Jerusalem

Jerusalem is the most important city in the world.

jerusalem

The Jews have at least seventy different names for it. Some of those found in the Bible are:

  1. Aliza
  2. Ariel
  3. Bat-Zion
  4. Ben-Zion
  5. Debir
  6. Eden
  7. Harel
  8. Moria
  9. Zion
  10. Salem
  11. Jebus
  12. Ziona
  13. Jerusalem

יְרוּשָׁלִַ֜ם

Yerushalieem

It is first mentioned in the Bible in Genesis 14: 18 as the city Salem.

  Genesis 14: 18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he [was] the priest of the most high God.

 

This first appearance in the Bible demonstrates that a mysterious person who the Bible describes as having no beginning called Melchizedek the King of Salem blessed Abraham the first Hebrew (Hebrews 7:2). The name occurs 814 times within 767 verses in the KJV. Before Jerusalem finally fulfills its appointed destiny as the city of the Prince of peace, and capital city of a world at peace. It has had to experience a long period of being trodden down by the Gentiles (Luke 21:24).

 

    Luke 21:24 And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled

 

It cannot be a matter of chance that Jerusalem’s former name when under Gentile Canaanite control was Jebus (Judg. 19:10), a name that translates as a place ‘trodden down’ or ‘trampled under foot’. Just as King David captured the city of the Jebusites (1 Chron. 11:4,5) and made it his capital city, so the One (Jesus)

greater than David is to free Jerusalem from being trodden down by the Gentiles and make it truly the city of peace. 

From the time that Jebus was captured by David’s army it is frequently referred to in Scripture as (Mount) Zion. The very first mention of this name is in the phrase “strong hold of Zion” (2 Sam. 5:7). We would expect that the name Zion would be as meaningful as are the names Jebus and Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is chosen by God in His divine plan of the ages. We see evidence of this as the Psalmist declares: “The Lord loves the gates of Zion more than the dwelling places of Jacob” (Psalm 87:2). Moreover, it is this city alone to which God descended, as the Psalmist again declared: “For 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” (Psalm 132:13-14). Consequently, Jerusalem attained a status as both the holy city and as the city at the center of the world (Ezekiel 5:5).

Given such privileged position, it is no wonder that Jerusalem is mentioned more than any other city in Scripture: more than 814 times and appears in some two-thirds of the books of the Old and almost one-half of the books of the New Testament.

In biblical prophecy it is known as “Sodom and Egypt” (Revelation 11:8). Of the biblical references, 465 in the Old Testament and 24 in the New refer to prophecies of Jerusalem later than the time there were spoken.

In the Bible Jerusalem occupies a strategic position with respect to two major prophetic periods: “the times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24) and “the seventy weeks of Daniel” (Daniel 9:24-27). In the case of “the times of the Gentiles,” the city prophetically marks the beginning and ending of this period that stretches from the Babylonian destruction (586 B.C.) until the Second Advent of Christ. In the case of the “seventy weeks,” events in Jerusalem likewise determine the beginning and ending of this prophetic period as well as affecting the parenthesis in time between the sixty-ninth and seventieth week.

During the time of the First Temple, Jerusalem became the focal point of prophecy as foreign invaders sought to capture the holy city. At one such occasion the prophet Isaiah prophesied Jerusalem’s deliverance while declaring God’s covenantal pledge to preserve it for the future: “For I will defend this city to save it for My own sake and for My servant David’s sake” (2 Kings 19:34).

Jerusalem is at the heart of Messianic prophecy and redemptive history. In fact, it may be said that there could have been no such plan revealed apart from its presence (Luke 13:33b). Jerusalem was indispensable to the preparation of Christ’s first coming, being restored from ruin (Isaiah 52:7-12) to fulfill its role in the messianic advent as the city of the great king.

Jesus was sent to Jerusalem (Matthew 23:37) and the city served to mark defining moments in Jesus earthly life and ministry:

  1. Dedication (Luke 2:22-38), dialogue with the teachers in the Temple (Luke 2:41-49),
  2. Temptation by the devil (Luke 4:9-12),
  3. Confrontation with the money-changers (Matthew 21:12-27),
  4. Signs of Messiahship (John 5:19; 7:14-29; 8:2-12),
  5. Trial and crucifixion (Matthew 25-27),
  6. Resurrection and ascension (Luke 24:1-51; Acts 1:9-11).
  7. The Church began in the city (Acts 2:1-13),
  8. The apostles performed miracles there (Acts 3),
  9. The Jerusalem Council met there (Acts 15:2-29),
  10. Paul began his climatic trip to Damascus (Acts 9:1-6)
  11. He also experienced the conflict that lead to his imprisonment and death (Acts 21:27ff).

Jerusalem’s destruction in A.D. 70 by the Roman Tenth Legion was predicted as the result of the Jews (corporate government) rejection of Jesus and its persecution of the Church: “and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation” (Luke 19:44). Yet, Jesus’ prediction included the future hope of Jerusalem’s restoration when it repents and receives Him as Messiah (Matthew 23:39; Acts 3:19-21) at the Second Advent. Jesus even revealed the duration of its desolation, being “trampled underfoot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (Luke 21:24). Thus, Jerusalem’s experience as the time of the end approaches is to be one of escalating tribulation until it becomes the Tribulation period and finally finds deliverance at Christ’s coming (Matthew 24:21-31).

Jerusalem under attack by Titus Vespasian Artist Poussin 1623

According to Daniel’s prophecy of the seventieth week (Daniel 9:27), which informs Jesus’ prophetic discourse on the Mount of Olives (Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21), Paul’s prophetic instruction to the Thessalonians (2 Thessalonians 2:4), and John’s prophetic vision of the city’s invasion by the nations (Revelation 11:1-2), the armies of the Antichrist will occupy the city (cf. Daniel 11:45), desecrate the Temple and usurp the place of God within it, demanding worship from the world (cf. Revelation 13:6, 15).

Zechariah’s prophecy chronicles this period of distress for the city, detailing the gathering of all nations against Jerusalem (Zechariah 12:2-3; 14:2) and its battles until at the climax of the campaign of Armageddon, when the final assault on Jerusalem takes place (Zechariah 12-14).

The Lord will bring about Israel’s national repentance beginning with “the inhabitants of Jerusalem” (Zechariah 12:8-13:2), Christ will defeat the invading armies of Antichrist (Zechariah 14:3, 12-15), deliver the Jewish Remnant in the city by an earthquake (Zechariah 14:3-4), and there set up His Millennial reign (Zechariah 14:9), transforming the city’s topography (Zechariah 14:8, 10) rebuilding the Temple (Zechariah 6:12-15), purifying and glorifying the city (Zechariah 8:3; 14:11, 20-21; cf. Isaiah 4:5-6; Jeremiah 3:17), and calling the nations to worship Him (Zechariah 14:16-19).

Isaiah, likewise, prophesies concerning Jerusalem in the Millennial Kingdom, declaring the elevation of the Temple Mount and its new position as the worship center for the world (Isaiah 2:2-3) and center of Messiah’s rule over the nations, establishing universal peace (Isaiah 2:4). Isaiah also reveals the glorious reversal of Jerusalem’s fortunes in the millennial restoration, announcing the predicted fulfillment for the city with the divine declaration: “For behold, I create Jerusalem for rejoicing, and her people for gladness. I will also rejoice in Jerusalem, and be glad in My people” (Isaiah 65:18). The prophet’s portrayal of restoration in Jerusalem includes a restoration of harmony in the created order to prevent the defiling “[God’s] holy mountain” in Jerusalem (Isaiah 11:6-9; 65:25), and the nations turning to Christ, becoming His people (Isaiah 11:10, 12; 19:25) and beholding His glory in Jerusalem (Isaiah 66:18-20).

The prophet Ezekiel focuses on Jerusalem’s Millennial Temple and the city’s extended sacred status (Ezekiel 40-48), depicting the Lord’s return to dwell in Jerusalem (Ezekiel 43:1-7; cf. 37:26-28) and conferring upon it a new descriptive title: “YHWH Shammah: The Lord is there” (Ezekiel 48:3).

The final assault on the city is predicted to occur at the conclusion of the thousand year reign of Christ when Satan, released from his imprisonment deceives the nations and gathers an army to march against King Messiah enthroned in Jerusalem (Revelation 20:7-9a). As He had promised (2 Kings 19:34), the Lord defends Jerusalem and destroys these last adversaries of His holy city (Revelation 20:9b).

With the creation of the new heavens and new earth for the eternal state, Jerusalem is mentioned for the last time in the Bible. The earthly Jerusalem will continue in relationship to the heavenly Jerusalem in fulfillment of its divine destiny as the place where God’s Name will remain forever (2 Chronicles 33:4; cf. Psalm 48:8; 68:16; 132:14 Joel 3:20; Micah 4:7). We must adhere to the command in Psalm 122.

Psalm 122: 6-7 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces.

 

Daniel E. Woodhead Ph.D.

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