Why Is Jerusalem So Important?

Jerusalem is a city of less than three-quarters of a million people. That certainly cannot compare with Cairo, Egypt, just down the road that boasts a population of 16 million. It is strange indeed that we often hear of Jerusalem on the news and seldom hear of Cairo. Tiny Jerusalem continues to be one of the most photographed cities in the world. And there are some 50,000-60,000 books written about her. The significance of Jerusalem is even more apparent when we look at the Bible. We see that Jerusalem is mentioned over 800 times, while the church is mentioned less than 80 times. Of course the city of Jerusalem has many more names, no fewer than 70 according to the Rabbis.

IT IS THE CITY OF THE GREAT KING

In Psalm 48:1-2 we see the thing that sets Jerusalem off from all other cities. This Psalm says: “Great is the LORD, and most worthy of praise, in the city of our God, his holy mountain. It is beautiful in its loftiness, the joy of the whole earth…Mount Zion, the city of the Great King.” Yes, Jerusalem or Zion is God’s city regardless of what the world and the devil think about it. Jerusalem is the earth’s spiritual headquarters; the footstool and throne for the Mighty God.

The Lord goes on to say many things about the importance of his city. In Psalm 132:14, he says: This is my resting place for ever and ever; here I will sit enthroned, for I have desired it.” The scripture makes it very plain that God actually dwells in Jerusalem (Psa. 9:11; 135:21). In Ezekiel 43:7, God calls Jerusalem the place of my throne and the place for the soles of my feet. This is where I will live among the Israelites forever.” It is the only city that God inscribes on the palms of his hands; it is the only city where the Mighty God watches over its walls continually (Isa. 49:16).

Because Jerusalem is God’s special city and the place of his dwelling he is quite jealous over it. He even says, “I am very jealous for Jerusalem and Zion” (Zech. 1:14).

JERUSALEM IS GOD’S ‘SALVATION STATION’

Jerusalem is like Grand Central Station for salvation. Ages ago our Father Abraham learned this secret about Jerusalem. He came to the hill of Moriah to offer his only son Isaac to God. We know how the angel stayed his hand and how he then saw a ram caught in the thicket. He was able to offer the ram instead of his son. It is said of Abraham: “So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, ‘On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided’” (Gen. 22:14). That day Abraham got a glimpse of the coming Lamb of God and his great salvation that is now provided for us all. Jesus said of him: “Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad” (Jn. 8:56). It is interesting that the mountain called Moriah later came to be known as the Temple Mount.

Today Jerusalem is a 4000-year-old infrastructure of salvation going down to bedrock Psalm 87:1 says of her: He has set his foundation on the holy mountain.” Centuries after Abraham, the Lord Jesus journeyed up this mountain. His face was set like a flint. The truth is that Jesus could not die anywhere else but in Jerusalem (Lk. 13:33). It was only in Jerusalem that his precious blood would be shed for the salvation of all humanity. On this old rugged hill and on an old rugged cross he procured our redemption. On this same hill three days later he was resurrected. Forty days later just outside this same city he ascended to heaven and took his seat at the Father’s right hand. To this same city he will one day return in triumph (Acts 1:11; Zech. 14:4; Psa. 24:7-9).

We see in the Bible that the early church was born in Jerusalem. It was God’s plan that the church would expand from Jerusalem to the countryside of Judea, to Samaria and then to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). This is still God’s pattern for missions. The infrastructure of Jerusalem must always stand at the center and heart of our mission programs, and like Paul we must first and always offer the gospel to the Jewish people (Acts 13:14; 14:1). Christianity has not followed through with this biblical precept. Instead of presenting the gospel first of all to the Jews we actually persecuted the Jews with the gospel. Yes, it was always God’s plan that the Jewish people would receive the gospel first (Rom. 1:16). In John 10:16 and 17:21, we see that it is the end-day unity of Jewish and Gentile believers that will finally cause the whole world to believe the gospel.

Jerusalem is the source of our salvation. From Jerusalem we have our faith, our Messiah, and our redemption. One Bible writer says of Jerusalem, All my fountains are in you” (Psa. 87:7). It is in Jerusalem where his salvation finally will be seen. Psalm 133:3 says: For there the LORD bestows his blessing, even life forevermore” (cf. Zech. 14:8). In Isaiah 46:13 we read, “I will grant salvation to Zion, my splendor to Israel.”

PLACE FOR WORKING OUT THE MYSTERY OF THE AGES

The Bible says that Jerusalem is holy ground. Unfortunately, it is also “ground zero” for the earth’s greatest and upcoming battle. We already have many evidences of the fiery hatred that will ultimately bring all nations to Jerusalem for this battle. In Iran, which is at least five-hundred miles from Israel, they go crazy with rage each year on their “Jerusalem Day.” In fact, their current leader is now threatening to wipe Israel off the map and to shave Israel bare as one would shave his face.

It is clear that the insane demonic rage of nations will ultimately bring them to Israel and Jerusalem. In ancient times the Temple Mount was a threshing floor and it seems that God is about to thresh all the nations there. We can be sure that the struggle in the Middle East will at last center on the tiny 35 acre plot that we call the Temple Mount. We can be sure that all nations will come to the Valley of Jehoshaphat in Jerusalem and God will judge them there (Joel 3:2). The very name of this valley means “God judges.” When all the smoke clears, Jerusalem will remain in its place and God’s great redemptive program
will continue.

The ‘new man’ or what I like to call ‘the critical mass’ will come together in Jerusalem. This new man is made up of Jewish and “grafted in” Gentile believers (Eph. 2-3). We read in Obadiah 1:17: “But on Mount Zion will be deliverance; it will be holy, and the house of Jacob will possess its inheritance.” We see a picture of this Gentile/Jewish remnant in Revelation 14:1. It is said that these will stand on Mt. Zion with the name of the Messiah written upon their foreheads; that they will be totally obedient and totally triumphant. They will follow the Lamb wherever he goes and become the firstfruits of God on
this earth.

We also see that the darkness and ignorance of the world will finally be removed in Jerusalem. In Isaiah 25:7, we read: On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations.” The devil has been busy for centuries blinding the minds of all people everywhere to Jesus (2 Cor. 4:4), and of course to the mysteries of Jerusalem. That program will end soon. Then we see that the whole world will remember and will return to the Lord (Psa. 22:37). As Isaiah 2:3 says: Many peoples will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.’ The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.”

The question of “who is God?” will be settled forever and it will be settled on the hill of Jerusalem. This is the focus of the real problem in the Middle East and throughout the rest of the world. Zechariah 14:4 says: On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem.” Zechariah 14:9 also says: The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name.”

-Jim Gerrish

Publication date, 2006