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The Question of Peace in Jerusalem
The Australian, March 22-23, 1997
In the city housing a Moslem Mosque, sitting steadily on the sacred mount of the Jews, approximately on the temple site of David, the place of rejection of Christ, and of the scholars of Judaism, there is war. It is at the moment a war of ownership, symbolism and stature. WHOSE is Jerusalem ?
Often, in dealing with indigenous issues, a huge confusion arises. It is NOT that the first person to set foot in a given place, far less continent, owns it; GOD owns it. Setting foot in His premises will involve ownership, in the last resort only on one condition: if HE says so. After all, who MADE the earth. I do not own my neighbour's Jaguar by setting foot in it, when it is delivered to his driveway, before he does. GOD PAID FOR THE EARTH; it is HIS.
IF then God at any time makes provisions for equity and justice: well. He allows multiple usage, and greed is not ownership either. IF however He makes provision for a particular party to own a particular place, JUSTICE cannot alter the fact it is HIS to give to WHOM He pleases! Shall He not do what He will with His own ? The place where His only begotten Son was killed is not without a certain divine investment, moreover....
The word of God appoints it to the Jews, through the appointments to Abraham, to whom God specified the LAND He would affiance to him, and through the judgmental invasion of Joshua, commissioned by God, and through the appointments proceeding from David who bought the land to which the temple would be adjoined, making it doubly Jewish.( See SMR 852ff., 822ff.,1080.) Others gods have other ideas, notably Muhammad's Allah ( who, having no Son, is not to be confused with the God who does have one - see SMR p. 830); and who, having no Old Testament is not to be confused with the God who DOES have one (Isaiah 8:20, Matthew 5:17-19, Isaiah 59:21, chs. 43,41,48; cf. SMR pp. 51ff., 829ff., 986ff.).
Jesus was clear about other authorities of this type (Matthew 24:5,24 ), and God is clear about not changing His mind (Jeremiah 33:20-26), relative to "the two families", at that time in two national entities, whom the Lord chose.
When therefore President Arafat is reported as saying: "Israel must know it cannot play with the issue of Jerusalem", strictly he is not far from the truth. To the extent Israel has knowledge of God's dealing with the patriarchs, and abides by that, yes it knows it cannot play with this. It is given to them. "Without Jerusalem, the capital of Palestine, there will be no peace in the world," continues the report of Arafat's words. Biblically, we would have to alter that: Without Jerusalem surrendered to Jesus Christ, the appointed Head sent to be "that prophet" (Deuteronomy 18), there will be no peace in the world. That is because the crucified and bodily risen Messiah is He; and He is the Head of the nation, as well as Judge of the world, though it derides Him.
The Jews have suffered immensely for the national crime against Him; and the Gentiles are even now suffering immensely for their international crimes against Him, as church after church (though many exceptions remain) joins the impetuous and assertive scenario against creation, against the salvation of Jesus Christ, against the Book of Books, against the Lord of Lords, or becomes increasingly ambivalent. Thus there is a marked falling away in 'Christendom', to match the unbridled paganism of the world at large, in serious measure. The world too is suffering for its folly in rejecting the only One history ever held, who was both without sin and without failing, openly declaring "I am He" (John 8:58,4:26), fulfilling the Book of Books, the Bible, and causing to be added to its pages, the account of what was to come - as come it does! (See SMR Chs.6,8-9,10.)
Meanwhile, Jerusalem is appointed to the Jews in two dimensions.
1) the original, as part of their premises promised, and secured under Joshua in God's name (cf. SMR pp.. 1175-1186C). Reading the end of Jeremiah 33, one realises that God was not in any doubt about the property; but that of course was in terms of the covenant, and this specified damages due if the nation played false with Him; which its prophets thunderously asserted it had done (Isaiah 30:8ff. is an example; so is Zechariah 12:1-3; and ch. 14).
2) the merciful: in Ezekiel 36-37, one thing clear is this: that the Jews are to be covenantally treated with a delicious mercy, for God's holy name's sake, and brought back to their place, with no opportunity of boasting: yet for all that, brought back. (See SMR Ch.9, esp at its commencement, for details; and Appendix A, SMR, for orientation.)
However, with this mercy, there is duress. The failure to own Jesus the Christ is central to all history, as it is in the making of new messiahs for new gods and so forth, whether this be done by Moslems or liberal 'Christians' or worldlings or sects. It guarantees NO PEACE, either in the heart, or in the nations. It is to carry a peril clause: Matthew 24 makes it clear that in God's own time a series of phased in conditions, joint in operation and substantially simultaneous in expression will occur, of which mighty, messy and interminable seeming war will be one. In all this, the Jews are to come at last again to control Jerusalem (Luke 21:24). But not without opposition. That is promised. And not without victory, that too is promised (Zechariah 12:7ff., cf. SMR Chs.8-9).
The climax as noted in News Items 4 and 6 in this series, is a massive turning to their own Messiah, to Him who was sent by God at the appointed date (SMR pp. 886ff., 943ff., 959ff.), and for long and at such massive cost, not nationally accepted. The aftermaths then assume a crucial character (Zechariah 14:3ff., Micah 7).
"Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, " says King David (Psalm 122), for they will prosper who in accordance with God, who is a Spirit, do. There is of course another Jerusalem, the heavenly (Galatians 4:26), and yet another, the celestial (Revelation 21). The term comes to mean the mother city for the believers in the Lord of Lord and King of Kings, fully expressed in Jesus Christ, and hence a spiritual realm; but it also comes to pass that the celestial version is instituted: more than an accommodation, but rather a purged and purified, a splendid and magnificent dwelling for the people of God, duly resurrected just as Christ was; and for ever. In all senses, looking for the good of Jerusalem is worthy. The final one will be perfect from the start, for unbelief will be barred for ever. As to the present one:
1) national and 2) ecclesiastical, it is good so to pray. Of course Jerusalem 1) will have no peace, unless for a temporary time of delusive charm (I Thessalonians 5 notes this phase of world affairs), until it is yielded to the God who gave it, willingly and spiritually, in His name, and faith with its obedience assigned to the Messiah to come, who came exactly on time as Daniel predicted. . . Attackers in this terminal epoch will have no peace (Zechariah 12); and defenders likewise, though they have the city itself. Indeed the world will have no peace till its peace is found, whether from Jew or Gentile, Arab or American, Iraqi or Iranian, British or Australian, in Him who said, "O that you had hearkened to my commandments! Then had your peace been as a river, and your righteousness as the waves of the sea" (Isaiah 48:18), and this: "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you: not as the world gives, do I give to you" (John 14:27).
It is not then a question of yielding Jerusalem to those whose it is not; it is a matter really of a massive turning of the Jewish people so that THEIR HEARTS become the territory of the Jewish Messiah, Jesus the Christ. Then they, as Hosea has it, who were NOT my people, will be His people and He their God in the full and original sense. Indeed, the Lord will then call them by another, a new name (Isaiah chs.65, 62:2), and it is 'The Lord's' which will be freely inscribed upon the people of God, as well as 'of Jacob'; and indeed what is new? It is the Messiah who has come. His people are Messiah-ans, or Christ-ians; for Christ is Lord (Psalm 2, 45,72).
In His name, the Counsellor, the Prince of Peace, indeed the Prince of Life and Judge (Isaiah 9, 11, 48:16, 65:10-13, chs. 52-55, Psalm 2, Daniel 7:13-14, Acts 3:15, Philippians 2), God has acted. The world has reacted and continues to do so; but to the required response of repentance and faith in Him who was sent, it is exceedingly distant.
About people, city and world alike, God is quite clear on His intentions; as He was about the crucifixion of His Christ for hundreds of years before it happened, through His prophets. The intense and burning love of His disposition of His Son for the redemption of those who come to Him (cf. Zechariah 12:10-14) is not diffuse and indeterminate, but concentrated and communicated (Romans chs. 3,5); as was the resurrection; as will be His return, and the judgment (John 5:19-23).
As to the world, it is confusedly growing clearer on its own intentions. They are not the same.
Yes, hence there will be wars and rumours of wars, and no peace till Christ rules. Balfour helped the Jews return to Israel, and Britain so acted with some vigour for a while; but many nations do not agree with God about the significance of Jerusalem. It will not help them; but certainly, it is not divorce of the city from the Jews, with their tiny parcel of Middle East land, which is in view; it is their coming to the Lord who made heaven and earth and appoints what He will to whom He will.
Various systems of unbelief, in the only God there is, do not alter the sublime simplicity of the whole scenario or the profundity of its scope (cf. Romans 11); they merely intrude like mist, leaving the actual structure intact. It is unwise in the meantime to walk in the mist, without knowing where ... the buildings actually are, those built by God.