"If I forget thee, O Jerusalem"
Celebrations in the Re-united City
May 31, 2014 - Audio, 10.00 MIN
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Welcome to another edition of Bible in the News. This is Paul Billington with you this week speaking from Jerusalem where the amazing events of 1967 have been remembered and celebrated by thousands of Jewish people waving their blue and white flags as they sang, danced and gave thanks for the deliverance from massed Arab armies which had been intent on destroying Israel in early June, 1967.
It was a most remarkable victory for Israel, as this news broadcast from 1967 has placed on record:
Audio Version: Kol Israel - "Voice of Israel" recording from 1967.
But it was not only the Jewish people of Israel who rejoiced at that time, many Gentiles were also thrilled by the “miracle” war (as it was called). They recalled the words of Jesus recorded in Luke 21:24,
“Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, UNTIL the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.”
Jesus was commenting upon the prophecy of Daniel 8, and especially verses 13, 14 which speaks of “the sanctuary and the host” (the holy place, or temple, and the people) being “trodden under foot” for 2,300 prophetical days - that is years. Not that the sanctuary would be restored immediately. The words are: “THEN shall the sanctuary be cleansed.” In other words, when the 2,300 years are completed, the period of cleansing and purifying would begin. Israel would then be vindicated and made righteous or, justified.
The prophecy of Joel 3 is relevant here also:
“For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land.”
The “captivity” refers to those taken captive of course - the Jewish people. To bring them again is to restore them. The Jewish people were restored to Judah and Jerusalem (the city and the so-called West Bank) as a result of the six-days war in June 1967. This “occupation” as the world calls it has brought these areas into dispute, creating world hostility against Israel, and thus “gathering the nations” into the valley of Jehoshaphat (that is the valley of judgment) when God says He “will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they (the nations) have scattered among the nations, and parted my Land.”
The nations will have to answer for their treatment of the Jewish people all down history as Joel goes on to recount. So from a Jewish perspective there is good reason to celebrate their sovereignty over a united Jerusalem. Similarly, for the true disciples of Jesus Christ Jerusalem Day is a reason to rejoice with his people, as it is written in Deuteronomy 32:43,
“Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people: for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful unto his land, and to his people.”
Again in Romans 15:8-11,
“Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name. And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people.”
As yet the Jewish people are unaware of the one who is bringing these things to pass. Yet is the risen Christ (the Messiah) who is carrying out his Father’s purpose in restoring Israel. In Isaiah 49:5, 6 we read this:
“And now, saith the LORD that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength. And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.”
It is Jesus of Nazareth who shares his people’s sorrows and sentiments, and he will say with them:
“If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.”
Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem:
“And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes” (Luke 19:41-42).
The “things which belong to thy peace” have been hidden, but today we are witnessing a turn in events. Jerusalem has a bright future when her king comes unto her, and the vail is taken away (2 Corinthians 3:16).
But first, we have to recognise the truth of those prophetic passages that speak of a fearful and disturbing period when Israel must suffer a difficult time. For example, Zechariah 14:1-3,
“Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.”
Notice, the taking of a spoil, a military onslaught by the nations (as also seen in Ezekiel 38), the humiliation and ill-treatment of some and a partial captivity (verse 2). This attack and violence against Jerusalem will bring a response, because “THEN shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations...”
Ezekiel, writing of the same event “when Gog shall come against the land of Israel, saith the LORD God, that my fury shall come up in my face. For in my jealousy and in the fire of my wrath have I spoken...” (Ezekiel 38:18, 19). Jerusalem will have become “a burdensome stone for all people... though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it” (see Zechariah 12:3).
The next issue of the Bible Magazine is to cover this subject more thoroughly.
It may well be that the stunning victory of Israel in 1967 was but the foreshadowing of a much more comprehensive overthrow of Israel’s enemies in the future. This will be the celebration of a Jerusalem Day unparalleled in all of history.
“Thus saith the LORD of hosts; I was jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I was jealous for her with great fury. Thus saith the LORD; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the LORD of hosts the holy mountain” (Zechariah 8:2, 3).
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