Happy Jerusalem's Day! (Spec. Days & Occasions)

Yom Yerushalaim (Jerusalem's Day)
May 20th, 2012

“Jerusalem is built like a city that is closely compacted together. That is where the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, to praise the name of the LORD . . . Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May those who love you be secure. . . For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek your prosperity.” (Psalm 122: 3-4,6,9)

Blazing Sun 3Just as our numerous opinions, conjectures and guesswork about the Sun and its properties do not change the flaming star in the least, so our personal beliefs and ideas about God and His Word do not change the biblical truth by one iota! The central star of our solar system will continue performing the duties assigned to it by its Creator with the same exact obedience and consistency as it has done since time immemorial. By the same token, the Word of God and its prophecies will continue to fulfill the will of their Author as they have faithfully done through the past millennia!

The difference, however, between understanding the inner workings of the Sun and the Will of God for our lives is vast! For, unlike the secrets of the Gas-star, the will of our Heavenly Father is plainly outlined in His unchangeable Word. The one thing needful, then, is to approach the Scriptures unobstructed by our own prejudices, long-held distortions and theological bias. The topic for our today’s reflection is the Eternal City of Jerusalem!

Christendom and Jerusalem

There are many ideas floating around in Christian circles, concerning Jerusalem, its role in God’s plan for the planet Earth and its ultimate destiny in the overarching scheme of things. Together with Israel, Jerusalem tends to evoke in the people of the world either love and admiration or the age-old attitude of hatred and opposition. The attitudes among our Christian friends run the full gamut of theological positions and postures: from bubbling enthusiasm among Evangelicals, such as Baptists, Pentecostals and Charismatics, to indifference and apathy amidst the mainline denominations of Methodists, Presbyterians and Lutherans, to the outright hostility of Catholics and scornful animosity of the Seventh-day Adventists.

As part of our preparation for this year’s “Jerusalem’s Day,” we have put together this spiritually uplifting reflection on the character and mission of the Eternal City of God! Regardless of where you stand in relation to Jerusalem, we invite you to examine the biblical and historical evidence so that we may all draw sound conclusions on the matter at hand! Since our discourse concerns a city, we shall start with the basics, namely its foundation! What is God’s Jerusalem built upon?

The Foundational Stone . . .

“I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the LORD, give yourselves no rest, and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth.” (Is. 62:6-7)

Walls of JerusalemThe Word of the Almighty reveals to us that Jerusalem was chosen by God to become the See of Monotheism in the world, the first and only one even to this day! Here is one passage confirming that truth:
“So this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed.” (Is. 28:16) – Please, examine carefully the tenor of the entire Book of Isaiah, preferably reading all of its chapters leading up to this verse.

In light of its historical and textual context we are able to see that the true and sure foundational stone laid in Zion by the Almighty is our faithful trust in the Holy One of Israel! Unlike any other city or entity on the face of our planet, Jerusalem’s foundation is the faith in and faithfulness to the One God of Israel, i.e. Monotheism! It definitely entails the keeping of His commandments and precepts! Later on in our presentation, we will see some “creative” quoting of this passage done in the New Testament!

Isaiah the prophet 1Isaiah’s role was to lead the people of Israel back into the covenantal faithfulness to their One God of Israel, - the LORD (YHWH)! The central concern of every true prophet of God has always been twofold: 1) First, they were to put a check on people’s idolatry by leading them back to the Holy One of Israel; 2) Second, they were to rebuke their countrymen’s sinful living and guide them back to the ethical commandments of the Torah. People’s breach of their covenant relations with the God of Israel, expressed in polytheism and unethical living in the Land of Judah, (including Jerusalem), were the sufficient grounds for Jerusalem’s coming demise. Isaiah reminds Jerusalem’s dwellers about God’s original vision concerning their glorious city:“What answer shall be given to the envoys of that nation? “The LORD has established Zion, and in her his afflicted people will find refuge. (Is. 14:32) – The LORD’s vision for Jerusalem was to be the worldwide center for biblical monotheism and ethical living!

In fact, the very next verse of Isaiah 28 explains the prophet’s concern: “I [God] will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the plumb line. . .” (Is. 28:17) – The justice and righteousness are the LORD’s tools in building Jerusalem. The Prophet shows that God’s ideas about Jerusalem differ radically from those held by the people who currently inhabit it! He also calls upon the folks within to trust in HaShem! The truth of the matter is that the faithfulness to and trust in the God of Jacob is that precious foundational stone that Isaiah mentions in his prophecy!

The godly prophet is in anguish over the security and prosperity of his beloved city of Jerusalem. He reminds his compatriots that the only sure foundation for Jerusalem’s survival is the faithfulness to YHWH. Remember the words of another powerful spokesman for God? – “The righteous shall live by his faithfulness!” (Hab. 2:4) – In other words, without some real faithfulness to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Jerusalem has no real foundation either for hope or survival! As we have discovered in our teaching “Dead Faith vs. Living Faithfulness,” the biblical notion of “faithfulness” means a tenacious clinging to the LORD God of Israel and loyal obedience to His commands! How many religious bodies on the planet today can lay a claim to that kind of faithfulness?

Jeremiah and the Throne of God

Throne of God - JerusalemSome of the clearest clues explaining the meaning of the “foundational stone of Jerusalem,” are found in the writings of another holy prophet of God. Prophesying about the restoration of God’s people, ingathering of the Jewish exiles and reunification of Israel and Judah back into a single powerful nation, Jeremiah predicts: “At that time they will call Jerusalem The Throne of the LORD, and all nations will gather in Jerusalem to honor the name of the LORD. No longer will they follow the stubbornness of their evil hearts. In those days the house of Judah will join the house of Israel, and together they will come from a northern land to the land I gave your forefathers as an inheritance.” (Jer. 3:17-18) – Wonder of wonders, but Jerusalem is ordained from above to become the Throne of the God Most High! The Gentiles of the Earth are predicted to come to Israel and her capital City of Jerusalem and learn about One God of Jacob!

Throne of God in HeavenSo, what is the connection between: 1. The Foundational Stone of Jerusalem and 2. Jerusalem as the Throne of God Himself? Here is a marvelous passage to make the nexus inescapable: “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you.15 Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O LORD.” (PS. 89:14-15) – The Scriptures teach us that the foundation of God’s throne is made up of righteousness and justice.

Quite logically and biblically, then: if Jerusalem is declared to be God’s very throne, its foundational stone is also a composite of godly righteousness and justice, faithfulness and love! To express it differently: As the Throne of the Almighty, Jerusalem has her people’s faithfulness to One God for a foundational stone! That is what Isaiah is driving at in his oracle directed at Jerusalem and her inhabitants. He urges them to walk faithfully and blamelessly before their God!

Witnesses for God:

If you care to know what God thinks of Jerusalem and Israel, have a listen to His witnesses:

Hebrew Script 2Isaiah predicts: “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the nations, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Gentiles will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.” (Is. 60:1-3) – Contrary to the Church’s claims to possess the truth of God, the inspired text reveals that apart from God’s faithful monotheists, the People of Israel, the rest of the world is covered with a thick darkness of spiritual ignorance and lethargy!

Micah declares: “In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and peoples will stream to it. Many [Gentile] nations 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 (Torah) will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.” (Micah 4:1-2) – As you can see for yourself, the nations of the Earth do not proclaim: “Let us go to the Vatican in Rome or the Protestant See in America!” According to God’s Word, the Gentile peoples of the world will stream to Jerusalem and Israel’s loyal worshippers of One God to find the life-giving truth of HaShem!

Joel proclaims: “After that, I will pour out My spirit on all flesh; . . . Before the great and terrible day of the LORD comes, I will set portents in the sky and on earth: . . . But everyone who invokes the name of the LORD shall escape; for there shall be a remnant on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, as the LORD promised. Anyone who invokes the LORD will be among the survivors.” (Joel 2:28-32) – Mount Zion and Jerusalem figure prominently in every end-time prophecy in the Holy Bible. Please, observe carefully that only those who embrace the God of Israel, whose proper name of “YHWH” appears in this text, will be saved! Whose name do you call upon in your devotional time and in times of crises?

Jeremiah announces: “O LORD, my strength and my fortress, my refuge in time of distress, to You the Gentiles will come from the ends of the earth and say, “Our fathers possessed nothing but false gods (our fathers inherited lies), worthless idols that did them no good. Do men make their own gods? Yes, but they are not gods!” (Jer. 16:19-20) – In Hebrew, the text says: “Our fathers inherited lies (utter delusions)!” Isn’t that a whale of a verse! I hope you begin to see the consistent message of God’s biblical prophets! Instead of predicting that the world would be coming to the Church’s version of spirituality and faith, the Bible points solidly in the opposite direction! Does not the idol of Trinity belong in this category of false gods and utter delusions, as the text indicates? I firmly believe that it does!

Zechariah trumpets: “This is what the LORD Almighty says: “In those days ten men from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, ‘Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.’” (Zech. 8:23) – The text plainly depicts the spiritual hunger and thirst among the worshipers of other gods in the world at the end of time! Once again, they will be driven by the Spirit of the God of Jacob to seek for truth among the Chosen People of God! The religion of the Church will be exposed to everyone as a parched and spiritless land, void of life or truth!

Poor, poor Church . . .

Crusader in JerusalemOne can easily see why the Church has been so desperate, throughout the ages of her existence, to eradicate this powerful truth from the minds of people! The antisemitic nations have truly been in an uproar, creating their own theologies and philosophies, designed to replace the Chosen Nation of Israel with their own ideas about God and the future of our planet! Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD and against his Anointed One. “Let us break their chains,” they say, “and throw off their fetters.” The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, “I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill.” (Psalm 2:1-4) – Since Jesus Christ is the Messiah of Israel and the king of the Jews in the Davidic line of monarchs, the New Testament correctly applies this passage to the Jewish Messiah. However, in its historical context the Psalm refers to the Jewish People and their earthly Davidic king, first and foremost!

The Object of our trust . . .

The Bible is also crystal clear as to who the object of our trust and obedience is: “Bind up the testimony and seal up the law (Torah)among my disciples. I will wait for the LORD, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob. I will put my trust in Him.” (Is. 8:16-17) –There are so many Christian "disciples" today, who run around claiming that the Law of God has been nailed to the Cross! In fact, they do not posses even the basic understanding of what the Torah is all about! The text, however, tells us that the LORD’s disciples will be distinguished by their knowledge of and adherence to the Torah of the Almighty! Who is right?

God on His ThroneDid you catch as to where our trust belongs? The Creator of the Universe, the One that calls Himself the LORD God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, never indicated that we were to put our faith and trust in His son or daughter, who at some point in history would be revealed to be the Second Person within a complicated “compounded” god of Trinity!

Our trust should reside in no one else apart from the Holy One of Israel! Aware of this fact, our shrewd friends, the Gentile fathers of the Church, tried to cook the books by playing even with the “Old Testament” portion of their Bibles. One such text is in Psalm 2:12. It reads: “Kiss the Son lest He be angry. . .” We will deal with this and many other similar passages in our upcoming reflections. Suffice it to know for now, that there is no such text in the Hebrew Bible! Psalm 2:12 simply does not have the word for “Son”! The text refers squarely to the God of Jacob and a Davidic King of Israel! So, who is the holder of your trust?

The text of Isaiah 26 echoes the same sentiments as found in Isaiah 28. It speaks of Jerusalem and its dwellers, reflecting the original intention of God for His faithful city: “In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah: We have a strong city; God makes salvation its walls and ramparts. Open the gates that the righteous nation may enter, the nation that keeps faith (faithfulness). You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal.” (Is. 26:1-4) – I hope you have noticed the key words in this passage: “the nation that keeps faith (or rather faithfulness); “trust in the LORD forever”; “He trusts in You”; “The LORD is Rock eternal.”

The New Testament’s Take . . .

Greek WordsVery interestingly, both the Book of Romans and the Epistle of First Peter misquote the passage from Isaiah 28:16 by adding “trusting in him” in their respective texts. As you could see above, the words “in him” are not in the original text of the Bible. (see Rom. 9:33, 10:11; I Peter 2:6) Since the foundational stone of God’s Jerusalem is her people’s faithfulness and obedience to YHWH, one cannot put his faith in his own faithfulness, - the text would not work.

Besides, in the original Hebrew, the word for “stone” is feminine in gender! Therefore, if the New Testament authors purport to quote precisely what they think the Hebrew Bible says, their text should read: “See, I lay in Zion a stone . . . and the one who trusts in her will never be put to shame.” (Rom. 9:33) – Clearly, there is no such text in Hebrew! The words “in him” were inserted by our dear Church theologians to make the text say what they wanted it to! Why do Church theologians and New Testament scholars play with the text?

Although it is understandable that the writers of the New Testament adduce the evidence of the Hebrew Scriptures to bolster their own Messianic claims for Jesus of Nazareth in the eyes of their respective audiences, changing the original text by adding or subtracting from it hardly seems to be a “kosher” approach to the matter! As we have stated earlier, the original Hebrew text of Isaiah 28:16 describes our faithfulness to the LORD God of Israel as the precious foundational stone laid down in Jerusalem by God Himself! The spiritual (poetic) license, taken by both the author of the Epistle to Romans and that of I Peter, when they inserted “in him” in the Greek text of their documents, should never negate the original, intended meaning of the Hebrew text!

Jerusalem and the Messianic Kingdom

Not so long ago, one of my good Christian friends made a casual remark during our conversation on the topic of Jerusalem, by saying: “Who cares about that old dilapidated city in the Middle East! We, the Church, are the New Israel; and all that matters is the New Jerusalem!” In his opinion, the old City of Jerusalem has no role to play in the apocalyptic events that are to transpire on Earth immediately before the God’s Kingdom comes in power.

His views, by the way, are shared by almost 20 million sincere Seventh-day Adventists worldwide, who claim to be the “true remnant” of God’s people on Earth and expect to spend the Millennium up in heaven with Christ. For them Jerusalem ceased to be part of God’s salvific plan for humanity after the events of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. The focus now is on the “New Jerusalem, “ which will be lowered from heaven at the end of the Church’s thousand-year reign with Christ up in the heavenly places! As we have stated earlier, our own opinions and ideas do not really change the reality of the Word of God or its fulfillment in the end. In light of this fact, the only group of people that stands to lose substantially are those unwilling to come to the Scriptures and listen attentively to what the Bible has to say!

Light of JerusalemPlease, consider very carefully, the following penetrating oracle of Isaiah: “This is what Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem: - (I trust the subject of the prophecy is abundantly clear to everyone!) -

"In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills,
and all nations (all the Gentiles) will stream to it. 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.” – (In whose path does your church walk?) -

"The law (the Torah) will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.” – (Not bad for an old, dilapidated city in the Middle East, is it?) – “He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. Come, O house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the LORD.” (Is. 2:1-5) – This is an astonishingly beautiful, potent and clear passage concerning the Messianic Kingdom on our Earth!

For the past two thousand years, the world has been groaning under the ravages of a mammoth religious cult that was born after the Gentile Church had decided to cut all its ties with the biblical faith in One God! Christendom, along with another religious giant, i.e. Islam, has mercilessly persecuted the people of God, who dared to preserve the beauty of the Scriptural truth about the LORD God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob! The great pagan cities of Rome, Constantinople, Mecca, and even Moscow, have all vied to replace Zion (Jerusalem) as the center of God’s activity on Earth. They all have predictably failed!

All this time, the Holy One of Israel has watched over His people, scattered over the face of the planet, working behind the scenes to bring about His own promises recorded in the Bible. “He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground.” (Is. 53:2) - On May 14th, 1948 the world was stunned by waking up to the new reality in the world, - the Independent State of Israel, re-born in its historical homeland! (The miracle was all the more significant due to the fact that Israel’s existence received a “Yes” vote from one of the most-aggressively antisemitic bodies on earth, - the United Nations!)

Six Day WarNineteen years later, in the course of the Six-Day War with the Arab aggressors, the capital city of the Davidic Israel was recaptured from her enemies and unified under the Jewish control. Finally, after more than 1900 years of desolations, the holy sites of the Jewish capital were accessible to the only Nation of Monotheists! In the last 64 years since its reemergence in the Middle East, Israel has fought and won all the seven major conflicts with her Arab neighbors. In each and every war, the strategic and military odds were heavily stacked against God’s Chosen People. The LORD has indeed fought for Israel!

Zechariah's Apocalypse

Despite thousands of years of foreign invasions, occupations, exiles, displacements, Inquisitions, pogroms, blood libels, massacres, persecutions, holocausts and hate on the part of the world, the City of Jerusalem remains the historic capital of the unified State of Israel! The prophet Zechariah predicts that the faithful remnant of God’s Chosen People will survive even the terrible Battle of Armageddon. Zechariah’s prophecy refutes the fanciful interpretation of both the Evangelical Camp of Churches and their Seventh-day Adventist friends as well! The notion of Christendom that the Church enjoys some special relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ is refuted in Zechariah 14 on a few crucial points:

- The Chosen Remnant of God’s faithful Israel and the City of Jerusalem are at the focus of Zechariah’s prophecy; they are the ones through whom the LORD wraps up the human history (vv.1-2);

- The One who delivers them is the LORD God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, as is evident from His covenantal Name of YHWH; He is the One God of Jewish Scriptures and not Christian three-bodied deity of Trinity (v.9);

- The text is emphatic that after the dust of the Armageddon and all the other conflicts settles, the nations will embark on a yearly pilgrimage to Jerusalem and Israel to celebrate God-ordained Feasts of Leviticus 23; none of our Christian friends consider these Festivals important today! (v. 16);

- The text predicts the reinstatement of sacrifices at the Great Temple; since the Church insists that Christ’s was the final sacrifice, this fact flies in the face of all Christendom, indeed!(v. 20-21);

- My dear friends within the Adventism believe that the Great Battle of Armageddon will happen at the walls of the New Jerusalem; they should be hard pressed to explain Zechariah’s prophecy and how the New Jerusalem will be rifled and its inhabitants ravished!

Jerusalem RavishedLet us savor this powerful oracle together:
“Behold, the day of the LORD is coming, And your spoil will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all the nations (all the Gentiles) to battle against Jerusalem; The city shall be taken, the houses rifled, and the women ravished. Half of the city shall go into captivity, But the remnant of the people shall not be cut off from the city.” (Zech. 14:1-2) – (This is the faithful remnant of believing monotheists!) –

“Then the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations (those Gentiles), as He fights in the day of battle. And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two . . .” (vv.3-4) – (As you can see the geographical location of this battle is quite unambiguous!) –

“And in that day it shall be that living waters shall flow from Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea and half of them toward the western sea; In both summer and winter it shall occur. And the LORD shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be-- "The LORD is one," And His name one.” (vv. 8-9) – (The ancient City of Jerusalem will be renewed by her faithful God. It will nurture all the Gentile nations with the living waters of the Torah once again!) –

“All the land shall be turned into a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be raised up and inhabited in her place from Benjamin's Gate to the place of the First Gate and the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananeel to the king's winepresses. The people shall dwell in it; And no longer shall there be utter destruction, but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited.” (vv.10-11) – (As you have undoubtedly noticed, this Jerusalem is “raised up” as in being rebuilt, instead of “lowered down” as in coming down from heaven! Clearly, the text speaks of the old city of Jerusalem!) –

“And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, on them there will be no rain.” (vv.16-17) – (Unlike a very “Christian” scenario, in which all the nations of the world are obliterated upon the Second Coming of Jesus, the Bible presents us with a much more humane approach here!)

Temple Mount“In that day "HOLINESS TO THE LORD " shall be engraved on the bells of the horses. The pots in the LORD'S house shall be like the bowls before the altar. Yes, every pot in Jerusalem and Judah shall be holiness to the LORD of hosts. Everyone who sacrifices shall come and take them and cook in them. In that day there shall no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the LORD of hosts.” (Zech. 14:20-21) – Only those who have embraced the LORD God of Israel as their God and Savior will find entrance into the House of the LORD according to this passage! Do you have any doubts left in your heart and mind concerning the centrality of Israel and Jerusalem for God’s Eternal Plan of Redemption?!

Summary Points:

- Every biblical truth is ascertained through a careful and unprejudiced study of the Word of God; it does not depend on or change according to our faulty understanding of the Scriptures or the fanciful interpretations thereof;

- The Christendom entertains many different ideas concerning Jerusalem and her role in the Great Scheme of things; most of them, however, are deeply flawed and colored by the Church’s agenda to replace Israel in God’s prophecies;

- The foundational stone of Jerusalem, spoken of in Isaiah’s oracles, is the trusting faithfulness to the One God of Jacob, i.e. ethical Monotheism of Israel;

- The New Testament texts “modify” the original wording of the passage by adding “in him”; their concern is to ascribe the prophecy to Jesus Christ;

- The Old City of Jerusalem is to become the Throne of the Living God; the living waters of Torah and the knowledge of One God will once again flow out of her into the Gentile nations;

- All the major prophets of the Almighty testify concerning Jerusalem’s centrality in His Plan; their testimony runs contrary to the Church’s cherished beliefs of superiority and knowledge of truth;

- Zechariah’s apocalyptic visions give the lie to the Christian interpretations of the future and vindicate Israel and her Capital City once again!

Happy Jerusalem’s Day!

This year we celebrate Jerusalem’s Day on the 20th of May. Together with all the loyal worshipers of One God of Israel, we celebrate His goodness and watchful care over His people Israel and His beloved City of Jerusalem! We invite you to join us in this festive and prophetic occasion! May the Holy One of Jacob guide you and protect you!

Walls of Jerusalem 1“For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, till her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch.” (Is. 62:1)

Happy Jerusalem’s Day and Happy Sabbath as well!