Wednesday marked a significant point in American political history as President Trump formally announced recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and plans to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. The decision is fraught with controversy as well, especially by Palestinian supporters who oppose Israeli occupation of the city.
What strikes me as a writer focused on Scripture is the enduring attention received by Jerusalem over the past 3,000 years. David first established Jerusalem as Israel’s capital during his reign, with the location becoming known as the City of David.
His son King Solomon expanded the city’s significance. Later kings lost control of Jerusalem to the Babylonians, with the city under Roman control at the time of Jesus. Yet Scripture speaks favorably of Jerusalem in three important ways.
First, Psalm 122:6 teaches God’s people to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. This advice rings true still today, as the temple mount remains the most controversial piece of real estate on the planet. Trump’s announcement regarding Jerusalem will further fuel the animosity of opponents, leading to a true need to pray for peace.
Second, Scripture predicts a glorious future for Jerusalem. In Revelation 20, the apostle John writes of a future millennial period during which Jesus will reign from his throne in Jerusalem. Prophecy scholars debate aspects of this account, yet it is clear Jesus will reign as future king in Jerusalem. The more literal understanding involves the physical return of Jesus to the literal city of Jerusalem where he will reign for 1,000 years.
Third, Scripture speaks of a new heavenly Jerusalem. The final two chapters of the Bible depict a glorious future for God’s people where the old is gone and all things are made new. There will be a new heaven, a new earth, and a new heavenly city where God’s people dwell called the new Jerusalem. Revelation 21:10-14 describes an angel with John. John writes,And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed—on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
Yes, this new Jerusalem will be a different city, yet the name endures. For some reason, God has chosen to bless this city in the past, present, and future.
As politicians wrestle with what this new announcement means for global markets or security, those who closely observe God’s Word recognize Jerusalem is important to God–and always will be. We live in a dynamic time when aspects of the Bible remain influential and alive in our time.
Like God’s people of old, we can pray for the peace of Jerusalem while showing God’s love to all people, seeking a future when the Messiah will reign with his people forever.