May 25, 2013
Oct 18 - Rick Ridings
Before the 20th century, the Biblical prophecies of all the nations gathering against Jerusalem seemed far-fetched. Before World War I, Jerusalem was perceived by most as merely a backwater town of the Ottoman Empire (1).
The population began to grow from the middle of the 19th century as Zionist Jews made aliyah (2). The creation of the State of Israel and the division of Jerusalem in 1948, the city’s reunification in 1967 and Israel’s 1980 proclamation of Jerusalem as the undivided capital (3) began to bring the “Holy City” to the forefront of the world’s attention.
Now, in 2012, you can hardly turn on a news channel without some headline about Israel and Jerusalem. Sometime in November, the United Nations will likely vote on whether to recognize Palestine as a non-member state (4). Last month Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made it a point to highlight Iran’s nuclear program during his United Nations speech (5, see The looming war and coming harvest, September 2012, for how to pray).
God’s end-time purposes focus on Jerusalem
Jesus made it clear that He will not return to earth and restore all things until enough Jewish people in Jerusalem welcome Him back.
In one of His laments, Jesus says to the city:
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” (Matthew 23:37-39, NIV).
When Jesus does return, God will establish the throne of the Son on the Temple Mount. As the LORD rebukes the nations in Psalm 2, He says:
“I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain. … You are my son; today I have become your father.” (Psalm 2:6-7, NIV)
This is not some spiritual allegory. This is speaking of a literal king and throne on the literal Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
Jerusalem will be the center of justice and teaching, the place the nations learn the ways of the LORD, thus bringing peace to the earth. In Isaiah 2:1-4, we see:
In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will stream to it.
Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.”
The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. (NIV)
Again, this is not figurative but literal. We need to remember that Jesus is more than the suffering servant of the Gospels. He is also the conquering king of Revelation 19, Psalm 2 and Psalm 110.
The Middle East conflict is about the spiritual battle for Jerusalem
News media, activists and even some Christians argue that the Middle East conflict is about land, refugees and borders. However, we need to be aware that it is primarily a spiritual battle.
In Isaiah 14, when God is indicting the fallen angel Lucifer, one of the charges is Satan’s desire to sit on both the throne of heaven and on the Temple Mount.
How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, you who have weakened the nations! But you said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly…I will make myself like the Most High.” (Isaiah 14:12-14, NASB, emphasis added)
The LORD is clear that Jerusalem, and specifically the Temple Mount, are His for eternity. He tells Ezekiel from inside the temple, “Son of man, this is the place of my throne and the place for the soles of my feet. This is where I will live among the Israelites forever” (Ezekiel 43:7, NIV).
Israel’s enemies know the Middle East conflict is about who will be worshiped in Jerusalem. In 1999, I had an opportunity to visit a Hezbollah stronghold in the Bekaa valley of Lebanon. The men in the camp showed my Arabic-speaking friend and me trophies of war with Israel: Jewish prayer books and prayer shawls with bullet holes. They said that these items proved that “Allah is greater than the God of Israel.” In saying that, they acknowledge that Allah of the Koran is not the same God as in the Bible.
The Hezbollah men showed us a model of the Temple Mount. On it sat the Dome of the Rock. Below the blood stained hill were many small, green boxes shaped as a cedar of Lebanon. The men said those were the caskets of the martyrs who must die “liberating the mount” from Israel.
Why do they feel they must take it back? Even now, any one who prays in a Jewish or Christian way is quickly escorted off the mount (6).
Khaled Mashaal, the leader of Gaza-ruling Hamas, speaking at a mosque in Damascus, February 2006 said:
We apologize to our Prophet Muhammad, but we say to him: Oh Prophet of Allah, do not be saddened, your nation will be victorious. … We say to this West, which does not act reasonably, and does not learn its lessons: By Allah, you will be defeated. You will be defeated in Palestine, and your defeat there has already begun. True, it is Israel that is being defeated there, but when Israel is defeated, its path is defeated, those who call to support it are defeated, and the cowards who hide behind it and support it are defeated… Tomorrow, our nation will sit on the throne of the world. This is not a figment of the imagination, but a fact (7, emphasis added).
God and Satan are both raising up highways to Jerusalem
Throughout Isaiah, the LORD speaks of preparing highways for Him (Isaiah 11, 19, 35, 40, 49, 62). Highways are important to God’s end-times purposes, as they will carry His people, the nations and Himself.
The highway of Isaiah 19 is one that we in Jerusalem see already forming. In verses 23-25, the prophet says:
In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. The Assyrians will go to Egypt and the Egyptians to Assyria. The Egyptians and Assyrians will worship together. In that day Israel will be the third, along with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing on the earth. The LORD Almighty will bless them, saying, “Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance.”
Already this highway of worship is taking shape, as houses of prayer in Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon, and United Arab Emirates are not only rising up, but also connecting with us in Israel.
Satan is also raising counterfeit highways to Jerusalem, as seen in Muslim Brotherhood demonstrations chanting that they must “liberate Jerusalem” (8).
This is why all believers are commanded to pray for peace of Jerusalem
Jerusalem is at the center of God’s end-times plan. Satan has known this all along. He tried to kill Moses in Egypt to keep the deliverer of Israel from arising. He tried to kill the Jewish people in Persia because the Messiah would come from the tribe of Judah. He tried to rid the world of all the Jews again in the Holocaust, because when they acknowledge Jesus as Messiah, the King of the earth will come back to rule and reign.
And so, through the psalmist, God exhorts:
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May those who love you be secure. May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels.”
For the sake of my family and friends, I will say, “Peace be within you.” For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your prosperity (Psalm 122:6-9, NIV).
The Hebrew word for peace is shalom, and this word has a much deeper meaning than the mere absence of conflict or war. It can mean “to be completed” in regard to God’s purposes and plans (9). When we pray for the peace of Jerusalem, we are actually asking the LORD to bring Jerusalem into her divine destiny and into the fullness of God’s calling.
1. Burston, Bradley. “As American as Mark Twain, Jerusalem and shattered illusions.” Haaretz. Haaretz Daily Newspaper Ltd. 3 July 2012. Web. 9 October. 2012.
2. “Demographic history of Jerusalem: Modern Era.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 2 October 2012. Web. 9 October 2012.
3. “Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel.” Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 30 July 1980. Web. 9 October 2012.
4. “Palestinians UN status likely to be debated in November.” Reuters. Thompson Reuters. 3 October 2012. Web. 9 October 2012.
5. Goldenberg, Tia. “Netanyahu’s bomb steals the show in his UN speech.” The Associated Press. 28 September 2012. Web. 9 October 2012.
6. Ya’ar, Chana. “Rabbi arrested on Temple Mount for Praying.” IsraelNationalNews.com. Artuz Sheva. 7 October 2012. Web. 10 October 2012.
7. “Hamas Leader Khaled Mash’al at a Damascus Mosque: The Nation of Islam Will Sit at the Throne of the World and the West Will Be Full of Remorse When It Is Too Late.” MEMRI. The Middle East Media Research Institute. 3 February 2012. Web. 10 October 2012.
8. “Egyptian Cleric Safwat Higazi Launches MB Candidate Muhammad Mursi’s Campaign: Mursi Will Restore the ‘United States of the Arabs’ with Jerusalem as Its Capital.” MEMRI. The Middle East Media Research Institute. 1 May 2012. Web. 11 October 2012.
9. “Dictionary and Word Search for shalowm (Strong’s 7965)”. Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2012. Web. 10 Oct 2012.