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Everything you need to know about Jerusalem

If you turned on the news in the past few months, no doubt you heard more than a little about Jerusalem. In fact, the Old City of Jerusalem is the most controversial city in the world and it’s hardly bigger than a large shopping mall.

Jerusalem is “a city that had been fought over countless times in its history. During its long history, Jerusalem has been destroyed twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times.” (en.wikipedia.org)

This is an ancient conflict that goes back a lot further than 50 years, although many believe that its troubles began only when Israel recaptured its 3,000-year-old capital in 1967. King David prophesied of a time when the whole world would be fighting over Zion.

“Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed.” (Ps. 2:1-2)

The word in Hebrew for ‘anointed’ is Mashiach, or Messiah. Who are these kings of the earth who stand against God’s Messiah and what are they up in arms about? Let’s keep reading. In anger the Lord says:

“I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.” (Ps. 2:6)

They are fighting over control of Mount Zion, or Jerusalem. Who can forget just a few months ago that the United Nations’ (i.e. “the kings of the earth”) UNESCO voted, against all intellectual honesty, for a resolution concerning Jerusalem (or God’s holy mountain), stating, “there is no connection between the Jewish people and the Western Wall.” Jerusalem’s Mayor Nir Barkat responded, “In fact, it is the UNESCO vote that has no connection to reality.”

Instead the UNESCO document referred to the Temple Mount only in Arabic as Al-Haram Al-Sharif, meaning the Islamic Noble Sanctuary. It called the Western Wall Plaza or the Buraq Plaza, again denying the Jewish connection.

Now the Truth about Jerusalem:

ANCIENT JERUSALEM

The Bible, backed up by archeological evidence, tells us that King David established Jerusalem, a Jebusite stronghold, as the capital of Israel in 1003 BCE or so. David moved his capital from Hebron, in Judah, to Jerusalem for several reasons.

By moving the capital from the center of Judah to the border with Benjamin, he united the Tribes of Israel. The City of David led up to Mount Moriah, where the Temple would be built. Jerusalem sits on top of the Gihon Springs, which would give them an endless supply of water.

Jerusalem was a near impenetrable walled city. David was only able to conquer it himself because Joab used the water tunnel to gain access.

However, in 586 BCE Jerusalem was conquered by Nebuchadnezzar and then again in 70 CE by Titus of Rome who burned the city to the ground. Emperor Hadrian visited her ruins in 130 CE and decided to rebuild the city to Jupiter, calling it Aelia Capitolina. The Jews revolted and were conquered. Hadrian expelled all Jews and Christians from the city. It is likely these “Christians” were Messianic Jews, as by this time they had been purged out of the synagogue and had their own Messianic Synagogues. All of the leaders of Jerusalem’s Messianic community after James the brother of Yeshua were Jews—until Hadrian’s expulsion.

MODERN JERUSALEM

The Jews wandered the earth for 1,900 years. Never in history has an ethnic people been separated from their homeland for more than a couple of generations before they ceased to be. That is the point of exile—to destroy a race of people.

But by the grace of God the Jewish people survived the prophesied exile and they returned to their own land just as the Hebrew prophets said they would.

“I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them,” says the Lord your God. (Amos 9:15)

“And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.” (Is. 11:12)

“Hear the word of the Lord, you nations; proclaim it in distant coastlands: ‘He who scattered Israel will gather them and will watch over his flock like a shepherd.'” (Jeremiah 31:10)

AGAINST ALL ODDS

After dozens of attempted genocides and expulsions, against all odds, the Jews came forth out of the ashes of the Holocaust to rebuild their ancient homeland. But despite gaining statehood, Jordan seized the Old City of Jerusalem, deporting all Jews and then sought to destroy every historical connection to Israel, including the Great Hurva Synagogue in the Old City.

In 1948, when Jordan took control of the eastern part of Jerusalem, including the Old City, it divided the city for the first time in its 3,000-year history. Jordan destroyed more than 50 synagogues, and erased all evidence of a Jewish presence. In addition, all Jews were forced out of the Jewish Quarter of the Old City adjacent to the Western Wall, an area where Jews had lived for generations. No one has ever cared about the Jews who were forced from their homes in 1948.

However, in 1967, the Arab countries decided that 19 years of Jewish humiliation was enough. It was time to destroy Israel once and for all. Nasser of Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal—itself, an act of war, as it would close the canal to Israel’s shipping and cripple her economy. Next he expelled the UN peacekeeping force meant to maintain peace between Egypt and Israel in the Sinai desert. Next, he put his troops on the Egyptian-Israeli border.

Then, along with his neighbors, in line with Arab culture, the hyperbolic quotes began.

“The armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon are poised on the borders of Israel … to face the challenge, while standing behind us are the armies of Iraq, Algeria, Kuwait, Sudan and the whole Arab nation. This act will astound the world. Today they will know that the Arabs are arranged for battle; the critical hour has arrived. We have reached the stage of serious action and not of more declarations.”—President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s speech on May 31, 1967, days before the Six-Day War.

 

OVER, BEFORE IT STARTED

On June 5th, early in the morning Israel attacked first—her only hope of escaping annihilation was a preemptive strike. Nearly Egypt’s entire air force was destroyed. Israel achieved air superiority. Israel declared a news blackout for 24 hours. She didn’t want the anti-Israel United Nations to realize she was winning.

As expected, Egypt began to tell tall tales of her victory.

“The Egyptian commander Marshal Amer sent a message to Jordan’s King Hussein, reporting that 75 percent of Israel’s planes had been shot down or disabled, and urging Hussein to open a second front.”

Nasser convinced Jordan that the radar images of planes coming to Egypt, were Egyptian planes returning from their missions, when in fact, they were the Israeli planes bombing Egypt.

Israel sent the King of Jordan this message through the United Nations: “If you don’t intervene, you will suffer no consequences.” The King responded arrogantly (and regretfully, I might add), “They started the battle—well, they are receiving our reply by air.”

The Israelis were concerned the U.N. would call for a ceasefire—but now that the Jordanians had chosen to fight, they had to retake the ancient Old City first.

Israel actually had no operational plan to take the Old City from the Jordanian army. This would be a dreaded “second front.” The only relevant concrete plan was to rescue a group of Israeli soldiers permanently stationed with a UN agreement in an enclave on Mount Scopus (an extension of the Mount of Olives) where the Hebrew University and Hadassah Hospital had once been.

To reach the Israelis, the IDF circled around north of Jerusalem and engaged the Jordanians in a costly four-hour hand-to-hand battle at what became known as Ammunition Hill. When the IDF broke through, they were amazed to find almost no Jordanian military on the east side of the Old City, since Jordanian generals never dreamed they would see Israelis coming around the “back side” and conquering Jerusalem through the Lion’s Gate opposite the Mount of Olives!

A West Point general is said to have remarked that though the U.S. Military Academy studies wars fought throughout history, they do not study the Six-Day War—because what concerns West Point is strategy and tactics, not miracles.

CBN just released a movie called “In our Hands, The Battle for Jerusalem” that retells this historic clash.

Colonel Motta Gur’s famous statement was etched in history as he radioed his commanders: “The Temple Mount is in our hands. The Temple Mount is in our hands.”

The Israeli soldiers could not believe they were back in the Old City. One soldier said:

“I’m walking right now down the steps towards the Western Wall. I’m not a religious man, I never have been, but this is the Western Wall and I’m touching the stones of the Western Wall.”

Israel’s chief military rabbi came into the city to thank God with the troops:

“I am speaking to you from the plaza of the Western Wall, the remnant of our Holy Temple. ‘Comfort my people, comfort them, says the Lord your God.’ This is the day we have hoped for, let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation. The vision of all generations is being realized before our eyes: The city of God, the site of the Temple, the Temple Mount and the Western Wall, the symbol of the nation’s redemption, have been redeemed today by you, heroes of the Israel Defense Forces. By doing so you have fulfilled the oath of generations, ‘If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its cunning.’ Indeed, we have not forgotten you, Jerusalem, our holy city, our glory. In the name of the entire Jewish people in Israel and the Diaspora, I hereby recite with supreme joy, ‘Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who has kept us in life, who has preserved us, and enabled us to reach this day. This year in Jerusalem—rebuilt!'”

In short, had Jordan not attacked Israel, Jerusalem would most likely still be in Jordan. Israel has an ancient claim to Jerusalem and the entire West Bank, and a modern need for security. Furthermore, for those who believe in Bible prophecy, her recovery to Jewish hands brings us ever closer to the return of our Messiah. It is hard to believe that God restored Jerusalem to Israel, only for it to be turned over to terrorists.

This article originally appeared in Maoz Israel Report, July 2017, and reposted with permission.

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Ron Cantor
Ron and wife Elana make their home in Tel Aviv. He serves on the pastoral team of Tiferet Yeshua—the Glory of Yeshua—a Tel Aviv-based, Hebrew-speaking Messianic congregation. Ron is a published author with Destiny Image Publishers, having written books like “Identity Theft”, “Leave Me Alone, I’m Jewish” and “The Jerusalem Secret”. Ron is a sought-out conference speaker and shares passionately about the Jewish Roots of the New Testament and God’s broken heart for His ancient people Israel.

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