“But to his son I will give one tribe, that My servant David may have a lamp always before Me in Jerusalem, the city where I have chosen for Myself to put My name.” 1 Kings 11:36 , NIV
“Blessed be the Lord from Zion, Who dwells in Jerusalem.Praise the Lord! Psalm 135:21, NIV
“At that time they will call Jerusalem ‘The Throne of the Lord,’ and all the nations will be gathered to it, to Jerusalem, for the name of the Lord; nor will they walk anymore after the stubbornness of their evil heart.” Jeremiah 3:17, NIV
I could argue this morning, that there is not a more important city on the face of the earth than Jerusalem. And today it’s in the news everyday. Something is happening in our life time, right now, that very well might change history. This city is one of the most ancient in the world, but it’s help sacred by Jews, Christians, and most recently Muslims. The name means “possession of peace," or "foundation of peace." It was built thousands of years ago upon two mountains, Zion and Moriah.
For Jews, Jerusalem is a religious symbol that transcends time.The first Jew, Abraham walked there, during his wanderings throughout “the Promised Land”. The very place where Abraham nearly sacrificed his son Isaac, is the spot on which temple was later built.
After Moses led the Hebrews out of Israel….after they wandered in the desert for 40 years….after God led Joshua to conquer the promised land…. after God raised up David to be the king of Israel it was Jerusalem that David chose as his capital. Jerusalem became the center of religious life of the Israelites. It was there, Solomon built the Temple, the national centre of worship, per God’s precise directions. The heads of all Israelite households were required to make a pilgrimage there three times a year to gather together for the three major festivals.
To the Jews, the city was so important that those who could not manage the journey were advised to at least pray towards Jerusalem, in which case their prayer would be heard as if they were present. To this day, synagogues all face Jerusalem. It’s been destroyed more than once—by the Babylonians, the Romans and from countless wars. But when the Romans destroyed it, the temple was also demolished and the Jews scattered. It marked the end of Jewish independence in the Holy Land, and with a short interlude there wasn't really another Jewish realm until 1948. 2000 years of not being allowed to return to their homeland!
Jews were banned from Jerusalem itself the Romans and latter the Muslims. That has huge implications because first, it led to the change in the Jewish religion itself. Before that, the Jewish religion was completely based around the Temple in Jerusalem and about the sacrifices of animals outside the Holy of Holies.
That was Temple Judaism, and after the Roman siege, Judaism changed forever and the Old Testament, especially the five books of Moses, and not the temple, became the center of the religion. That's the way it has remained to this day.
When the Jews were in exile for the 2,000 years, Jerusalem’s memory was the symbol of national unity. The Psalmist said: “If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its cunning and my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth”. At every Passover, Jews say “Next year in Jerusalem”. When the state of Israel was born in 1948, obviously Jerusalem was restored as the country’s capital. It’s been the center of Jewish life for thousands and thousands of years. It belongs to them….
For Christians, Jerusalem is the place where Jesus preached, died and was resurrected. The city is central to an imminent Second Coming of Jesus. Jerusalem is now a major pilgrimage site for Christians from around the world. Jerusalem has never been on any major trade routes—-it’s too far from the sea. It is two small mountains in the blistering Judean desert. But for us, Jerusalem will alway be important. This is the city Jesus wept over and foretold it would be ruled by Gentiles for a time. Jesus walked those streets, taught, performed miracles, and, most importantly, he was executed that and rose from the grave. Again, there’s no city more important in all the world. But it is important to note here that whenever the Bible speaks of Jerusalem, it is speaking of what we know today as East Jerusalem. None of these many verses of Scripture refer to western Jerusalem, because that portion of the modern city only arose in the past 100 years. Not too long ago, Muslims forcibly removed Jews from East Jerusalem, which includes the Old City, Jordan controlled the city. You won’t hear much about that from the media, but Palestinians cannot erase 3,000 years of Jewish history and the fact that they built that ancient city. This is why, in 1980, when the Israeli Knesset passed the Jerusalem Law, it declared Jerusalem to be the eternal, undivided capital of the State of Israel. And yet, the allowed Christians, Muslim and other non-Jews to live there. Since Israel has controlled Jerusalem, they have promised and placed into law, a respect for the Holy sites of Christians and Muslims and has allowed freedom of access and freedom of worship. There is justifiable concern, especially among Christians, as to what might happen Jerusalem be turned over to Palestinian control. Do you think Hamas, Hezbolah, or Iran would protect Jews and Christian churches and worshipers against fellow Muslims if they had control? Their lack of respect for the Jewish Temple Mount gives us great cause for concern. Not only have there been incidents of Arab crowds on the Temple Mount throwing stones down on Jewish worshippers at the Western Wall, but there has also been the wanton destruction of Jewish antiquities from the First and Second Temple periods by the Muslims as they excavate and build underground the Temple Mount. The Islamist movement is totally intolerant and they are attacking Christians and burning their churches world-wide. You won’t hear this on CNN, but the the Palestinian Authority signed a unity pact with the Islamist group, Hamas, which did not protect the Christians in Gaza from attacks and bombings over the past ten years. A joint Hamas-Fatah force of thirteen terrorists that took refuge in one of Christianity’s most holy sites, the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in 2002. They held the clergy as hostages for 39 days, stole icons and all religious artifacts of value, used pages of the Bible for toilet paper and left the church filled with 40 booby trap explosive devices. In short, one of Christianity’s holiest sites was thoroughly desecrated by adherents of the very same political parties that seek control over Jerusalem’s holy sites right now. Today, Muslims are building on top of the hill we believe to be Golgotha. Christians should stand with Israel, and for our common, sacred city, Jerusalem, in these present, perilous times. Unlike Hamas and the Islamists. Israel and Christians:
-Share the same biblical and historical connection, -Honor the unique national and spiritual connection that the Jewish people and the Jewish Nation have with the city of Jerusalem, -Trust Israel to maintain the safety and freedom of worship for everyone throughout Jerusalem and lastly, -Believe that just as you can not separate Christianity from its Jewish roots, you can not separate Jerusalem from its Jewish history. It is an eternal, spiritual and historical reality. I realize that Muslims hold Jerusalem as important to their religion too, of course. But the word “Jerusalem” is mentioned 669 times in the Hebrew bible and 146 times in the New Testament. Jerusalem….but it is never mentioned in the Quran. Mohammed never even visited Jerusalem! Did you know that? The Golden Gate leading to the Temple Mount in the eastern wall built in the 6th Century AD: Jews, Christians and Muslims, believe Armageddon, or Judgment Day, will start there. In the Bible, heaven is represented as both a city and a bride, coming down out of God's heavenly domain and landing on earth, much like the staircase Jacob saw in his dream. John called the city-bride a “new Jerusalem.” It was so marvelous that he could only describe it regarding brilliant stones.
According to Revelation, the New Jerusalem is "pure gold, like clear glass" and its "brilliance [is] like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper." The street of the city is also made of "pure gold, like transparent glass". The base of the city is laid out in a square and surrounded by a wall made of jasper. It says in Revelation 21:16 that the height, length, and width are of equal dimensions – as it was with the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle and First Temple – and they measure 12,000 furlongs (which is approximately 1500.3 miles.) John writes that the wall is 72 yards thick.
There is no temple building in the New Jerusalem. God and the Lamb are the city's temple, since they are worshipped everywhere. Revelation 22 goes on to describe a river of the water of life that flows down the middle of the great street of the city from the Throne of God. The tree of life grows in the middle of the street and to both sides of the river. The tree bears twelve (kinds of) fruit and yields its fruit every month. According to John, "The leaves of the tree were for healing (those of all) nations." This inclusion of the tree of life in the New Jerusalem harkens back to the Garden of Eden. The fruit the tree bears may be the fruit of life.
So this new city, this eternal of God, is square at the base. This means New Jerusalem is larger than India with nearly 2 million square miles. Even more astounding than the size at the base is the height that is also at least 1,500 miles(Rev. 21:16). This goes well beyond Earth's atmosphere and into space. If a building in the city is this high, and has a generous 12 feet per story, the building would be over 600,000 stories!
If there are 100,000,000,000 saints in heaven, this would be enough for each of us to have a quarter square miles, of 160 cubic acres, to spread out!
Now, that’s a lot of history and geography, I know. But sometimes we don’t trust God, we let folks re-write history to their own liking. Sometimes, politicians, journalists, newspapers, terrorists and activists want to sacrifice the truth to push their pet agendas. We should disassociate ourselves from institutions, humanitarian efforts and made-made stories that attempt to cloud or rewrite history. There’s a lot going on right now that will echo for many years to come. We might be embarking on the world’s last war and the last generation to live on this planet.
But listen to this as follower of Christ and, hopefully, a student of the Bible:
1. God made the. material universe and us physical. It’s good! Some folks argue that we will be invisible after death—just spirits with no bodies or appetites or senses. Nonsense! God has made us as material and He has created a physical place for us! His Son came in physical form, inhabited a body of flesh and blood. He walked the streets of the city of Jerusalem and talked about fashioning mansions for us heaven. It’s a scandal to hear some folks, like Hinduism or Buddhism, disparage on the material universe. God made it—and He made it good.
2. Don’t believe all that you read and hear. Get the truth—-seek it and don’t share deceit. No news source tells the truth all the time. The days of trusting the anchor of CBS or NBC are over—as well as trusting the leaders of our nations. Seek the truth—even if the truth is not to your liking! For goodness sakes, why accept a lie. Mohammad perverted almost all the testimonies of the Old and New Testaments by making them into fabrications of his own, and talked about about the carnal pleasures you could have if you were a Muslim. The religion panders to the fallen man, not the risen Messiah. But because he deliberately misquoted the Bible, he forbad his followers to read the Old and New Testaments—he did not want them to know the truth. Never does the devil…. Read the Bible for yourself.
3. God has had this city prepared before the man of mankind—-and He’s prepared a place for you and me. But outside the city are what? Liars, the sexually immoral and murders—check it out. God hates it. Friends, Christians out not to lie or deceive each other.
4. How are the people in this new city identified? We’re told in the Old and New testaments, that God’s people are humble and contrite of heart…..that they truly love others as Christ loves them…..that they forgives from the heart….and that they truly do trust God and love Him and desire to spend eternity with God and His children.
So will you be in that great city? Will you be in or out????