Whose Jerusalem ?
Whose Land ?
No experience quite equals that of viewing the old walled city of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, especially for the first time. Passages of Scripture come to mind with renewed freshness: "Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem. Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together: ...Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces." (Psalm 122:2-3, 6-7)
Jerusalem is not to be compared with Rio de Janeiro, New York, Paris or Rome. Jerusalem is uniquely different. It stands absolutely alone among all the cities of the earth.
To our knowledge the Lord Jesus visited Jerusalem only seven times. Yet with all the city's earthly charm, Jesus wept over it. He saw the shallowness of its people and he knew that an impending judgment was soon to be poured out on it for its spiritual apostasy.
Everyone on the earth is affected, in one way or another, by the city of Jerusalem. This is the center of the earth: "Thus saith the Lord God; This is Jerusalem: I have set it in the midst of the nations and countries that are round about her." (Ezekiel 5:5) One has only to take a glance at a relief map to see that Jerusalem is located on a land bridge that touches Asia, Africa and Europe: "When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel." (Deut. 32:8)
In the Church of the Holy Sepulchre there is a mark on the floor, equidistant between the sepulchre and the place where the cross is supposed to have been. This is called "the center of the world."
In Scripture, Jerusalem is the center of the earth geographically, North in the Bible is north of Jerusalem. East is east of Jerusalem. South is south of Jerusalem. And west is west of this city.
Jerusalem is also the salvation center of the earth spiritually, At Jacob's well the Lord Jesus told the woman from Sychar in Samaria that "salvation is of the Jews." (John 4:22) He was speaking of mankind's greatest need. To be sure, we are hungry and need to be fed. We are naked and need to be clothed. We are illiterate and need to be educated. But we are lost and need to be saved.
And God alone is the Savior: "There is no God else beside me; a just God and a Savior; there is none beside me. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else." (Isaiah 45:21-22)
The only salvation that God ever provided for the world was provided outside the gates of Jerusalem. The Christian pilgrim may be shown two places where this salvation may have been worked out: the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, or Gordon's Calvary. It may be one, it may be the other, or it may be neither. Like Moses' burial place, God may have kept this spot hidden to keep us from worshipping places instead of worshiping only him. But one thing is certain, anyone who walks around in the city of Jerusalem will not be many meters from where the Lord Jesus won eternal salvation for us, glorifying God in his death.
To those who know the Scriptures, Jerusalem is also the storm center of the world prophetically. Statesmen and world leaders have always been aware that Jerusalem is a tinderbox.
In this respect, the Bible is far more explicit than any of the guesses or the theories of men. Of the scores of passages of holy writ that deal with this subject, no prophet was more specific than was Zechariah: "Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem. 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 ...And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem." (Zech. 12:2-3, 9)
Sincere statesmen, and those who long for peace, in every age have quoted the words: "Beat their swords into plowshares." (Isaiah 2:4) Perhaps they have not read the conditions that are explained in the first few verses of Isaiah 2: "The mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains. All nations shall flow unto it. The God of Jacob will teach the nations of his ways, and we will walk in his paths. The law shall go forth from Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more."
The name "Jerusalem" means "the foundation of peace." One of the names of the Messiah is "The Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6)
When the Prince of Peace returns, then the peace and the knowledge of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters now cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:9)
Since the world's destiny hangs on the city of Jerusalem, it is easy to understand and to heed the psalmist's injunction: "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee." (Psalm 122:6)