Apocalyptic battle will be over the status of Jerusalem
In the wake of the worldwide denunciation of President Donald Trump’s earth-shaking decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, some nations are now queueing up to follow his lead. But the UK and other major European powers stubbornly refuse to face reality.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, in talks with the Palestinians, has declared that Jerusalem will ultimately be the shared capital of Israeli and Palestinian states.1
But the Bible is crystal clear that judgement will fall on the nations who divide the land of his chosen people (see Joel 3:2).
In joining the predictable chorus of disapproval at the UN, the British people are in ever-increasing danger of being numbered among the ‘goats’ of Judgement Day referred to by Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew (25:31–46).
This passage is widely interpreted to relate to how the peoples of the world have treated God’s chosen race – the “brothers and sisters” (in the flesh) of our Saviour, who was born the King of Israel (Matthew 2:2) and is coming back as the ‘Lion of the tribe of Judah’ (Revelation 5:5). And Isaiah writes: “For the nation or kingdom that will not serve you will perish; it will be utterly ruined.” (60:12)
On my latest tour of Israel, I learnt that sheep keep the grass neatly cut with their grazing while goats pull it out by the roots – which perfectly illustrates Matthew 25! The goats cut themselves off from the roots of their faith, as a result of which their pasture withers and dies. (See Romans 11:17f)
But true disciples of Jesus, the Great Shepherd, should follow him closely and feed on the rich pasture he has provided that is nourished by the Law of Moses along with the patriarchs and prophets of Judaism.
Actually, the US Congress voted to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital 22 years ago, but successive Presidents have simply put off implementing the decision until now.
Even Arab commentators are encouraging their people to accept reality. Saudi academic Abdulhameed Hakeem says they need to recognise Jerusalem’s sanctity to Jews.2 And in an article last year he stressed that Israel and Saudi Arabia faced a common Nazi-like threat in Iran3, which has reportedly pledged every assistance to terror group Hamas in “the battle for the defence of Jerusalem”.4
With its efforts to make good on a long-promised boast to wipe Israel off the map, Iran continues to be a serious threat (despite encouraging protests from within that rogue regime).
So with the nations as a whole setting their face against Israel, and denying their right both to the land and their capital, the stage is being set for the battle of the ages which, according to the Bible, will take place at Armageddon (or the plain of Jezreel) in northern Israel (Revelation 16:16). But the trigger will be the status of Jerusalem. (See Zechariah 12:2)
Elijah of old was engaged in a great battle with 400 false prophets in this same region. (See 1 Kings 18). It was a bloody contest – all the false prophets were subsequently slaughtered – and took place on Mt Carmel which, as it happens, overlooks Armageddon.
It may come as a surprise to some that Jerusalem is God’s very own city – he effectively owns it; it bears his name. (See Daniel 9:18 and Nehemiah 1:9) But false deities, with the connivance of numerous world powers, refuse to acknowledge this.
Jesus lamented over Jerusalem because of their rejection of him, but at the same time prophesied their ultimate acceptance of his rule (Matthew 23:39). He has not finished with Jerusalem; he will come back just as he left (Acts 1:11).
Further confirmation of Israel’s claim to the land has come from recent archaeological finds. A replica of a first-century coin, dated AD 67 and containing the inscription ‘Jerusalem the holy’, was held up at a session of the United Nations Security Council by Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon.5
And a seal owned by Jerusalem’s governor some 2,700 years ago has been unearthed near the Western Wall. It contains an inscription in ancient Hebrew and supports the biblical rendering of the existence of a governor in the city at the time.6
Speaking of the find, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said: “Jerusalem is one of the most ancient capitals in the world, continually populated by the Jewish people for more than 3,000 years.”7
Another recent find – 1,300-year-old coins from the Islamic Umayyad Dynasty imprinted with an image of the menorah from the Jewish Temple – shows that early Muslims acknowledged the city’s Jewish identity. According to Assaf Avraham of Bar-Ilan University, they adopted the Jewish narrative and symbols for their own.8
Yet despite all the evidence supporting Israel’s claim, Palestinian leaders refuse to accept the truth. In the year 2000, Yasser Arafat turned down the chance of a comprehensive peace deal because he refused to recognise Jewish historical ties to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. “The Jews never had a Temple at the site,” he said at the time.9 Sadly the entire Palestinian narrative is based on a lie that would be recognised by children at kindergarten.
Most world leaders still don’t get it, but one day they’ll have to acknowledge that the script for Israel and the nations was written in the Bible three millennia ago.
That there would be an almighty battle over the territory was always part of that script. But Elohim (God) will be the ultimate victor, “watching over his word to perform it”(Jeremiah 1:12).
The Messiah is waiting for that day – and I pray it will come soon – when his ancient people greet him once more with gladness, saying: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Matthew 23:39, Psalm 118).
1 World Israel News, 9 January 2018; 2 Jerusalem Post, quoted by JNN 22 December 2017; 3 Ibid; 4 Times of Israel, quoted by United with Israel 28 December 2017; 5 JNN 11 December 2017, quoting Arutz-7; 6 World Israel News 1 January 2018; 7 Ibid; 8 www.breakingisraelnews.com 8 December 2017; 9 Christian Friends of Israel’s Watching Over Zion newsletter 30 November 2017.