Jerusalem is a powder keg, loaded with nuclear potential! No city on Earth is so fraught with international tension as Jerusalem!
Not only does this ancient city play a central role in the beliefs of the three major religions—Judaism, Islam and Christianity—it is a powerful nationalist symbol for both Arabs and Jews.
Today the Israelis and Palestinians are in a bloody deadlock over who will control Jerusalem. They have tried for years now to resolve their many differences through negotiation and compromise. But their talks always break down over Jerusalem!
This is an impossible problem with no resolution that will be acceptable to all parties. As one analyst put it, “A peace between the Arabs and Jews that does not resolve the question of Jerusalem will be no peace. Indeed, a peace that weakens the Jews by returning the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights to Arab control but leaves Jerusalem as an unresolved dispute will make war more not less likely. … The assumption of the diplomats that all things can be solved by negotiation underestimates the emotions involved. Jerusalem is non-negotiable” (Islamic Affairs Analyst, June 1, 1993). That means there is no peaceful solution.
The situation is very bad in Jerusalem today, but your Bible says it will get much worse before it gets better.
Christ Wept for Jerusalem
During His earthly ministry, Jesus Christ demonstrated His strong feelings for Jerusalem.
To the Jewish religious leaders who ruled the city, Christ said, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for 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 were religious people who boasted about how they wouldn’t have killed and spilled the blood of God’s prophets as their forefathers had done. Yet they proceeded to spill far more precious blood—that of Jesus Christ!
This isn’t a message just to the Jews. It’s a message to all people—especially religious people! “Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” (verses 31‑33).
If they didn’t kill the prophets, they drove them out of town. Christ called these corrupt religious leaders serpents and vipers! Then Christ delivered some dire prophecies. “Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation. 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!” (verses 36‑37). “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem,” that kills and stones the prophets. Throughout the ages, Christ would have gathered the children of Jerusalem (and all mankind) like a hen gathers her little chickens, but they refused. They didn’t want God in their religion—or in their lives! That is true of all religious and non-religious people throughout man’s history.
And what a price Jerusalem (and all mankind) has paid. Christ says the word woe eight times in this chapter. We shall see that Jerusalem’s history has been filled with woe, woe, woe. And the worst is yet to come! But so is the best, which is greater than we can even imagine.
“Behold, your house is left unto you desolate” (verse 38). Really all we need to do is look at Jerusalem’s past and present, with its history of bloodshed and desolation, to realize that things will never improve until the glorified Jesus Christ intervenes. Rivers of blood have flowed in that city!
The suffering that has occurred in Jerusalem is a type of 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.
Israel, most of all, should be inspired to seek God just because of Jerusalem’s history. 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 for the world. Now mankind has come to the point where every human being is about to be destroyed unless Christ intervenes (Matthew 24:22).
Matthew 24, the Olivet prophecy, which foretells a cataclysmic global destruction, follows Christ’s condemnation of Jerusalem in chapter 23. We now face human extinction because Jerusalem and Israel (and the world) have rejected Christ!
Father and Son
What is so special about Jerusalem? Why is it so important to God?
The exciting history and prophecy of Jerusalem began all the way back in Genesis. “And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt 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). The land of Moriah has always been associated with Jerusalem. This is where Abraham was about to sacrifice his son.
“And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son” (verse 10). But God stopped him. “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” (verses 11‑12). Isaac was as good as dead in his dad’s mind.
Abraham and Isaac were a type of God the Father and Jesus Christ. That is a major reason why this incident occurred in the Jerusalem area. Later, God the Father did sacrifice His only begotten Son in Jerusalem. The very Son of God was sacrificed in Jerusalem. How rich and inspiring the history of Jerusalem is!
But as we will see later, the richest part of that history is yet to be fulfilled.
God Chose Jerusalem
Notice this remarkable statement that God made: “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). God HimselfCHOSEJerusalem. He didn’t choose Paris or London or New York—He chose Jerusalem.
Imagine: This is a city God has chosen! It is yet to dazzle the world with a godly brilliance! The whole world will soon be looking to this city for leadership. God is now calling out spiritual Israel, His Church, to have its headquarters in Jerusalem and rule the world. He is offering you, if you are one of those called-out ones, the greatest responsibility ever given to any man.
There is strong evidence that Melchizedek founded Jerusalem. “And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God” (Genesis 14:18). Melchizedek was king of Salem, which probably became known as “Jeru-salem.” “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).
Salem means “peace.” Jerusalem means “city of peace.” If you understand the history of Jerusalem, this could be likened to a sick joke! This city’s history has been filled with rivers of blood. No city on Earth has had more bloodshed! No city has suffered like Jerusalem. It has known almost no peace! That’s because man has ruled Jerusalem apart from God.
This blood-soaked city is yet to become a city of peace!
No other city has had such an incredible beginning. It was chosen by God and undoubtedly founded by Melchizedek—the great Being who became Jesus Christ (Hebrews 7:3). Who could be without father, without mother, and have neither beginning nor ending of life? This could only be the God who became Jesus Christ. Only God can be described this way. And no man has ever seen God the Father.
God chose Jerusalem from the very beginning. God founded this city in peace. It was founded to be a city of peace forever! You can be sure God will complete His plan. If you understand God’s goal, you know that the meaning of the city’s name contains a prophecy of its magnificent future!
God has turned His back on Jerusalem because of the sinful people. But that problem will be corrected in the near future.
During the time of Joshua, Jerusalem was called Jebus (Joshua 18:28; Judges 19:10). The Jebusites lived there. 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).
David was the one who finally captured Jerusalem from the Jebusites (2 Samuel 5:1-6). This city was such a fortress that it appeared the blind and lame could defend it. But David trusted God and triumphed.
“Nevertheless David took the strong hold of Zion: the same is the city of David. And David said on that day, 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. Wherefore they said, The blind and the lame shall not come into the house. 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” (2 Samuel 5:7‑10). Jerusalem was called the “city of David.” But that would soon change.
God Rejects Jerusalem
Judah turned away from God. Jeremiah was sent to Jerusalem to warn it. “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 told to stand in the gates of Jerusalem—where the kings and rulers would enter—and to warn them. They were breaking God’s Sabbath day.
God always sends a messenger to warn His sinning people and Israel. The message must be declared where the people can hear it. “And say unto them, 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: Thus saith the Lord; Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem; Neither carry forth a burden out of your houses on the sabbath day, neither do ye any work, but hallow ye the sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers. But they obeyed not, neither inclined their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear, nor receive instruction” (verses 20‑23). They were commanded to hallow God’s Sabbath—keep it holy. If we keep a holy Sabbath, it prepares us for a holy week and a close relationship with God. Repeatedly, Israel was punished because of breaking this commandment and turning away from God.
Jerusalem was destroyed because of Sabbath-breaking. It has been trodden down ever since—over 2,000 years! There is a cause for every effect. Jerusalem is a city in deep trouble today. Why? Because of sin.
Nebuchadnezzar made Jerusalem look like a garbage dump. “Therefore shall Zion for your sake be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of the forest” (Micah 3:12). After Jerusalem was destroyed in 585 b.c., it looked like heaps of garbage.
Zion is a type of the Church today. Jerusalem is a type of all Israel. This is history and prophecy. In this end time, God’s lukewarm, Laodicean Church will be “plowed as a field”! (Read about the Laodiceans in Revelation 3:14-21; write for our book Malachi’s Message for a thorough explanation of the tragedy that has occurred in God’s Church in this end time.) God’s own people will be torn into pieces because of their sins. What is their guilt? “They build up Zion with blood, and Jerusalem with iniquity. The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money: yet will they lean upon the Lord, and say, Is not the Lord among us? none evil can come upon us” (Micah 3:10-11). Anciently, the priests and prophets taught for hire. But this is mainly a prophecy for today. Spiritual Jerusalem, or God’s Laodicean Church, has priests and prophets who teach for hire. They trust man for their sustenance, not God.
However, not all of God’s ministers trust in man. “But truly I am full of power by the spirit of the Lord, and of judgment, and of might, to declare unto Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin” (verse 8). We are commissioned to declare their sins. That is what God’s loyal people will be doing. God prophesied of such a work.
Nebuchadnezzar left Jerusalem as a plowed field and in heaps of garbage. Josephus was an eyewitness when the Romans destroyed this city in a.d. 70. He said if a person came upon that place, they would never imagine a city was once there!
Jerusalem was rebuilt, and then the Jews rebelled again in a.d. 132-135. Rome was so incensed that it destroyed every building constructed since a.d. 70. The records claim that, once again, Jerusalem became like a plowed field! No Jew was allowed within 20 miles of Jerusalem.
During the religious crusades, the “city of peace” again flowed with rivers of blood. Christ said Jerusalem was left desolate. He said woe, woe, woe and woe to Jerusalem! Has Jerusalem been desolate and filled with woe? Yes. And the worst woe by far is yet to come!
“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). Every nation that has ruled Jerusalem has experienced serious problems. This is true up to the present day.
“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 said the Jerusalem problem would be a nightmare for peacemakers and diplomats who get entangled with it, not to mention the people who call it their home. And yet, it seems that every nation wants Jerusalem.
No city has suffered like Jerusalem. As we will see in the chapters to follow, it is presently weighed down by insoluble problems. Yet, ultimately, there is very good news. God established Jerusalem to be a city of peace—and one day He will make sure that it finally becomes so! It is actually the city from which God’s Family will rule the entire universe!