Jerusalem: Profound and Problematic

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As I write these words, it is Jerusalem Day. It marks the reunification of Jerusalem and the restoration of Jewish sovereignty over the Old City following the Six Day war of June 1967. I am moved to realize this momentous fulfillment of biblical prophecy—the longing of God’s heart for the city He calls His own (Psalm 48:2; Matthew 5:35). 

Yet I am grieved by the violence Jerusalem is suffering even as I write these words. For more than two weeks, both Arab and Jewish residents have been clashing with police forces and each other. 

Not One-sided

Here is some of what’s been happening. On April 22, Jewish extremists sought to break up a public celebration of the annual Muslim Ramadan holiday on the steps outside the Damascus Gate. Simultaneously, Palestinian acts of terror have included a drive-by shooting which took the life of a 19 year-old Israeli yeshiva student, who was merely standing at a bus stop. Reacting to this and other attacks, groups of Israeli Jews taunted Palestinians yelling anti-Arab slogans during the nightly Ramadan feast and resisted police efforts to calm the situation. Each day, the tension has grown as Arab youth light fires and pelt police using stock-piled rocks, venting their bitterness. These conflicts have spread to include the Gaza enclave, from which missiles are again being launched into Israel and fire balloons are again being used to ignite kibbutz wheat fields ready for harvest.

The whole situation breaks my heart. Why can’t the Jewish extremists let the Arab people celebrate their feast in peace? Why can’t the Palestinians living in East Jerusalem accept that Israel is a Jewish state and the only place we have to live with full rights and protection? Is it really so important for Jews to repossess property where Arabs have been living for many decades—in order to prove the point that the land is ours? Or is there something I’m not seeing?

Boundaries in this part of the world have been disputed for at least 4000 years, going back at to the tension over ownership of the well in Beersheba (Genesis 21:25) and before. Is there no end in sight? Must we watch as the city “set on a hill” remains a flash point for hatred and death?

The Answer

The answer—not surprising to students of Scripture—is that Jerusalem’s eternal destiny is of divine choosing. The Almighty told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac on Mt. Moriah (Genesis 22:2), the very hill that became the Temple Mount (2 Chronicles 3:1) at the heart of the city.

This is where Yeshua was crucified, buried, and raised from the dead. It is upon Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives that His feet will touch when He returns to defeat all the enemies of Israel and Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:4, preceded by ten references to Jerusalem from Zechariah 12:2 to 14:1). And it is to Jerusalem that the nations will go up “from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of Hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles” (Zechariah 14:16).

No wonder there’s strife. No wonder the enemy wants to render the city a war zone. We who know the Lord’s desire concerning Jerusalem are needed NOW as intercessors. Our portion is to see His city as He does, and to “pray for the peace [completion, wholeness] of Jerusalem, [that] they may prosper who love you” (Psalm 122:6) and to “give Him no rest till He establishes and…makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth” (Isaiah 62:7).

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