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Introduction

There is no doubt that Jerusalem is the most renowned, loved, prayed-over and contested city in the ancient and modern world. It is first mentioned in the Bible in Genesis chapter 14 where Melchizedek, the king of Salem (a shortened form of Jerusalem), comes to greet Abraham after he had defeated the kings of the north and returned with the people and stock which was plundered. Melchizedek was possibly a preincarnate Christ. This fact alone places Jerusalem in a category superior to any other city. The temple in Jerusalem was built on the spot where God told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac.[1] King David captured it from the Jebusites in about 1,000 BC and made it the capital of Israel.[2] The city witnessed the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus and it was in Jerusalem where the Holy Spirit descended at Pentecost on the assembled group by whom the good news was spread throughout the world.

There are many Bible references to Jerusalem being the City of God either directly or by implication.[3] Jerusalem is mentioned about 600 times in the Old Testament and almost 80 times in the New Testament. Interestingly, it is not mentioned a single time in the Muslim holy book; the Koran. The first century Roman historian Pliny, referred to Jerusalem as; by far the most famous city in the Orient.[4]

The location of Jerusalem is unusual. Most ancient cities were built by rivers so that the inhabitants would have plenty of fresh water, Jerusalem is on a mountain 780 m (2,550 ft) above sea level and clean water is supplied by way of the Gihon spring. The elevated terrain makes for it to be  well-fortified. The area enclosed within its walls, comprises only 3-4 hectares (8-10 acres).

Prophecies

Amos has a vision of the destruction of the temple and by implication, Jerusalem as well.[5]

Isaiah in chapter 3, speaks of God’s judgement on Jerusalem and Judah.

Habakkuk records that God is going to bring judgement on Judah at the hands of the Babylonians with Jerusalem being destroyed.

I am raising up the Babylonians, that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth to seize dwelling places not their own.[6]

Jeremiah foretold the destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, as God had told him:

I have determined to do this city harm, and not good, declares the LORD. It will be given into the hands of the king of Babylon, and he will destroy it with fire.[7]

Jeremiah goes on to state that:

This whole country will become a desolate wasteland and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years.[8]

Then:

When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place.[9]

Further, Isaiah announces the name of the person, who will let the Children of Israel return to rebuild the city and the temple.

Who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd and will accomplish all that I please; he will say of Jerusalem, “Let it be rebuilt,” and of the temple. “Let its foundations be laid.”’

Jeremiah states, in chapter 31, that Jerusalem will be rebuilt and never be demolished again.

  • Verse 38: “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when this city will be rebuilt for me from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate.
  • Verse 39: The measuring line will stretch from there straight to the hill of Gareb and then turn to Goah.
  • Verse 40: The whole valley where dead bodies and ashes are thrown, and all the terraces out to the Kidron Valley on the east as far as the corner of the Horse Gate, will be holy to the Lord. The city will never again be uprooted or demolished.

A summary of the prophecies regarding Jerusalem

  1. God will use the Babylonians to destroy Jerusalem as an act of divine judgement (Amos, Isaiah, Habakkuk and Jeremiah).
  2. The people will be taken into captivity for seventy years (Jeremiah).
  3. It will be Cyrus who will allow the people to go back and re-build Jerusalem and the temple (Isaiah).
  4. Jerusalem will be rebuilt and never demolished/destroyed again (Jeremiah).

Jerusalem’s history

The Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II attacked Jerusalem three times:

605 BC When he took some captives back to Babylon including Daniel.

597 BC More captives taken back to Babylon including Ezekiel.

586 BC. This time the city and temple were completely destroyed and almost the entire population was deported to Babylon. Some people remained including Jeremiah. A little time later they migrated to Egypt in disobedience to the Lord’s directive.[10]

The accompanying painting is by James Tissot, The Flight of the Prisoners.

Many years after being taken into captivity, Daniel while reading the scroll of Jeremiah, comes across his prophecy of the exile being only for 70 years and Daniel realizes that the 70 years is almost up.[11] Cyrus issued the decree for the Jews to return in his first year as king[12] and the first lot left under the leadership of Zerubbabel in 536 BC,[13] which was 70 years from the first deportation of 605 BC.

Even Alexander the Great did not attack it as he had done to all of the other cities during his reign of conquest. For more on this click here.

Jerusalem and the temple were re-built. However, the temple was destroyed in AD 70 under the Roman general Titus. Although many Jewish lives were lost, the city remained. However, it suffered much devastation as a result of the second Jewish revolt on AD 134 by Roman forces led by Hadrian who had what was destroyed rebuilt within two years. He re-named it Aelia Capitolina.[14]

Jerusalem was fought over, captured and occupied during the next two thousand years, but it has remained and expanded greatly during the previous 100 years.

The fulfillment of these prophecies

God did use the Babylonians to destroy Jerusalem as prophesied by Amos, Isaiah, Habakkuk and Jeremiah. This happened in 586 BC.

The Jews were taken into exile for seventy years as prophesied by Jeremiah. From the first deportation by Nebuchadnezzar in 605 BC to their return in 536 BC.

It was Cyrus who issued the decree for the captives to return and rebuild their city and temple as prophesied by Isaiah. Note, Isaiah’s prophecy was declared 150 years before Cyrus was born.

The fact that Jerusalem will never be destroyed again was prophesied by Jeremiah. Not only is it still standing today, it has been greatly enlarged as shown by this image courtesy of Wikimedia commons. It is the most significant city in the world.

Conclusion

During its lon-g history, Jerusalem has been attacked 52 times, captured and recaptured 44 times, besieged 23 times, and destroyed twice.[15] Jerusalem was totally destroyed by the Babylonians but not to the same extent by the Romans as they commenced to rebuild it within two years. But it has remained in accordance with Jeremiah’s prophecy and unlike the other great cities of antiquity such as Babylon and Nineveh.

All proph-6+-ecies concerning Jerusalem up until the present, have come to fruition in remarkable detail. These are just more reasons to trust the Bible.

[1] Genesis chapter 22.

[2] 2 Sa-6muel 5:6-16.

[3] Psalm 46:4; 48:1; 87:3;

Isaiah 11:9; 56:7; 57:13; 60:14; 65:11 and 25; 66:20; 1 Kings 8:44-51; 11:36; 14:21; 2 Kings 23:27; 2 Chronicles 6:34-39; 12:13; Nehemiah 1:8-9

[4] J D Douglas and Merrill C Tenney, Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Zondervan, 2011, page 724.

[5] Amos 9:1.

[6] Habakkuk 1:6.

[7] Jeremiah 21:10.

[8] Jeremiah 25:11.

[9] Jeremiah 29:10.

[10] Jeremiah 43:5-7.

[11] Daniel 9:1-2.

[12]  Ezra 1:1.

[13] Ezra 2:2.

[14] J D Douglas and Merrill C Tenney, Zondervan Illustrated Dictionary, Zondervan, 2011, page 731.

[15] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Jerusalem.

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