Jerusalem: Vortex of the Past Vortex of the Future

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Vortex of the Past Vortex of the Future

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Over the centuries three of the great religions of the world—Christianity, Islam and Judaism—have been drawn to the same city: Jerusalem. And in the future, as the Bible foretells, all nations—not just followers of these three major religions—will become intimately involved in earthshaking events that will occur in and around this city.

To better understand this unstoppable vortex that will eventually envelop all nations, let's take a brief look at the history and future of this biblically significant city.

Interestingly, Christianity, Islam and Judaism all trace their roots back to one central figure—a patriarch by the name of Abraham who wandered in the area of the Middle East after receiving a call from God to leave his homeland. On what was later the Jerusalem Temple Mount, Mount Moriah, Abraham faced his great test in being willing to offer his son Isaac to God (see Genesis 22).

Jerusalem rose to regional importance some 800 years after his death, after his descendants (the Israelites, who had been slaves in Egypt) were freed by God's miraculous intervention and after they had taken over the Promised Land.

Soon after Abraham, in the 19th century B.C., Egyptian maps apparently referred to the city as Urusalimum, but later inhabitants called it Jebus. Shortly before 1000 B.C., King David conquered the Jebusite stronghold and renamed it the "City of David" (2 Samuel 5; 1 Chronicles 11:5 1 Chronicles 11:5And the inhabitants of Jebus said to David, You shall not come here. Nevertheless David took the castle of Zion, which is the city of David.
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). But over time, a form of the older name eventually took hold and it became Jerusalem, which in Hebrew means "possession (or foundation) of peace".

It is one of the ironies of history that a city with such a beautiful name would have such little peace. Instead it has had a long history of changes, revolutions, sieges, surrenders and famines. Its streets have seen rivers of blood shed over the past 3,000 years.

With no harbor, no major river nearby and being situated off the beaten path—a good distance from the main highways between Asia Minor and Egypt—it seems odd that this city would ever become important in world history. But the fact that King David conquered it and made it the capital of the ancient nation of Israel placed it squarely in the vortex of conflict for thousands of years.

Greatest glory

Jerusalem's greatest physical glory was reached under King Solomon, son of King David, when Solomon built a temple for God as well as his own elaborate palace and greatly enlarged the city. The Bible describes the wealth of Solomon and says that he received about 25 tons of gold each year (1 Kings 10:14 1 Kings 10:14Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred three score and six talents of gold,
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). It goes on to say that gold was so plentiful that nothing in the palace was made from silver because it was considered of little value (verse 21). No wonder the city was such a target for attack when Israel began to decline.

King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon conquered and destroyed Jerusalem in 586 B.C. Seventy years later, during the rule of the Persian Empire, the temple was rebuilt under Zerubbabel. Then after more than 50 years the city walls were rebuilt under Nehemiah. Thus began a cycle of destruction and rebuilding that has spanned thousands of years.

In A.D. 70, Titus, general of the Roman army, destroyed the city. The Jewish historian Josephus said that more than a million people died in the Roman campaign against Jerusalem, though the exact number is disputed. The Jews briefly reestablished Jerusalem as their capital only to have it destroyed again by Emperor Hadrian.

In the 300s, the mother of Emperor Constantine the Great visited Jerusalem and had churches built on sites she associated with events in the life of Jesus Christ. In the 600s, shortly after the death of Muhammad, Muslims gained control of the city and built holy sites for Islam. By then Christianity had become a major religion in the world and the Crusades followed in the Middle Ages—with much blood shed as a great deal of the known world was drawn into the battle over control of Jerusalem.

In 1917, as World War I was ending, Gen. Edmund Allenby entered Jerusalem and it came under the jurisdiction of Britain. In 1947 the nations of the world, via the United Nations, passed a resolution that partitioned the land and set the stage for the birth of the modern nation of Israel.

Today this portion of the world continues to find its way into the headlines of the world's newspapers as Jews and Arabs fight over the territory occupied by Israel with Jerusalem as its capital.

The continual conflict over this relatively small amount of land is destined to increase and involve all nations before Christ returns. God prophesied that He would "make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all the peoples; all that burden themselves with it shall be sore wounded; and all the nations of the earth shall be gathered together against it" (Zechariah 12:3 Zechariah 12:3And 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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, American Standard Bible).

Better times ahead

The Bible also says Jerusalem is destined to be the center of good things to come. This time the vortex will draw all people to it for good, instead of siege, famine and bloodshed. In Zechariah 1:14-17 Zechariah 1:14-17 [14] So the angel that communed with me said to me, Cry you, saying, Thus said the LORD of hosts; I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy. [15] And I am very sore displeased with the heathen that are at ease: for I was but a little displeased, and they helped forward the affliction. [16] Therefore thus said the LORD; I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies: my house shall be built in it, said the LORD of hosts, and a line shall be stretched forth on Jerusalem. [17] Cry yet, saying, Thus said the LORD of hosts; My cities through prosperity shall yet be spread abroad; and the LORD shall yet comfort Zion, and shall yet choose Jerusalem.
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God says that even though He brought punishment on His people, He would once again return "to Jerusalem with mercy" and that the surveyor's line would be "stretched out over Jerusalem" for the purpose of rebuilding the city. God says in verse 17 that He "will again choose Jerusalem."

One of the promises Jesus Christ gave His followers is that He would return to this planet. In Zechariah 14:3-4 Zechariah 14:3-4 [3] Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. [4] And his feet shall stand in that day on the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall split in the middle thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.
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we are told where He will return—to the Mount of Olives, just to the east of Jerusalem.

Once Jesus puts down the armies of the Beast and False Prophet that fight against Him at His return (Revelation 19:16-21 Revelation 19:16-21 [16] And he has on his clothing and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. [17] And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the middle of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together to the supper of the great God; [18] That you may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. [19] And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. [20] And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that worked miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. [21] And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat on the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.
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), He will transform Jerusalem from a "burdensome stone" to a source of life—described poetically as pouring forth "living water" (Zechariah 14:8-9 Zechariah 14:8-9 [8] And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be. [9] And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.
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)—as He establishes Himself as ruler over the whole earth.

The next six verses speak of Jerusalem being raised up (verse 10) and safely inhabited (verse 11) and of God destroying by a terrible plague those who fought against Him (verses 12-15).

Once the Lord sets up His government in Jerusalem, all nations will come to that city, His world capital, to worship Him. Notice that they find themselves drawn to Jerusalem like a leaf being sucked into a whirlpool, not for destruction, but for peace, prosperity and good.

God used the prophet Isaiah to proclaim many warnings of punishment on His people for disobeying Him. But Isaiah was also used as the mouthpiece to explain the ultimate outcome for both Judah and Jerusalem.

Isaiah 2:1-4 Isaiah 2:1-4 [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. [4] And 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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begins by specifically mentioning Jerusalem and says the Lord's mountain (government) will be established above all the other governments, and all nations will flow to Jerusalem to be taught the right way to live. Jerusalem , the "city of peace," will indeed become the source for the teaching that leads to peace! And all peoples and nations will be drawn to it, anxious to learn what is taught there.

It would seem things could not get any better. Yet in the next-to-last chapter of the book of Revelation, the apostle John was shown a vision of one more crowning step in God's plan to transform Jerusalem from a "burdensome stone" to the crowning capstone of peace for eternity.

In Revelation 21 John describes the New Jerusalem, constructed of material unlike any that human beings have ever been able to produce. It is described in verses 18 to 23 as pure gold, yet clear like glass, and adorned with massive and beautiful precious stones. God the Father and the Lamb will dwell there with people transformed to spirit (verse 3), since the only ones allowed there will be those written in the Book of Life (verse 27).

God will choose the name "Jerusalem" for His new city, completing the process of bringing lasting peace and eternal life to those who accept His terms for salvation.

A vortex—or perfect storm of events—is building around the city of Jerusalem. What will you do with this important understanding? Will you be part of this New Jerusalem? VT

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