Whose Jerusalem ?
It has well been said that few people really understand the significance of the time in which they live. It is usually the following generation which identifies the "reason for being" of the previous one.
It was true of Israel in the time of Jesus of Nazareth.
The Scriptures record, "they knew not the time of their visitation." So it is today as even believers fail to discern "the signs of the times."
We live in a crucial time frame for the redemptive purposes of God.
The Bible must be our guide. According to the Scriptures, the indisputable "sign" is the incredible fact that the Israelites are back in the Promised Land, as foretold by the Prophets in those Scriptures.
Reflecting on the importance to "all the families (nations) of the earth" of the three Israelite occupations of the Promised Land will help us grasp what is really going on today.
The first occupation of Canaan (the Promised Land) by the newly created nation of Israel resulted in the revelation to man that God was One God: "Hear O Israel, the Lord thy God is One." This was a startling revelation in the midst of the nations who were worshipping innumerable "gods." We can hardly grasp the revolutionary nature of that central idea or thought!
Next, upon the heels of that, came the revelation to Moses of the Ten Commandments, the Moral Law, accompanied by God's Ceremonial Law dealing with atonement for sin, by means of the blood atonement through the Levitical priesthood only.
Gentile proselytes could enter in (Ruth and Rahab are examples) but mainly only Israelites partook.
Scribes of Israel faithfully recorded and preserved every revelation and prophetic utterance, producing the first eighty percent of our Bible; which part we now irreverently call "the Old Testament."
As these revelations and writings form the basis for civilization and Christianity itself, we should note that they were the direct result of the first Jewish occupation of the Promised Land; which controversial occupation evicted seven nations from that land (Acts 13:19).
Israel was sent into the "Babylonian captivity" about 600 B.C. for disobedience; which captivity lasted seventy years. Following that captivity God Himself caused Israel to return to the Promised Land (Daniel 9:25) to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple for the second time. Why?
The spiritual results were not immediately obvious, because there was "a famine of the word" in Israel from Malachi (400 B.C.) to the appearance of John the Baptist (the forerunner of Jesus of Nazareth).
However, there can be no doubt that all this set the earthly stage for the coming of Jesus Christ, and His crucial Messianic role as prophesied, and enacted at Calvary (Isaiah 53). Then followed the resurrection, the birth of the Church as the Holy Spirit was poured out during the Jewish Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) beginning "the Church age" (Joel 2:28). The Apostles then gave forty years of witness and ministry, mostly to Israel, before the Gospel went mainly to the Gentiles (Acts 13:46, 47).
The above events, including Calvary, upon which the salvation of even Old Testament saints depended (Hebrews 9:15), were fulfilled during the second Jewish occupation of the Promised Land.
In addition to the above, the New Testament itself was written by the Apostles during this second occupation.
Today we witness the third occupation of the Promised Land by the Israelites. We have seen
the fruit of their first two occupations as summarized above.
What will this third occupation produce? Nothing less than the return of the Messiah to finally settle the sin question, and bring in justice and peace, and an "everlasting kingdom" which cannot be removed (Daniel 2:44, Zechariah 14:4, 9).
Psalm 102 predicts a turning point for Zion, a time of favour, a "set time." It tells when the Messiah shall appear in glory: "When the Lord shall build up Zion he shall appear in his glory" (Psalm 102:16).
We can say, with a confidence based on the Word of God, that the third occupation of the Promised Land by Israel, occurring before our very eyes, will bring about "the birth pangs and travail" spoken of by Jesus Himself whereby God will propel this world into the Millennium.
Despite the judgements and events that must come with that being brought to pass, we say with the author of the Book of Revelation: "Even so, come Lord Jesus" (Revelation 22:20).
"Because he has appointed a day, in which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that
man he has ordained; whereof he has given assurance unto all men, in that he has raised him from the dead" (Acts 17:31).
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