Print

Our Responsibility in Respect of Jerusalem

Written by Prof Johan Malan.

“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: May they prosper who love you” (Ps. 122:6).

“I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they shall never hold their peace day or night. You who make mention of the Lord, do not keep silent, and give Him no rest till He establishes and till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth” (Isa. 62:6-7).

Why has only one city in the entire world been singled out, for which Christians everywhere should earnestly intercede until the glory of the Lord descends upon this city, so that everybody from the ends of the earth would see it and also share in the joy of Jerusalem?

The fact that Jerusalem was chosen for this honour places a responsibility on all Christians to be fully aware of the deep spiritual significance of this city, as that alone explains the fact why Jerusalem, particularly during this end-time situation, is in the forefront of the battle between light and darkness. Without this knowledge we will not be able to meaningfully pray for Jerusalem or to clearly enough warn the enemies of Jerusalem; neither will we have enough prophetic insight in the wonderful future of the city of the Great King!

According to the Bible, Jerusalem will pass through the following ten phases before the Lord’s final purpose with this city will be achieved. We are presently in the fifth phase of this remarkable city’s divine history. The Lord expects of us to be worthy supporters of Jerusalem and to always take to heart the spiritual interests of this city and its inhabitants.

1. The city where the Lord has chosen to reveal Himself

Jerusalem’s divine history began when the Lord took a decision to put His name in this city forever. After Solomon had built the first temple in Jerusalem, the Lord said to him: “I have sanctified this house which you have built to put My name there forever” (1 Kings 9:3). In a wider context He also referred to the city itself: “Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen for Myself, to put My name there” (1 Kings 11:36).

God’s name is forever linked to Jerusalem. Little did Israel realise that, during the centuries to come, God would reveal Himself in great and wonderful ways in Jerusalem. The many long interruptions in the execution of His plan were caused by Israel’s unbelief, but in spite of that, the Lord never abandoned His initial intention with Jerusalem – neither will He ever do so. During Old Testament times He often revealed Himself to Israel through the temple service in Jerusalem, but it did not lead to a permanent change of heart among His Chosen People.

2. The city of Christ’s revelations to humanity

The greatest revelation of God to Israel and all people on earth occurred with the coming of His Son, Jesus, to the world. In a Messianic prophecy on Jesus, God said: “It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth” (Isa. 49:6). John the Baptist pointed at Him and said: “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).

God revealed Himself through His Son to the inhabitants of Jerusalem but, in spite of all the clear Messianic prophecies, they did not recognise Him and consequently rejected Him. As part of a planned conspiracy Jesus was arrested, tried in the city and convicted although innocent. The Lord Jesus was crucified just outside Jerusalem at Golgotha in the quarry of Solomon. Here, the great sacrifice for the atoning of lost humanity’s sins was paid to God. Golgotha will forever stand out as the expression of the love and forgiveness of God, and as the only door to eternal life. There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved – only Jesus and Him crucified.

Jesus was buried just outside the city of Jerusalem, and three days later He rose from the dead. On the Sunday of His resurrection He delivered the first sermon of the Christian dispensation to His disciples in Jerusalem, and a week later the second one (John 20:19-29). Forty days after His resurrection Jesus ascended to heaven from the Mount of Olives. Immediately prior to His ascension, He gave the Great Commission to His disciples. But before they would start with evangelistic outreaches another important divine event had to occur in Jerusalem.

3. The city where the worldwide ministry of the Holy Spirit was initiated

The Christian church originated in Jerusalem where the Holy Spirit was poured out upon 120 faithful disciples on the day of Pentecost. They had a clear command to wait for this blessing because, without the power of the Holy Spirit they would be unable to be witnesses of the rejected Christ in a hostile world:

“Then He said to them, Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things. Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:46-49).

That was the promise of the Holy Spirit: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). On the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the disciples, the process of world evangelism began. On that day, three thousand souls were saved and the church of Christ was born in Jerusalem. From Jerusalem, the gospel message would be proclaimed everywhere, even to the uttermost parts of the earth.

4. The downtrodden city during Israel’s unbelief and the evangelisation of the world

Why was Jerusalem a downtrodden city throughout the New Testament dispensation, and in this lamentable state very far from fulfilling its calling as the city of God? Because Israel did not accept their Messiah, and therefore could not live up to their calling as God’s people to proclaim the Message of the Messiah’s saving grace from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. The Lord Jesus condemned Jerusalem and its inhabitants for their unbelief:

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Matt. 23:37-19). On a question about this prophecy the Lord Jesus said that in Jerusalem not one stone would be left upon another, that shall not be thrown down (Matt. 24:2).

Israel were driven from their city and the dispensation of world evangelism began – a task that was predominantly fulfilled by Gentile believers. The Lord Jesus said in His Oliver Discourse: “Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (Luke 21:24). From the formulation of this statement it is very obvious that God’s plan for Israel and Jerusalem was not abandoned, since Jerusalem would only be trodden down until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. The times of the Gentiles refer to the time of world evangelism. At the end of the church dispensation Israel and Jerusalem have to be restored in order to realise their important future destiny.

Paul also adds to this prophecy when he says: “For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob” (Rom. 11:25-26).

As indicated above, Jesus told the Jews in Jerusalem that they would see Him no more till they say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” When He comes again, Israel will certainly accept Him as their Messiah-King!

Nobody can deny the truth that Israel’s spiritual hardening and physical dispersion were only temporary, since recent history renders ample proof of the restoration of Israel and Jerusalem. The people were restored to their land after virtually two millennia of dispersion among the nations. The old part of Jerusalem was recaptured from Jordan in 1967, and since that time it was once more under Jewish control. In 1980, Jerusalem was declared to be the eternal and indivisible capital of Israel, and for the first time since the Babylonian exile it was the capital of an independent state of Israel. During the first coming of the Lord Jesus the city was under the control of the Romans. At present the city is fully under Jewish control, but its final political and spiritual restoration will only occur when the Messiah has come and has restored the throne of David.

5. The city in which Israel is restored in the midst of great hostility

At present Israel is only partially restored, and the great majority of the nation is still spiritually dead. There are two reasons why the Lord allows hostilities against Israel and Jerusalem:

The first reason is to bring distress upon His people in order to test and refine them with a view to saving a remnant. In a prophecy on their end-time testing He says: “Therefore thus says the Lord God: Because you have all become dross, therefore behold, I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem. As men gather silver, bronze, iron, lead, and tin into the midst of a furnace, to blow fire on it, to melt it; so I will gather you in My anger and in My fury, and I will leave you there and melt you” (Ezek. 22:19-20). Israel’s present problems will intensify considerably while they are heading for the time of Jacob’s trouble, out of which only a remnant will be saved (Jer. 30:7). In Hosea 5:15 the Messiah says: “In their affliction they will diligently seek Me.”

The second reason why hostilities against Jerusalem are escalating is because the Lord will gather all nations in Israel to enter into judgement with them at the battle of Armageddon because of their sins, which includes hatred of the Jews. In Zechariah 12:3 and 14:2 the Lord says that the nations will be gathered against Jerusalem and that He will judge them there. According to Zechariah 14:12-13 it will be a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Joel 3:2 also confirms the fact that the Lord will judge the nations for having dispersed Israel and dividing up the land.

6. The city of the Antichrist’s seven-year reign

The very dark period of the Antichrist’s seven-year reign is awaiting Jerusalem and the whole world. According to John 5:43 Israel will accept the Antichrist as Messiah, and according to Daniel 9:27 the Gentile nations will make the same mistake. That will open the way for the Antichrist to use Jerusalem as one of the headquarters for his apostate world government during the seven years of the tribulation period.

With his approval the temple will be rebuilt here, but he will also desecrate it by declaring himself to be God in the temple. Paul refers to the Antichrist as “the son of perdition who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God ... so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (2 Thess. 2:3-4). Only then the Jews will realise that they have been worshipping the wrong person as Messiah, and then revoke their covenant with him. In reaction to this, the Antichrist will order genocide of the Jews, forcing them to flee as quickly as possible to a place of refuge somewhere in the mountains. The Lord Jesus prepared them for this coming crisis:

“Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place ... then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. ... For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And if those days had not been shortened, no flesh would be saved” (Matt. 24:15-16, 21-22).

A Messianic Jew, Arthur Katz, also warns his fellow-Jews on the great assault which the false messiah and his power will make on them. He says: “I would rather be proven false, but I believe that this present generation of Jews is going to suffer devastation on a world scale that will eclipse the Nazi era. We are going to be viciously hated and pursued, suddenly uprooted, losing everything in a day, having to flee with only what is on our back and in panic not knowing where we are going. … We are going to suffer double for our sins but our God has said, I will restore.” (The Holocaust – Where was God?). At the end of this dark tunnel of the great tribulation, the light of the Messiah’s coming will shine on the remnant of Israel.

7. The city where Christ will reveal Himself in glory

Jerusalem is without any doubt the scene for Christ’s second coming: “And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, from east to west, making a very large valley. ... Then you shall flee through My mountain valley. ... Thus the Lord my God will come, and all the saints with You” (Zech. 14:4-5). On this occasion the Messiah will save the remnant of Israel, but judge their enemies. The Lord says the following on the national salvation of Israel:

“And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn. ... In that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness. ... They will call on My name and I will answer them. I will say, This is My people, and each one will say, The Lord is my God” (Zech. 12:10; 13:1, 9).

After the nation will have been reconciled with the Lord Jesus He will also restore the throne of David in Jerusalem. Then the promise will be fulfilled which the angel of the Lord made to Mary before the birth of Jesus: “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David” (Luke 1:32). The Lord Jesus never reigned from the throne of David, but after His second coming He will indeed do so: “After this I will return and will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will set it up; so that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, says the Lord who does all these things” (Acts 15:16-17).

8. The city of the great King during His reign of peace

A wonderful future awaits Jerusalem when the city will be the capital of the world during the millennial reign of Christ: “Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion on the sides of the north, the city of the great King” (Ps. 48:2). Everybody will rejoice about Jerusalem and Zion:

“Many people shall come and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths. For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore” (Isa. 2:3-4).

“At that time Jerusalem shall be called The Throne of the Lord, and all the nations shall be gathered to it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem. No more shall they follow the dictates of their evil hearts” (Jer. 3:17). The devil will be bound in a bottomless pit from where he will not be able to deceive the nations.

Israel will be highly regarded during this time: “Yes, many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the Lord. Thus says the Lord of hosts: In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you” (Zech. 8:22-23).

9. The city on which Satan’s last rebellion will be focussed

After the Messiah’s reign of peace there will be one big, final attack against Jerusalem when the devil is released from his prison. His renewed spiritual presence on earth will clearly reveal who will at that stage be truly saved and who not. Despite the positive conditions on earth, there will evidently be a large number of people at the end of the Millennium who will only have a form of godliness. The devil will find it easy to deceive them into participating in his last big rebellion:

“Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Rev. 20:7-10).

That will be the end of satanically-inspired assaults against Jerusalem and the kingdom of God. The devil and all his followers will subsequently spend eternity in the lake of fire.

10. The city which is the only gateway to the New Jerusalem

The work of redemption which the Lord Jesus has done in earthly Jerusalem is the only gateway to heavenly Jerusalem, that wonderful city which the Lord Jesus has gone to prepare for us as our eternal home (John 14:2-3). When the new earth has been created, the New Jerusalem will descend from heaven upon the earth. John says:

“Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. Then He who sat on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new” (Rev. 21:2-5).

Before the glory of eternity will dawn in the New Jerusalem, there is still a battle to be fought in this dark world, and victory to be gained. There are important aspects of Jerusalem’s world-reforming role which have not yet been fulfilled.

To what extent are you and I engaged in the battle in support of Jerusalem? Do we fully realise the severity of Satanically-driven war against Jerusalem and do we take a clear stand against it? Are we aware of the great and wonderful revelations of God that will still occur in this city? So much more than the Jewish exiles in Babylon, we all have reason to remember Jerusalem and to pray that the peace of God will descend in a new way upon this city which was in the past so often besieged, destroyed, trodden down and deserted because of the unbelief of its inhabitants. Israel’s exiles sang the following song of Zion:

“If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill! If I do not remember you, let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not exalt Jerusalem above my chief joy” (Ps. 137:5-6).

At the moment Jerusalem is a city in which large-scale unbelief in the true Messiah prevails, and also a city which is threatened by physical, religious and political division because of the enemies of Israel. To us who are so intimately linked to Jerusalem’s past, present and future, this is an unacceptable situation and an incentive to fervent prayer until the Lord establishes Jerusalem and makes it a praise in the earth.

Richard Baxter 07