Many might see a deep irony in that the city that bears the name “City of Peace” (it is commonly accepted that Jerusalem means “city” or “abode” of peace) is in fact anything but that. Whilst there might not be open warfare at this moment in time, one feels it is only a matter of time before serious conflict erupts. Sovereignty over Jerusalem has been contested for millennia and it is still one of the most contested pieces of real estate on the face of the earth. Ownership is contested by Jews Arabs, as well as a number of Christian religious denominations.
[This coming Wednesday (3 October) you can enjoy a FREE presentation of National Geographic’s documentary JERUSALEM and discover why this tiny piece of land is sacred to three major religions through the stories of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim families who call Jerusalem home. Full details are in full at the bottom of this post.]
Where does this idea of Jerusalem being the city of peace come from? And who does have the right to call it their own?
As Christadelphians we are interested in this question from a religious perspective rather than a political. And in particular we look to the Bible as the inspired word of God to inform our understanding on this important issue.
The Bible is clear that Jerusalem does not belong to the Jews, Arabs, Catholics or any other faith or creed. Jerusalem is God’s city as He states in the beautiful words of the Psalmist: “For the LORD has chosen Zion; he has desired it for his dwelling place: “This is my resting place forever; here I will dwell, for I have desired it””. (Psa 132:13-14). This is the place of which the Lord has said: “he who touches you touches the apple of [my] eye” (Zech 2:8).
At the beginning of the last week of his life Jesus approached Jerusalem from the east with the rejoicing crowd, riding over the Mount of Olives from Bethany on a colt (Luke19: 29-44). As he descended the flank of the Mount, he paused to reflect and was brought to tears (v41). His thoughts were not of the hateful act that would be perpetrated against him, but rather he saw the terrible judgements coming on God’s city and people because of their hard-hearted rebellion, “When he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes… because you did not know the time of your visitation”(vv41-44).
We might similarly weep. Not only for Jerusalem and the Jews who still do not know their Messiah, but also for the world, for whom “the things that make for peace” remain hidden from their eyes too. The human authorities rejected Jesus on the occasion of his first coming and the Bible tells that they will again at his second coming. But this rejection isn’t the end – it is only the beginning!
Jesus prophesied that Jewish rule over Jerusalem would end and this came true in AD70 as the Roman legions sacked and destroyed Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple (Luke 21: 5-38). But Jesus prophecy didn’t stop there, he went to describe how Gentiles (non-Jews) would control Jerusalem until the time when God was ready to send his son into the world once more, not this time as servant and savior but rather as King and judge. The second coming of Jesus will usher in a time of peace the like of which has never been experienced before in human history. The capital city of this Kingdom of peace will be Jerusalem from where the King of Kings, Jesus, will reign with justice and righteousness.
We have seen the first two parts of Jesus prophecy come true and we wait with great excitement and anticipation for the final part to come to fruition. Our prayer is, “ Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Mat 6:10). We look forward to that wonderful time of blessing and peace, when “they shall neither hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa 11:9).
JERUSALEM (a film by the National Geographic)
Lesser Albert Halls, Stirling (Scotland, UK)
Wednesday 3 October 2018, 7:30pm