Blind to the truth about Jerusalem
As most are aware, last December 23 the nations of the world, led by New Zealand, passed an anti-Israel UN resolution (Resolution 2334). The resolution had a particular emphasis on God’s special place – Jerusalem. This was nothing less than defiance of the Living God. The resolution denied a connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem, declaring it illegal for Jews to live in East Jerusalem, as well as in large tracts of Israel like Judea and Samaria and the Golan. This unrighteous decree also denied a Jewish connection with the Temple Mount, including the Western Wall.
On October 17 2014 the President of the Palestinian Authority said: “Jerusalem is the jewel in the crown and it is the eternal capital of the Palestinian State. Without it there will not be a state.”
What does the Almighty God say about Jerusalem? He says: “The Lord loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob” (Psalm 87:2). He also says “I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth…..” (Zechariah 8:3). I’m with Him!
The nations seem blind to the truth about Jerusalem. Indeed, there are two truths about their determination to divide this city, neither of which the nations seem to understand (with the exception of the new US administration).
The first truth is that “Palestinians” do not want Jerusalem divided between them and the nation of Israel. The nations, including the New Zealand government, speak constantly of giving East Jerusalem to the “Palestinians” for their capital. But the truth is the “Palestinians” want the whole of Jerusalem for themselves – they do not want it divided.
The second truth is that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, our God, also does not want His city divided. Look at what He says in Psalm 122:3 (ESV): “Jerusalem – built as a city that is bound firmly together”. This doesn’t sound to me like a divided city! Indeed, all nine verses of this Psalm make wonderful reading about the Lord’s intentions for Jerusalem.
The fact is, all proposals to divide Jerusalem are up against some serious opposition – the opposition of the Living God.
Are the world leaders, who for some reason consider that they have a right and are qualified to make these pronouncements about Jerusalem that are in total opposition to God’s statements, ignorant, or are the defiant of the living God? I trust for their sake, and for the sakes of the nations they lead, that it is the former – that they are ignorant. This is not to say that ignorance is an excuse, but at least there is always the possibility of their ignorance being mitigated at some future point before it’s too late.
I fear, however, that the position they are taking is out of defiance of the Almighty, who chose this city to be His “dwelling place” on earth. Nations and their leaders defy Him at their peril. Not only has God made it absolutely plain what His intentions are in relation to Jerusalem for the coming days, but historically as well. His hand has been totally obvious in His dealings with Jerusalem. A brief look at these might be helpful.
Mount Moriah, to where God led Abraham to offer his son Isaac, almost 4000 years ago, was in what is now Jerusalem.
This was also the place where Jacob dreamed his dream of the ladder to heaven, connecting Jerusalem and God’s heavenly abode, and signifying the special relationship between God and man.
Then 275 years later God promised to bring the Israelites back to Jerusalem after their exile in Egypt: “Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, (emphasis added) O Lord, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established.”(Exodus 15:17). From the promise in that verse Jerusalem became known as “the place”.
Another 400 years later, after the Jebusites had earlier taken Jerusalem, David reconquered the city, establishing his throne there. Even though he had conquered the city fairly and squarely, David still purchased the site on Mount Moriah from where he offered a significant sacrifice to the Lord. Not only were the Israelites the owners of Jerusalem by Divine gift, but they had secured it militarily as well, and by also purchasing it for value under the civil legal system. Then in 982BCE (2999 years ago) the Jewish King Solomon began building the first Temple on the same site on Mount Moriah, in Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 3).
400 years later the Temple was destroyed and the Jews were taken captive. But after 70 years in captivity the Persian King Cyrus permitted them to return and they rebuilt the Temple, on exactly the same site, in Jerusalem.
Then came Yeshua (Jesus), and once again Jerusalem occupied centre stage. We read in Luke 9:51 that as the time of His crucifixion was approaching He “stedfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem”. He was sacrificed on the same Mount Moriah, and so began the faith that we know today as the Christian Faith.
For sure, Jerusalem is המכון (hamakon) - the Place! It actually means “the foundation” or “the fixed place”!
But yet again, the temple was destroyed in AD70 by the Romans. Part of the foundation remained, however, and this is the famous Western Wall visited by millions who come to pray there. The Almighty God continues to preserve “hamakon” – the Place, even though significant parts of it are occupied by those of another faith, who consistently deny God’s people their full God given and legal entitlement to “the Place”.
It may be premature to suggest that the views of Antonio Gueterres, the new UN Secretary General, represent a light at the end of the tunnel. But he recently said it’s “completely clear that the Temple that the Romans destroyed in Jerusalem was a Jewish Temple”. This is an important, indeed groundbreaking acknowledgement by the head of the UN.
The response of the Palestinian Authority Jerusalem Affairs Minister was that the Secretary General has “violated all legal, diplomatic and humanitarian customs, overstepped his role as Secretary General and …. must issue an apology to the Palestinian people”.
There would appear, in the natural, to be no possibility of a negotiated agreement which would permit a Jewish presence and a Temple on Mount Moriah - God’s Place.
And so, on into the days to come. We read in Psalm 132:13-14: “For the Lord hath chosen Zion; He hath desired it for His habitation. This is My rest forever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it”. These words are referring to Jerusalem – this is confirmed in Zechariah 14:17 where we read how in the days to come “… the families of the earth” will come “unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts …”.
Even if one is unprepared to accept what God says about Jerusalem in the Scriptures, it is difficult to dispute the fundamental centrality of this Place as one looks into the very name “Jerusalem”.
Of course, in Hebrew it is pronounced “Yerushalayim”, and ירושלם is its Biblical Hebrew spelling. The tracking of this name in Hebrew produces some significant insights. From the earliest times it was named “Salem” (שלם) (Genesis 14:18). Remembering that Hebrew reads from right to left, note that שלם appears in the Hebrew word above for Jerusalem. “Salem” means “completed”; “brought to completion”; “whole”. From this word comes the word “shalom” (שלום), which means “peace”; “wellbeing”; “safety”; “completeness”. So, there’s clearly a destiny embedded in the earliest name of this Place.
Then when Abraham returned to offer Isaac on the altar he renamed the Place “Adonai Yireh” (יהוה יראה), which translates as “the Lord will see”. If we place the two names “yireh” and “shalom” together we see “Yirehshalom”, which translates as “he will see peace”. (And of course, compare this with “Yerushalayim”). This reminds one of an interesting prophetic verse in Isaiah 31:5: “As birds flying, so will the Lord of hosts defend Jerusalem; defending also He will deliver it; and passing over He will preserve it”.
We could also consider the Hebrew word “yerushah” (ירושה) for its relationship with the name Yerushalayim. Yerushah means “inheritance” or “heritage”. Certainly, this can be seen as pointing to Jerusalem as the inheritance of God’s people.
Finally, we might remember how in Zechariah 12 God makes it plain that the nations who come against Jerusalem will pay. Interestingly, the Hebrew verb “to pay” is “leshalem (לשלם). One immediately sees that this word shares the same root as “salem” and “shalom” (שלם) and, of course, this root word is found in the Hebrew word for Jerusalem. Jerusalem comes at a cost and with a cost. Much has been paid for Jerusalem in the past and those who seek to hurt Jerusalem in the days to come will be held to account – they will pay a heavy price!
It’s important to remember that there are no coincidences in the Hebrew language. These are all real linkages, placed by God Himself in His language, for us to discover, wonder at, and believe.
Just to place a seal on what Scripture has to say about the place of Jerusalem in God’s economy, we can read the last words of Ezekiel: “and the name of the city from that day shall be, The Lord is there” (Ezekiel 48:35).
I believe one can come to only one conclusion as to why virtually all of the leaders of the world’s nations, including our own, refuse to accept these realities about Jerusalem – and that is because the Living God has said these things. Many of these leaders profess a belief in God, yet they prefer to lean on their own understanding even though this opposes the reality found in God’s Word. They will believe anyone but the Living God. They believe they know better than God Himself, even when it comes to His own property!