Reposted from the Kineti blog and authored by Judah Gabriel Himango, one of Tabernacle of David’s teachers.
It’s the 22th day of counting the omer. Each day I post a little something to help me count. Previously I wrote about God doing unexpected things. This week, Israel celebrates Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day, celebrating 69 years since that historic moment in May of 1948.
Believers in Jesus don’t know what to do with Jerusalem. If you listen to modern Christian music, as I sometimes do, the idea of Zion and Jerusalem is virtually absent.
That’s understandable: there’s ambiguity about Jerusalem in Christianity. I’m glad to say there’s a general sense that God still cares about Israel and the Jewish people. But there’s some confusion what that entails. So when a Christian artist goes to write the next Christian pop hit, he’s probably not going to be talking about Jerusalem.
Christians don’t need to be shy about this, though. The Bible – including the gospels – overflows with good about Jerusalem.
Psalm 2 speaks of God installing the anointed King in Jerusalem. Psalm 9 declares that God lives forever in Jerusalem. Psalm 14 pleads for Jerusalem’s salvation. Psalm 122 commands the reader to pray for Jerusalem’s peace, promising blessing for those who love her. Psalm 132 attests that God singled out Jerusalem from all the cities on earth, choosing it as His eternal home. The psalmist in Psalm 137 says that if he would rather lose the ability to speak than forget Jerusalem. Some 60+ psalms – a third of all the Psalms – speak of the locus of Jerusalem, the central focal point of God’s work in the earth.
The prophets in the Hebrew bible are no different. Zechariah speaks of a time when God himself will set his feet on earth…not in London, not in Washington, but in…well, you get the picture. Jeremiah speaks of a time when Israel will go from deserted place to a place with filled joy and gladness.
Let me tell you folks. When I was in Jerusalem last, it is definitely filled with joy and gladness. People singing psalms (about Jerusalem, of course), people clapping, people lifting IDF soldiers on their shoulders and singing.
Above: just an average night in the Jewish quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. If you listen closely, we were singing one of the hallel psalms, Psalm 115, “Yisrael betach bashem, ezram u’meginam hu” / “Israel, trust in the Hashem, He is your help and your shield!”
I miss Jerusalem.
Christianity need not be shy about Jerusalem, either. The New Testament only reinforces the focal point of Zion.
Messiah said he was zealous for the Temple in Jerusalem. (Honest question for us Christians: why don’t we care about the Temple in Jerusalem when our own Christ said he was zealous for it?)
The return of Messiah is contingent on Jerusalem: He said the world would not see Him again until Jerusalem welcomes His return with the Psalm 118 proclamation, “Baruch ha ba bashem Adonai.”
Messiah’s final words on earth singled out Jerusalem, imbuing it with divine, ordered priority: “You are to be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and into Judah, and Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth.”
Acts shows a continued focus, post-resurrection, on Jerusalem. Christianity very much remembers “Pentecost”, but often forgets that the miracle that happened there was demonstrated at the Temple in Jerusalem. Acts then attests to the disciples’ daily – daily! – ascent to the Temple in Jerusalem for the set-time prayers.
The council of Jesus’ disciples who ruled on difficult matters did so from Jerusalem. To date, we still call that ruling body the Jerusalem Council. It was from Jerusalem that God directed and guided the early believers in the Messiah.
Paul’s own letters and life are also a testament to the divine priority of Jerusalem. We Christians so often quote “I am not ashamed of the Good News, for it is the power of God for salvation.” But we forget the divine priority placed in the very next sentence: “To the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” Paul mentions throughout his letters of his tzedakah in gathering a collection among the believers in the nations for the poor and widows of Jerusalem. Paul delayed his travels in order to work around his traveling to Jerusalem for the Biblical feasts. Paul writes again in His letters that God hasn’t abandoned the Jewish people, nor revoked a single promise he made to Israel. Those promises include, of course, the chosen, divine focal point of Zion.
And the final book of the Bible speaks of the restoration of all things at the end of the age, when God brings “a new heavens, a new earth, and a new Jerusalem.”
Jerusalem remains God’s home.
Fast forward to today. It should be no surprise to students of the Bible that Jerusalem has returned to the Jewish people and has once again become a place of “joy and gladness”, a city where “the voice of the bride and the voice of the bridegroom are heard again.” That all happened on June 7th, 1967. That’s 50 years ago next month.
The precursor to that was 69 years ago today, when Israel the nation and the land returned to its ancient owners, the Jewish people.
So, disciples of Yeshua. Let’s pray for, seek the good of, do everything in our power to tangibly bless that holy place where God has set his name forever: Jerusalem. God loves that place.