and turbulence surrounding the Holy City and the Jewish-controlled territory never abated for long in the years that followed.
Prelude to Triumph
In 1973, the Arabs again attacked—this time on the solemn Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. The Jews, with much aid from America, won the war in three weeks. Egypt was beaten, but not humiliated. Once again biblical Judah had been miraculously saved.
Soon after, something dramatic changed in Israel. In 1977, Menachem Begin became prime minister. U.S. President Jimmy Carter persuaded him to give the Sinai back to Egypt. This was the beginning of the Israeli-Arab peace process and a turning point for the Jewish state.
For some years that followed, Israel displayed terrible weakness in its dealings with the Palestinians living in Israel by trusting in men rather than in God. They gave up considerable land for empty promises of peace. It started in 1993 on the White House lawn with a handshake between Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat—the number one terrorist in the world at that time! There Israel surrendered bits of their hard-won, strategically important land in hopes that the Arabs could be bargained into abandoning their goal of destroying Israel.
Since then the Jews have also given Gaza, Jericho, Bethlehem and other West Bank areas—many important biblical sites—to the Palestinians with encouragement and coercion from America and Britain. It seems the world has forgotten that those areas were won in a war where the Arabs were trying to annihilate the Jews! This land-for-peace process is almost unheard of in history. Such a lack of faith is why all the adults of ancient Israel had to die in the Sinai wilderness.
Throughout this terribly misnamed “peace” process—Israel giving up land and seeing no appreciable drop in violence—Palestinian leaders have consistently told politicians and media that they want peaceful coexistence with Israel while simultaneously promising to their own people that they will destroy Israel.
In more recent years, under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel has taken a more pragmatic approach, recognizing that it does no good to negotiate with a power that seeks its destruction. However, God prophesies in Hosea 5:13 of a deadly “wound” that will lead to Judah’s ruin and which the Israelis will recognize too late! As I explain in Chapter 2 of Jerusalem in Prophecy, that “wound” is the peace process (request a free copy). Based on this prophecy, I believe it likely that these ill-advised efforts will be revived, further weakening Israel.
Meanwhile, violence continues to plague Jerusalem. Hostility between Jews and Arabs is intensifying, and terrorists launch attacks with agonizing regularity. This miserable status quo exposes mankind’s absolute inability to solve things by peaceful means. And the prophecy of half of Jerusalem being taken captive could come to fruition at virtually any moment.
While the realization of Zechariah 14:2 will involve some sickening atrocities and bloodshed, it is directly connected with and will lead swiftly to the most spectacular, sensational event in all of human history!
Chapter 5: Preparing for the Messiah
Jesus Christ’s return to Jerusalem will be the pivot point of human history. God has been preparing for it from the beginning. His prophets foretold of it for millennia.
Some of those prophecies specifically describe a work of preparation that would take place in the days immediately before the Second Coming.
Through the Prophet Malachi, Christ says, “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me …” (Malachi 3:1). Here was a human being God would use to make ready for His return in specific ways in the end time.
Christ further inspired Malachi to compare this “messenger” to an end-time type of the Prophet Elijah: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord” (Malachi 4:5).
In describing events that would precede His Second Coming, Christ prophesied that the gospel of the Kingdom of God would be preached as a witness to all nations (Matthew 24:14). Given the size and populace of the modern world, such a monumental undertaking would require a considerable organization, aiding and amplifying the efforts of that “messenger,” the end-time Elijah.
The role spoken of in these prophecies was fulfilled by Herbert W. Armstrong (request A Pivotal Sign of the End Time for proof). He led a powerful Work that spread God’s truth to millions globally. Mr. Armstrong preached the gospel and sponsored humanitarian work in nations across the globe.
His greatest affection, however, was for a tiny country at the heart of the world: Israel (biblical Judah). And of all the cities he visited, Jerusalem was his “chief joy.”
In fact, a great deal of this end-time Elijah’s preparation work revolved around the city to which Jesus Christ will return.
A Focal Point of Preparations
Between 1967 and his death in 1986, Mr. Armstrong met more than 30 Israeli leaders, including five prime ministers and four presidents. With some of these individuals, such as Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek, he developed a warm, mutual friendship.
In one four-year span, Mr. Armstrong visited Jerusalem 50 times. He understood the stunning vision surrounding this city, and that understanding fueled his efforts. Through this man’s work, God was showing His focus: God’s mind was on Jerusalem. He knew how important it was for Mr. Armstrong to have this vision and to share it with Church members, radio listeners, television viewers and Plain Truth subscribers.
In April 1967, Mr. Armstrong signed a deal with the Jordanians to air the World Tomorrow program on Radio Jerusalem. At this time, the Jordanians still controlled East Jerusalem. In a co-worker letter, Mr. Armstrong described this contract as “the one greatest most exciting news announcement in the history of our broadcasting Christ’s gospel to the world”—and said it would enable him to reach the soon-to-be “capital of the world!” (April 17, 1967).
However, the door slammed shut. The Six-Day War broke out, the Jews took over the whole of the city, and Mr. Armstrong was unable to broadcast there.
Even though what he wrote in that co-worker letter never happened, I still like to go back and read it from time to time. Never has Mr. Armstrong been more into a work! He had an epic overview, bringing the entire history of God’s Work into it. He wrote how Christ’s gospel message had not been proclaimed in Jerusalem since a.d. 69. But he also understood that God had chosen Jerusalem to be His eternal capital! He had God’s perspective on this city’s past and future.
He quoted Isaiah 2:3: “[O]ut of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” “I wonder if you realize the thrilling part, the Eternal God has actually called you, personally, to have in fulfilling this tremendous prophecy!” he wrote. “Listen! For this affects you, individually!” Powerful words!
What love and excitement Mr. Armstrong had for Jerusalem—even Jerusalem today. He had an infectious vision and excitement. His love for this city and its people inspired affection and admiration in those with whom he met. That is what the love of God can do and the impact the Jerusalem vision can have.
And he was an example for us. The work Mr. Armstrong began still needs to be completed, and God’s Church today will do it! But we won’t do it well if we lack his spirit and excitement about Jerusalem.
It was during his last visit to this city before his death that Mr. Armstrong finished his greatest work. “My new book, Mystery of the Ages, is now in the hands of the printers,” he wrote in a letter to co-workers. “I finished the very last of writing it in Jerusalem the day before yesterday” (May 16, 1985). How appropriate that he finished writing his magnum opus, which explains the whole Bible, in God’s city!
Though Mr. Armstrong never broadcast in Jerusalem, he did participate in what he called “the most important archaeological excavation of our time” there. He saw this as some of the most important preparatory work for Christ’s return. And this work continues to this day.
An ‘Iron Bridge’ Partnership
Following Israel’s victory in the 1967 war, Hebrew University launched a massive archaeological dig—one of the most significant ever undertaken in Jerusalem: an excavation of its newly acquired territory near the Western Wall in the Old City.
The deans of faculty at Ambassador College, which Mr. Armstrong founded, took immediate interest in the project. Mr. Armstrong visited the excavation and was deeply impressed. He was invited to meet with the head of the dig, archaeologist Benjamin Mazar, and other Israeli leaders in a private room of the Knesset. Mr. Armstrong said the welcome he received was so warm that he found it “inspiring, astonishing and most unusual.”
A relationship of mutual trust quickly developed between the excavation leaders and Mr. Armstrong’s team. Professor Mazar and Dr. Josef Aviram, dean of the College of Humanities at Hebrew University, visited Ambassador College’s campuses in California and Texas. Soon, though the archaeologists had rejected three other major American universities seeking involvement in their project, they offered Ambassador College a 50/50 joint participation. On December 1, 1968, Mr. Armstrong visited the presidential palace in Jerusalem, where he met with the Israeli president and dig leaders. Tourism Minister Moshe Kol proposed “an iron bridge” between Hebrew University and Ambassador College “that can never be broken.”
“It was a memorable—perhaps an historic—meeting with President Zalman Shazar and our Israeli friends,” Mr. Armstrong wrote. “On that date we formally entered into the joint participation with Hebrew University and the Israel Archaeological Society” (Good News, February 1979; emphasis mine throughout). It certainly was historic—in a way most people cannot even understand! In fact, more than that, it was prophetic. And what a hope-filled prophecy!
The following May, in 1969—1,900 years after the Jerusalem church had fled to Pella—50 Ambassador students traveled to Israel to volunteer on the excavation. In a December 10, 1968, letter, Mr. Armstrong wrote that the dig was important because “we are preparing the way for Christ’s coming as King of kings and Lord of lords—as world ruler, to set up the government of God to rule all nations—and to save the whole world!” He said the dig prepared for the Messiah by proclaiming the gospel of the Kingdom, by making ready a people, and by clearing away the filth and rubble that has built up over thousands of years—at the very spot David’s throne is soon to be placed!
Mr. Armstrong saw the future of glorious Jerusalem as capital of the universe! He even told those leaders about it! What a marvelous, inspiring, uplifting vision.
The “big dig,” as it became known, continued nearly 10 years, providing hundreds of Ambassador students the opportunity to touch the remains of ancient Jerusalem. In addition to providing enthusiastic student laborers, AC also shouldered half the cost of excavations from 1968 until the dig concluded in 1978. After that, Mr. Armstrong supported City of David excavations directed by Dr. Yigal Shiloh.
A second goal of this “iron bridge” partnership was to bring the children of Jerusalem together—Jew, Arab and others—to learn the way of peace. Thus the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation supported Jerusalem’s International Cultural Center for Youth (iccy)—a building in the city’s heart to promote friendship between Jewish and Arab youths. Mr. Armstrong heartily endorsed the dream of seeing children of all nations and ethnicities living and playing and growing together in the way of peace.
Mr. Kol saw the connection between Mr. Armstrong’s life’s work and the youth center. “In honor of his continued dedication to the programs and the goals of the iccy,” he wrote, “and for his success in building bridges between leaders of nations to promote peace in the world, the Board of Directors of the iccy has named the square at the entrance of the iccy building in Jerusalem the Herbert W. Armstrong Square.” Visitors to the upscale German Colony today can still see the stone plaque at the edge of the square.
Later, in connection with the same dream, the Ambassador Foundation helped fund the construction of Liberty Bell Park, specifically the children’s playground at its northern entrance. Thus, Mr. Armstrong’s name was stamped on two great symbols of hope for the future of the children of Jerusalem.
The spirit of “the Eternal has chosen Jerusalem” was in that work! “Almighty God is concerned about what is happening at Jerusalem,” Mr. Armstrong wrote in the February 1979 Good News. “He has opened the door to Jerusalem for His apostle. … God Almighty chose Jerusalem as His city. Then, because of the sins of the nations Israel and Judah, God finally hid His face from Jerusalem—but He ‘… shall yet choose Jerusalem’ (Zechariah 1:17) and ‘… shall choose Jerusalem again’ (Zechariah 2:12).”
When Mr. Armstrong died in January 1986, Professor Mazar wrote, “During the years of our association with him, all of us developed the highest regard for his wonderful personality and qualities. His deep devotion to the ideals of peace and justice in the spirit of the biblical prophets was appreciated by his friends in Israel. His feeling for Israel and Jerusalem was manifested in his true interest in the archaeological excavations near the Temple Mount and in the City of David. His name will always be attached to this most important undertaking carried out in Jerusalem.”
Behold Your God!
Isaiah prophesied of how preparations for Christ’s return would center in Jerusalem: “The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God” (Isaiah 40:3). John the Baptist fulfilled this in type before Christ’s first coming (John 1:23)—but the primary fulfillment was in the end time by Herbert Armstrong. And among those preparations is this commission: “O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion, Get thee up into the high mountain; O thou that tellest good tidings to Jerusalem, Lift up thy voice with strength; Lift it up, be not afraid; Say unto the cities of Judah: ‘Behold your God!’” (Isaiah 40:9; jps).
“A message (Isaiah 40:9-10) is yet to go by a servant of God to the cities of Judah,” Mr. Armstrong wrote. “In whatever way God wills, it shall go” (Plain Truth, October-November 1980). He thought God would use him to fulfill this prophecy, and he worked diligently to that end. He knew a servant of God had to do it in this end time. God prophesied so!
Still, though Mr. Armstrong had a gigantic impact in Jerusalem, he was unable to fulfill entirely this commission to Judah. Clearly the job was not complete before he died.
The Philadelphia Church of God is working earnestly to carry on the work Mr. Armstrong started. Through this small but powerful Work backed by the great God, good tidings are reaching Zion and Jerusalem, and the cities of Judah can hear God’s “Behold your God” message—today, right now!
We have maintained an office in Jerusalem for many years now. We publish a bimonthly magazine, Watch Jerusalem, and an accompanying website, watchJerusalem.co.il, with news and archaeology articles aimed at the people of Judah, and it has a growing audience in that nation. We have penetrated parts of the area around Jerusalem with our television program, which Mr. Armstrong was never able to do.
We have also followed in Mr. Armstrong’s footsteps and continued digging in Jerusalem. Though that “iron bridge” partnership included many different ventures, everything flowed from the archaeology project. We have continued that partnership, celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2018! Since 2006, our college, Herbert W. Armstrong College, has sent more than 57 diggers to Jerusalem to work with Prof. Benjamin Mazar’s granddaughter, Dr. Eilat Mazar. We have participated in every one of Dr. Mazar’s excavations in the City of David and on the Ophel. Our students comprised most of the laborers on Dr. Mazar’s most recent dig in 2018, which we also fully funded.
During this time, Dr. Mazar has discovered some of the most stunning and important artifacts I believe have ever been uncovered anywhere. She has unearthed evidence of King David’s palace (where David’s throne was), King Solomon’s royal quarters, the governor Nehemiah’s wall, the seals of two Judean princes mentioned in Jeremiah 38, and a gold menorah medallion and bronze coins. Most recently, she discovered the seals of King Hezekiah and Isaiah the prophet.
Most great archaeologists finish their career having not found even 1 percent of what Dr. Mazar has uncovered! And we have had the opportunity to be involved in some of her greatest discoveries. Consider what she has accomplished by using the Bible as her guide, and the message in her archaeology, and you see that God has been using her to prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ! These artifacts contain a “Behold your God” message! (You can learn more about this in our free booklet Seals of Isaiah and King Hezekiah Discovered and our reprint article “Archaeology Thunders: ‘Behold Your God!’”) We are removing the rubble from the very location Jesus Christ will return to and establish His eternal government!
Isaiah 40:9 is being fulfilled now! This prophecy shows Christ’s return is imminent. We are already announcing God to the cities of Judah. That is a wonderful message: introducing the new King who is to rule Jerusalem for 1,000 years and beyond! You don’t introduce someone unless he is about to appear!
How blessed we are to be a part of this Work and these prophecies! Why do we send students to Jerusalem to dig in the dirt? Because the Eternal has chosen Jerusalem! This is the only hope for Jerusalem—and for all mankind! Isaiah does more than just call it “good tidings.” He says, “Behold your God!” You can put an exclamation point after that, maybe two or three or four!
God is grieved by the tragedies befalling Jerusalem today, but He has chosen Jerusalem! He is going to fulfill all the great prophecies and promises He has made.
God is clearly getting His people focused on Jerusalem. That dig helps us keep our minds there. Our projects in Jerusalem are directly connected to God’s exciting future plans for this city.
This is spectacular knowledge, and when we understand it as we need to, we will be even more thrilled about our projects in this city. If we can catch this vision before Christ returns, we will be given a magnificent reward. “Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him” (verse 10). God has a mind-staggering reward for you if you do His Work.
Why the Laodiceans Fell Prey to Satan
After Mr. Armstrong died, tragedy befell God’s Church. The people who took over after him abandoned his work in Jerusalem. They forsook the truths he taught and the gospel message he proclaimed. They stopped his humanitarian work and destroyed all that he had built.
The Church of God entered what is called in Revelation 3:14-22 the “Laodicean” era. It is an era characterized by spiritual lukewarmness, blindness, poverty and nakedness. Fully 95 percent of God’s people—individuals who were destined to be in His Family—turned their backs on God.
This tragedy was prophesied by the Prophet Zechariah. Here the leader who replaced Mr. Armstrong is spoken of symbolically as “Joshua.” “And he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him” (Zechariah 3:1). This is a shameful picture of Satan actually taking control of this man!
And this evil Joshua represents the entire Laodicean era of God’s Church. (I fully explain this in my free book Malachi’s Message to God’s Church Today.) The whole era has been taken captive by Satan—that includes 95 percent of God’s own people.
Now, look how God addresses this disaster: “And the Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?” (verse 2). Most of the Laodiceans will be plunged into the Great Tribulation, where 50 percent of them will repent and be plucked out of the fire. The other 50 percent will die forever in the lake of fire.
But notice: Right in the context of this lawless end-time type of Joshua who is in bondage to Satan, God talks about choosing Jerusalem. Why would He do that?
This astonishing scripture reveals why this evil Joshua and the Laodiceans became captives of Satan and how we can avoid falling into the same trap.
Here God pinpoints the reason Satan was able to take the Laodiceans captive spiritually! What would cause a group of people who had everything to give it all up for nothing? They lost sight of a spiritual treasure they had been given—one of the greatest visions in the Bible: the vision of the Eternal has chosen Jerusalem!
God tries to rescue these lost sons by imploring them to direct their minds onto Jerusalem. He is trying to get them to see the vision they have lost. The Laodiceans fell into serious trouble because they stopped focusing on new Jerusalem. They quit thinking like God. God’s mind is continually set on new Jerusalem: His entire plan is built around new Jerusalem. But Joshua and his followers allowed their minds to stray from God’s vision. That led to what is probably the worst disaster in the history of God’s Church!
God in His love warns Joshua and the Laodiceans about losing this vision in the context of their rebellion. He has the strongest desire for them to overcome the devil. He gives them every opportunity. He is telling them what they have lost and what they must recapture if they are to be in His eternal Family! Their salvation is at stake! Scriptures show that even those Laodiceans who repent in the Tribulation—though they will assist Christ in the World Tomorrow (Revelation 14:1-4)—will not have a headquarters office. They will lose that magnificent part of their eternal reward! What an eternal price they must pay for their failure—even the 50 percent who repent in the Tribulation.
We must learn from their example and work diligently to capture the deep vision of new Jerusalem! Do we see how real these promises are? And how costly it is if we fail?
God mentions choosing Jerusalem three times in this context (Zechariah 1:17; 2:12; 3:2). This is a strong theme of the book of Zechariah. Always remember that God has chosen Jerusalem!
God is also telling us that if we want to avoid being deceived, then we must understand the vision of new Jerusalem. The devil attacks us continually, grinding on our emotions and seeking to drag us into despair and discouragement. If you lack this vision, you will not be close to God, and Satan will be able to drag you down and overwhelm you in many ways, even conquer you.
We must overcome as Christ overcame (Revelation 3:21), and He overcame the devil (Matthew 4; Luke 4). The “Eternal has chosen Jerusalem” vision can help us overcome. We are going to conquer the devil or be conquered by him depending on our understanding of this vision. And the Laodicean example teaches us that we will not understand it if we refuse to be ruled by God. We must listen to heavenly Jerusalem and grow in our understanding of this wonderful message. That brings genuine happiness!
If you want to live an exciting, positive, hope-filled life—if you want an inspiring outlook and a joy like no other—then you need God’s view of Jerusalem. You must anchor your mind in this inspiring hope. “For behold the stone that I have laid before Joshua; upon one stone shall be seven eyes: behold, I will engrave the graving thereof …” (Zechariah 3:9). God wants to engrave this vision into our minds so we never forget. It must be at the foundation of our thinking!
Only the pcg has this majestic vision. This is why we dig in Jerusalem. God wants us to remember that we are His unique remnant. We need to think deeply about why our Father wants to get our minds to embrace new Jerusalem. The fact that we think about this the way God does shows we are His sons! We, like our Father, have chosen Jerusalem.
‘Fathering’ a Work in Jerusalem
Here is another of Isaiah’s prophecies tied to our Jerusalem work: “And it shall come to pass in that day [the end time], that I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah” (Isaiah 22:20). Eliakim is a type of my office today. This man is prophesied to follow Hilkiah, fulfilled by Herbert W. Armstrong. But it gets much more specific.
“And I will clothe him with thy robe, and strengthen him with thy girdle, and I will commit thy government [the government of the rebellious leader of the Worldwide Church of God at that time] into his hand: and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah” (verse 21). This Eliakim is going to be a father of the house of Judah! That certainly means he must do a major work there. And the implication is that it carries on from Mr. Armstrong’s work. Eliakim is the father of a work in Judah—and mainly, Jerusalem—that was founded by Hilkiah. There is more work that must be done.
If God commissions us to do a work, He has to open doors to make it possible. Throughout history, God has always supplied the people doing His Work with the tools, advantages and opportunities they need to succeed! Today, God is ensuring His true Philadelphians have enough resources to finish this work in Jerusalem and to keep our sights set there.
Hosea 11:12 prophesies of the relationship between the Jews and God’s people: “Ephraim compasseth me about with lies, and the house of Israel with deceit: but Judah yet ruleth with God, and is faithful with the saints.”
Lange’s Commentary has the best translation of this: “Judah still vacillates with God.” They are wavering and indecisive, and even that word is not strong enough. Many other prophecies reveal Judah’s sins, and expose how they are rebelling against God (Hosea 5, for example). Still, the Jews do have some admirable qualities and demonstrate a certain character—at least in the past, and even to this day more than a lot of nations, including America and Britain. And here God says Judah is “faithful with the saints.” This is a prophecy about our activities in Jerusalem.
How have the Jews been faithful to God’s saints? More than anything else, with archaeology! Everything we have done so far in Jerusalem revolves around the archaeological project.
I believe this trend will continue in the remaining work we do in Judah. I expect the Jews to “remain faithful” in supporting our digging there. And the archaeological work we have done and continue to do powerfully proclaims the thunderous “Behold your God!” message the Jews need as God prepares them for the coming of the Messiah!
A Message From God’s House
In addition to archaeology, God is using a second tool to keep His people focused on Jerusalem in this end time: Armstrong Auditorium.
Zechariah 5 is an important chapter. As I explain in my booklet Zechariah—The Sign of Christ’s Imminent Return, it applies directly to God’s Church. It discusses two women, one of whom represents God’s Laodicean saints who have rejected God’s government, and the other an obedient and faithful remnant that loves God’s government.
Verse 9 shows how the faithful woman uses an ephah, or measuring device, to do God’s Work. This is a companion scripture to Revelation 11:1, which shows God giving a measuring device to the leader of this faithful group. The ephah represents God’s truth, which is used to measure all of us. And what is the work this faithful woman will do, specifically? “To build it an house in the land of Shinar: and it shall be established, and set there upon her own base” (Zechariah 5:11). Shinar here is another term for Babylon, which the Bible uses to symbolize the evil world before Christ’s return—the world we are living in today (Revelation 18). Zechariah 5:11 is a prophecy about a woman, or Church, that will build a house for God’s truth in the time before Christ’s return.
Zechariah 5:11 is a prophecy about God giving His people the job of constructing a building specifically intended as a house for His truth, which will ultimately measure the whole world. (You can read more about this in my Zechariah booklet.)
On December 7, 2007, God revealed to me, through the prophecy in Zechariah 5:9-11, that He wanted His faithful remnant Church to build Him a house. And that same day, God also further impressed on my mind the importance of the “Eternal has chosen Jerusalem” vision. I had not understood the depth of this vision before that date.
It is no coincidence that God revealed these two golden nuggets of revelation on the same day. God linked these two subjects in this way because God’s house is a type of the temple in Jerusalem. God’s house and new Jerusalem are intimately connected. We have built a spectacular structure that points people toward new Jerusalem, God’s eternal house, and shows them that the Eternal has chosen Jerusalem!
Since we built Armstrong Auditorium, God has provided this Work some wonderful opportunities. We have housed two world-class exhibits there. In 2012, we began showcasing the “Seals of Jeremiah’s Captors Discovered” exhibit. That exhibit was a warning message to the world and Jerusalem about the captivity that is about to befall them if they fail to deeply repent! For three years, we welcomed people into God’s house and taught them about the history of Jerusalem, a history that also provides ample warning about what is soon to come. In June 2018, we began displaying another exhibit, “Seals of Isaiah and King Hezekiah Discovered.” This reminded us of just how close Jerusalem was to certain destruction in the time of King Hezekiah. But God spared His chosen city in a miraculous way, showing how He loves this city! This exhibit powerfully reminded us that the Eternal has chosen Jerusalem!
This is God’s message, and it resides in God’s house.
The Eternal has eternal goals. God’s goal is to get us, and this world, into new Jerusalem. God’s house is a primary means of getting our minds focused on that spectacular future. The auditorium has a message of hope for a world that is ready to crash and burn. “The Eternal has chosen Jerusalem” is like the theme of this house! This house is about eternity—the eternity of His chosen city. It points us to the future eternal temple in Jerusalem!
A City From Heaven
The Laodicean era is the last era of God’s Church before Christ’s return. The preceding era is the Philadelphia era (Revelation 3:7-13)—but there are Philadelphians all the way up to the very end. That is because those who remain faithful to God during the Laodicean falling away, God calls Philadelphians. True Philadelphians hold fast to the very end.
Think deeply on this tremendous promise God makes to His loyal Philadelphians, those who avoid the spiritual trap of the Laodiceans: “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name” (verse 12). New Jerusalem is the name of the city God will establish on Earth after the thousand-year rule of Jesus Christ and the Great White Throne Judgment (we will study this deeply in Chapter 7). God, and His Family with Him, will rule from Jerusalem forever!
God tells us here that His Philadelphians have their minds on new Jerusalem! These people look beyond a city on Earth today, all the way to a city that “cometh down out of heaven from my God.” And for that, they will have the name of new Jerusalem written upon them! How many churches or eras does God say that to? Only to the small remnant that have clung to His precious truth.
God is going to keep that remnant at headquarters forever! These saints will be stationed at Jerusalem headquarters forever. “[H]e [each Philadelphian] shall go no more out ….” God makes it personal for each one of us! What is it worth to you to be at headquarters with God for eternity, serving with Jesus Christ? That is a special honor and responsibility. Most of God’s own people have become lukewarm today and have lost this part of their reward already. They lost the new Jerusalem vision, and Satan got to them. What an eternal price they must pay for that failure—even the 50 percent of them who repent in the Tribulation!
New Jerusalem is the crux of Revelation 3:12. God’s Philadelphians are infused with a strong vision of new Jerusalem. Think about that! These people are not even thinking about a city on Earth. Their minds are fixed on this city that comes “down out of heaven from my God.” Our Father wants His vision of new Jerusalem to consume the minds of His people.
This is the most important preparation God is making for the time when Jesus Christ will return to Jerusalem. He is building the new Jerusalem vision within the saints who will inhabit that headquarters city and rule from there with Christ!
This is the example Abraham set, who “looked for a city … whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10). This city made by God is going to endure forever—and that is the tremendous hope and vision Abraham focused on.
“If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy” (Psalm 137:5-6). Do you prefer Jerusalem above your chief joy? The very final stages of preparation for Jesus Christ’s rule from that city are being completed right now, and God wants you to contribute to them!
The Eternal has chosen Jerusalem. Now the Eternal’s sons must also choose Jerusalem!
Chapter 6: The Last Crusade
Bible prophecy foretells a sequence of mind-shattering events that will culminate in Jesus Christ’s return. Jerusalem as it is today is going to be utterly destroyed!
Note Revelation 11:2, which says that “the holy city shall they [the Gentiles] tread under foot forty and two months.” Jerusalem is going to become rubble under the feet of invading armies! And note the time period: 42 months. Other prophecies describe this same period as 1,260 days (verse 3), and “a time, and times, and half a time” (Revelation 12:14; Daniel 12:7)—or 3½ years.
This is the period of “great tribulation” Jesus foretold in Matthew 24:21. It is the bleak darkness that precedes the dawn of a new age. Jerusalem will become a city of unparalleled glory. Its name will resound throughout the nations and reverberate throughout the cosmos for its greatness. Yet sadly, before that occurs, this city will first be baptized in blood. God prophesies of a cataclysmic clash that leads to its subjugation and ruin.
And events today in the Middle East, Europe and elsewhere show that we have never been closer to these earthshaking prophecies being fulfilled!
Half the City Falls
Much of the world maintains that the Jews must give up East Jerusalem to the Palestinians. The United Nations, Europe, the Palestinians and even some Israeli Jews say they must surrender half of their capital city! Historically, the European Union has openly condemned the Jews for their activity in the city’s eastern part. The administration of U.S. President Barack Obama allowed a United Nations Security Council resolution to pass that declared Israel’s control over even the Old City of Jerusalem illegal. Although his successor, President Donald Trump, has shown support for a united Jerusalem, most of the rest of the world denounces Israel’s claim to East Jerusalem, and their voices are growing louder.
What does this mean? Though the world doesn’t know it, it means that a pivotal end-time prophecy in Zechariah is now in the early stages of being fulfilled!
Here begins this stunning prophecy for the last days: “Behold, the day of the Lord cometh …” (Zechariah 14:1). The “day of the Lord” is the final year of that 3½-year period of tribulation that will close the curtain on the present evil world.
Verses 3 and 4 describe when Christ returns to the Mount of Olives in glory. It shows that massive military coalitions will be there to fight against Him. This is corroborated by many other scriptures that we will study later in this chapter.
Now, considering this context—notice carefully verse 2 of Zechariah 14: “For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.”
There are three phases to the crisis described in this verse, all linked and closely associated. The verse begins by describing Christ’s war against foreign armies, which, as we will see, occurs at Christ’s return. Then there is a semicolon, after which it describes the city being taken, houses rifled and women ravished. This is only the first stage of Jerusalem’s total destruction. After another semicolon, it then says that half of Jerusalem goes into captivity.
Consider: the last event in this verse will happen first. In fact, it could happen at any time!
East Jerusalem today is inhabited mostly by Palestinians. But they don’t control it. The Palestinians, backed by Iran, will almost certainly attack and overrun that area.
Why does Zechariah 14:2 so closely link these three events? I believe there is only one logical answer: The fall of half of Jerusalem will trigger a violent, massive chain reaction that leads to Christ’s Second Coming. Half the city being taken captive is like the first domino to fall leading to Christ returning and battling against all nations in Jerusalem!
You need to watch Jerusalem closely. The current dispute over East Jerusalem is a strong sign that the Day of the Lord is almost here! Very soon we will see half of that city fall. When that occurs, it starts a chain reaction of events—an avalanche of crises—that leads directly to Christ’s Second Coming! This is a sign we can read and understand. We can see where we are in Bible prophecy. This world must heed God’s warning before it is too late!
Judah’s Tragic Mistake
Another prophecy shows that when Jerusalem is under threat, the Jews will make a tragic mistake that hastens their downfall.
“When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah saw his wound, then went Ephraim to the Assyrian, and sent to king Jareb: yet could he not heal you, nor cure you of your wound” (Hosea 5:13). My free booklet Jerusalem in Prophecy shows how this “wound” is the peace process Israel has repeatedly used to try to resolve its problems with the Arabs. And this wound will likely be a primary cause for their losing half of Jerusalem! Soon the Jews will realize this was a terrible blunder. When half of Jerusalem is taken captive, they will see that it all happened as a result of the “peace” process.
What will they then do? They should turn to God for help, recognizing what a disaster it was to trust in men. Instead—tragically—this verse prophesies that they will turn for help to Germany, modern-day Assyria! We already see Israel looking to Germany today in various ways. This will prove to be a fatal error. As God says, no man can heal you or cure you of your wound! Only God can do that.
Judah got into this mess by looking to men. Yet it will try to solve it by looking to men! The people of Jerusalem will never find a cure or be healed until they look to God! This is the lesson God is teaching them—the hard way.
By looking to Germany for help, unsuspecting Israel will bring a united Europe right into the middle of the battle for the Holy City.
The Jews have Jerusalem now, but not for long. Both Muslims and Catholics have long-cherished designs for this city. These two powers are about to clash again—in the final crusade over Jerusalem.
The Bible refers to these two forces as “the king of the north,” led by Germany, and “the king of the south,” led by Iran. “And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him …” (Daniel 11:40). This push by the king of the south will probably be directly related to Jerusalem. It could well be the Arabs, incited by Iran, conquering half the city! The Palestinians could—and, I believe, will—conquer the Temple Mount and refuse access to anybody else. This would rapidly unite Europe and the Israeli Jews against them. This “push” could also involve cutting off oil—of which Europe receives more than a third of its supply from the Middle East—to punish the king of the north over a dispute about this city.
Look at today’s headlines! Iran continually pushes and provokes, yet it faces few consequences for its behavior. Sometime soon, however, its actions will stir Europe into this blitzkrieg response: “… the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over” (verse 40).
“Whirlwind” is a very revealing word. Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon says it means to sweep away in a storm! It can mean “to bristle with terror.” The word whirlwind implies terror! Will this terrifying whirlwind be nuclear? It certainly will be terrorizing—and it is about to explode in the Middle East!
Germany, even now, is readying itself to unleash this whirlwind. Germany has expected to clash with Iran, and it has been working on a strategy for some years now. Though Iran doesn’t realize it, Germany has Iran surrounded, with a presence in Iraq and Sudan, plus military deployments, trading partners and arms manufacturing in Mali, Algeria, Kosovo, Turkey, Cyprus, Israel, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, Somalia, South Sudan and the Central African Republic. No one but God’s true Church recognizes it, yet the facts are visible for anyone to see. Germany’s preparations are almost complete.
Soon, in a flash, the German-led European armies will suddenly, brutally, emphatically conquer the king of the south!
Daniel’s prophecy goes on to show how the modern-day resurrection of this ancient empire will exceed the brutality of its predecessors: “… and many countries shall be overthrown …. He shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape. But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt: and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps” (Daniel 11:41-43). The Holy Roman Empire will realize its maniacal ambitions! Many countries will be overthrown and subjugated! This conquest will be shocking, and the world will tremble! The Germans, inflamed with victory, will feel invincible.
What will happen next? It is likely at this point that little Judah will ask the Germans for protection. Verse 41 says about this European power: “He shall enter also into the glorious land”—speaking of Israel. The Hebrew for “enter” indicates a peaceful entry, not forced. The Germans will undoubtedly be invited in as a peacekeeping force. (This is further explained in our free booklet Nahum—An End-Time Prophecy for Germany.) The powerful European army, guided by the Roman Catholic Church, will then enter the glorious land.
Jerusalem is the king of the north’s chief concern. Of all the places in which Germany is implementing its strategy, Jerusalem is ultimately the most important. And it is directly in the eye of that whirlwind of warfare.
We have seen this same “peaceful entry” before in history. The Jews would do well to remember the violence and bloodshed wrought by the Crusaders over Jerusalem. Then perhaps they would not invite the Holy Roman Empire to protect them!
Abomination of Desolation
In His most important prophecy, the Olivet prophecy, Jesus Christ specifically warned about these European armies coming to Jerusalem.
“And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh” (Luke 21:20).
By this point, the main power of the Arab world will have been destroyed. Europe’s armies just conquered the king of the south, and people will think they are there to keep peace in Jerusalem. The Holy Roman Empire will undoubtedly make some kind of agreement to protect the city. It will look like the world is about to have peace. But this is a deadly illusion.
Mark’s version of this prophecy says this invading force is “standing where it ought not” (Mark 13:14). They shouldn’t be in Jerusalem at all.
Matthew calls this “peacekeeping” force “the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand[ing] in the holy place”—that is, Jerusalem (Matthew 24:15). God labels these armies in His city an abomination!
This verse points back to Daniel 12:11: “And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away [that is, God’s Work going to a place of safety], and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.” That is what makes it so abominable: It is advancing on God’s holy city, and it is going to make it desolate! God gave these prophecies to serve as a warning!
Look again at that verse in Daniel: It says these armies will surround Jerusalem a short 30 days before the 1,260 days of the Great Tribulation (mentioned in Daniel 12:7 and Revelation 11:3).
Christ says this is the number one sign that it is time for God’s people to flee to a place of protection—so it is critical we understand it exactly. “Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house” (Matthew 24:16-17; see also Luke 21:21). When European armies surround Jerusalem, God’s people have mere days to escape! They understand prophecy and what is about to occur, so they will flee to a place of safety (Revelation 12:14). God protects those who are loyal and dedicated to doing His Work. They will remain safe there throughout the Tribulation and the Day of the Lord.
At that point, the king of the north, having conquered radical Islam and now controlling Jerusalem and the surrounding area, will do something even more shocking:
They will double-cross and conquer the Israeli Jews, America and Britain at the same time!
This is perhaps the most treacherous and destructive betrayal in human history! It is described in Ezekiel 23, and you can read about it in Chapter 10 of my free book Ezekiel—The End-Time Prophet.
Suddenly, in a moment, the Great Tribulation begins—the worst time of suffering in history.
“For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. … for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they [Israel] shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (Luke 21:22-24). “Trodden down” means the people there will be led away as slaves, if they are fortunate enough to live!
As Jerusalem falls, America and Britain will collapse at the same time (Hosea 5:5)—unless they repent before that time. (This is thoroughly explained in our free booklet on Hosea.) These prophecies aren’t simply about treading down a little city in the Middle East. They are foretelling of the “times of the Gentiles,” when the Gentiles rule over all Israel!
The abomination of desolation is an instrument of God’s vengeance in this end time! He is angry with the nations of Israel! “O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation” (Isaiah 10:5). Assyria is a destructive nation; destruction is in its heart. God will use that nation—modern-day Germany—to dominate nine other European nations and bring them against Israel.
The crescendo of global tension will continue to build toward its explosive conclusion.
Tidings From the East
“Thus saith the Lord of hosts; The children of Israel and the children of Judah were oppressed together: and all that took them captives held them fast; they refused to let them go” (Jeremiah 50:33). Israel and Judah were not oppressed together in their ancient captivity: Israel went into captivity in 721–718 b.c. and Judah followed over a century later, from 604 to 585 b.c. So this is an end-time prophecy: America, Britain and the Jewish nation in the Middle East will be oppressed together.
But as this passage shows, God will also bring judgment upon those who oppress His nations. Great destruction will lead to greater destruction.
The unprecedented scale of bloodshed and conquest by the king of the north will greatly disturb and alarm the Asiatic millions in Russia and China. It will cause them to think they are going to be Europe’s next victim. So the Russians and Chinese will not sit idle. The armies of the massively populated Asian bloc will unite to attack Europe!
“A sword is upon the Chaldeans, saith the Lord, and upon the inhabitants of Babylon, and upon her princes, and upon her wise men” (verse 35). The Chaldeans and Babylon are two more prophetic names for the European beast power. This is talking about how God will correct them for what they will do to Israel! He will accomplish this by using the Asian nations.
Nothing will stop the massive Asiatic army of 200 million soldiers! (Revelation 9:16). Only Russia and China could amass such a gigantic army, along with other Asian nations. They will be the only other world power besides a united Europe. God has reserved them to destroy most of the European power.
When these nations ally themselves, it will be very troubling to the beast power. This colossal Asian army is already coming together—and is making Europe nervous even today!
Here is how Jeremiah describes this Asiatic confederation: “Behold, a people shall come from the north, and a great nation, and many kings shall be raised up from the coasts of the earth. They shall hold the bow and the lance: they are cruel, and will not shew mercy: their voice shall roar like the sea, and they shall ride upon horses, every one put in array, like a man to the battle, against thee, O daughter of Babylon. The king of Babylon hath heard the report of them, and his hands waxed feeble: anguish took hold of him, and pangs as of a woman in travail” (Jeremiah 50:41-43).
This fear and trembling within Europe is also described in Daniel’s prophecy: “But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him …” (Daniel 11:44).
At this point, the European power, guided by the Roman Catholic Church, will try to solve its problems by moving its headquarters to Jerusalem. “And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain …” (verse 45). This will be an act of faith by the great religious beast of Revelation 13! But this move will fail. They are still trying to solve their own problems.
This move exposes the real power behind these armies! Satan the devil guides and directs the Holy Roman Empire to do horrible things in that city—because he understands it is the city God has chosen. He is fiercely fighting against God’s universe-sized plans for that city. In fact, Jerusalem is at the heart of Satan’s plan to plunge the world into destruction!
At this point, Christ will gather the armies of these powers—the only two real military powers left: the king of the north and the Russia-China axis. He will dry up the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers, “that the way of the kings of east might be prepared” (Revelation 16:12).
Massive armies shall flow into the Middle East and Europe, heading toward Jerusalem. This will make it difficult for the European army to use nuclear power. It makes no sense to bomb yourself.
“And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon” (verse 16). God gathers them into the plain of Megiddo—located in northern Israel, where there is a huge air base and a gigantic area to assemble armies. Armageddon means armed Megiddo. These armies will meet and be ready to clash in that plain.
This event in Megiddo leads to another chain reaction. They will see Jesus Christ returning to Earth, and both armies will decide to fight Him instead of each other!
“For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem” (Joel 3:1). Judah and Jerusalem (a type of all Israel) are in captivity. “I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land” (verse 2).
God says, “I will … gather all nations.” This is the same language used in Zechariah 14:1-2: “Behold, the day of the Lord cometh …. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle ….” Jesus Christ will gather the main armies of the Asiatic millions and those of the Holy Roman Empire to Jerusalem. Great military strategists will think they are making all these plans. But in truth, the supreme military strategist behind all these events is God!
Though the armies will gather in the plain of Megiddo, the battle involving “all nations” will take place in the Valley of Jehoshaphat. This deep valley, or ravine, borders Jerusalem on the east, between the city and the Mount of Olives. Today it is more commonly known as the Kidron Valley.
Jehoshaphat means “judgment of the Eternal.” God will judge the rebellious and unrepentant nations of this world for their disobedience!
The world’s armies will converge on Jerusalem to fight Jesus Christ. Revelation 16:14 calls this confrontation “the battle of that great day of God Almighty.” It is not the “battle of Armageddon” as some mistakenly assume. That is because it will not take place at Armageddon! It all revolves around Jerusalem.
It is there that Christ will put an end to warfare and bring peace to Earth! (Zechariah 14:3-4).
Verses 12-13 graphically describe this supernatural confrontation at Jerusalem with the world’s armies. They will turn against each other in mistrust and fear as their very flesh decomposes and their eyes melt!
This confrontation will be so violent, blood will flow up to the horses’ bridles! “And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs” (Revelation 14:19-20). The length of 1,600 furlongs is about 200 miles. The Valley of Jehoshaphat will become a river of blood roughly 4 feet deep and 200 miles long, the length of Megiddo in northern Israel to the southern tip of Jordan! That is more blood than the mind can even imagine, but the Asiatic armies alone have 200 million soldiers.
This is how God will “plead with them”—in the only language they understand! God’s city is going to become one big cemetery—a holocaust not in a museum, but in reality!
Just the mention of these prophecies ought to frighten people into repentance. But men have no idea how hard and rebellious they are!
“And he shall pass over to his strong hold for fear, and his princes shall be afraid of the ensign, saith the Lord, whose fire is in Zion, and his furnace in Jerusalem” (Isaiah 31:9). Christ’s fiery furnace will be in Jerusalem! This is where God will refine His created Family.
After the dust settles from this unfathomable conflagration, Christ will establish His government in Jerusalem. Global peace will finally break out!
All these events are linked. It all started with one half of Jerusalem being captured—that was the trigger to the whole ordeal. Then begins a series of crises that step-by-step leads to Christ’s electrifying return to Earth.
Do you realize how close we are to this emotional and violent explosion in Jerusalem? It is shockingly near.
What looks so gloomy and dark in Jerusalem today is almost ready to start this chain reaction. It will lead to the greatest event ever to occur in history, not just the history of this Earth, but the history of the universe: the return of Jesus Christ!
Thank God that glorious event is about to occur! What a momentous time to be alive!
Chapter 7: God’s Universe Headquarters
It was in the heart of Jerusalem, in the City of David, that God had made an extraordinary promise to the greatest king in Israel’s history: “And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee …. And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever” (2 Samuel 7:12, 16).
God promised that David’s throne, his royal line, would endure forever.
Four centuries later, the Prophet Jeremiah traveled the streets of the same city during a dark period of rebellion and subjugation for the nation of Judah. Yet God gave Jeremiah an inspiring vision: “In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land” (Jeremiah 33:15). This was a prophecy of the ultimate King who would inhabit the eternal throne God had promised David.
“In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will dwell securely,” the prophecy continued. “And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’ For thus says the Lord: David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel” (verses 16-17; rsv). This reiterated the promise of an unbroken royal lineage continuing until “the Branch of righteousness” inherited that throne. And God emphasized the sureness of this promise by saying, “If ye can break my covenant of the day, and my covenant of the night, and that there should not be day and night in their season; Then may also my covenant be broken with David my servant, that he should not have a son to reign upon his throne …” (verses 20-21). As long as the sun and moon remain, and day and night continue, you can trust that this promise will not fail!
Soon after, the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem, and in an effort to stamp out David’s royal line entirely, they blinded and captured King Zedekiah and killed his sons. Even Jeremiah thought God had broken His promise to David! (Psalm 89 was likely authored by Jeremiah; verses 38-51 reflect his doubt and dismay.)
But God had commissioned Jeremiah to preserve that throne. Jeremiah 1:10 describes that commission, in which he removed the throne from its home in Jerusalem—and planted it, with a daughter of Zedekiah—in the British Isles! (This inspiring story is fully told in Herbert W. Armstrong’s book The United States and Britain in Prophecy; we will send you a free copy upon request.)
Though Jeremiah left the cities of Judah, God had no intention of permanently removing David’s throne from Jerusalem. Remember, the Eternal has chosen Jerusalem. So that throne has to return.
Taking the Throne to Jerusalem
Six more centuries passed. In a town about three days’ journey from Jerusalem, an angel appeared to a young woman (and direct descendant of David) named Mary and delivered this stunning prophecy: “Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:30-33).
That prophecy described the culmination both of God’s promise to David and of Jeremiah’s prophecy about the “Branch of righteousness.” Jesus Christ will receive that throne and govern from it for the rest of eternity!
Clearly that prophecy was not fulfilled during Jesus’s lifetime in the first century. But it will be fulfilled when Christ soon returns to Earth. God the Father shall give him “the throne of his father David.”
Just as He promised, God has preserved the throne of David through history. God further detailed how in Ezekiel 21:27: “I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it: and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is [Jesus Christ]; and I will give it him.” That throne was overturned three times—transferred, first to Ireland directly by the Prophet Jeremiah, then nearly a thousand years later to Scotland, then almost 800 years later to England, where it remained until very recently. And what would happen then? Ezekiel reveals the stunning answer: “and it shall be no more.” God actually ended that royal line! Yet He still kept His promise to David by replacing it—establishing a new throne of David in preparation for giving it to His Son, “whose right it is”!
The same promise appears in Jeremiah 1:10: The Ferrar Fenton translation reads, “See! I have appointed you to-day over nations, and kingdoms; to pull up, and to break down, and to destroy [three overturns], and to erase [that throne ended]; as well as to build, and to plant”—a new throne.
David’s throne is still on Earth today! As you can read in my free book The New Throne of David, that throne resides in the Church of God today. And God has ensured that it is ready for “he … whose right it is”! It is about to be presented to Jesus Christ at His return.
And where on Earth will that throne be established? Several scriptures show that God’s people will be taking it to Jerusalem. The throne of David is about to be moved back to God’s city.
Prophecy shows that God’s people are about to be sent to the Middle East as outcasts (e.g. Amos 7:12-13). Isaiah 16:1-4 describe them being protected during the Great Tribulation. God says, “Let mine outcasts dwell with thee, Moab”—an area to the east of Jerusalem. Then it says, “And in mercy shall the throne be established: and he shall sit upon it in truth in the tabernacle of David, judging, and seeking judgment, and hasting righteousness” (verse 5). This is David’s throne being established in this area and ruled by a righteous man—someone in God’s Church. God’s people will have that throne with them in the place of safety, very near Jerusalem! (This is also explained in The New Throne of David.)
Then, Jesus Christ will return to Jerusalem in great power! At that time, His saints will be glorified and united with Christ (e.g. Matthew 24:30-31).
Zechariah prophesied that after Christ returns and “the Lord shall be king over all the earth,” people from the world over “shall even go up from year to year … unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 14:9, 16-17). That is where Jesus Christ will return, and that is where He will establish His headquarters and rule the world from David’s throne.
King David’s throne will be planted in Jerusalem. Prior to that, the indications are that God’s people will have the unparalleled opportunity and honor to hand the new throne over to Jesus Christ!
It is in Jerusalem that Jesus Christ will establish His home, and from where He will sit and rule on David’s throne in the Millennium. This is the greatest hope in the universe!
What will happen next with those faithful saints is spectacular beyond human imagination!
The Bride of Jesus Christ—and Jerusalem
In Revelation 19:16 Jesus Christ is called “King of kings, and Lord of lords”—the Supreme Ruler over all the Earth, under God the Father. Now, notice what occurs in that same context. This shows Christ will not rule alone:
“Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb” (verses 7-9). Christ will govern with the assistance of His wife—the glorified Church of God! (Ephesians 5:25-32).
Christ promises that His saints who overcome and attain spiritual victory “will I grant to sit with me in my throne …” (Revelation 3:21). He will rule from the throne of David in Jerusalem, and His faithful people—now glorified, spirit-born members of the God Family—will share that throne with their Husband and rule with Christ!
Christ’s Bride is now making herself ready. This is the ultimate calling God will ever give to any human being. There never has been, and never will be, a nobler office in this world or in the world to come than that of the Bride of Jesus Christ, Creator of the universe! Repeatedly, Christ reminds His people that we are His Bride—the very Bride of Christ! Our greatest challenge is to let God’s Holy Spirit expand our minds to comprehend this magnificent calling.
Isaiah 66:8-9 describe the moment God’s Church becomes Christ’s Bride. God’s people today—again, called “Zion”—are a nation in embryo! God compares our trials in life to birth pangs that will result in our being born again into God’s Family. Imagine, a mighty spiritual nation born at once to help Christ rule! This mind-shaking event will stun the whole world. Next to Christ’s coming, it will be the greatest event in history!
Christ will marry His Church, and she will join Him at His headquarters in Jerusalem. Because of this, the Bride of Christ will forever be associated with the Holy City.
Repeatedly you see this magnificent truth depicted in Scripture. In fact, many passages directly identify God’s Church itself as “Jerusalem.” Some passages liken that future Jerusalem to a new mother—which is exactly what Christ’s Bride will be!
“Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all ye that love her: rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her” (verse 10). This is a time for great rejoicing because God’s perfect and righteous rule will emanate from Jerusalem. Throughout its history, blood has saturated the streets of this city—crusade after crusade, terrorist attack upon terrorist attack. But that is all about to change. Jerusalem will rejoice before all the Earth, and all people will see this and learn how to rejoice as well. What a joyous time!
Here God speaks of Jerusalem as a mother nursing children. He is clearly describing the Church, Christ’s Bride: “That ye may suck, and be satisfied with the breasts of her consolations; that ye may milk out, and be delighted with the abundance of her glory” (verse 11). This is about Christ and His Bride raising spiritual children in the World Tomorrow!
“For thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream: then shall ye suck, ye shall be borne upon her sides, and be dandled upon her knees. As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem” (verses 12-13). What a beautiful picture! Think of all the suffering, misery, violence and murder plaguing the Middle East today. God is about to stop that! At last, Jerusalem will live up to its name: This city will overcome its bloody history and truly become a city of peace! That peace will spread, flowing out to fill the Earth with peace.
God’s Church is Jerusalem, and we are about to nourish the whole world under God’s family leadership. We will help God comfort all nations and peoples from Jerusalem!
This picture of Jerusalem encapsulates the ultimate purpose of God’s Church. Obviously a physical city does not heal people, comfort people, instruct people, baptize people or counsel people. Jesus Christ and His wife will do these things—from Jerusalem! The entire Earth will look to Jerusalem, and Jerusalem will comfort this Earth! This is a wonderful prophecy for all of us.
God wants us to begin to show the world in a practical way that there is a government and a nation about to rise and rule this Earth the way it should be ruled, and stop all the suffering of this world! Choosing Jerusalem means embracing this calling and doing everything we can today to prepare for this future.
Ruling From Jerusalem
Zechariah reveals a dramatic physical transformation that will occur when Christ first descends to Earth: “And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south” (Zechariah 14:4). The Mount of Olives will split, becoming two great mountains and a deep valley. From the dawn of the Millennium, the entire topography of that area will change.
This is just the start of a stunning renovation project: Christ is about to beautify Jerusalem as this world has never seen. It will become the capital city of the world. In passage after passage, imagination-staggering prophecy after prophecy, the Bible depicts the paradise Jesus Christ will create. This vision shines with brilliance!
“In that day shall the Lord defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the Lord before them” (Zechariah 12:8). Even the weakest human being living in Jerusalem at that time will be as mighty as King David. And the leaders there—who will be sharing David’s royal throne with the King of kings—will be “as God”—wholly righteous, glorified spirit beings, administering the government of God perfectly!
God is going to correct all humanity by focusing them on God and on Jerusalem. He will reach into the lives of every repentant person on Earth from that city. “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn” (verse 10).
The whole world is going to recognize and memorialize the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made to purge the world of sin. They will look upon the crucified Christ and mourn as if they had lost a firstborn son! You must know someone deeply before you can mourn for him like that. This world will get to really know God the Father and Jesus Christ! This world’s religions do not know God, though they think they do. But look how deeply and intensely they will know God then. This is the greatest news we could ever hear!
These people will be hungering for true education. And we must be preparing today to work with them.
Zechariah 8:23 reads, “Thus saith the Lord of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew [meaning, of the spiritual house of Judah—God’s faithful people], saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.” I imagine “ten men” means 10 heads of household, or men with families. This means there is a lot of work to be done! Ten men and their families will cling to you because they know God is with you!
“And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:3). Many nations will desire instruction and travel to Jerusalem to be taught. God’s truth—all the wonderful revelation God has given to His people today about His law and His ways—will flow out to all the nations from God’s city! All mankind will walk as God directs, according to His law. As they do, the curses will be removed from their lives, and blessings will be showered upon them.
The greatest opportunity God’s firstfruits could have is to teach these people. These are people who will have experienced the worst suffering imaginable. They will be approaching those teachers for answers on why that suffering happened. We must be preparing now for this heavy responsibility.
In the future, everything will flow out from Jerusalem! For a thousand years, this revitalized and renewed city will serve as headquarters of the whole Earth. God has chosen Jerusalem, and that is where He will be for all eternity! Of course, He will be traveling around all over the Earth and universe, but His headquarters will forever remain in Jerusalem.
God always has a work that emanates from His headquarters. When God has a powerful work, it is always accompanied by impressive buildings at headquarters. Generally a physical house or temple dominates the landscape. God gave beautiful headquarters buildings for the Work under Mr. Armstrong, the greatest of which was God’s house, Ambassador Auditorium. He has done the same for the pcg, especially Armstrong Auditorium. This is where the Father and Christ dwell on this Earth, in spirit. But their goal has always been to dwell in Jerusalem forever. Our goal must be to dwell with them in Jerusalem forever.
Any house built for God in this world is a temporary dwelling. But it is still where God dwells in spirit! God works through such a structure. Any such house is a type of the temple we will help Christ build when He returns—and also a vision of that temple.
However, God’s Work in the World Tomorrow will be titanic compared to what we do today. The King of kings and Lord of lords, and His kings and priests, will not rule from a shack!
Solomon’s temple clearly demonstrates God’s thinking in His building program. The spectacular headquarters temple Jesus Christ and His Bride will inhabit during the Millennium will be the first building to eclipse its majestic beauty—and it will do so by a gigantic margin! Since God is the real architect, you can be sure it will be an inspiring sight like this world has never seen!
Several scriptures describe this structure, but none in such detail as what God revealed through the Prophet Ezekiel. He wrote nine chapters about this temple! They are filled with details and dimensions, and with practical insight about Jerusalem.
God grabbed Ezekiel’s attention (Ezekiel 40:1), and He wants to get ours. God’s hand was on Ezekiel and he knew it. This is the origin of the temple subject. “In the visions of God brought he me into the land of Israel, and set me upon a very high mountain, by which was as the frame of a city on the south” (verse 2). Here God begins to unfold this glorious vision of His millennial headquarters.
An awesome angelic architect gave Ezekiel the measurements of the temple. God told Ezekiel to “set your mind upon all that I shall show you” and declare all that he saw to the house of Israel (verses 3-4; rsv). However, Ezekiel couldn’t declare this message to the nations of Israel: He was a Jewish slave in captivity to Babylon. This is obviously a message for the end time. God gets very specific about a modern-day type of Ezekiel measuring the temple in the latter days.
God has taught His Church in this end time a lot about this temple—and its predecessors, Solomon’s and Zerubbabel’s temples—to help us declare this vision. He commands the pcg to deliver this specific message. We are the only ones who have had these chapters revealed to us, so nobody else could have delivered this message. Mr. Armstrong understood very little about the vision of Ezekiel’s temple. God has revealed that truth and a lot more to me. The pcg members have been chosen to support that message. If we fail to deliver this message, Ezekiel will have lived in vain!
This includes knowing precisely where ancient Jerusalem was and where those temples were built. This world is in darkness about their location. Our Herbert W. Armstrong College students have been digging where those two former temples were built and where the Ezekiel temple will be built in the future. You can read about this in my free booklet Jerusalem’s Temples. God has commanded us to declare our message in precise detail.
Dr. Eilat Mazar has discovered David’s palace and Nehemiah’s wall—enormous discoveries from the first and second temple periods. Archaeological digs had previously uncovered very little that was truly significant from those periods. That is because they were digging in the wrong places.
Through these recent digs, God is showing us more exact dimensions of ancient Jerusalem. Nehemiah knew, and he built his wall around it!
I believe one of the main reasons we are digging in Jerusalem is to give us an understanding and a focus on Ezekiel’s temple. We need to focus on that because society is about to fall apart and there is no human government on the horizon that is able to lead this world! (And apart from God, there never will be.)
We must know where the Ezekiel temple is to be built. Through the Jerusalem dig, God is showing us. Mr. Armstrong paved the way for our archaeological dig today. Like he said, they cleared away the rubble that had accumulated for centuries.
We must show the world where David’s throne will be located—the throne from which the Messiah will rule the world, helped by the firstfruits—the Bride of the Messiah.
This is a practical plan, so wonderful and filled with hope for the world. But I believe we couldn’t really deliver this Ezekiel temple message without having been on the Jerusalem dig.
The Eternal has chosen Jerusalem. We participate in this archaeological project with this vision in our minds. Christ is trying to get all of us to focus on His return and our rule with Him.
The most awesome temple in history is about to be built. It will be built on the exact place where the other two temples were built. We want to show the Jews and other nations of biblical Israel where that is. We must give them this hope! People need a new picture of the Ezekiel temple and the Jerusalem that Christ is about to establish. God wants us to declare the temple to give the nations of biblical Israel the inspiration and hope they need, just before the greatest trouble any nation has ever experienced!
We have to declare Ezekiel’s temple and its exact dimensions. That means first etching this picture in our minds so vividly that we are greatly inspired and able to convey our hope to the world. We must make the World Tomorrow real—it is almost here! The Messiah is coming! We must get ready!
Already God is laying plans for a building where Christ’s headquarters will be for 1,000 years! And that is only the beginning of the God Family’s rule of the universe from Jerusalem forever!
“It was round about eighteen thousand measures: and the name of the city from that day shall be, The Lord is there” (Ezekiel 48:35). Jerusalem will also be called by another name: The Eternal is there! The Son of God will rule from there. Christ will dwell there personally. The Father will dwell there in spirit.
This temple will alter the course of this whole world! It will capture the imagination of all earthly inhabitants. The whole world will have this temple as its major focus! Such a magnificent structure will help everybody look to where Christ is. The whole world will be looking to that place for Christ’s direction. It will give the whole world a vision of God’s plan on Earth and for eternity. By focusing on this temple, all people will be stirred and inspired to obey God. Their thinking and way of life will be revolutionized! God will finally become real to all humanity.
The Ezekiel temple will have water flowing from under the altar (Ezekiel 47:1-5). Ezekiel describes the water running eastward from the temple and rising continually until it becomes a river too large to pass over.
Living waters will stream out from Jerusalem and empty into the Dead Sea, rejuvenating and reviving it, turning it into a living sea, filled with fish and supplying pleasure and satisfaction to everybody. All this richness will pour out of Jerusalem!
This water symbolizes something far more powerful that will impact the entire Earth: God’s Holy Spirit, bringing life spiritually (verse 9). Everything will live as God intended from the beginning.
God’s truth will fill the world like the ocean beds are covered with water (Isaiah 11:9; Habakkuk 2:14).
“And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat … because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary: and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine” (Ezekiel 47:12). God’s Spirit will provide a dual healing, spiritual and physical: It will spiritually heal people of human nature and wrongful thinking, as well as of physical ailments.
And notice: The water will flow right out of the holy of holies in that millennial temple! That is a symbol of the very salvation of God bubbling up from His throne! God’s throne room is the true fountain of eternal life (e.g. Psalm 68:24, 26). God is “the fountain of living waters” (Jeremiah 17:13).
Just as there is a fountain within the heavenly temple, there will be a fountain within the physical replica of God’s house in Jerusalem.
Josephus wrote about how, even in the tabernacle in the wilderness, the priests in Israel purified themselves in spring waters. So there is always a spring associated with the sanctuary. Springs supplied abundant water in Gilgal, where the tabernacle was first established in Canaan, and then at Shiloh. Jerusalem has only one fresh water source: the Gihon Spring. This spring must be special to God. David placed the ark of the covenant—this symbol of God’s throne, from which God ruled the Israelites on Earth—directly over the Gihon Spring. Zadok anointed Solomon king there (1 Kings 1:38-39). The temples of Solomon and Zerubbabel had the Gihon’s water flowing within their walls. (The location of the Gihon also disqualifies the Dome of the Rock as being the site of the temples of Solomon and Zerubbabel.)
The Bible likens spring-fed water to living water—God’s Holy Spirit. It is pure water that hasn’t traveled through strata of soil where it can be easily contaminated. Spring-fed water is pure.
We don’t believe it is a coincidence that there is a spring on the Church’s headquarters campus in Edmond, Oklahoma. Spurlin Lake is a spring-fed lake. God’s spiritual life is flowing from this campus. The law goes forth, even now, from God’s headquarters campus. God has even given His Church the very throne that Jesus Christ will sit on. We are getting ready to rule in Jerusalem forever!
During His ministry, Jesus visited the temple in Jerusalem during “the last day, that great day of the feast”—the holy day that immediately follows the Feast of Tabernacles. That festival pictures the Great White Throne Judgment, when God will resurrect and call all human beings who have ever lived but have never known God! (Revelation 20:11-12). “Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37-38). Today, most of humanity does not even have access to the Holy Spirit (John 6:44). Soon every person will have access!
God is saving His people today—and is about to offer salvation to the whole world! “Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation” (Isaiah 12:3). We will inhabit eternity—we will have life forever! That is what the wells of salvation are about. The Gihon Spring is a symbol of God saving all humanity!
What symbolism could be more important? God gives us physical symbols to help us understand, and many of these symbols will be present in the World Tomorrow.
Christ and His Bride will rule the world God’s way. Those faithful to Him now will be married to Him and govern with Him.
“To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne” (Revelation 3:21). God’s people are now being trained to rule with Christ from Jerusalem. Will you be among that group? “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (verse 22). Are you listening to God’s Spirit?
“And the chamber which faces north is for the priests who have charge of the altar; these are the sons of Zadok, who alone among the sons of Levi may come near to the Lord to minister to him” (Ezekiel 40:46; rsv). Zadok was the priest who remained loyal to David and David’s throne in spite of defections and insurrections. God uses “sons of Zadok” as a term of high honor. He says He is going to bring these faithful saints near to Him in the millennial temple.
“But the priests the Levites, the sons of Zadok, that kept the charge of my sanctuary when the children of Israel went astray from me, they shall come near to me to minister unto me …” (Ezekiel 44:15). When most of God’s people rebelled against God during the Laodicean falling away in this end time, the sons of Zadok remained loyal to God’s government. They clung to God’s truth and to the teaching about David’s throne.
These verses clearly show what these faithful saints’ obedience and loyalty mean to God. God gives the sons of Zadok great distinction and special responsibilities within the temple. He wants them to know where they will be stationed in that temple: in a chamber that faces north. This is detailed information. Ruling from that temple with Christ, these glorified saints will be on the highest level of spiritual leaders. Only they will come near to God.
God must prepare these very elect leaders before the headquarters temple is built. He has been doing so throughout the ages. But it appears most of them are from this end time, when Satan is the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4). Only the Philadelphians from the last two Church eras and some firstfruits from previous eras will rule from Jerusalem. The Laodiceans lose that precious reward.
The sons of Zadok are the only ones delivering God’s message in these latter days! God gave these sons of Zadok this vision of His love for Jerusalem, and they took hold of it. That is why they receive such a wonderful reward! Clearly there are many individuals in God’s Kingdom who will hold offices of greater authority. But as a body and as a group, the Philadelphians receive a truly unique and spectacular reward! We must qualify for these positions today.
Christ gives His end-time Philadelphians a key of David vision (Revelation 3:7). In Zechariah 3, God focuses on the Eternal choosing Jerusalem, which enriches and expands our understanding of the key of David message. The Eternal has chosen Jerusalem is the key of David vision expressed in a way that enhances our understanding on a practical level. It is the most awesome vision in the Bible.
The whole world will revolve around Jerusalem in the Millennium. And the whole universe will revolve around Jerusalem after the Millennium. Why? Because an even more dramatic change will come when the Millennium is finished.
First will occur the second resurrection, when God will resurrect and call all human beings who have ever lived but not known Him. Astoundingly, that includes 99 percent of all human beings in history! This world does not know God! This Great White Throne Judgment will bring practically all people to repentance and offer them eternal salvation.
At the end of that period, this planet will be purified with fire. “[T]he elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10). All the incorrigibly wicked who refused to submit to God’s law will be consumed in this “lake of fire” (Malachi 4:1, 3; Revelation 20:13-15). Earth as we know it will pass away (Revelation 21:1).
Even the beautiful temple in Jerusalem will be destroyed. But it will quickly be replaced by a temple at least a million times more beautiful! At that point, God the Father will personally come down to Earth.
Jerusalem above is the mother of us all (Galatians 4:25-26). That is the spiritual headquarters of God’s true Church today—from where we receive our new revelation. Heavenly Jerusalem is where God’s Church on Earth receives its power (Hebrews 12:22-24). After the Millennium, our Father will bring that “Jerusalem above” to Earth!
“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21:1-2). This is the city from which God the Father will rule the universe with His Family.
There is a vision here that God wants us to get! You need to see everything through this prism—the vision of new Jerusalem!
“And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God” (verse 3). God the Father yearns to be with His Family. After the Millennium and Great White Throne Judgment, when Jesus Christ has removed the sins from this world, and Earth has been purified, our Father will come to dwell with His Family from a new and perfectly built Jerusalem.
God the Father has chosen Jerusalem. He has long-cherished plans to make His eternal home on Earth. Once all people who are going to make it into the Kingdom have been converted, the Father will come—and then off we go as a Family spiraling upward and onward! From this magnificent city, the Family of God will repair and govern the whole universe.
“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (verse 4). Who can even imagine how awesome and wonderful this will be? A marvelous work and a wonder, bringing wonder to all of us!
“And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife” (verse 9). Note this: God is about to offer a glimpse of Christ’s Bride, and what does John see? “And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, Having the glory of God …” (verses 10-11).
When God looks at new Jerusalem, He sees the Bride of Jesus Christ! The same detail appears in verse 2. God describes this resplendent city as “a bride adorned for her husband”! Why? Because new Jerusalem is the home of the Bride of Christ! That is where we will live—and so will forever be directly linked with this city!
The Philadelphians receive a headquarters position when Christ returns because they had the incredible vision of new Jerusalem to keep them inspired. Also, having a God-inspired headquarters today prepares us for an eternal headquarters with God. It is this vision that causes us to overcome. We need this vision to endure the hardships ahead. And it will project us into a glorious future!
The verses that follow show how this city will extend nearly 1,500 miles in each direction! It is made of pure gold and adorned with precious stones. No city in the universe will ever equal it in beauty and importance.
“And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof” (verses 22-23). Think of that: God the Father and Jesus Christ will provide light for all the universe!
Looking to New Jerusalem
The vision of this future has inspired God’s saints for millennia—starting with our forefather Abraham.
“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise” (Hebrews 11:8-9). These faithful men knew this world and everything in it is temporary. Like them, we must have a vision that reaches beyond this life—and even beyond the Millennium!
“For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (verse 10). Abraham saw new Jerusalem and God’s Family. Paul states that he looked for a city with foundations. The Williams translation says “sure foundations.” God will make the foundations of this city sure. Abraham focused on the tremendous hope in the city made by God that will last forever!
Abraham is known as the father of the faithful (Galatians 3:7). He set an example in righteous obedience. He fixed his mind on a city that was coming down out of heaven with God the Father. That is why he could sacrifice his covenant son; he knew the grave could not hold Isaac. Consider the spiritual depth of this man! He was able to look past the present world, look past even all of God’s abundant physical promises, and focus on the fantastic spiritual promises of new Jerusalem.
God’s Family will reside in that city that will go on and on and on forever! Can you imagine?—project Earth completed! God will have re-created Himself into multiple billions of family members. It will be a high and royal family. This vision carries within it the goal for every human life. God even gave us the type of physical marriage and physical family to give this vision deeper meaning for us. God the Father’s vision of the future is a family vision. This mind-stretching family goal is the only vision that can give deep meaning to God’s plan now.
Abraham lived for the time when God’s government and throne would spread throughout the universe. What a breathtaking vision! What glory! This is not easy to get into your mind. But that is what God wants us to do. True sons of Zadok have this vision! Like Abraham, we must come to see all the way to new Jerusalem. We must keep working and struggling and doing all we can to see beyond the Millennium, beyond human beings—to when the Father comes to Earth.
God’s goal is to get us, and this world, into new Jerusalem. That is what God has His mind on. How far-reaching is your goal? Does it extend to new Jerusalem? If our goals are selfish, then we will be miserable and unhappy. But this vision will fill us with joy.
God’s Plans for the Universe
“Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 9:7). Jesus Christ is going to sit on that throne forever in Jerusalem. There will be endless growth of God’s government and the peace it creates. It will grow forever! It will extend out into the universe—from the very throne of David in Jerusalem!
God’s people today have this universe-shaking vision of God’s eternally growing Family. They recognize that the Father is the Head of His Family. They believe and obey their Father. They submit to Him and His government. That means God can trust them implicitly and use them to help spread that government forever.
During the Millennium, we will focus on beautifying the Earth and preparing for the second resurrection. Beyond the Millennium, the work conducted from new Jerusalem will be one of restoring the universe and expanding the God Family.
Mr. Armstrong explained this beautifully in Mystery of the Ages, “What are we going to do then?” he wrote. “These scriptures indicate we shall impart life to billions and billions of dead planets, as life has been imparted to this Earth.”
“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God” (Romans 8:19; rsv). All those planets are in a state of decay that God never would have created Himself. Something terrible happened, and we must make it right! The universe is personified here—and it is yearning for the revealing of the sons of God—longing for those sons to set things right!
What a job awaits us! “We know that the whole creation [the universe] has been groaning in travail together until now” (verse 22; rsv). We have a lot of work ahead of us once we are spirit beings! The whole universe is groaning for the Family of God to get out there and beautify and build the way God intended when He created the angels. When we are spirit beings, we will be experts at removing decay, building and beautifying, and making the creation blossom as a rose.
The Eternal has chosen Jerusalem. He has chosen His Family, sons of God, to correct all these problems.
And as Mr. Armstrong wrote in concluding that book, that is the beginning. God’s eternal plans are just getting started!
That is when the Family of God really begins to do the spectacular things we will be doing for all eternity! That is why God gives us plenty of work to do today: This is how we prepare to beautify the universe!
What glow the word Jerusalem ought to have for all of us. This city and its future keeps God very happy and motivated and stirred. During the Millennium, He will pattern the city of Jerusalem after new Jerusalem above. Then He will bring new Jerusalem to Earth and govern the universe from here. It will all be done from this one city! God vividly sees what He is going to accomplish for His Family from Jerusalem. Nothing will hinder or change God’s plan! It will happen precisely as He says.
God is trying to implant this vision in each one of us so we see that future just as clearly as He does.
“Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities: thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken. But there the glorious Lord will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams; wherein shall go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby” (Isaiah 33:20-21).
This passage describes the wondrous beauty of new Jerusalem. Notice: Jerusalem is described as a “tabernacle that shall not be taken down.“ The Jerusalem of the Millennium will be taken down in the final fire just before Christ delivers the Kingdom of God to the Father (1 Corinthians 15:24; 2 Peter 3:10-12; Revelation 20:14-15). Earth’s whole surface will be burned up, including the beautiful headquarters city. The Jerusalem of Isaiah 33 can only refer to new Jerusalem, which will last forever. Psalm 46:6 also makes this point—in a psalm that describes this same vision in poetic detail.
How well do you “see” that Jerusalem today? God is helping us. He keeps giving us more insights into this vision all the time.
This is why God inspired us to build Him a house—Armstrong Auditorium: to focus our minds on new Jerusalem. The splendor of this building helps us better appreciate the glory of God and His truth! That house is about the universe and eternity! God isn’t really interested in a physical building: He is creating a spiritual temple—a house of truth, a house of prayer that reaches Him effectively because it is fervent and faithful. He is building an eternal Family! And His physical house is a tool to help Him do that. This house has all the depth of new Jerusalem!
The projects in Jerusalem that God has opened up for His Work today are directly connected to the vision of new Jerusalem. Considering our future, isn’t it logical God has our work involved in Jerusalem today? It is our city forever! God has given us a presence there already to concentrate our thoughts on our future work in heavenly Jerusalem!
Our future in Jerusalem is even directly connected to our weekly Sabbath observance. In Jeremiah 17:24-25, God says that if we observe the Sabbath properly, “Then shall there enter into the gates of this city [Jerusalem] kings and princes sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they, and their princes, the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: and this city shall remain for ever.” This is clearly referring to new Jerusalem. Understanding how the Eternal has chosen Jerusalem will powerfully enhance your Sabbath-day worship and Sabbath-day vision. You will not only look forward to the Millennium, but you will also cling to the hope of the time beyond that, when new Jerusalem will be established.
God really wants to build the new Jerusalem vision in your life. Do all you can to help Him! The Laodiceans have turned their backs on God because they lost sight of new Jerusalem. They no longer see that the Eternal has chosen Jerusalem. We must learn from that failure and work diligently to capture the deep vision of new Jerusalem! If we stay with Christ and let Him lead us in that vision, that ensures we will never be conquered by Satan the devil!
Cling to this vision! You need it in this evil world. This gives tremendous hope to anyone who comes to understand and believe it. It is impossible to get discouraged when we are filled with the vision of new Jerusalem. This is not to say we won’t experience rough patches in our lives—we all face trials and difficulties. But we can avoid discouragement and sadness if we have this vision. We can endure trials—even rejoice in them—by setting our hearts and minds on new Jerusalem!
We all need to really think about new Jerusalem and the time when human beings, and all the problems we face on this Earth, will be gone and forgotten. God the Father will be here, and the whole universe will be inhabited by the Family of God.
The Eternal has chosen Jerusalem. Now the Eternal’s sons must also choose Jerusalem! Choosing Jerusalem means embracing this dazzling, luminous future! It means choosing the way of life today that will qualify us to be part of the Bride of Christ and heavenly Jerusalem.
New Jerusalem should be our greatest goal! It is the vision of another world—another universe—spent forever with our Father and our Husband and the rest of our wonderful Family! What inspiration there is in that! What joy!