Whose Jerusalem ?

Whose Jerusalem ?

Whose Land ?

The Battle for Jerusalem Has Begun!

by Gary Stearman, Prophecy in the News, Oklahoma City, OK, November 1996

"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" (Zechariah 12:2,3).

Scripturally, Jerusalem is the center of the earth. At some point in the future, it will be the ruling capital of the whole world. Perhaps at an almost subconscious level, mankind recognizes this important truth. For this reason, Jerusalem has always been the focus of contention among the nations. Today, this observation is more accurate than ever. The battle for Jerusalem is being waged right now. The contestants involve virtually every country on earth, but the Palestinian Liberation Organization is currently the most visible. Jerusalem

Supported on the artificial foundation of a unified Western media, the PLO has once again proven that in today’s world, truth and morality are regarded merely as out-moded obstacles to progress.

Following a pattern he has successfully used in the past, Yasir Arafat has finessed the politicians and media pundits of the West, in his continuous quest for Palestinian statehood. He wants nothing less than the Palestinian flag flying over Jerusalem, which at that time would become the capital of Palestine.

His motives are transparent, as he attempts to undermine the duly-elected Netanyahu government by appealing to weak and vacillating European and American leaders. They too, are convinced of the myth that only appeasement, and the founding of a Palestinian state can promote continuing peace in the region.

In a widely-televised quote after the recent uprising, Arafat made perhaps the most blatant public self-revelation in recent history when he said, "The most important thing we can’t accept is the Judaization of Jerusalem."

How bizarre! If Jerusalem can’t be "Judaized," what can?

On Tuesday, October 1, 1996, Arafat arrived in Washington at the behest of the Clinton State Department, after a stopover in Luxembourg. There, he had met with European Community [EC] foreign ministers, including the next three men scheduled to step into the rotational EC "Presidency." Clearly, it is his wish to create a renewed Oslo initiative, perhaps even a new Madrid-style peace conference. But first, he is trying to shore up the ongoing "peace process" that he has manipulated so profitably, at least in the days leading up to the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin.

It Wasn’t the Tunnel

Even before the election, Benjamin Netanyahu warned that he would slow down the Rabin/Peres peace process. The security offered by this stance is the reason that he won by an 11 percent margin among Jewish voters. This happened in spite of the fact that Bill Clinton openly campaigned for Shimon Peres before the election.

In response, the PLO said that if its demands weren’t met, there would soon be a new intifada.

Throughout the summer of 1996, Israel watchers had predicted that open hostilities - perhaps even war - were imminent. With the coming of the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah, 5757) on September 14, many felt that the tension would soon break into open warfare.

The Days of Awe came to an end with Yom Kippur, on September 23. Early on the morning of the next day, the Netanyahu government quietly opened the northern end of an ancient Hasmonean archaeological tunnel that runs northward from the Western Wall. They installed a door that opened on the Via Dolorosa, in the Arab Quarter. With that, tourists would now be able to travel the runnel through its entire 1,250-foot length without having to backtrack to the Western Wall. Furthermore, they would be active shoppers, bringing money to Arab shopkeepers in the area. Alas, the opening was politicized, and quickly turned into a mini-intifada.

Netanyahu proclaimed the action was "an expression of our sovereignty, our history." To Yasir Arafat, it was "a deliberate act of incitement." In the days leading up to the Feast of Tabernacles on September 28, Palestinian rioting became open warfare. The scene took on a haunted look, under the ghastly red glow of a total lunar eclipse that occurred on the 26th, just prior to Tabernacles.

The violence quickly spread to Judea and Gaza, ultimately taking the lives of 53 Palestinians and 14 Israelis. But with the weekend arrival of Tabernacles, hostilities quickly tapered off.

To be sure, the opening of the ancient tunnel had triggered the horrors of that week. But Israel watchers had been warned for weeks that such an event was in the offing. It wasn’t the tunnel that started the war; it was the violent disagreement between Israel and the PLO concerning Jerusalem. One way or another, it was bound to start. Expert observers now tell us that it’s bound to continue.

Heaping the Blame

From the first moments of the difficulty, Netanyahu bore the full brunt of the world’s opinion-makers. President Clinton called for a cease-fire and proclaimed that instant summit in Washington, which came to pass on the third day of Tabernacles, October 2, 1996.

The abortive Washington talks resulted only in a half-hearted agreement to continue the dialogue in the future. Other than Benjamin Netanyahu and Arafat, only Jordan’s King Hussein showed up. Important players, like Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and Hafez al-Assad of Syria refused to come.

World leaders sharply criticized Netanyahu, calling for him to close the tunnel, but he stood fast on his decision. Islamic religious authorities, European presidents and American politicians banded together to label him as everything from a murderer to - as the Germans put it - a rebellious teenager. The Guardian newspaper in London ran a political cartoon that showed him putting a dove in a food grinder.

Newspapers around the world ran feature after feature sympathetic to the Palestinians. One example from the Associated Press ran on September 30, is typical:

"After four deadly days, Jews and Arabs have forced down the lid on Pandora’s Box, but few Palestinians now speak of the ‘peace process’ without a sneer or a sigh.

"Ibrahim al-Zamareh lost the faith Saturday afternoon in his comfortable hilltop home when an Israeli soldier’s stray rubber bullet smashed into his wife’s face less than an inch from her left eye.

"Insherah Zamareh grimaced with pain as she listened to her mild-mannered husband, a builder of houses, talk revolution.

"’We stopped intifada after seven years because we wanted peace,’ Zamareh, 46, said of the 1987-93 Palestinian uprising. ‘But if we have to start again, we are ready to go 100 years.’"

Zamareh sums up the Arab position succinctly, saying, "We believed in this [peace] process. We put flowers in our gun barrels and forgot all of our martyrs. Then this Netanyahu came and damaged it all."

President Clinton was pictured as the concerned peacemaker, begging the brutal Israelis to return to the path of peace. The New York Times of October 3, placed its slant in a front-age article:

"What little the emergency Middle East summit meeting of the last two days produced was best summed up in President Clinton’s anxious plea to Israelis and Palestinians: ‘Please, please give us a chance to let this thing work in the days ahead.’

"As yet another Palestinian youth fell to Israeli bullets in Hebron, and as Palestinians greeted the reports from Washington with dismay, it was far from certain that the peacemakers would be given this chance, or that ‘this thing’ would work."

One could pick up virtually any newspaper and find the Israelis getting tarred with the same half-truths. Palestinians were treated as idealistic revolutionaries, while Israelis were depicted as brutal overlords. The October 4, Times quoted one of the young throwers of Molotov cocktails:

"The moment the Palestinian police opened fire on the Jewish troops last week they became our brothers,’ said Jamal Abu Mohammed, a teenager, as he stood at the edge of the camp. ‘Before that they had been Israeli rent-a-cops in Arab uniforms. But now they have proved that they are with us. We are all one now. We will together drive the Jewish occupiers from our land.’"

Such quotes as this assume that the Palestinians have a just cause which they will one day realize. With few exceptions, Western leaders go along with this line.

Meanwhile, Benjamin Netanyahu bears up under the unceasing castigations of status-quo politicians who wish to curry favor with various sheikhs, pashas, mufties, and assorted despots of the Mideast. They seem to forget that Israel is the region’s only democracy.

The battle is for control of the entire Middle East. More than that, it is for the Holy Land, itself. And at the heart of the Land is the real prize - Jerusalem. The real nucleus of the contention is the Temple Mount. Currently, it lies in the tight control of the Arabs, specifically administered by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. Arabs don’t want this to change in any way. In fact, Arab backers of the PLO clearly wish to use it as a lever to gain the entire city.

Zechariah’s Advance View:

Jerusalem Destined for Instability

It is remarkable that the prophet Zechariah was given a view that coincides with events now in the news. Chapter 12 of his prophecy specifically states the condition that now exists in Jerusalem:

"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" (Zechariah 12:2,3).

The current accuracy of this prophecy is astounding. The Western policy of appeasement that has been followed by Israel’s Labor party has produced the present no-win situation. The Likud coalition is now saddled with belatedly trying to cure a situation for which there is no cure. The PLO, having had a taste of power, will no longer settle for peaceful coexistence.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has only two choices - both bad. First, he can yield to pressure and return to the appeasement policies of his predecessors. If he does this, land will be given for peace, including the Golan Heights and the majority of Jerusalem. Israel’s very survival would then be in question.

His second possibility lies in staying with his election promises. He ran on the slogan of "peace with security," vowing never to give up the contested territories. If he sticks to his guns, Palestinian violence will surely escalate to higher, possibly terminal, levels.

Either choice will leave Jewish resolve at abysmally low levels. Israel will most certainly find itself like a cornered animal, with no choice but to lash out at its enemy. Many authorities point out that this raises the ugly specter of nuclear confrontation.

Zechariah prophesies exactly this kind of no-win situation. First, he sets the scene, noting that the day will come when Judah (the Jews) and Jerusalem are under siege. This is the situation right now.

Slowly but surely, the nations have acted in concert to drive Israel into a corner. For them, it is only the preliminary struggle in a battle to rid the land of all Jews forever. As stated earlier, world leaders are convinced of the myth that the Jews are the great obstacle to peace. They totally overlook the numerous warring factions among the Arabs, themselves.

But as things stand, Jerusalem has become the vital sticking point in a battle for spiritual and economic control of the territory God gave to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

And the, Zechariah describes the difficulties surrounding Jerusalem with the metaphor, "a cup of trembling." The verb translated "trembling" is the Hebrew ra’al. It conveys a sense of twisting, wobbling, shaking and spinning out of control. Certainly, today’s situation is not far short of this eventuality. Given the complexity of Mideast politics, diplomatic solutions fall laughably short of providing stability. Perhaps the best modern translation of ra’al would be "instability."

Additionally, in Scripture, the cup is a symbol of destiny, as in the time when Jesus fell to His knees and prayed: "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt" (Matthew 26:39).

Here, the cup symbolizes the destined mission given by the Father to the Son. Its ultimate fulfillment brought incredible pain to Jesus, nevertheless. He realized that it was His destiny. He took the cup.

Jerusalem has a similar destiny. It is to undergo tremendous paroxysms of agony before the Lord finally comes to declare victory over His foes.

The horrors of the beast, the false prophet and waves of oppression by the nations will reach a fever pitch during the Tribulation period. Even now, we see the first ripples. From here on, we will see this besieged city become more and more unstable as warring factions become further radicalized.

Jerusalem is already "a burdensome stone for all people." Several times in this century, the Papacy has announced that Jerusalem will be its ultimate headquarters. Already, it lays claim to many of the holy city’s most archaeologically significant locations.

Likewise, Islam says that sooner or later, the city must be surrendered to its rule. For them, this a major article of faith.

As if that weren’t enough contention, leaders of the West and the United Nations have suggested that Jerusalem be made an "international" city, whatever that means. Among other things, such a plan certainly intends that the Jews would not control it. Rather, some combination of OPEC and Islam, in concert with the oil merchants of the world and various spiritual figureheads would pull the strings.

But Zechariah’s prophecy is quite clear in this matter. He says that as various power groups seek to control Jerusalem, they will call certain destruction down upon themselves.

The Stone and the Rock

More specifically, the "stone" that is Jerusalem will cut them to pieces. This reminds us of the language found in Deuteronomy 32, the Song of Moses. This is the epic of Israel’s latter-day deliverance.

Five times in this chapter, we find the word, "Rock." All five times, it is capitalized as a proper noun. It is one of the titles of our Lord.

"He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is He" (Deuteronomy 32:4).

As can be witnessed in this verse, the Lord is prophesied in these verses as moving forth in righteous judgment. He takes vengeance upon Israel’s enemies.

All this would be just fine, but unfortunately, Israel "...lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation"

(v. 15).

Of Israel, Moses writes, "Of the Rock that begat thee thou are unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee" (v. 18).

Throughout history, Israel has gone through various cycles of apostasy, downfall, captivity and regathering. Somehow, they always seem to forget that the Lord is their Rock and protector.

Verses 30 and 31 show that the Rock is the real reason for Israel’s victory in battle:

"How should one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, except their Rock had sold them, and the Lord had shut them up?

"For their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges."

The Lord - Jesus - is the real Rock. Ironically, He is the power behind Israel. For this reason, those who come against His plan for Mount Zion are doomed to failure. This holy mountain has a foreordained destiny - a cup. Those who try to drink it will be destroyed. To them, it will literally be a cup of poison.

JerusalemJerusalem is a city of grim ironies. And in the midst of this dispute, there lies yet another incredible irony. The ‘rock" of Islam is encapsulated beneath a profane golden dome, called the Mosque of Omar. It is sometimes referred to as the "Dome of the Rock."

If there is a needle-sharp point of contention in the world today, this rock certainly marks the spot. Moslems say that it is the place from which Mohammed vaulted to heaven on a flying white steed. They even show off certain depressions in the rock that are said to be the footprints that mark his departure.

This same rock is claimed by the Jews as Mt. Zion, the place where Abraham took Isaac for sacrifice, in obedience to the command of God. Some archaeologists say that it is the very location of the Holy of Holies in the first two temples. The archaeologist Dr. Leen Rittmeyer even says that a carved-out rectangle atop the rock was once the resting place of the holy Ark of the Covenant.

The fight is on. Who will claim this rock? Without a doubt, that’s the big question.

A Fiery Deliverance, in the Language of Psalm 97

Concerning the answer to this question, Zechariah’s language is unequivocal. Jerusalem and the Jews will be delivered from those who lay false claim to its sacred precincts. Chapter 12, verses 4 through 9 clearly tell us the outcome of the battle:

"In that day, saith the LORD, I will smite every hose with astonishment, and his rider with madness: and I will open mine eyes upon the house of Judah, and will smite every horse of the people with blindness.

"And the governors of Judah shall say in their heart, ‘The inhabitants of Jerusalem shall be my strength in the LORD of hosts their God.’

"In that day will I make the governors of Judah like an hearth of fire among the wood, and like a torch of fire in a sheaf; and they shall devour all the people round about, on the right hand and on the left: and Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place, even in Jerusalem.

"The LORD also shall save the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem do not magnify themselves against Judah.

"In that day shall the LORD defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the LORD before them.

"And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem."

Here, the scene is just as we see it in the Song of Moses, in which the Rock delivers His people. Zechariah shows the Lord taking fiery vengeance upon pretenders to His throne. The language here strongly suggests that the Lord will use the Jews to launch a fiery war. Many have speculated that Israel’s nuclear arsenal will at last be set in motion. But whatever the case, Jerusalem will at last be given to the Jews.

We see precisely this kind of rhetoric being used in Psalm 97. One would have to completely lack discernment not to see that the world is soon to be subjected to a horrible period of fiery (almost certainly, nuclear) warfare.

"The LORD reigneth; let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad thereof.

"Clouds and darkness are round about him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne.

"A fire goeth before him, and burneth up his enemies round about.

"His lightnings enlightened the world: the earth saw, and trembled.

"The hills melted like wax at the presence of the LORD, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth" (Psalm 97:1-5).

It is not a question of whether these things will happen, but when? Psalm 97 speaks in general terms of the Lord’s vengeance. Perhaps this has already begun in what to us might seem an insignificant way. To those of faith, the Lord now reigns. However, many events must unfold before His visible and present sovereignty upon the throne of David in Jerusalem.

Until Jesus comes, the world will continue to fight over Jerusalem. Each group has its own delusions about why it should be the entity in control of the ancient city.

As we continue to read warped and slanted stories in the world’s newspapers, let us rejoice and be glad that man’s schemes will not decide the final disposition of the matter. Global authorities may think they can control the ancient spiritual capital, but they have not yet seen the fire of the Lord.

In the meantime, remember Psalm 122:6: "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee."

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