“‘On that day I will strike every horse with panic and its rider with madness,’ declares the LORD. ‘I will keep a watchful eye over the house of Judah, but I will blind all the horses of the nations’” (Zech. 12:4).
In the last days some people will go mad over Jerusalem as we see in Zechariah. Their horses and riders will be stricken with confusion and madness. There is already some evidence that Jerusalem is driving people crazy. In Israel there is an affliction known as the “Jerusalem Syndrome.” It is a strange and unexplainable illness that sometimes strikes those who visit. Those afflicted may get the idea that they are some righteous and holy person of the past or future, like the Prophet Elijah or one of the Two Witnesses. The illness usually subsides when the patient is returned home.
But there are many other serious ways that Jerusalem makes people and nations crazy. Jerusalem manages to keep the Middle East in a state of near hysteria much of the time. For instance, far-off Iran celebrates a “Jerusalem Day” every year with marches and frenzied cries for Jerusalem’s “liberation.” The various Middle East peace proposals usually reach their stalemate when it comes to the subject of Jerusalem. Feelings concerning this city simply run too high on all sides for any rational solution. Why do people and nations go so crazy over Jerusalem? Let us consider some probable causes.
JERUSALEM, IS A REMINDER OF GOD’S RULE
Jerusalem is a reminder of God’s rule, and that drives the nations crazy. In Psalm 48:4-6, we have an example of this as some ancient kings approached Jerusalem: “When the kings joined forces, when they advanced together, they saw her and were astounded; they fled in terror. Trembling seized them there, pain like that of a woman in labor.” In Zechariah. 12:2-3, we hear that surrounding nations are sent reeling, as Jerusalem becomes a “cup of trembling,” and a “heavy stone” injuring all who attempt to move it.
The Bible tells us that Jerusalem is God’s chosen capital – God’s footstool – God’s throne. The Lord says of her: “This is my resting place for ever and ever; here I will sit enthroned, for I have desired it.” (Psa. 132:14). Jerusalem is a sort of physical evidence that God is the true ruler of this earth. God speaks through Jeremiah saying: “At that time they will call Jerusalem The Throne of the LORD, and all nations will gather in Jerusalem to honor the name of the LORD. No longer will they follow the stubbornness of their evil hearts” (Jer. 3:17).
What a mortal threat this information is to the postmodern, secular-humanist, one-world government crowd! It is simply not “politically correct” to speak like this, of a chosen city, or of a chosen people.
We learn in Daniel 2:31-45, that a stone from the mountain will bring an end to this world governmental system. The stone will strike the ten toes, or the shaky foundation, of the present governmental system, and it will collapse in a heap. The stone is obviously the Messiah and the mountain is surely Mt. Zion or Jerusalem. In Zechariah 14:2-4, we read that the real King will be revealed just as nations have gathered to attack Jerusalem.
So, Jerusalem and the Temple Mount are real threats to the world system today. The military and political attacks upon Jerusalem will not cease until the Lord comes. These attacks against Jerusalem have been going on since David’s day, Ezra’s day, and Nehemiah’s day. Strangely, the enemy’s program is always the same. In one sense it makes the job of writing about Israel easy. We just have to change the names occasionally from Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem, to Arafat, Hussein, etc.
If Jerusalem is truly God’s throne, then the enemy will do all he can to move it, as we saw in Zech. 12:3. Indeed, today there is one thought that is almost guaranteed to make the world’s rulers deliriously happy. That is the thought of a divided Jerusalem. The world’s rulers would love to “move the rock.” However, the Bible tells us that the rock will not be moved (Psa. 125:1), though all nations on earth come against it. Today we are about to have an irresistible force meet an immovable object. It should be interesting!
JERUSALEM IS A REMINDER OF GOD’S LAW
The thought of God’s law almost drives nations and peoples mad. Today in our world we are speeding down the wide road of lawlessness and people seem to like it that way.
We remember how the “do your own thing” era began in the 60s, with its drug culture, situation ethics and general lawlessness. These folks threw out the Bible, along with thousands of years of biblical heritage. Their philosophers declared God to be dead. Young people began to adore worthless idols and role models. This is what the Bible said would happen: “Those who forsake the law praise the wicked” (Prov. 28:4).
A similar thing has happened in the political arena. For years the nations adored Yasser Arafat. It seemed not to matter to them that he was totally lawless, a habitual liar, a thief and a mass murderer. In spite of all this, he was honored with the illustrious Nobel Prize. Obviously the nations would have chosen him in a minute over Israel or Israel’s God.
It seems obvious that the world is being carefully prepared for the Antichrist, who is known in scripture as “The Lawless One.” When we begin calling good evil and evil good (Isa. 5:20), we can know that time is short. In fact, the scripture says: “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction” (2 Thess. 2:3).
Lawlessness and the Antichrist will both meet their end in Jerusalem. In 2 Thessalonians 2:8 we read that the Lawless One will be destroyed by the Messiah’s appearing there: “And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.” Yeshua is the Living Law, the Living Torah. The arising of God’s Law or word is surely the most frightening prospect for Satan today. It is this very word that will proceed out of the Messiah’s mouth to strike the nations in the last day (Rev 19:15). Then the Bible tells us in Isaiah 2:3, that the law will go forth from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. The Messiah, the Living Law, will rule all nations from Jerusalem (Psa. 2:6-9). Just imagine his justice, righteousness, holiness and love. It is enough to drive this evil world crazy.
JERUSALEM IS A REMINDER OF TRUTH, OF THE ONENESS OF GOD
Today there is a monstrous struggle for truth, focusing on three major things. The struggle particularly focuses upon who is really God. Every terrorist and suicide bomber screams “Allah akbar!” (Allah is the greatest). We must understand that this cruel god, Allah, has absolutely no connection with the God of the Bible.
The Bible tells us that there is only one true God. Over two hundred times in scripture this God is called the “God of Israel.” God may be called by many names today in our world, but he is certainly not ever called by this name. It is just not “politically correct.” Yet, the day is coming when God will be one and he will have only one name throughout the whole earth. In Zechariah 14:9 we read: “The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name.” When all is finished, the nations will know that the Lord is God. Ezekiel in his prophecy mentions this fact over twenty times.
The struggle for truth also focuses upon whether or not we will believe the Word of God. This should not be a problem for Christians, but alas, such is not the case. Many in the Christian world are going by intuition, by feeling, by tradition, and not by the Word. Let us ask ourselves some simple questions. Do we believe God’s promises to Abraham in Genesis 17:7-8? Are we going to believe what God said about Ishmael (Gen. 17:20-21)? Do we believe it is serious when nations divide up God’s land (Joel 3:2)? Are we going to believe what Paul taught everywhere about Israel? Do we believe Israel is root, and that Israel supports us, the church (Rom. 11:18)? The Bible says that if we do not love and believe the truth, we will be sent a strong delusion, that will cause us to believe the lie (2 Thess.
Finally, the struggle for truth today focuses directly upon Jerusalem, for Jerusalem is God’s base of truth. Jerusalem is a living witness to the truth of the Bible and the gospel message. Psalm 87:1 tells us: “He has set his foundation on the holy mountain; the Lord loves the gates of Zion.” In Zechariah 8:3 the prophet tells us: “Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth.” We are assured in scripture, that in Jerusalem and on God’s holy mountain, the veil of confusion covering all people will be removed (Isa. 25:7). In other words, the blinders are coming off. People won’t go to Mecca anymore, or to Tibet to find God, but only to Jerusalem. Such thoughts drive our ungodly world crazy.
JERUSALEM IS A REMINDER OF GOD’S COMING JUDGMENT
There is a final thing about Jerusalem that drives people crazy. Jerusalem is a reminder of God’s coming judgment against people and nations. In fact, God is already quite angry with people and nations over Jerusalem and Zion. We read about this in Isaiah 34:8. God says of the coming last day: “For the LORD has a day of vengeance, a year of retribution, to uphold Zion’s cause.” Amazingly, there is a day of judgment set aside just to recompense Zion.
Why is God so angry with peoples and nations over Zion? There are several probable things that have stirred God’s anger. He is no doubt angry over the mistreatment of Jewish people through the centuries; he is no doubt angry over the gross hypocrisy that the nations constantly display concerning Jerusalem and Israel. He is likely angry concerning the world’s rejection of the gospel message from Jerusalem. Obviously, he is very angry about the long-running attempts of the nations to divide his land. In this regard, there seems to be some kind of “peace process” going on at all times. It is this very thing that precipitates a crisis of divine judgment. We read about this in Joel 3:2, where God says: “I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will enter into judgment against them concerning my inheritance, my people Israel, for they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land.” Yes, the final gathering of the nations to Jerusalem for divine judgment will happen because they have messed with God’s people and with his land.
The idea that people and nations will be judged by the living God is a rather shocking one. It is an idea that doesn’t find too much reception in today’s postmodern world. Nevertheless, it will happen according to the word of God. In this great judgment, the earth will uncover its blood – its many holocausts – its mass burials. It will uncover its corrupt politicians, and its secret and crooked deals made by men and nations. Everything done in darkness will be brought out into dazzling light as Luke 12:2 tells us: “There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known..” It appears from scripture that this great final judgment will take place in Israel.
WHILE NATIONS ARE GOING CRAZY, SOME ARE GOING TO ZION
In Psalm 84:5 we read: “Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.” Today while the world frets over Zion, God is doing a sovereign, world-wide work in believing hearts. He is setting these hearts toward Zion; he is leading them on pilgrimage. Indeed the scripture speaks of this in Isaiah 51. In this chapter we are told to look to Abraham our father. In Isaiah 51:11 it is said: “The ransomed of the LORD will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.”
In Isaiah 49:6 we see that this movement is led by the Messiah of Israel, whom we Christians know as Jesus or Yeshua. Not only is he bringing the Jews home a second time, but he is gathering Gentiles with them. Indeed, when all is finished, the survivors of the world’s nations will go up to Zion. But they will not go up to plot and fight against Jerusalem. They will go up to worship, as Zechariah 14:16 states: “Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.”
This article is the condensed and updated version of the author’s speech, given at the Bridges For Peace Conference, Denver, Colorado, 1996. It is reprinted courtesy of Bridges For Peace, Jerusalem.