We have the privilege to live in a time of fulfilment of many prophecies of the Bible. In our days we can see with our own eyes how the LORD God Almighty is doing what He predicted in His Word many centuries ago.
Our God tells us Christians and also the entire world what He is going to do and He does what He has said in His Word. He is able to do what He has predicted by His prophets and has written down in His holy Word, the Bible. Why is it that many people and even many Christians do not see the mighty deeds of the LORD in our time? Because they do not know. Things you do not know, you cannot see. Many Christians do not know the holy Scriptures and that is why their faith is weak and why we do not see what the Holy God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is doing in our time. In the 20th century scores of prophecies concerning His chosen people of Israel have been fulfilled. We are rapidly approaching the End Time. Approaching, for the End Time, the last seven year of the wicked rule of the antichrist is yet to come. Now, in 2008, we live in the ‘Time of the Restoration of Israel’. That is, according to the Bible, the most important political and spiritual developent that is taking place in our days. Almost the entire world is anti-Israel. Of the Europeans 59% think that Israel is the greatest danger for world peace. Over 30% of the resolutions of the UN are against Israel. Old fashioned, medieval antisemitism is a world wide evil. What is the matter with this old nation we know so well from the Bible? Why the eyes of almost the entire world are concentrated on the capital if Israel, on Jerusalem? What is going to happen in the Near East? Let us first have a brief look at some of those fulfilled prophecies and then concentrate on the Holy City.
‘Though I scatter them among the peoples, yet in distant lands they will remember Me. They and their children will survive and they will return’
This is a very remarkable prophecy. The prophet Zechariah lived in Israel after the Jews had returned from the Babylonian exile. So the LORD told Israel through this prophet that they were to be scattered again. That means a second exile from their land.This actually happened in the years 70 and 135 CE. The Romans destroyed Jerusalem, killed many Jews and sent the rest in exile. How did they survive as Jews? When Dutch people emigrate to Canada, their grand children do not even speak Dutch. They forget their origins and their roots. They become Canadians. This happens with most people that leave their countries of origen. Why did the Jews remain Jews, even over a period of almost 2000 years? Because of their faithfulness to their religion. They did not forget their God, the God of Israel, the God of the Bible. ‘They will remember Me’ the prophet said. That is how they survived. And now they return....according to the word of the LORD. Many other prophecies confirm this. We just mention the Ethiopean Jews (tribe of Dan) and the Russian Jews. A second quote:
‘I will bring your children from the east, and gather you from the west. I will say to the north:’Give them up!’ and to the south: Do not hold them back’
This is exactly what happened. From over 100 countries of the world the Jews came back to the Promised Land. With different cultures and speaking different languages. But now they are integrated (and not kept in refugee camps as the Arabs did with the Palestinians) and speak the language of the Bible. The holy order of the LORD to the north:‘Give them up!’ happened in 1990. For many, many years the communist, Russian regime did not allow the Russian Jews to go. Then the LORD God of Israel said: ‘Give them up!’ and the entire Russian communist empire collapsed. Without any blood shed. Now about 1.2 million Russian Jews returned to Israel and many more will come. We serve a mighty God! When He speaks on behalf of His people even a mighty empire disappears! One more quote:
‘In stead of the thornbush HE will grow pine trees and in stead of the briers the myrth will grow’.
When, little over 100 years ago, the Jews started to return to the Promised Land, what in those days was called Palestine, they discovered that the land was a terrible ruine, covered with rocks, rubble and also with thorns and thistles. Now the land is covered with cities and towns, with forests and fruit yards. According the the Word of God.
The heart of Israel is Jerusalem. The capital of Israel, but not recognized by most of the nations of the world. The eyes of the whole world are on that city. The Muslims want Jerusalem as their holy city. The Roman Catholics consider the Pope as the Substitue on earth of the Lord Christ Jesus. So the Vatican in Rome wants to have foothold in the holy city. Palestinians want Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinean state. The UN expects to set up the New World Order with Jerusalem as the centre. Often Jerusalem is called ‘the Holy City for the three monotheïstic world religions’. That means that Jerusalem is supposed to be holy for Jews, Christians and Muslims. All want Jerusalem. And in the center of the Holy City is the Temple Mount, dangerously ticking as a time bomb. Waiting for the moment the predicted ‘wars for Jerusalem’ will break out. On the Temple mount both Jewish temples were situated. The Temple of Salomo, destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BCE and the Temple of Herod, where the Lord Jesus preached. This Temple was destroyed by the Romans under general Titus in 70 CE. The Muslims have their Dome of the Rock built by caliph Omar in 692 CE and the al-Aksa mosque at the south of the Temple Mount. At top of that they are building a very large mosque for 30.000 believers under ground of the Temple Mount. In the so-called ‘Stables of Solomon’. The Christians have their holy places as a remembrance of the Lord Jesus. The most important holy site for orthodox Christians is the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City. The place where supposedly the Lord Jesus was buried. This church is owned for 70% by the Greek Orthodox Church, and the remaining 30% is split up betweens the Roman Catholics, the Armenians, the Coptic Church, the Syria Orthodox Church and the Ethiopian Orthodox. This is complicated situation caused many riots, problems and fights in Jerusalem. This is one of the reasons why the UN decided in 1947 that Jerusalem should become an international city under a trusteeship of the UN. That would suit the world leaders in the UN very well. For they are working at a One World Government and one world religion. The New World Order! But up till now all intrigues of the One World Movement have been at no avail. In 1949 Jordan captured the Old City and East Jerusalem. In 1967, in the Six Day War, Israel regained the holy Temple Mount. The chief rabbi of the army, rabbi Goren, wanted to remove the mosques immediately and to start rebuilding the Holy Temple. But Israeli Defence Minister, general Moshe Dayan decided to put the Temple Mount under the responsiblitiy Muslim Waqf. He and the Israeli government hoped that the Muslims would appreciate this kind gesture of Israel, the victory of the Six Day War. There was one condition from Israeli side: Jews and Christians also would have free access to that holy place. For the first time since many centuries all three religions had free access to all holy places in the holy land. The Israeli government appeared to be a good custody of the holy places. But the decision of Moshe Dayan was not so successful. For two reasons. During the intifada’s (Palestinean uprisings) the Waqf closed the Temple mount. For many months neither Jews nor Christians were allowed to enter the Temple Mount. The Israeli Government did accept and stil accepts this Muslim impudence because they are afraid for Arab/Muslim violence and even more terrorisme. The second reason is, according to some orthodox rabbi’s, that the rebuilding of the Temple is delayed by that decision. Therefore also the Redemption and the coming of the Messiah are delayed for many years. For the Bible says that the Messiah will ‘suddenly come to His temple’ (Malachi 3:1). So the Messiah and with Him the Redemption cannot come if there is no temple on the Temple Mount. But a strong group of pious Jews and also evangelical Christians endeavour and work together towards the reconstruction of the Temple. W’ll briefly discuss this 3rd Temple later.
Jerusalem is not mentioned in the Koran. But many Muslim interpreters and Islamic scholars of the Koran are inclined to consider that Sura 17 is an intimation about Jerusalem. In the first verse this Sura speaks about a trip of the prophet Muhammed to the ‘far and sanctified sanctuary’. This sanctuary is considered by most Muslims as the Temple Mount. However some Koran scholars are inclined to seek that sanctuary in Medina. In his first years Muhammed directed his followers to pray in the direction of Jerusalem. But probably after the break of Muhammed with the Jews he changed the direction of prayers to Mecca. In 638 the second Caliph after Muhammed, Omar, captured Jerusalem. He erected a small mosque on the Temple Mount. On that spot caliph Abd al-Malik built in the years between 685 and 692 the Dome of the Rock. He hoped to compete with the major Muslim sanctuary, the Ka’aba in Mecca. More political power was his objective. But Jerusalem never reached the holiness of Mecca and even not as Medina. Ity is only the 3rd holy place for the Muslims. For may centuries, actually until 1967, Jerusalem remained a second class town and the Temple Mount as a second class sanctuary. This was the case during all the successive Muslim kingdoms or caliphates that ruled over the Middle East from 638 CE until 1967. Jerusalem was never a capital of any Muslim country during all those centuries. In 1967, during the Six Day War, Israel conquered the old city and East Jerusalem. Those parts of Jerusalem were occupied by Jordan from 1949 – 1967. All of a sudden Muslim leaders and also Palestinians remembered that Jerusalem is a Muslim sanctuary. Only because of the fact that the Jews ruled in Jerusalem they realized that Jerusalem was ‘their’ holy city. After so many centuries neglect Jerusalem all of a sudden became most important for the Muslim Arabs! And ever since the battle for Jerusalem has become more and more fierce. This situation also is a partial fulfilment of a prophecy of the Lord Jesus Himself.
‘And they shall fall by the edge of the sword and shall be led away captive into all nations; and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled’.
The first part of the prophecy was fulfilled in 70 CE when the Romans destroyed the Temple and Jerusalem. The Jews were ‘led away in captive’; that means they were exiled. For over 1900 years Jerusalem was ‘trodden down’ by many gentile nations. Until 1967, for in that year Jerusalem returned in Jewish hands and a then a beginning of the end of ‘the times of the Gentiles’ started in 1967. Christians of the Roman Catholic Church and the other (Russian, Greek) orthodox churches. have their own ‘holy places’ in Jerusalem. They do not have much interest in the Temple Mount. Let us turn to the Jewish faith now. Jerusalem is mentioned over 700 times in the Old Testament. But it is also mentioned with many other names. ‘Zion’ in its meaning of Jerusalem, for example, appears about 180 times in the Bible. At top of that we read of Mount Moriah (where Abraham was asked to sacrifice his son Isaac), City of David, Holy City, Shalem, Ariel etc. Altogether there are about 2000 mentions of Jerusalem in the Hebrew Bible. Jerusalem and the Temple Mount are central in the Jewish faith. Jews in exile prayed: ‘If I forget thee, o Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning’ (Psalm 137:5). When they had their Passover meal they said: ‘This year here, next year in Jerusalem’. Always the Holy City was central in their beliefs and their thinking. Jerusalem never was a capital of another country than Israel. Even in the exile Jerusalem remained ‘their capital’.
Jerusalem means ‘foundation of peace’ or ‘city of peace’. It is one of the oldest cities in the world. There is no city that has faced so many conquests and wars as the ‘city of peace’. It is considered the center of the earth. A famous 16th century map shows Jerusalem in the center and the three continents, Africa, Asia and Europe as the leaves of a flower around the holy city. In 1900 BCE it is mentioned on Egyptian clay tablets. In those days it was Abraham who met with Melchizedek who was king of Jerusalem in those days. About 1000 BCE David conquered Jebus (Jerusalem) and in 952 BCE the first Temple was dedicated by king Solomon. This Temple was destroyed by the Babyloneans in 586 BCE and rebuilt in 516 BCE. This was the Temple in which the Lord Jesus preached. The Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 CE and then another prophecy of the Lord Jesus was fulfilled when He spoke of the Temple:
‘As for these things (this refers to the beauty and the precious stones of that Temple) which ye behold, the days will come, in which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down’.
All Words of the LORD will be fulfilled up till the smallest details. Even now, when you visit Jerusalem, the tour guides will show you the stones of the Temple that have been thrown down by the Roam soldiers over 19 centuries ago! Then a sad history of at least 30 conquests, destructions or pillages of the Holy City took place. Up till today Jerusalem is is city of war. The Arabs and millions of other Muslims cry ‘jihad’ over Jerusalem. The UN wages a ‘paper war’ for Jerusalem. Many resolutions of the UN are challenging the Israeli authority over the Holy City. The European Union (EU) and the NATO have plans to set up a peace keeping military unit that will operate in Israel. This army might also deal with the question Jerusalem and even be used in one of the wars ‘of all nations’ against the Holy City. The Bible predicts that there will be End Time wars against Jerusalem. Let us study one of those prophecies:
‘Behold I will make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling (‘a cup of trembling’ KJV). Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem. On that day when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure (hurt) themselves’.
The ‘surrounding peoples’ are the nations around Israel, the Arab nations. A ‘cup of trembling’ or ‘reeling’ means that they will move like a drugged, or drunk man . Jerusalem obviously makes them ‘drunk’, sothat they do not know what they are saying or doing. We see that happen when the Muslim masses demonstrate for the Jihad for Jerusalem. They are prepared for the predicted war against Judah (the Jewish people) and Jerusalem. Most probably they will also loose that war. The prophet speaks of two wars. Look a bit closer to that prophecy. It speaks of the war of ‘’all the surrounding peoples’ and a war of ‘all the nations of the earth’. So, most probably the UN or the EU and the NATO will intervene on behalf of the Arabs when they loose again that war against Israel. Then ‘all the nations of the earth’ will ‘gather against Jerusalem’.This might as well be that ‘peace keeping’ military force the E.U is setting up. The 14th chapter of Zechariah tell us that the LORD Himself will finally intervene in those battles for Jerusalem on behalf of His chosen peole Israel:
‘Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations as HE fights in the day of battle. On that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives will be split in two...’
That will be the great day of the glorious return of the Lord Jesus. That day is near! That will be the Day of Redemption. Only then there will be peace on earth. On that day the Kingdom of the Lord will begin, and then the apostles will receive a reply on their question:
Lord, will thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?’
The kingdom restored to Israel will be the final end of these days of ‘the time of restoration of Israel’. Jerusalem plays a keyrole, now, in the near future and in the coming kingdom.
Political and religious leaders keep saying that Jerusalem is ‘the holy city for the three monotheistic religions’. We doubt this statement. What is the real reason for the holiness of that city? The Holy God, the Creator of heaven and earth, told Moses, His servant that there is a ‘place which the LORD, your God has chosen to put His Name there’ (Deuteronomy 12:11,14,18,21 etc). Even the mighty Persian king Cyrus acknowledged that Jerusalem is the place the LORD has chosen:
‘Who is there among you of all His (Jewish) people?His God be with him and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, He is the God Which is in Jerusalem’.
This refers to the return of the Jewish people from the Babylonean exile. King Cyrus gave the Jews permission to return and to rebuild the Holy Temple. Where? In Jerusalem where God JHWH, the God of Israel, dwells. Let us consider some more places of the Holy Scriptures that emphasize the holiness of Jerusalem because of the God of Israel:
‘Sing praises to the LORD, Who dwells in Zion’
‘For the LORD has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His habitation’
‘Blessed be the LORD out of Zion, Who dwells at Jerusalem’
‘....the LORD of hosts, Who dwells on Mount Zion....’
Many more places in the Bible show us that Jerusalem is a a Holy City because of the LORD God of Israel. Jesus Himself emphasizes this for He speaks of Jerusalem as ‘the city of the Great King’ (Mathew 5:34). Nehemia and prophets call Jerusalem ‘the Holy City’ because it is the city of the LORD God. That is why Jerusalem is a holy city. Not because of what political and religious leaders say. At this moment there is no temple for the LORD God in the Holy City. Now there are at least three ‘temples’ or mosques for the god of the Islam. The god of the Koran of not the same as the God of the Bible. The God of Israel, Who the Jews and Christians serve is not the same as the god of the Islam. But at the moment the Mountain of Zion is in the hands of the enemies of Gods people.This situation will not be like that for ever. The mosques will disappear and Jerusalem will be the City of the Great King again. For the Bible says:
The LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all dwellings of Jacob’
‘This is what the LORD Almighty says: I am very jealous for Jerusalem and Zion’
The LORD God is eager to restore His glory for the Holy City. For He said:
‘The LORD will again comfort Zion and choose Jerusalem’.
Zecharia 1:17, 2:12, 3:2
‘Sing, o daughter of Sion, shout, o daughter of Israel, be glad and rejoice with all the heart, o daughter of Jerusalem. The LORD has taken away your judgment, HE has cast out your enemy. The King of Israel, even the LORD is in the midst of thee, you shall not see evil any more.....The LORD God is in your midst’.
But that will not happen automatically. We receive promises of the LORD by prayer and by faith. This is why the Holy Spirit urges us to pray:
‘I have set watchmen upon your walls, o Jerusalem who shall never hold their peace day nor night; you that make mention of the LORD, keep not silence and give Him no rest till HE establishes and till HE makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.
At all our prayer meetings we should mention Jerusalem. This is important, not only for Israel, but for the entire world. There will be no peace on the earth till there is peace in Jerusalem. And in Psalm 122:6 the LORD promises you: ‘They shall prosper that love you’.
Why is Jerusalem that important? Because it is the City of the living God. The city the LORD has chosen for His glory. Just one more quotation from the Bible:
‘Arise, shine, for your light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon you. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth and gross darkness the people, but the LORD shall rise upon you, and His glory shall be seen upon you’.
What will happen? The apostle Paul explains what is going to happen, hopefully, very soon:
‘There will come out of Sion the Deliverer’
Paul takes this quote from the word of prophecy, and there we read:
‘And the Redeemer will come to Zion’.
HE will come ‘to Zion’ as Redeemer for Israel his chosen nation. HE will come to us ‘out of Sion’ as the Deliverer. Then, in those days, there will be no mosques on the Holy Mountain of the LORD, but the Temple of the LORD God will be rebuilt, for it is written:
‘But on Mount Zion will be deliverance; it will be holy’.
‘Then, suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to His Temple’.
The Lord will not be able to come to ‘His Temple’ if there is no temple on the Mount Zion. So the Temple will be reconstructed. Some orthodox Jewish groups are busy with the preparations. Most of the holy equipment, such as the silver trumpets, the Davidic harps, the temple music, the clothes for the High priest, the priests the the Levites, the altars, the table for the show breads, etc. etc. are ready. Priests and Levites are being trained for the services in the Holy Temple. You can see that with your own eys when you visit Jerusalem. From Jerusalem and Zion the Lord Jesus will establish His kingdom over all the earth. For it is written:
‘The law will go out from Zion and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem’.
Only then there will be peace on earth. Only when the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:5) rules in Jerusalem, there will be peace all over the world. This is one of the reasons the LORD urges us to pray the following:
‘Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. May those who love you be secure’
So security and peace will come through the Prince of Peace, Who will be fulfilled:
‘See a King will reign in righteousness and rulers will rule with justice’.
This cannot be said of most presidents, kings and other mighty rulers of our days. This is why we work and pray with all our strength toward the coming of the Prince of Peace, the Lord Christ Jesus, the Messiah, Who will come ‘as Redeemer to Zion’. Then great glory will be upon Jerusalem: ‘And the name of the city from that time on will be: THE LORD IS THERE’. Israel is being restored as preparation for the coming of the Messiah. This is why the entire world is against Israel. Only Bible believing Christians see what is going on and they pray for Israel and Jerusalem. They support and comfort and encourage Israel. That is how we cooperate with the LORD in the struggle for the coming Kingdom.