Jerusalem is the center of the world. This city in what would otherwise be only a moderately remarkable state is the focal point of the Globe’s three monotheistic faiths. Nearly every nation in the world, as well as the EU, the UN and the Vatican believe they have a stake in its fate. And in the Last Days, when the rebellion against God will reach its Zenith, it is Jerusalem that will be the point of contention. The long-overdue recognition that Jerusalem is and should remain the capital of Israel is a driving force that has infuriated the nations and moved the prophetic clock forward. There is coming a battle their when the whole world will unite against Israel….But God will see His purposes fulfilled. “Behold, the day of the Lord is coming, And your spoil will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem.” (Zechariah 14:1-2)
PART II – GOD’S PURPOSES
To understand the meaning of what just happened when President Trump affirmed Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, we need to take a longer view. It is all wrapped up in the ultimate purposes of God for His Chosen People as well as the Church. You see, Israel is God’s timepiece. It has been ticking since the Jews began to return to the land with the advent of the Zionist movement of the 1890’s. Bible scholars have given it special attention since the establishment of the modern State of Israel in 1948. The Scriptures have laid out some very specific prophecies concerning Israel through the ages. The Prophets have described the scattering and re-gathering of the Jews, as well as the restoration of the Land and the coming redemption. They revealed specific details of the wars to come in the last days. Through today’s headlines, we can watch the formation of the very specific alignment of nations that will be coming against Israel in the Last Days.
It is all wrapped up together. We live in a time of accelerating crisis. We’ve seen small wars fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. ISIS terrorists update their resume with new attacks on almost a weekly basis. Unstable regimes in Iran and Korea prepare for war. North Korea, with an ideology that is willing to sacrifice millions of its own citizens to take on the United States is in possession of nuclear weapons and a delivery system that can reach anywhere in the world. In many ways, the times parallel those of the 1930’s, as Hitler ramped up for war, gobbled Europe, and a Japanese invasion of China was virtually ignored. Storm clouds are on the horizon. Earthquakes, volcanoes, record weather, wars and rumors, are all wreaking massive havoc on the earth. Jesus warned of these things in Matthew 24 and Luke 21. In those passages, Our Lord gave us a general overview of what the world will be like as we approached the time of His return. Other Scriptures are even more specific about what is to come. Looking at the events from the perspective of God’s people, the Scriptures give us a detailed account of just what will happen to prepare the world for the coming of the Antichrist, the One-World System, and Christ’s eventual return. Jesus told us of “wars and rumors of wars.” The Prophets reveal some of the specific nations involved and the outcomes of those wars. Scripture tells us there are at least two wars before Messiah comes: The first in which Israel fights Syria and its near Arab neighbors and another soon to follow against a coalition of Russia, [or Turkey], – along with Iran and the second ring of Islamic States. Yet despite the machinations of man, God has promised the land to Israel forever. “Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.” (Genesis 17:8) But let’s go back to see just how God’s promises have operated with regard to His chosen people and Land.
At the time of His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the first Palm Sunday, Jesus began to contemplate the coming fate of Jerusalem; the city of the prophets in the Land The Father had chosen. What should have been a time of joy was marred by the tragedy He knew was coming. Luke 19:41-44 gives us this account. “Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” In Matthew 21:2, Jesus reiterates the same point regarding the Temple buildings. “Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”
That is exactly what happened. In April of AD 70, Roman General Titus began a siege of Jerusalem against the rebelling Jews. The Romans constructed embankments as they systematically starved the city’s inhabitants.[i] In the final assault in September of that year the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and killed an estimated 1.1 million Jews. During the destruction, fire was set to the Temple. The fire caused the gold-leaf ornamentation on the Temple ceiling to melt. The melting gold flowed down the walls and settled into crevices between the stones. The Romans pried apart the stones to remove the gold. This specifically and exactly fulfilled Jesus Christ’s prophecy that not one stone would be left standing on another.
Jesus was saying that the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem itself occurred “because you did not know the time of your visitation.” Despite clear prophetic warning, Israel had failed to recognize and accept their predicted Messiah. Still speaking to his disciples on the events to come, The Lord detailed more of the fate of Jerusalem. “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near…. And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” (Luke 21:20 & 24) Again, that is exactly what happened. The Romans destroyed Jerusalem in the year 70, and again in the year 135. During the two destructions, the Romans killed an estimated 1.5 million Jews. Hundreds of thousands of Jews were taken as slaves to other countries, mostly throughout Europe and parts of Asia. It is significant that the respected historian Josephus names no Christian victim of this Roman slaughter in his accounts of this great Jewish War. Believers were warned first of all by Luke’s account of Christ’s warning. They clearly saw the approaching Roman Legions, gathering to surround Jerusalem. In addition, Eusebius, an early Church Father, known as the ‘Father of Church History’, tells us of a New Testament prophet that warned the Christian community to leave the city and escape the coming slaughter. It seems they did.[ii] No Christian is recorded to have been caught in that slaughter.
[i] John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, Thomas Neslon Bibles, 1997, – notes for Luke 19:43-44, pg 1,554-1,555
[ii] Paul L Maier, The Catastrophic Fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD, Jesus Christology, July 13, 2008