“For the Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His dwelling, saying, ‘This is My resting place for ever and ever; here I will sit enthroned for I have desired it.'” (Psalm 132:13–14)
Throughout Scripture, Jerusalem occupies the heart and spirit of God and the Jewish People.
Indeed, the prophet Zechariah confirmed the centrality of Jerusalem when he prophesied that the Messiah would come in great power to this Holy City.
Of course, he was referring to the not-so-distant future when Yeshua (Jesus) will return to take His place in Jerusalem as “king over the whole earth.” (Zechariah 14:9)
“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 from east to west, forming a great valley.” (Zechariah 14:4, see also Acts 1:11)
Tabernacles in Jerusalem Forever
Today, Jerusalem’s status as the eternal capital of Israel is hotly contested all around the planet.
Nevertheless, the Bible promises that the world will one day come to Jerusalem to worship God:
At that time they will call Jerusalem The Throne of the LORD, and all nations will gather in Jerusalem to honor the name of the LORD. No longer will they follow the stubbornness of their evil hearts. (Jeremiah 3:17)
Last week, pro-Israel lawmakers from parliaments all around the world came to Jerusalem during the Biblical holiday of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles), foreshadowing the fulfillment of this prophecy when Yeshua tabernacles with His people and the nations come to Jerusalem during this festival.
They were here to attend the three-day Jerusalem Chairman’s Conference, hosted by the Israel Allies Foundation, where they discussed grave issues facing Israel.
Those issues include strategic border implications and the growing Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS), which cultivates international economic and political pressure against Israel.
The end goal of the BDS is to divide Jerusalem and destroy Israel by forcing an end to Israel’s so-called occupation and colonization of Arab land.
While the Christian legislators enjoyed lunch in a sukkah last Sunday, Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett encouraged the legislators to actively oppose the BDS lies and to continue to oppose global pressure to divide Jerusalem and return to the pre-1967 borders (the Green Line):
“We’re being told that right behind this sukkah [the Old City of Jerusalem] is occupied territory, and we may be boycotted as long as we’re there. Whoever thinks our capital of 3,000 years is occupied doesn’t understand anything. Stop the lies,” he said.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat also encouraged them to take a stand for truth.
“Be ambassadors for peace and tell the truth about your visit here,” he encouraged.
Although the global BDS campaign seeks to obliterate the memory of the Jewish People in the Land of Israel, Bennett reassured them that the Jewish People will never forget their history.
“A people who live in shacks one week a year for 3,000 years—and I did just that with my children, for the last three nights—are a people that will remain forever, because we remember our history,” he said.
“Israel’s raison d’être is so the Jewish People will last for eternity.”
Jerusalem on the Political Chopping Block
Recently, direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) resumed after lying dormant for three years.
Jerusalem is now on the chopping block as PA negotiators try to divide it and gain the lands that Jordan occupied after the ceasefire in 1949 and lost during the 1967 Six Day War when it attacked Israel: Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and east Jerusalem.
Israel’s legal ownership of this land has come to serve as a sticking point in the eyes of many internationals who condemn Israel for building housing complexes beyond the 1949 Armistice Demarcation Lines, or Green Line.
That Green Line, which is named after the green ink used to mark ceasefire lines on the map after the 1948 Israeli War for Independence, was neither permanent nor an international border.
By Israeli law, Jerusalem is fully considered the capital of the Jewish state; however, Israel’s long-term ally, the United States, seems to be bent toward mystifying Jerusalem’s status by referring to it as a city without a country.
Because of that, American citizens who were born in Jerusalem cannot list their birthplace as Israel.
“The Jerusalem issue shows that the US never even fully recognized Israel’s sovereign rights within those lines,” said Eugene Kontorovich, instructor of constitutional and international law at Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago, Illinois.
“Before Israel could go ‘back’ to the 1949 lines, America should go ‘up’ to them—recognizing Western Jerusalem as the sovereign territory and political capital of the Jewish state,” he said. (JPost)
Although Israel and Palestinian Authority negotiators have been meeting after focused involvement by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, his flawed nine-month peace plan has the end goal of two separate states with Israel “returning” to the 1949 ceasefire lines.
“I will tell you that all of the issues are on the table: territory, security, refugees, Jerusalem—all of the final status issues are on the table. And importantly, we are not seeking an interim agreement; we are seeking a final status agreement,” Kerry confirmed last week. (Washington Post)
A day earlier, at the United Nations, US President Barack Obama said, “The border of Israel and Palestine should be based on 1967 lines with mutually agreed-to swaps.”
Such arrangements might result in borders that are difficult to defend, if not indefensible.
And while Israel has extended a hand of peace toward the Palestinians by agreeing to release 104 convicted Palestinian terrorists, one of the two top Palestinian negotiators, though given the task of negotiating a two-state solution, openly displays a map of Palestine that encompasses Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. (The American Thinker)
Furthermore, Hamas—a terrorist organization that rules Gaza—has not green-lighted peace talks, and criticizes the Palestinian Authority for engaging in them.
Gaza, where religious minorities like Jews and Christians are being forced to convert to Islam, may serve as an indication of what would become of a future Palestinian state overwhelmed by Hamas.
In July, at least five Christians were forced to convert to Islam, according to the Greek Orthodox Church in the Gaza Strip.
“Today it is happening in the Gaza Strip, tomorrow it will take place in Bethlehem. In a few months, there will be no Christians left in Palestine,” said a Christian man living in Gaza. (Gatestone)
Jordan Declares Jerusalem Its Capital
Jerusalem has seen a history peppered with destruction and graced with periods of restoration.
Although the Jewish People have maintained their relationship with the Holy City throughout the ages, for many centuries external sovereign powers have often failed to recognize Israel as the Jewish homeland.
When Israel once again became an independent sovereign nation in 1948, Jordan surged into action against the fledgling state.
When the green line was finally drawn in 1949, an uneasy peace emerged between the State of Israel and Jordan, which came to occupy east Jerusalem for almost two decades.
In 1950, Jordan annexed east Jerusalem (the Old City) and the West Bank, giving residents automatic Jordanian citizenship. The move was recognized by Britain and Pakistan, but considered illegal by the rest of the Arab League.
In 1960, Jordan declared Jerusalem the second capital of Jordan.
Jordan continued to occupy the eastern half of Jerusalem until 1967.
During the two years before the 1967 Six Day War, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)—which was birthed by the Arab League in 1964—called for Israel’s destruction.
In those two years, the PLO masterminded 113 terrorist raids against Israel—every one of them against Israeli civilians.
As well, Syria shelled Israeli farms and villages from the Golan Heights, forcing Israeli children to live in bomb shelters, while the United Nations did nothing.
On May 15, 1967, Egypt, which controlled the Sinai Peninsula, and Syria, which controlled the Golan Heights, aggressively began readying their troops on the border with Israel.
A week later, Egypt illegally blocked the Straits of Tiran that Israel used for shipping.
After another week, Jordan allied itself with Egypt, whose president, Gamal Abdel Nasser, expected a “total war … aimed at Israel’s destruction.”
Other Arab leaders voiced similar hopes: “Our objective is … the liquidation of the Zionist existence,” said Syria’s chief of staff. (Washington Post)
“The existence of Israel is an error which must be rectified. … Our goal is clear—to wipe Israel off the map,” Iraqi President Abdul Aref said.
When Israel saw tens of thousands of Arab troops building up on her borders in June, 1967, she chose a pre-emptive strike.
Over the course of one hour, Israel cut down Egypt’s air power and the mass of Egyptian troops in Sinai. Then, despite Israel urging Jordan to stay out of the war, Jordan attacked West Jerusalem, as well as suburban Tel Aviv and various Israeli coastal towns. (Jewish Virtual Library)
In a miraculous six-day victory, Israel captured East Jerusalem and Judea-Samaria (also occupied for the previous 19 years by Jordan), the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, and the Golan Heights from Syria.
The pressure to re-divide Jerusalem will only intensify in the coming days.
This should not take Believers by surprise since God has fixed this city at the heart of Messianic Prophecy and redemptive history.
The Bible warns us that in the last days there will be a struggle over Jerusalem:
I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling. … 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 themselves. (Zechariah 12:2–3; see also Daniel 9:27)
So, as the end-time struggle over Jerusalem takes shape, we can be encouraged, knowing that God has foreseen the times in which we live and counseled us in what’s to come.
And we can take heart knowing that Yeshua (Jesus) will soon return.
And when He returns, Jerusalem will be secure, never again to be destroyed. (Zechariah 14:1–11).
In that day, the presence of global lawmakers celebrating Sukkot in Jerusalem will not surprise anyone; rather, as Jerusalem takes her rightful place as the center of the nations, it will be expected (Ezekiel 5:5):
Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. (Zechariah 14:16–17)
Many peoples will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the Temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us His ways, so that we may walk in His paths.’ The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. (Isaiah 2:3)