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Jerusalem in Prophecy

by Bob Russell

Occasionally people ask my opinion on various personal or church issues. I recently received the following question which I have reprinted below, followed by my response.

QUESTION

Bob,

Wow!  I’m holding my breath today as we watch the formal opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem and the city being named the capital!  Would you consider doing a blog about what is happening right now in Jerusalem and the world?  It’s crazy, exciting, scary, and prophetic! 

MY ANSWER

Bible-believing Christians hold different views of the Nation of Israel in prophecy. For example, a recent Lifeway poll* found that 80 percent of evangelicals believed that the creation of Israel in 1948 was a fulfillment of biblical prophecy that would bring about Christ’s return. Twenty percent believed it was an interesting historical event but had nothing to do with Biblical prophecy.

While not everything that happens in Jerusalem is a fulfillment of prophecy, it seems to me that current events are laying the groundwork for the final chapter of history to unfold. Consider what the Bible says about the city of Jerusalem.

God chose Jerusalem as a Holy City
     “The Lord will inherit Judah as his portion in the Holy land and will again choose Jerusalem” (Zech 2:12).

Jerusalem is located on the mountain where Abraham intended to sacrifice his son Isaac on the altar. As a result of God’s intervention, Abraham became the father of many nations. (See Gen. 22:2.) Jerusalem was chosen as Israel’s headquarters by King David and is where Solomon built the first temple. (See 2 Samuel 5;7-9.) Jerusalem is where Jesus shed His precious blood for the sins of the world and where the resurrected Christ ascended into heaven. The Bible identifies Jerusalem as “the city of God” or “the city of the Great King” (Psalm 48).

God loves Jerusalem, and Psalm 132:13-14 promises: “The Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His habitation. ‘This is my resting place forever; here I will dwell, for I have desired it.’”

Jerusalem is the center of the nations
     “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: This is Jerusalem, which I have set in the center of the nations, with countries all around her” (Ezekiel 5:5).

Jerusalem is located in what appears to be a remote part of the world and is relatively small compared to the major cities of the world. It’s a city of only 850,000 people. It’s the capital of the tiny nation of Israel (population is 8.5 million), and yet as the Bible predicted, continues to be the focal point of the nations.

Jerusalem would be destroyed as a punishment for sin
Centuries before Christ, God’s prophets warned the Hebrews that because of their spiritual rebellion Jerusalem would be destroyed.

“I will make Jerusalem a heap of ruins, a haunt of jackals; and I will make the cities of Judah a desolation, without inhabitant” (Jeremiah 9:11). (See also Micah 3:12)

These prophecies were fulfilled in 587 BC when Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the city and its temple.

Jerusalem would be rebuilt and restored
The prophet Jeremiah predicted the Jews would be in exile seventy years and then return and rebuild the temple and the city.

“This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place (Jeremiah 29:10).

     Jerusalem would be destroyed a second time by an invading army 
After 70 years of captivity in Babylon, (606 – 537 b.c.) the Jews returned to Jerusalem and rebuilt their city. But they refused to receive the Messiah when He came and so the Lord predicted a prolonged period when Jerusalem would fall under Gentile control.

Jesus prophesied, “Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (Luke 21:24). That prophecy was fulfilled in 70 A.D. when the Romans conquered and burned the city. A few Jewish people escaped and were scattered throughout the earth. But as the Bible predicted, a remnant was preserved for centuries.

     Israel would one day be restored as a nation and Jerusalem reoccupied by the Jews
The Romans were followed by the Byzantines, and they were succeeded, in order, by the Muslims, the Crusaders, the Mamelukes, the Turks, the British, and the Jordanians. But just as the Bible predicted, the nation of Israel was resurrected on May 14, 1948. After 18 centuries of not being a nation, the dry bones came to life. (See Ezek. 37:1-10 and Isa. 11:10-11.) And just as Jesus prophesied, Jerusalem suffered under a long period of Gentile control until June 7, 1967, when, for the first time in 1,897 years, the Jews regained sovereignty over the city.

“This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Once again men and women of ripe old age will sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each of them with cane in hand because of their age.  The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there.’This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘It may seem marvelous to the remnant of this people at that time, but will it seem marvelous to me?’ declares the Lord Almighty.  This is what the Lord Almighty says: ’I will save my people from the countries of the east and the west.  I will bring them back to live in Jerusalem; they will be my people, and I will be faithful and righteous to them as their God’”(Zechariah 8:4-8).

Jerusalem will be the object of intense opposition, and all the surrounding nations will come against it
     “On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves” (Zechariah 12:3).

It’s not surprising that the Arab nations despise Jerusalem and violently demonstrate against any accomplishment there. Radical Muslims have vowed to exterminate the Jews and regain control of all Jerusalem. Any positive attention on Jerusalem infuriates Hamas, Hezbollah, and other terrorists’ organizations.

The enemies of Jerusalem will not be able to defeat it.
     “Then the clans of Judah will say in their hearts, ‘The people of Jerusalem are strong because the Lord Almighty is their God.’ On that day I will make the clans of Judah like a firepot in a woodpile, like a flaming torch among sheaves. They will consume all the surrounding peoples right and left, but Jerusalem will remain intact in her place… On that day the Lord will shield those who live in Jerusalem, so that the feeblest among them will be like David, and the house of David will be like God, like the angel of the Lord going before them. On that day I will set out to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem” (Zechariah 12:1-9).

Jerusalem will one day experience a dramatic spiritual revival 
The Bible predicted that God would bring the Jewish people back to Israel in unbelief. (See Ezekiel 20:34-38.) But a glorious day is coming for Jerusalem, because when the Lord returns, many students of prophecy believe He is going to reign over all the world for a thousand years, and His reign of peace, righteousness, and justice will be based in Jerusalem: “For from Zion will go forth the law, even the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:3). (See also Micah 4:1-7 and Zechariah 12:10.)

In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul predicted, “Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, and in this way, all Israel will be saved.  As it is written: ‘The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.  And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins’” (Romans 11:25-27).

God is preparing a new Jerusalem, which will be permanent and much more glorious
     “The days are coming, declares the Lord, when this city will be rebuilt for me… The city will never again be uprooted or demolished” (Jeremiah 31:38-40).

“Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’ for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.  I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them.  They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘ He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away’” (Rev. 21:1-4).

We should pray for the peace of Jerusalem
Psalm 122:6 instructs us to, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem….” When we pray for the peace of Jerusalem we are really praying for the return of the Lord, for Jerusalem will never experience true peace until the Prince of Peace returns.

Our Sovereign God is in control of the current events in Jerusalem
The fulfillment of Bible prophecy in Jerusalem illustrates that God is sovereign. Even when everything seems to be chaotic here on earth, and even when we can’t precisely interpret prophetic events we can be assured that God is in control and He has the power to orchestrate all the evil of mankind to the triumph of His will in history.

“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.  It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good” (Titus 2:11-14).

*Evangelical attitudes toward Israel research Study – Lifeway research, Dec. 2017

 

     Bob Russell is retired Senior Minister of the Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY.

www.bobrussell.org




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