“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. 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.” – Zechariah 12:2-3
Would you say Jerusalem has become something of “a cup of trembling unto all the people round about” the city?
Would you say Jerusalem has become “a burdensome stone for all people”?
Would you agree the most controversial city in the world, rightly or wrongly, has become Jerusalem?
With the recent vote of the United Nations members condemning President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, you might want to consider what I am asking.
Maybe, you suggest, I’m exaggerating. It wasn’t all the nations of the world taking this position against Jerusalem, but it was an overwhelmingly lopsided vote – at 128-9 with 35 abstentions. And passions were high, as you can see from the hyperbolic statements from the busybodies who eagerly attacked both the U.S. and Israel for this simple recognition of reality. After all, Jerusalem has never been the capital of any other country in the history of the world in the last 3,000 years.
Nevertheless, there is, without question, a unique obsession with Jerusalem in the world today.
There are terrible atrocities, human-rights abuses and wars taking place all over the planet today. But peaceful Jerusalem – ruled over benevolently by Jews who ensure the rights of Muslims, Christians and other people of faith and people of no faith are respected – is, for some reason, the most controversial place in the world.
“Controversy” is an interesting word in this contest.
Twice in the Bible different major prophets use the word “controversy” in a way that is specifically relevant to this discussion of Jerusalem.
Isaiah 34:8: “For it is the day of the Lord’s vengeance, and the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion.” In case you didn’t know it, Zion and Jerusalem are interchangeable throughout scripture.
Jeremiah 25:31: “A noise shall come even to the ends of the earth; for the Lord hath a controversy with the nations, he will plead with all flesh; he will give them that are wicked to the sword, saith the Lord.”
In other words, if you believe the Bible, God is going to judge the nations of the world based on the way they treat Israel.
If you’re from the U.S., Guatemala, Honduras, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau or Togo, you should be feeling pretty good about your country right now. Otherwise, not so much.
But, maybe you’re just one of those New Testament Christians who doesn’t take this Old Testament prophecy stuff too seriously. What does Jesus Himself say in Matthew 25 about how He will judge the nations?
He says they will be judged on how they treated “the least of these my brethren.” Just so you understand what He meant, Jesus was an Israeli Jew, not a “Palestinian,” and when He used the term “brethren,” He was always referring to His fellow Jews.
I look at all this evidence, including what Zechariah prophesied, and I ask, “Could this possibly all be a big coincidence?”
Israel was destroyed nearly 1,900 years ago, and it has been resurrected from the dead.
Jerusalem only came back into the hands of the Jews in 1967.
Most of the world’s Jews are again living in the land of Israel for the first time since 70 AD.
Several Hebrew prophets, all with 100 percent accuracy rates, point to a future worldwide controversy over Jerusalem as precipitating God’s dramatic Divine intervention and judgment on the nations.
Maybe you wonder whether if this is even an appropriate subject matter for Christmas Day.
I think it is most appropriate, given that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, a few miles from Jerusalem, and willingly gave His life in that Israeli capital city to offer us forgiveness, salvation, redemption and peace. And, by the way, the Bible says he’ll set up shop in the undivided capital city of Jerusalem and rule the world forever from there when He returns.