Jerusalem is a powder keg, loaded with nuclear potential! No city on Earth is so fraught with international tension as Jerusalem!
Not only does this ancient city play a central role in the beliefs of the three major religions—Judaism, Islam and Christianity—it is a powerful nationalist symbol for both Arabs and Jews.
Today the Israelis and Palestinians are in a bloody deadlock over who will control Jerusalem. They have tried for years now to resolve their many differences through negotiation and compromise. But their talks always break down over Jerusalem!
This is an impossible problem with no resolution that will be acceptable to all parties. As one analyst put it, “A peace between the Arabs and Jews that does not resolve the question of Jerusalem will be no peace. Indeed, a peace that weakens the Jews by returning the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights to Arab control but leaves Jerusalem as an unresolved dispute will make war more not less likely. … The assumption of the diplomats that all things can be solved by negotiation underestimates the emotions involved. Jerusalem is non-negotiable” (Islamic Affairs Analyst, June 1, 1993). That means there is no peaceful solution.
The situation is very bad in Jerusalem today, but your Bible says it will get much worse before it gets better. But why all the attention on Jerusalem?
God Chose Jerusalem
Notice this remarkable statement that God made: “Howbeit I will not rend away all the kingdom; but will give one tribe to thy son for David my servant’s sake, and for Jerusalem’s sake which I have chosen” (1 Kings 11:13). God Himself CHOSE Jerusalem. He didn’t choose Paris or London or New York—He chose Jerusalem.
Imagine: This is a city God has chosen! It is yet to dazzle the world with a godly brilliance! The whole world will soon be looking to this city for leadership. Right now, God is preparing his leadership that will soon rule from Jerusalem.
There is strong evidence that Melchizedek founded Jerusalem. “And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God” (Genesis 14:18). Melchizedek was king of Salem, which probably became known as “Jeru-salem.”
Salem means “peace.” Jerusalem means “city of peace.” If you understand the history of Jerusalem, this could be likened to a sick joke! This city’s history has been filled with rivers of blood. No city on Earth has had more bloodshed! No city has suffered like Jerusalem. It has known almost no peace! That’s because man has ruled Jerusalem apart from God.
This blood-soaked city is yet to become a city of peace!
No other city has had such an incredible beginning. It was chosen by God and undoubtedly founded by Melchizedek.
God chose Jerusalem from the very beginning. God founded this city in peace. It was founded to be a city of peace forever! You can be sure God will complete His plan. If you understand God’s goal, you know that the meaning of the city’s name contains a prophecy of its magnificent future!
God has turned His back on Jerusalem because of the sinful people. But that problem will be corrected in the near future.
During the time of Joshua, Jerusalem was called Jebus (Joshua 18:28; Judges 19:10). The Jebusites lived there. They were Canaanites, descended from Ham through Canaan. God promised to drive out the Jebusites if Israel would be His soldiers (Exodus 33:1-3; 34:11-15).
David was the one who finally captured Jerusalem from the Jebusites (2 Samuel 5:1-6). This city was such a fortress that it appeared the blind and lame could defend it. But David trusted God and triumphed.
“Nevertheless David took the strong hold of Zion: the same is the city of David. And David said on that day, Whosoever getteth up to the gutter, and smiteth the Jebusites, and the lame and the blind, that are hated of David’s soul, he shall be chief and captain. Wherefore they said, The blind and the lame shall not come into the house. So David dwelt in the fort, and called it the city of David. And David built round about from Millo and inward. And David went on, and grew great, and the Lord God of hosts was with him” (2 Samuel 5:7‑10). Jerusalem was called the “city of David.” But that would soon change.
God Rejects Jerusalem
Judah turned away from God. Jeremiah was sent to Jerusalem to warn it. “Thus said the Lord unto me; Go and stand in the gate of the children of the people, whereby the kings of Judah come in, and by the which they go out, and in all the gates of Jerusalem” (Jeremiah 17:19). Jeremiah was told to stand in the gates of Jerusalem—where the kings and rulers would enter—and to warn them. They were breaking God’s Sabbath day.
God always sends a messenger to warn His sinning people and Israel. The message must be declared where the people can hear it. “And say unto them, Hear ye the word of the Lord, ye kings of Judah, and all Judah, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, that enter in by these gates: Thus saith the Lord; Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem; Neither carry forth a burden out of your houses on the sabbath day, neither do ye any work, but hallow ye the sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers. But they obeyed not, neither inclined their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear, nor receive instruction” (verses 20‑23). They were commanded to hallow God’s Sabbath—keep it holy. If we keep a holy Sabbath, it prepares us for a holy week and a close relationship with God. Repeatedly, Israel was punished because of breaking this commandment and turning away from God.
Jerusalem was destroyed because of Sabbath-breaking. It has been trodden down ever since—over 2,000 years! There is a cause for every effect. Jerusalem is a city in deep trouble today. Why? Because of sin.
Nebuchadnezzar made Jerusalem look like a garbage dump. “Therefore shall Zion for your sake be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of the forest” (Micah 3:12). After Jerusalem was destroyed in 585 b.c., it looked like heaps of garbage.
Nebuchadnezzar left Jerusalem as a plowed field and in heaps of garbage. Josephus was an eyewitness when the Romans destroyed this city in a.d. 70. He said if a person came upon that place, they would never imagine a city was once there!
Jerusalem was rebuilt, and then the Jews rebelled again in a.d. 132-135. Rome was so incensed that it destroyed every building constructed since a.d. 70. The records claim that, once again, Jerusalem became like a plowed field! No Jew was allowed within 20 miles of Jerusalem.
During the religious crusades, the “city of peace” again flowed with rivers of blood. However, the worst woe by far is yet to come!
“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” (Zechariah 12:2). Every nation that has ruled Jerusalem has experienced serious problems. This is true up to the present day.
“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” (verse 3). God said the Jerusalem problem would be a nightmare for peacemakers and diplomats who get entangled with it, not to mention the people who call it their home. And yet, it seems that every nation wants Jerusalem.
No city has suffered like Jerusalem. As we will see in the chapters to follow, it is presently weighed down by insoluble problems. Yet, ultimately, there is very good news. God established Jerusalem to be a city of peace—and one day He will make sure that it finally becomes so! It is actually the city from which God’s Family will rule the entire universe!