The Capital of Israel

Do Most Christians Believe

Jerusalem Is the Capital of Israel?

by Dr. Mitch Glaser


Introduction

The better way to ask this question might be, “Does the Bible teach that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel?”  Most believers probably do not spend a lot of time trying to answer this question in the course of their everyday busy lives.

On May 14, 2018 the United States embassy was moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, fulfilling President Trump’s announcement to do so on December 6, 2017.

This is a very controversial issue from a political perspective as Israel’s neighbours and supporters around the globe disagree with this decision, as they are hoping for a two-state solution which would once again divide Jerusalem - East Jerusalem for the Palestinian state and West Jerusalem for the Jewish state.

At this time, it seems that we are a long way off from a two-state solution becoming a reality.

The above are just some of the challenges in bringing true and lasting peace to a complex and conflicted region. The alignment of nations in the Middle East is a maze of tensions that are difficult for Westerners to understand fully.  Most disciples of Jesus are not experts on Middle Eastern politics!  But the area in question is familiar to us because we read the Bible, both the Old and New Testament.  Israel in particular is the subject of many biblical promises and therefore evangelicals are very concerned about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and are willing to share their opinions about the situation.

A recent survey entitled Evangelical Attitudes toward Israel was initiated by Lifeway Research and supported by both Chosen People Ministries and author Joel C. Rosenberg. The survey was commissioned in the summer of 2017 and the results were released December 4, 2017. Specific questions regarding the U.S. government’s announcement acknowledging Jerusalem as the capital of Israel was not part the survey. Yet a number of other questions in the survey help us better understand evangelical attitudes about both of the above issues.

The following data, gleaned from the survey suggest that evangelicals would likely support Jerusalem as the capital for primarily biblical and not necessarily political reasons.  But again, this is a deduction, as the question was not directly asked of the 2,002 survey participants.

For example, 69% of evangelicals say they are positive towards Israel.

The survey also discovered that 80% of evangelicals agree that God’s promise to Abraham and his descendants were for all time. This promise included the land, of course, which would also include the most well-known city in Israel: Jerusalem.  The Bible speaks often about Jerusalem.

According to leading evangelical Christian archeologist and author, Dr. Randall Price,

Jerusalem is mentioned 800 times in the Bible and under one name or another for Jerusalem in about two thirds of the books of the Old Testament and one half the books of the New Testament. Researchers have found 660 verses in the Old Testament and 142 in the New Testament that speak of Jerusalem. 1 

 

Curiously, Price adds that references to Jerusalem 465 times in the Old Testament and 24 in the New Testament Jerusalem are in a prophetic context.

The survey reported that 76% of the survey respondents support the Jewish people’s right to live in the sovereign state of Israel.  This would imply that evangelicals believe Israel has the right and mandate to determine her own capital. 

Sixty-nine percent of participants also say that Israel has a historic right to the land.  This would suggest that, since Jerusalem is the historic capital of the land, they would be likely to think the same, at least for West Jerusalem.  This also indicates that evangelicals have a grasp of the history of Israel and Jerusalem, but this knowledge of Jewish history is mostly derived from the Bible itself.  We cannot be sure of this again as it is a deduction, but it would seem to be logical as, according to the survey, evangelicals get most of their understanding of Israel from the Bible itself. 

According to the survey,The majority of those with evangelical beliefs attribute the primary reason for their support of Israel to the Bible including 33% who affirmed the statement “the Bible says God gave the land of Israel to the Jewish people.”

This seems to carry over to modern Israel as the survey participants also view the regathering of the nation of Israel from the diaspora to be the fulfillment of biblical prophecy.  Therefore, the return of Jerusalem to Jewish hands is viewed as an act of God.

According to the survey,

When you think of the modern rebirth of the State of Israel in 1948 and the re-gathering of millions of Jewish people to Israel” eighty percent  say these events were fulfillments of Bible prophecy that show we are getting closer to the return of Jesus Christ and twenty percent  say these were simply interesting geopolitical events.
2 

Sixty-six percent of evangelicals believe they should support Israel’s existence, security and prosperity.  Most of us understand that giving up half of Jerusalem would pose a security threat to the Jewish state. Again, this is a deduction, but it seems to make sense.

On the other hand, 23% say that the Palestinians should be allowed to create their own sovereign state while 31% disagree and 46% are not sure! That is a massive amount of uncertainty for such a crucial question!  Again, it seems that evangelicals have a good level of certainty regarding issues that the Bible speaks to more directly.  This is why it is important for those who love the Lord and the Messiah to think through what the Bible says about the city of Jerusalem.

However, Gary Burge, an outspoken evangelical who tends to promote a negative position towards the modern state of Israel writes,

We do not promote what we call the “territorialism” of the Bible. We anchor our thinking not in the Old Testament’s land-based promises, but in the Gospel, where the tribal or local theologies about Israel become global and universal, welcoming all people from every tribe and every land into a divine promise of blessing. Paul can refer to gentiles as children of Abraham (Romans 4:11) because it’s through faith, not ethnic lineage, that one gains access to the blessings of God. This shift in emphasis, which challenges the exclusivity of any one tribe and universalizes blessing, explains the world-mission of the ancient church and the inclusion of gentiles in Jesus’ Jewish messianic movement. From this vantage, arguments for ethnic land claims—such as disputes over Jerusalem—sound foreign.
3 


Dr. Burge views the Bible and its history through the lens of supersessionism and is simply stating that the land promises to the Jewish people should not be taken literally and certainly should not be applied to Israel today. This would settle the Jerusalem issue in a heartbeat, as he does not think it will ever belong to the Jewish people by divine covenant – capital or not.

But, if a literal view of Jerusalem is understood and the history of Jerusalem in the Bible is examined, it becomes clear that this city is the capital city of the nation of Israel.

 

Jerusalem: Past, Present and Future

Jerusalem is a Jewish city according to the Bible.  It has a great past, a challenging present and a glorious future.  

We know that Jerusalem will be the capital of the future kingdom as it was in the past, but is this true today? 

Should the United States have moved its embassy to this holy city?

Perhaps we should start here in our biblical journey. It It is unclear if embassies existed throughout biblical history.  But, if traditionally embassies are placed in the capital city of a country, then I would say absolutely yes. The focus of our question about God’s role for Jerusalem should focus on whether or not the Bible teaches that it is the capital of Israel.

It is up to us to study the Bible and make up our minds biblically – not politically - and then allow your understanding of Scripture to inform the way we understand current events like the move of the embassy.

This will provide a helpful path to travel in figuring out what we believe about the city of Jerusalem and nation of Israel.  Enjoy the journey!

 

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May they prosper who love you” (Psalms 122:6)

 

Jerusalem in the Bible and throughout History

Melchizidek, Abraham and Jerusalem

We read in the book of Genesis that Abraham is approached by a mysterious priest of the most high God whose name means the righteous king.  In itself this is intriguing, but it is where he is from that is so interesting to us.  He is from Salem, which most scholars identify as an ancient Canaanite city.  The King of Salem came with bread, wine, tithes and blessings to Abraham.

And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High. (Genesis 14:18, Psalm 110:4-7)

Randall Price writes,

When Abraham later met a representative of the city he found that God was already there, for the representative was the Canaanite King, Melchizedek, who was a priest of God most high (Genesis 14:18). Think of the prophetic association here for Jerusalem's future role with the Messiah as in Hebrew, the name means king of righteousness and this historic King of Jerusalem came to present a gift to the father of all Israel.4

Price adds,

We get another hint about Jerusalem from Genesis 22 where God called Abraham to kill his son Isaac, but the Lord stayed Abraham’s hand and Isaac lived.  A ram was caught and used as a replacement sacrifice.  This all took place on Mount Moriah the same range of mountains where Jerusalem and the Temple would eventually be built.  So, in a sense this chapter and Abraham’s experience again prefigures a future city and Temple where both animal sacrifices would be made and eventually the once for all sacrifice of Jesus the Messiah would be made for both Jews and Gentiles.5
 

The Prophet Moses and Jerusalem

Another key passage in understanding God’s plan for Jerusalem is found in Exodus: 15:17, where Moses writes,

“You will bring them and plant them in the mountain of Your inheritance, The place, O Lord, which You have made for Your dwelling, The sanctuary, O Lord, which Your hands have established.

He is clearly speaking of Jerusalem and of the Temple which would be established one day by King David and, more specifically, the Temple by his son Solomon.

An additional passage reflecting the same prophetic intent is found in 2 Chronicles 6:6 where we read,

“..But I have chosen Jerusalem that My name might be there, and I have chosen David to be over My people Israel.”

In this passage, a linkage is established between Jerusalem and the descendants of David who would rule for God from the holy city.  This will be true in the future when the greater Son of David, Jesus the Messianic King will rein in an eternal Davidic kingdom and His throne will be established in Jerusalem.  This story is consistent throughout the Bible as Jerusalem is predicted to be the national and spiritual capital of Israel and ultimately of the world.

Jerusalem, from the very start, was a city of destiny, set apart for a central role in God plan for the ages.


King David, Jerusalem and the Temple

Jerusalem was a city unlike others, not so much because of the palace of the King, but because it was home to the throne of God – the Temple.  It was the Temple that was the heart of Jerusalem and what made Jerusalem a sacred city.  The connection between political and national leadership is important, but what really elevates Jerusalem is the association between this city and the God who called the Jewish people to be a light to the nations. 

The Jerusalem Temple, not the palace, was where the true power lay. 

Therefore, the throne needs to submit to the Temple in order to be successful.  Whenever this principle was broken, the nation suffered and ultimately Jerusalem felt the most pain for Israel’s disobedience and was usually the focal point of judgment. 

This is at the heart of David’s dialogue with the Lord when he offered to build him a house.  God said that he did not want David, but rather his son Solomon to fulfill the dream.  Instead, God would build David a dynasty of rulers from among his descendants (2 Samuel 7:16).  We also know that the greater son of David, Yeshua the Messiah, will rule on the Davidic throne when He returns and fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah 9:6-7.  In that day, the three anointed offices in Israel - prophet, priest and king - will be manifested by the anointed One, the divine Son of God, Yeshua.

The centrepiece and soul of the holy city until this time was the Temple which served as a reminder to Israel of their need for atonement and of the centrality of God’s presence in their midst.


David Brought the Ark to Jerusalem

David knew the power of the nation rested with the presence and power of God, which was localized in the Ark. Until David could bring the Ark to Jerusalem, the capital city was not yet sacred.  So, David made it one of his first duties as king to bring the Ark to Jerusalem. Later, he would then want to build a more permanent home and Temple for the presence of God.

Now David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. And David arose and went with all the people who were with him to Baale-judah, to bring up from there the ark of God which is called by the Name, the very name of the Lord of hosts who is enthroned above the cherubim  (2 Samuel 6:1-2).

Baale-judah was another name for the Israeli city where the ark was held.6

Bible expositor Chuck Swindoll comments,

Now understand, back in the days of David the central place of worship was not the believer but the tabernacle. And under Saul’s weak, negligent reign, the emphasis on the tabernacle sort of drifted away. During this time a particular piece of holy furniture had gotten separated from the tabernacle. If you can believe it, the enemy had carted off the ark of the covenant.7

Swindoll continues in his deposition of the biblical history,

Since it represented the presence of Jehovah, it was the holiest place on earth. Now, when David took over the throne, he realized that there was no ark of the covenant . . . no central place of worship. The spiritual walk of the people of Israel, therefore, had become mediocre. Their heart was anything but hot after God. As their leader, David knew that he needed to put that piece of sacred furniture back in its rightful place. He needed to set it up as God designed it.8

David prepared for building the Temple, which was later built by his son, Solomon.  He purchased the land for the Temple (2 Samuel 24:18-25), produced the plans and raised the funds through receiving offerings (1 Chronicles 28:11-18, 29:1-9).  It is clear that David understood the link between the priest and king, between the national and spiritual life of the nation…without one you could not have a healthy other (1 Chronicles 29:10-20)!


Jerusalem and Israel Divided

We see the above unfolding as well throughout biblical history at the nation's split after the reign of Solomon.  Rehoboam became the leader of the Southern Kingdom and Jeroboam of the Northern Kingdom.  Jerusalem remained the capital and centre of the story in the Southern Kingdom of Judah; Samaria was the false capital of the Northern Kingdom of Israel.  The division occurred in 935 BCE and concluded in two stages: with the destruction of the Northern Kingdom in 722 BCE and of the South in 586 BCE.

The Northern tribes were conquered by the Assyrians in 722 BCE and the Jewish people from the 10 tribes living in the area were dispersed, along with the Levites living in the Northern kingdom.  The Babylonians destroyed the Temple and the city in 586 BC (see Jeremiah 52:1-30). 

 

The Destruction of Jerusalem and Destruction of the Temples

The Rebuilding of Jerusalem under Ezra and Nehemiah

The Jewish people remained in exile for 70 years when, according to the prophecy of Jeremiah in Jeremiah 25:11-12,  Babylonian rule would be replaced by that of the Medo-Persians. Jewish historians tell us that the Persian rule stood out in comparison to Assyrian and Babylonian rule as the Persians encouraged autonomous and national leadership by the nations they conquered. 

The Assyrians and Babylonians used mass exile to eliminate popular movements for national independence and maintain peace within their vast empires. King Cyrus of Persia, who conquered Babylonia and established an even greater empire, reversed this policy and allowed local religious autonomy. Jerusalem became the capital of Yehud (named for the tribe of Judah; most Jews are descendants of the tribe of Judah) a small Persian province 40 km by 50 km. The book of Ezra opens with Cyrus's call to the Jews to return to their land and rebuild their temple (in 538 BCE).9

The return to rebuild the Temple and the city of Jerusalem is described in the Book of Ezra.

Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he sent a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying:

“Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever there is among you of all His people, may his God be with him! Let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah and rebuild the house of the Lord, the God of Israel; He is the God who is in Jerusalem. Every survivor, at whatever place he may live, let the men of that place support him with silver and gold, with goods and cattle, together with a freewill offering for the house of God which is in Jerusalem.’” (Ezra 1:1-4)

A remnant of Jewish people returned from the 70-year exile led by Sheshbazzar and Zerubavel The rebuilding was complex and delayed because of local opposition.  The building this second Temple was completed within five years, beginning in 521 BC and completed in 516 BC.

The city of Jerusalem was rebuilt, but did not reach the level of splendour it had previously until the reign of Herod.  But even the glory of the expanded Second Temple and further rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem does not quite square with the promised rebuilding of the city and nation of Israel – reversing the destruction of both the northern and southern kingdoms as described by Jeremiah. In Jeremiah 29:10-14, it would seem that the prophet had an even more glorious future for Jerusalem and the nation of Israel in mind and that would go far beyond the restoration under Ezra and Nehemiah and beyond that of Herod as well.



The Destruction of Jerusalem in the New Testament

The second dispersion of the Jewish people came in 70 AD, when the Romans tore apart the Temple stone by stone and destroyed the city, taking the nation into another two millennia of exile (Matthew 23:37-39, Luke 21:21-24).  Masada was destroyed in 73 AD and, as far as we know, the victory parade for Titus occurred in 83 AD and is portrayed in the relief pictorial etched on the well-known Arch of Titus depicting the Roman soldiers carrying pieces of the Temple furniture to Rome.10  Jerusalem can only be the city that God intended when He is glorified in the midst of the Jewish people living in the sacred city.

 

The Destruction of Jerusalem in 132 AD

There was another destruction of the city in 132 AD after the Bar Kochba revolt, which was the final nail in the coffin of the Jewish state that had existed for 1,000 years.  At this point the Romans turned Jerusalem into a Gentile city and gave it a new name, Aelia Capatolina.

Aelia is derived from the emperor’s family name (Aelius, from the gens Aelia), and Capitolina refers to the cult of the Capitoline Triad (Jupiter, Juno and Minerva).11

The present walls of the Old City were built by the Ottomans in the 16th Century, but they basically follow the course of the Roman walls.12
 

Jesus and Jerusalem 

Recently, UNESCO sought to separate the Jewish people from Jerusalem and the Temple Mount.  By doing so, they denied the inspiration of both the Old and New Testaments.  This was offensive to both religious Jews and Christians as both groups believe the Bible to be true, understood that Jesus had a rich history with the sacred city.

Chosen People Ministries ran a petition to gather support among Evangelical Christians to stand against this decision by UNESCO,

As concerned North Americans we are disappointed by the recent resolution by the United Nations' Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) denying all biblical and historic links between the Jewish people and Jerusalem approved on October 13, 2016.  The “Occupied Palestine” resolution undermines the sacred bond between Jews and Christians to holy sites in Jerusalem and throughout Israel.

The UNESCO mandate states that their goal is to promote understanding “among nations and intercultural understanding by protecting heritage and supporting cultural diversity.”13  Yet, how can this be true if UNESCO disrespects the view of the Bible cherished by both Jews and Christians throughout the world?  These actions will only further add to the tensions between Jews, Christians, and Muslims.

Further, the resolution:

Falsely claims that Israel is as an occupying nation, implying that East Jerusalem, if not all of Jerusalem, belongs to the Palestinians.

Falsely claims that Israelis are destroying sacred Palestinian sites through archaeological research, which is patently untrue.

Falsely claims that the Temple Mount and areas surrounding the Western Wall and old city of Jerusalem are solely Palestinian sites. By rejecting the Hebrew term for the site – Har HaBayit – and its English equivalent, the Temple Mount and  using only by its Muslim/Arab names – Al-Aqsa Mosque and Haram al-Sharif – the resolution presents a skewed and biased representation of history.14

Falsely claims that there is no Jewish connection to Hebron, which the Bible claims to be the burial site of Rachel, the wife of Isaac, and Bethlehem the birthplace of Ruth, David and Jesus.

The General Director of UNESCO, Irina Boskova, rejected the resolution and writes,

Nowhere more than in Jerusalem do Jewish, Christian and Muslim heritage and traditions share space and interweave to the point that they support each other. These cultural and spiritual traditions build on texts and references, known by all, that are an intrinsic part of the identities and history of peoples. In the Torah, Jerusalem is the capital of King David, where Solomon built the Temple and placed the Ark of the Covenant. In the Bible, Jerusalem is the city of the passion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In the Quran, Jerusalem is the third holiest site in Islam, where Muhammad arrived after his night journey from Al Haram Mosq (Mecca) to Al Aqsa. As those who are concerned about the Jewish people, believe the Bible and honor the Judeo-Christian tradition that has been so important to our nation, we call upon UNESCO to retract the resolution and recognize the historic and sacred relationship between the Jewish people and all of Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount, recognizing that these sites are holy to all three faiths.

Jesus’ visits to Jerusalem

The New Testament, like the Old, makes Jerusalem the centre of the Gospels and records the relationship Jesus had with the city of Jerusalem from His boyhood.

We certainly cannot review in any depth all that the Saviour did, said and even felt about Jerusalem.  We can only present a few highlights to give us a feel for the relationship between Jesus and Jerusalem, which of course, dispel the false statements by UNESCO and all who affirmed this preposterous statement.

  • As a young boy (Luke 2:41-51)

Jesus went to Jerusalem with His family on the Passover and He remained to dialogue with the Rabbis.

Then, after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers. (Luke 2:46-47)

  • During the Festivals (Tabernacles)

But when His brothers had gone up to the feast, then He Himself also went up, not publicly, but as if, in secret. But when it was now the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and began to teach. (John 7:10,14)

  • He wept over the city (Luke 19:41-44)

When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”

Jesus walked towards Jerusalem and towards His death in what is described as His triumphal entry.  His route would have taken Him from Bethany to the Temple Mount, down a long slope adjacent to the Mount of Olives.  When Jesus saw the holy city, Luke tells us that He wept. Jesus was the greatest of prophets and knew the immediate future of Jerusalem, which He would describe in great detail in Luke 21.  The immediate future of Jerusalem was dark and so was His own personal future. Jesus would be rejected, crucified and, within a generation, Jerusalem and the Temple would be destroyed.  So He wept, knowing the immediate future of Jerusalem. The key phrase in this passage is when He tells the people of Jerusalem, waiting for Him to lead them to a political victory, that none would come and in fact the Jewish people did not recognize the time of their visitation (Luke 19:44).


The Place of some of His Greatest Statements

  • Tabernacles

Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7:37-39)

  • Passover

And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood. (Luke 22:19-20)

 

Prayers

  • The Upper Room

Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane in John 17 for the well-being of His disciples, both present and future. 

I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me (John 17:20-21).

  • The Garden of Gethsemane

Then Jesus *came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and *said to His disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray” (Matthew 26:36-46).

  • His Crucifixion and Resurrection

From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day (Matthew 16:21).

  • His Predicted Return, Reign and Rule

In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south (Zechariah 14:4).

There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this (Isaiah 9:7).


The Epicentre of World Redemption

In that day a fountain will be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for impurity (Zechariah 13:1).

The great day of Jewish forgiveness which will take place when the remnant of Israel turns to Jesus, according Zechariah 12:10 and Romans 11:25, will happen in Jerusalem.


Jerusalem, the Birth of the Church and the Great Commission

The church, the Body of Messiah is born in Jerusalem and the Gospel message is also the starting point for the proclamation of the Gospel by His disciples as well. This is not happenstance as Jerusalem is the fountainhead of redemption.

The story of redemption began in Jerusalem with the death and resurrection of Yeshua and ends with the rule of Yeshua over His kingdom from Jerusalem.

 

  • The Church was born in Jerusalem (Acts 2:41-47)

We know that thousands of worshippers had come to Jerusalem to celebrate two of the pilgrimage (Aliyah) festivals: Passover and Shavuot (Pentecost).  There were more Jewish people in Jerusalem for Shavuot, which is why thousands of Jewish people heard the Gospel, as recorded in the early chapters of the book of Acts.   

Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart… (Acts 2:46).

 

  • Jerusalem is the Beginning Point for the Great Commission (Acts 1:8-9)

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth (Acts 1:8).

 

The Future Jerusalem

 

There are two future Jerusalems described in the Bible.  The first is the Jerusalem where the Messiah Jesus will establish His throne.  This is described by the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 9:7,

 

There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.

 

Yeshua returns to Jerusalem and His feet stand on the Mount of Olives at His return; His enemies are judged, Israel is saved and restored, and He sits as the Messianic King on His rightful Davidic throne (Zechariah 14:2-3, 2 Samuel 7:14ff., Psalm 89:3-4).

 

The second future Jerusalem is the one described by John the Apostle.  According to the apostle, this city will come down from heaven and become the habitation of redeemed humanity forever. 

 

John writes,

 

And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God (Revelation 21:10).

 

This beautiful heavenly Jerusalem is the destiny of the city God chose for His purposes.  One Jerusalem does not replace the other, but each version fulfills God’s purposes for the particular age.  Today’s Jerusalem will fulfill its purpose as will the Jerusalem coming and then finally the penultimate Jerusalem will appear from heaven in all glory and will be the abiding place for God’s saints forever! 

 

May the present Jerusalem remind us each day of what is to come. 


Conclusion

Jerusalem is a Jewish city according to the Bible.  It has a great past, a challenging present and a glorious future.  How could evangelicals possibly not understand that Jerusalem is a literal city, the biblical and historic capital of Israel?  So many of the great Patriarchs of the Bible all agreed on this important claim. Jerusalem was and always will be the capital of Israel and the future home of Jesus upon His return.  We understand that in the future Jerusalem the nations will be commanded to come up and worship the King during the Feast of Tabernacles, (Zechariah 14:16-19).  We also understand that the first church was born in this great city, that the Gospel proclamation began there (Acts 1:8), that salvation is of the Jews (John 4:24) and one day as Isaiah describes, the kingdom will have its locus in this very same city of Jerusalem.

As followers of Jesus and Bible-believing people of faith, we must read the text literally and allow the words of Scripture to fill our souls, inform our minds and direct our actions.  Is it absolutely clear that Jerusalem should be the capital of the modern state of Israel?  The truth is, the Bible does not explicitly differentiate between the Israel which was formed in 1948 and the future Messianic capital.  We know what the final nation of Israel will look like when the promises of God are literally fulfilled at the second coming of the Messiah. 

Perhaps we should start there - with what we know.  If someone asked me, “was Jerusalem the capital of Israel or will it be the capital of Israel, according to the Bible," my answer would be a resounding, "Yes."  But, since we did not have embassies in the Bible, I will have to pass on that one!  But, if traditionally embassies are placed in the capital city of a country then I would say absolutely yes. It is up to us who study the Bible to make up our minds based upon biblical truth and not allow political considerations to drive our understanding of the world.

It is time for both Jewish people and Christians to understand the inspired, inerrant text as literally as possible and to view the ongoing role of the nation of Israel through a Biblical lens.  This will provide a helpful path to travel in figuring out what we believe about the city of Jerusalem and nation of Israel.  Enjoy the journey!

 

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May they prosper who love you” (Psalm 122:6).

 

 


[1] Randall Price, Jerusalem in Prophecy: God’s Stage for the Final Drama (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1998), 78–79.

[2] Survey report, Evangelical Attitudes towards Israel, Life Way Research, p.3

[3] Gary Burge, “You Can Be an Evangelical and Reject Trump's Jerusalem Decision” The Atlantic, December 6, 2017 accessed December 7, 2017, https://flipboard.com/@flipboard/-you-can-be-an-evangelical-and-reject-tr/f-3c5d40d935%2Ftheatlantic.com 

[4] Price and Harvest House Publishers, Jerusalem in Prophecy, 81.

[5] IBID

[6] Baale-Jehudah is another name of the city of Kirjath-jearim (Josh. 15:60; 18:14), which is called Baalah in Joshua 15:9 and 1 Chronicles 13:6, according to its Canaanite name, instead of which the name Kirjath-jearim (City of the Woods) was adopted by the Israelites, though without entirely supplanting the old name.

F.Keil and C.F. Deltizsch “2 Chronicles 6:2” Commentary on the Old Testament Volume 3,(Place: Hendrikson Publishers, 1996)

[7] Swindoll, David, 145.

[8] Ibid., 145–46.

[9] Yisrael Shalem, “ Jerusalem: Life throughout the Ages in a Holy City” Bar-Ilan University, Ingeborg Rennert Center for Jerusalem Studies accessed August 18, 2017; https://www.biu.ac.il/JS/rennert/history_5.html

[10] Bible Archeology Society Staff, “ The Arch of Titus in Color,” The Bible History Daily, April 12, 2017, accessed December 7, 2017, https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/archaeology-today/cultural-heritage/the-arch-of-titus-in-color/ 

[11] Hadrian's decrees provoked the Jews living near Jerusalem to revolt. (The Galilean Jews did not take part.) Unlike previous uprisings, this time the Jews united under the leadership of Shimon Bar Kochba who enjoyed the support of many rabbis. The most prominent of his supporters was Rabbi Akiva, who considered him to be the messiah. Bar Kochba's base was at Herodion, 10 km. south of Jerusalem. The revolt's goals were the liberation Jerusalem and reconstruction of the Temple. The Bar Kochba revolt lasted three years, from 132 to 135.

The Roman historian Dio Cassius reported that 580,000 Jews died in battle fighting the Romans; it was impossible to determine the number that died of starvation. Hundreds of Jewish towns around Jerusalem were destroyed.

Following Hadrian, “Exploring Aelia Capitolina, Hadrian’s Jerusalem,” Following Hadrian, November 5, 2014, https://followinghadrian.com/2014/11/05/exploring-aelia-capitolina-hadrians-jerusalem/ .

[12] Ibid.

[13] United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, “ Introducing UNESCO” http://en.unesco.org/about-us/introducing-unesco

[14] Barak Ravid and Jack Khoury “UNESCO Backs Motion Nullifying Jewish Ties to the Temple Mount” Haartez, October 13, 2016,  http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.747314