Jerusalem: Center of Conflict, Center of Peace

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Center of Conflict, Center of Peace

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Jerusalem has been synonymous with conflict, sieges, wars and battles almost from its very first mention in the Bible. It is now the capital of the state of Israel, whose very existence has been threatened by wars and conflicts with the surrounding nations. Today the Palestinians desperately want to take control of East Jerusalem—which includes the Temple Mount, the Western Wall and the old City of David.

This historic city—now sacred to the three major monotheistic religions and also regrettably often the site of horrendous violence— is destined to far outdistance all other cities in world importance.

Factional divisions within also trouble Israel. Secular Jews dream of an inclusive, utopian homeland based on diplomacy. The ultranationalist Jews stand on expansionist territorial claims and rely on military domination as the key to survival.

3,500 years of conflict

The 50-plus years of contemporary conflict since Israel’s modern founding actually extend far back into ancient history. There we discover a climate of trouble and violence reminiscent of present-day troubles in the Holy Land.

Although very early Jerusalem is mentioned in the ancient Tell el-Amarna tablets, the first biblical reference is found in Genesis 14:18-20 Genesis 14:18-20 18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. 19 And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: 20 And blessed be the most high God, which has delivered your enemies into your hand. And he gave him tithes of all.
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. Melchizedek, king of Salem (identified as Jerusalem in Psalms 76:1-2 Psalms 76:1-2 1 In Judah is God known: his name is great in Israel. 2 In Salem also is his tabernacle, and his dwelling place in Zion.
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), greeted the patriarch Abraham after he had won a decisive battle, with God’s help, against regional kings. Abraham had gallantly rescued his nephew Lot, who had been taken captive.

This is the only time that Jerusalem itself is mentioned in the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible—though Moriah, a mountain just to the north of the original city, is mentioned in Genesis 22:2 Genesis 22:2And he said, Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and get you into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering on one of the mountains which I will tell you of.
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.

Yet this historic city—now sacred to the three major monotheistic religions (Christianity, Judaism and Islam) and also regrettably often the site of horrendous violence—is destined to far outdistance all other cities in world importance. Jerusalem is destined to become the glorious global capital city of peace and truth to which all countries on earth will look.

God has had His eyes on Jerusalem since the time Melchizedek, the King of Peace (Hebrews 7:2 Hebrews 7:2To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace;
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), met Abraham—and perhaps even long before. (To understand the true identity of Melchizedek, please request or download our free booklet Who Is God? )

Judah and Jerusalem: an intertwined biblical history

To understand our current dilemmas, a strong sense of Bible history is supremely important! It is an accurate guide, especially in understanding this long-troubled region.

A relationship between the Jews (the tribe of Judah) and Jerusalem began early in the history of ancient Israel. Joshua, Moses’ successor, defeated the king of Jerusalem in the course of conquering the Promised Land (Joshua 10:1-10 Joshua 10:1-10 1 Now it came to pass, when Adonizedec king of Jerusalem had heard how Joshua had taken Ai, and had utterly destroyed it; as he had done to Jericho and her king, so he had done to Ai and her king; and how the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel, and were among them; 2 That they feared greatly, because Gibeon was a great city, as one of the royal cities, and because it was greater than Ai, and all the men thereof were mighty. 3 Why Adonizedec king of Jerusalem, sent to Hoham king of Hebron, and to Piram king of Jarmuth, and to Japhia king of Lachish, and to Debir king of Eglon, saying, 4 Come up to me, and help me, that we may smite Gibeon: for it has made peace with Joshua and with the children of Israel. 5 Therefore the five kings of the Amorites, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, the king of Eglon, gathered themselves together, and went up, they and all their hosts, and encamped before Gibeon, and made war against it. 6 And the men of Gibeon sent to Joshua to the camp to Gilgal, saying, Slack not your hand from your servants; come up to us quickly, and save us, and help us: for all the kings of the Amorites that dwell in the mountains are gathered together against us. 7 So Joshua ascended from Gilgal, he, and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valor. 8 And the LORD said to Joshua, Fear them not: for I have delivered them into your hand; there shall not a man of them stand before you. 9 Joshua therefore came to them suddenly, and went up from Gilgal all night. 10 And the LORD discomfited them before Israel, and slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, and chased them along the way that goes up to Bethhoron, and smote them to Azekah, and to Makkedah.
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). The ancient Amorites had occupied the city. It was part of the territory to be inherited by the 12 tribes of Israel (Joshua 12:7-10 Joshua 12:7-10 7 And these are the kings of the country which Joshua and the children of Israel smote on this side Jordan on the west, from Baalgad in the valley of Lebanon even to the mount Halak, that goes up to Seir; which Joshua gave to the tribes of Israel for a possession according to their divisions; 8 In the mountains, and in the valleys, and in the plains, and in the springs, and in the wilderness, and in the south country; the Hittites, the Amorites, and the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites: 9 The king of Jericho, one; the king of Ai, which is beside Bethel, one; 10 The king of Jerusalem, one; the king of Hebron, one;
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).

Later we find the Jebusites, apparently a Canaanite tribe, still occupying Jerusalem (Joshua 15:8 Joshua 15:8And the border went up by the valley of the son of Hinnom to the south side of the Jebusite; the same is Jerusalem: and the border went up to the top of the mountain that lies before the valley of Hinnom westward, which is at the end of the valley of the giants northward:
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). The Scripture states: “As for the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the children of Judah could not drive them out; but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Judah at Jerusalem to this day” (Joshua 15:63 Joshua 15:63As for the Jebusites the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the children of Judah could not drive them out; but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Judah at Jerusalem to this day.
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).

The Bible also clearly states that the tribe of Benjamin was to inherit Jerusalem (Joshua 18:21 Joshua 18:21Now the cities of the tribe of the children of Benjamin according to their families were Jericho, and Bethhoglah, and the valley of Keziz,
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; Joshua 18:28 Joshua 18:28And Zelah, Eleph, and Jebusi, which is Jerusalem, Gibeath, and Kirjath; fourteen cities with their villages. This is the inheritance of the children of Benjamin according to their families.
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). Putting together all of these passages in Joshua (and later in Judges), plainly the tribes of Judah and Benjamin became closely associated with Jerusalem. Eventually they would ally together to form the southern kingdom of Judah. Remember that the apostle Paul was a Benjamite.

The Jews conquer much of Canaan

After the death of Joshua the Israelites asked God which of the 12 tribes should lead in fighting the pagan Canaanites (Judges 1:1 Judges 1:1Now after the death of Joshua it came to pass, that the children of Israel asked the LORD, saying, Who shall go up for us against the Canaanites first, to fight against them?
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).

Notice God’s immediate reply: “And the Lord said, ‘Judah shall go up. Indeed I have delivered the land into his hand’ ” (Judges 1:2 Judges 1:2And the LORD said, Judah shall go up: behold, I have delivered the land into his hand.
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). The tribe of Judah was specially chosen by the Creator Himself to fulfill both His immediate and long-range purposes in conquering the land of the ungodly Canaanites. According to the inspired Word of Holy Scripture, this choice was distinctly God’s and not man’s.

Judges 1:17-18 Judges 1:17-18 17 And Judah went with Simeon his brother, and they slew the Canaanites that inhabited Zephath, and utterly destroyed it. And the name of the city was called Hormah. 18 Also Judah took Gaza with the coast thereof, and Askelon with the coast thereof, and Ekron with the coast thereof.
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record Judah’s victories over the various Canaanite enclaves, including Gaza, most notably in the more mountainous areas. However, hilly hard-to-conquer Jerusalem (then called Jebus and inhabited by the Jebusites) somehow escaped the victorious hand of Judah, just as it did in the days of Joshua (Joshua 15:8 Joshua 15:8And the border went up by the valley of the son of Hinnom to the south side of the Jebusite; the same is Jerusalem: and the border went up to the top of the mountain that lies before the valley of Hinnom westward, which is at the end of the valley of the giants northward:
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).

Benjamin also had failed to conquer Jerusalem. Judges 1:21 Judges 1:21And the children of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites that inhabited Jerusalem; but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Benjamin in Jerusalem to this day.
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tells us that “the children of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites who inhabited Jerusalem; so the Jebusites dwell with the children of Benjamin in Jerusalem to this day [the time the book was written].” So for a considerable time the city apparently remained a Jebusite stronghold in the midst of Israelite territory.

Courageous King David finally conquers Jerusalem

Conquering this almost-impregnable stronghold would be left to King David of Israel, a descendant of Judah and a royal ancestor of Jesus Christ through Jesus’ mother Mary.

The biblical record briefly summarizes David’s conquest some 3,000 years ago: “In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months, and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty-three years over all Israel and Judah” (2 Samuel 5:5 2 Samuel 5:5In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months: and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty and three years over all Israel and Judah.
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).

A key passage then states that “David took the stronghold of Zion (that is, the City of David)” (2 Samuel 5:7 2 Samuel 5:7Nevertheless David took the strong hold of Zion: the same is the city of David.
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). Renamed Jerusalem (meaning “City of Peace”) by the king, it would also be known as the City of David.

One key factor to always keep in mind is that God Himself chose David to be king over Israel in place of Saul and his descendants (1 Samuel 15:22-28 1 Samuel 15:22-28 22 And Samuel said, Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has also rejected you from being king. 24 And Saul said to Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD, and your words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice. 25 Now therefore, I pray you, pardon my sin, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD. 26 And Samuel said to Saul, I will not return with you: for you have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you from being king over Israel. 27 And as Samuel turned about to go away, he laid hold on the skirt of his mantle, and it rent. 28 And Samuel said to him, The LORD has rent the kingdom of Israel from you this day, and has given it to a neighbor of yours, that is better than you.
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; 1 Samuel 16:1-13 1 Samuel 16:1-13 1 And the LORD said to Samuel, How long will you mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill your horn with oil, and go, I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons. 2 And Samuel said, How can I go? if Saul hear it, he will kill me. And the LORD said, Take an heifer with you, and say, I am come to sacrifice to the LORD. 3 And call Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do: and you shall anoint to me him whom I name to you. 4 And Samuel did that which the LORD spoke, and came to Bethlehem. And the elders of the town trembled at his coming, and said, Come you peaceably? 5 And he said, Peaceably: I am come to sacrifice to the LORD: sanctify yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice. And he sanctified Jesse and his sons, and called them to the sacrifice. 6 And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the LORD’s anointed is before him. 7 But the LORD said to Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart. 8 Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, Neither has the LORD chosen this. 9 Then Jesse made Shammah to pass by. And he said, Neither has the LORD chosen this. 10 Again, Jesse made seven of his sons to pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, The LORD has not chosen these. 11 And Samuel said to Jesse, Are here all your children? And he said, There remains yet the youngest, and, behold, he keeps the sheep. And Samuel said to Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come here. 12 And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and with of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the LORD said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he. 13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the middle of his brothers: and the Spirit of the LORD came on David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah.
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). The Creator directly intervened in the affairs of the nation. He was the behind-the-scenes Author of the conquest of Jerusalem.

After the 40-year reign of David, his son and successor Solomon allowed blatant idolatry to afflict Israel—especially in the later years of his rule. As a divine punishment, God decided to divide the nation after Solomon’s death.

God chose Jerusalem

In announcing His intentions to Solomon beforehand, the Creator stated: “… I will not tear away the whole kingdom; I will give one tribe to your son [Rehoboam] for the sake of My servant David, and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen” (1 Kings 11:13 1 Kings 11:13However, I will not rend away all the kingdom; but will give one tribe to your son for David my servant’s sake, and for Jerusalem’s sake which I have chosen.
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).

Later in the same chapter a slightly expanded repetition states that Solomon’s son Rehoboam would retain one tribe “for the sake of Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel” (1 Kings 11:32 1 Kings 11:32(But he shall have one tribe for my servant David’s sake, and for Jerusalem’s sake, the city which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel:)
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). Clearly it was the Creator who used David and his descendants to accomplish His overall purpose in this holy city. God personally chose Jerusalem!

The Bible is a divinely inspired book that reveals God’s dealings with and purposes for humanity. It records His major interventions in the past and His future plans that ultimately will bless all mankind. More than one passage of Scripture tells us that the Creator owns the whole earth. It all belongs to Him.

The destiny of Jerusalem

Even while firmly challenging the chosen city for her many sins, God said: “This is Jerusalem; I have set her in the midst of the nations and the countries all around her” (Ezekiel 5:5 Ezekiel 5:5Thus said the Lord GOD; This is Jerusalem: I have set it in the middle of the nations and countries that are round about her.
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). Located between Europe, Asia and Africa, for over three millennia Jerusalem has seen many invaders. Here lies the crossroads of mankind.

This crucial passage, however, isn’t just referring to mundane geopolitics. It also alludes to what we might call “sacred geography”—to be fulfilled during Christ’s coming millennial reign and even more so on beyond that period.

To understand our current dilemmas, a strong sense of Bible history is supremely important! It is an accurate guide, especially in understanding this long-troubled region.

But for the present and the foreseeable future, the local and regional inhabitants, surrounding nations and even faraway countries including the United States are continuing to fulfill, in part, a disturbing prophecy in Zechariah:

“Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it” (Zechariah 12:2-3 Zechariah 12:2-3 2 Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling to all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem. 3 And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.
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).

Just as this prophecy foretold, the unpleasant regional and even international fallout from involvement in Jerusalem’s affairs has been considerable.

This passage in Zechariah also applies on one level to the modern nation of Israel (more accurately Judah), custodians of the ancient city. It has developed a huge siege mentality during the 56 years of its existence as a state.

Why? In addition to enduring endless skirmishes and frequent terrorism since its founding, Israel has fought at least four major wars: 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973. Again and again, the surrounding Arab nations have periodically threatened—and attempted—to drive it into the Mediterranean Sea. Only in recent times has there been any alleviation of such “final solutions.”

As noted author Conor Cruise O’Brien observed: “Does Israel have the right to exist? The State of Israel has lived since its birth—and even before its birth—under the pressure of that question. And that question was preceded by another question: Do the Jews have a right to exist?” ( The Siege, 1986, p. 25).

In 1936 British Zionist pioneer Chaim Weizmann put it bluntly when he asked the Peel Commission: “Do we have the right to exist?” (ibid., p. 196).

That it would be necessary to even pose such questions says something about our so-called advanced, civilized world today. The only truly hopeful consolation is a pervasive and permanent peace prophesied to come to the Holy Land—and not by human efforts.

“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem”

King David penned at least a third of the Psalms and possibly more like half. One of his most touching includes a plea for peace for the city of peace. “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: ‘May they prosper who love you. Peace be within your walls, prosperity within your palaces’ ” (Psalms 122:6-7 Psalms 122:6-7 6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love you. 7 Peace be within your walls, and prosperity within your palaces.
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).

This solemn prayer, penned by David some 3,000 years ago, is destined to be answered in previously undreamed proportions. The Hebrew prophet Zechariah adds: “Thus says the Lord: ‘I will return to Zion [referring to Christ’s second coming], and dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be called the City of Truth, the Mountain of the Lord of hosts, the Holy Mountain’ ” (Zechariah 8:3 Zechariah 8:3Thus said the LORD; I am returned to Zion, and will dwell in the middle of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the LORD of hosts the holy mountain.
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).

Other prophecies tell us that Jerusalem’s destiny is to become a center of peace for all nations on earth. Nations will send representatives to her even from faraway places to learn and take God’s ways back to their peoples. As Isaiah 2:1-3 Isaiah 2:1-3 1 The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. 2 And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. 3 And many people shall go and say, Come you, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
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says: “Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it.”

In Bible prophecy, “mountains” and “hills” are often used to refer to governments, nations or kingdoms. This prophecy tells us that the government of Jesus Christ will be established and rule over all the nations on earth.

Then Isaiah continues: “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.”

Under the reign of the Messiah, war, weaponry, military forces and even military academies will be consigned to the distant past (Isaiah 2:4 Isaiah 2:4And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
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). Peace with justice will be administered to all peoples from Jerusalem.

But in no way do these sure biblical prophecies represent conditions in the Holy Land today—a region plagued by corruption, bombings, terrorist acts, kidnappings and murders. Watch the news on television or simply read your daily newspaper.

Yet these millennial prophecies assure us that “old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each one with his staff in his hand because of great age. The streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing” (Zechariah 8:4-5 Zechariah 8:4-5 4 Thus said the LORD of hosts; There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for very age. 5 And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof.
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). Both old and young alike will at last be safe from harm’s way during Christ’s coming 1,000-year rule. Suicide bombers will have passed into the dim recesses of history.

The Bible pictures a majestic, millennial future with a relaxed and peaceful life in the golden city. This is Jerusalem’s destiny, foretold centuries ago.

Looking beyond: The New Jerusalem

Jerusalem is far more than just a physical city. It is symbolic of an entire nation. Human frontiers and borders tend to blur when they touch the infinite. Jerusalem has a spiritual dimension that extends into eternity.

The New Testament Church is called “Jerusalem above … the mother of us all” (Galatians 4:26 Galatians 4:26But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.
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). The patriarchs, prophets and kings of Hebrews 11 never received God’s ultimate promises during their human lifetimes. Neither will true Christians today.

Yet these promises of God are absolutely sure! In faith the patriarch Abraham “waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10 Hebrews 11:10For he looked for a city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
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). The Creator is the divine architect of the New Jerusalem. All men and women of faith have envisioned the fulfillment of God’s promises, “having seen them afar off” (Hebrews 11:13 Hebrews 11:13These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
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). They know that God “has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:16 Hebrews 11:16But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: why God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he has prepared for them a city.
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).

In His message to one of the seven churches of Revelation, Jesus Christ referred to “the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven” (Revelation 3:12 Revelation 3:12Him that overcomes will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God: and I will write on him my new name.
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). Then the dwelling place of God will be with spirit-transformed men and women in a transformed world (Revelation 21:3 Revelation 21:3And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
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). Death, sorrow, pain and suffering will have passed into history as the ultimate new world order takes shape on a brand-new earth (Revelation 21:4-5 Revelation 21:4-5 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. 5 And he that sat on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said to me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
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).

In summary, this is the true message of the enduring presence of Jerusalem in the world. In spite of today’s terrible conflicts, it remains a city like no other, one with an awesome future that is unique. This is one reason Jerusalem is mentioned some 850 times in the Bible. It is the symbolic cornerstone of crucial prophetic messages promising permanent peace to all of mankind—forever.


Coming : International Control of Jerusalem?

While the court of world opinion wishes to internationalize Jerusalem, many Israelis are absolutely determined to resist such a move.

Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu firmly stated: “Israel could not under any circumstances negotiate over any aspect of Jerusalem, anymore than Americans would negotiate over Washington … The notion that Jerusalem will be redivided is sheer fantasy.”

Yet he acknowledged that “it is not only the Arabs who cling to this fantasy. In practically every foreign ministry in the West, including the U.S. State Department, there are maps that do not include East Jerusalem as a part of a united Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty” ( A Place Among the Nations , 1993, p. 346).

Still, even under the overseeing Jewish umbrella, in some vital respects the city remains divided. Author Bernard Wasserstein described the situation in Jerusalem in 2001, a situation that has only grown worse since.

“… In many ways Jerusalem … is divided more than ever. Walls and fences were beginning to appear between Jewish and Arab districts. Jewish taxi-drivers were reluctant to take passengers to destinations in Arab neighbourhoods. Israeli ambulance drivers would go into Arab districts only if accompanied by security forces. The [outside] Palestinian Authority’s Governor of the Jerusalem District was reported to be exercising effective authority in the Arab community” ( Divided Jerusalem , 2002, p. 359).

Israeli writer and intellectual Amos Elon adds: “For the most part, the two main communities, Palestinians and Israelis, still work and live apart from one another, in separate quarters, much as though the city were still divided by minefields and barbed wire” ( Jerusalem: City of Mirrors , 1996, p. 47).

The struggle for the Holy City and the divisive issue of Jerusalem’s status still awaits a resolution.

Will the Vatican eventually offer its services to bring a peace settlement? It’s interesting to note that between 1948 and 1967 the papacy showed little interest in the fortunes of Jerusalem. That suddenly changed when the Jews took control of the city in the immediate aftermath of the Six-Day War.

In September 2000, Pope John Paul II urged that Jerusalem be governed under international protective bodies. “The history and present reality of interreligious relation in the Holy Land is such that no just and lasting peace is foreseeable without some form of support of the international community.” Perhaps he meant the Vatican in conjunction with the United Nations and the European Union.

Some are calling for exactly this type of “solution,” internationalizing the city and bringing in outside military forces to keep the peace. In recent years the European Union, the Vatican, Russia and the Palestinians themselves have all called for just such a solution.

Curiously, this meshes surprisingly well with Bible prophecy, which foretells that Jerusalem will again come under the domination of non-Jews shortly before Jesus Christ’s return (Luke 21:24-28 Luke 21:24-28 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. 25 And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; 26 Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. 27 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draws near.
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; Revelation 11:2 Revelation 11:2But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given to the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.
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).

The real resolution, however, awaits the second coming of Jesus Christ. He will then rescue the downtrodden, history-burdened city. Only then will Jerusalem gain its biblically intended role as a font of light, glory and truth.


Searching for the Peace of Jerusalem

The Balfour Declaration of 1917 , a British document that formed the basis for an upsurge of Jewish emigration to Palestine, stated that nothing should be done toward a Jewish national home that might be detrimental to other ethnic communities in the area.

Though often scarred by violence and bloodshed, words of peace have periodically surfaced during the 20th century. British historian Sir Martin Gilbert summed up the undergirding thoughts:

“At its heart, Zionists had striven for a hundred years for the recognition of its legitimacy by the Palestinians. The many conflicts before and after 1948 … could not hide the basic imperative, that a way had to be found for the Jews and Arabs of the small strip of land running between the Mediterranean Sea and the River Jordan to find a way of accepting each other’s right to live and prosper” ( Israel: A History , 1998, p. 560).

Not long before succumbing to an assassin’s bullet in October of 1995, Israel’s prime minister Yitzhak Rabin appealed to the Palestinians: “We are destined to live together, on the same soil, in the same land … We harbor no hatred towards you. We have no desire for revenge. We, like you, are people who want to build a home, plant a tree, love, live, side by side with you—in dignity, in empathy, as human beings, as free men … Let’s pray that a day will come when we all will say, ‘Farewell to arms.’”

This appealing prayer for the peace of Jerusalem and Israel will only be answered by the arrival of God’s Kingdom on earth (see Micah 4:3-4 Micah 4:3-4 3 And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. 4 But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken it.
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). But first the Bible foretells that massive armies will gather their forces outside Jerusalem to fulfill the prophecy of Armageddon (Revelation 16:16 Revelation 16:16And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.
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)—culminating with the divine deliverance brought about by the second coming of Jesus Christ.


Something for Jerusalem to Celebrate

Is a time of peace and safety still possible in Jerusalem? According to Bible prophecy, it will serve as a model city for the entire world. But only under the righteous government of God, compassionately administered through Jesus Christ, will such a wonderful time arrive.

Jesus will bring to fulfillment many prophetic passages that picture a glorious future for Jerusalem. At Christ’s coming, King David will be resurrected to eternal life to lead all of Israel into paths of righteousness, peace and justice (Jeremiah 30:9 Jeremiah 30:9But they shall serve the LORD their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up to them.
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; Ezekiel 37:24-25 Ezekiel 37:24-25 24 And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them. 25 And they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelled; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children’s children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince for ever.
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). The “Israel” referred to in these prophecies includes far more peoples than just the tribe of Judah. (If you would like to understand more, please request our free booklet The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy .)

Some 3,000 years ago, David began a healing process when he was crowned king of the 12 tribes of Israel in Hebron. Notice what the tribes said during his coronation acclamation: “Indeed, we are your bone and your flesh. Also, in time past, even when Saul was king, you were the one who led Israel out and brought them in; and the Lord your God said to you, ‘You shall shepherd My people Israel …’” (1 Chronicles 11:1-2 1 Chronicles 11:1-2 1 Then all Israel gathered themselves to David to Hebron, saying, Behold, we are your bone and your flesh. 2 And moreover in time past, even when Saul was king, you were he that led out and brought in Israel: and the LORD your God said to you, You shall feed my people Israel, and you shall be ruler over my people Israel.
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).

King David’s coronation in ancient Israel foreshadowed a far greater future coronation: that of Jesus the Messiah. Jesus Christ will return not only as a conquering King, but also as a loving Shepherd. He will heal and unify a world torn by strife and sin. Then Jerusalem will at last see true and lasting peace for the benefit of all peoples throughout the entire world.