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The Controversy Over Zion

US President touches off firestorm over Jerusalem decision

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11 Dec 2017
The Controversy Over Zion

For it is the day of the Lord’s vengeance, and the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion. (Isaiah 34:8 - KJV)

The recent decision by US President Donald Trump finally to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the American embassy here was a very courageous and long overdue act. This issue goes to the core of the historical national identity of the Jewish people. It also goes to the heart of the calling of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, which was founded as an act of Christian solidarity with the deep Jewish attachment to Jerusalem.

Vindication and vengeance

The response among Israelis to this US decision was more relief than elation. When the United Nations is constantly denying the Jewish connection to Jerusalem, it was nice to hear someone affirm their special bond with this place. Time and again, they have been strangely accused of “Judaizing” Jerusalem. Some even consider it a “war crime” for a Jewish family in eastern Jerusalem to add a balcony to their home. So it was comforting to hear a major world leader warmly and calmly validate their ancient connection to this city.

The Palestinian reaction to Trump’s announcement was largely one of disappointment, as most seem resigned to the fact that it was going to happen eventually. Still, Palestinian and Arab/Muslim leaders voiced their anger and threatened to derail the Embassy move through violent protests and perhaps worse. Apparently, some feel they must prove their reverence for Jerusalem through bloodshed.

Spurious claims and historical fallacies

The heart of the problem is that the genuine Jewish claim to Jerusalem is being challenged by rival claims of questionable origins, including a nationalist one asserted by the Palestinians that the city is the capital of their state and a religious one advanced by Muslims that the al-Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount) is the third holiest site in Islam and thus exclusively theirs. Both claims have been repeated enough over time as to be believed by billions of people worldwide.

Yet according to leading scholars, Muslim veneration of Jerusalem has political origins dating to several decades after Muhammad died, when the Umayyad dynasty ruling in Damascus lost control of Mecca and decided to elevate Jerusalem as a place of Muslim pilgrimage. To do so, they linked the prophet’s mythical ‘night journey’ to the newly-built al-Aqsa mosque, located on the Temple Mount. Yet many Muslims down through history have rejected this as a later hadith (tradition) of Islam, since they know al-Aqsa did not even exist yet and that Muhammad turned his back on Jerusalem when he changed the direction of prayer (qibla) towards Mecca. Moreover, the Koran does not contain even one single mention of Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, credible accounts from the early 1920s trace the Palestinian nationalist claim to Jerusalem back to certain British Mandate officials who opposed Zionism and sought to frustrate the implementation of the Balfour Declaration. These British anti-Semites promoted local Arab leader Haj Amin al-Husseini to the lofty title of Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and turned the Dome of the Rock into a symbol of the new Palestinian nationalist movement. The mufti eventually wound up in Berlin supporting Hitler’s genocidal campaign against the Jews, even while the Muslim waqf in charge of the Dome of the Rock published tour guides which acknowledged “beyond dispute” that it was built on the site of Solomon’s Temple.

Universal reverence for Jerusalem

Now one cannot ignore that today Jerusalem holds great historical and religious significance for billions of people of faith all around the world. Yet this universal reverence for Jerusalem originates with the Jewish people and their close spiritual ties to this city. Without that foundational divine connection between the Jews and Jerusalem, no one else would have ever really cared about this remote city nestled away in the Judean hills.

The case for the Jewish capital

The Bible itself makes hundreds of references to Jerusalem. Historians have scoured through ancient Greek and Roman writings and they all refer to Jerusalem as a “Jewish city” and the “capital of the Jews”. During their many centuries of exile, the Jews always longed to return to Jerusalem and restore its past glories. For seven decades now, Jerusalem has served as Israel’s capital, even when it was precariously surrounded by enemies and even though the nations refused to recognise it as such. This steadfast devotion to Jerusalem has again demonstrated its centrality to the Jews.

Spiritual conflict to shake the nations

Still, it should come as no surprise that there is now a serious global dispute over the rightful Jewish place in Jerusalem. The Bible is clear that a great “controversy” over Zion would arise one day among all nations (Isaiah 34:8; also Zechariah 12:2-3). Yet God would settle it by placing “My king on My holy hill of Zion” (Psalm 2:6). This refers to that blessed time when the Messiah comes to take up the throne of his father David, which clearly will be located on Mt Zion in Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:1-4, 9:7, 16:5, 24:23; Jeremiah 31:6; Joel 3:17; Micah 4:1-7; Zechariah 8:3; Luke 1:32; Revelation 14:1).

The Bible also foresees that the Messiah’s arrival would be preceded by a rival claimant to the throne, a false Messiah or Antichrist (Matthew 24:5; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12; 1 John 2:18, 4:3; Revelation, chapters 11 to 20). These Scriptures suggest it also involves a false claim to the actual site of that throne in Jerusalem. How this may be linked to the current competing claims to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount is not quite certain. But we can already see how such a controversy over Zion has the power to shake all nations.

Until then, each and every nation must choose whether to align themselves on the right side of Scripture concerning Jerusalem. This really comes down to whether they fear God and honour His word more than they fear and honour men.

Jerusalem released into its redemptive destiny

From the start of 2017, the Lord has been showing us that there is a Jubilee cycle in operation over Jerusalem in modern times, whereby every fifty years something dramatic happens to release the city further into its prophetic destiny. So for months now we have been declaring that there would be yet another Jubilee release for Jerusalem this very year, and it appears to now be upon us. President Trump has made a geo-political decision, but it also signals a shift in the spiritual realm. We do not know yet what all the consequences of this move will be and how long they may play out. But we are convinced that Jerusalem is now being released even further into its redemptive destiny, and that we will see a tremendous impact in the global Church as well.


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