Why Jerusalem Recognition Matters
I cannot remember another time, in my lifetime, when the world was so completely unified in anger. From France to Turkey, from Hamas to Bernie—the majority of the world believes that President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was, at best, a mistake and, at worst, the end of the world!
But don’t fear. This is exactly what the Bible speaks of. Parallel to the restoration of Israel is the rejection of Jerusalem from the nations (Zech. 12:2-3). And nations are irrationally angry over a Jewish Jerusalem. This is a perfect picture of Psalm 2, when the psalmist asks, “Why do the nations rage?” Well, why do they?
And why do the “kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed…”
The answer, in a word, is: Jerusalem.
We see in v. 6 that the Lord rebukes these kings and rulers saying, “I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.” Zion or Tzion in Hebrew, is synonymous with Jerusalem. The kings of the earth take issue with God’s Son (verses 7 and 12) and Jerusalem.
It is interesting that the Muslim world has called for days of rage—the exact word from Psalm 2.
And yet, I’ve seen many believers fret over President Trump’s announcement, saying it is irresponsible, racist towards Palestinians, inconsequential, a impediment to peace, etc., completely missing the spiritual significance of it. The word Zion means signpost. Jerusalem is a sign to us.
From the 1880s to the present, the Jewish people have been returning en masse to Israel.
In 1920, the League of Nations (U.N.) adopted the Balfour Declaration as international law, saying that the region of Palestine would be developed into a homeland for the Jewish people.
In 1947, the U.N. voted to partition the remaining 20% of Palestine (80% was given to create the new nation of Jordan) into another Arab state and a Jewish state. (The Arabs rejected it.)
In 1948, Israel became a nation.
In 1967, Jerusalem was reunified after the Six Day War and the Old City was recovered.
From 1984 to 2000, tens of thousands of Ethiopian Jews and around one million Russian-speaking came home to Israel.
Fast forward to December 6th, 2017: Jerusalem is recognized by the most powerful nation on earth as Israel’s capital.
Also in the New Testament
The full restoration of Israel is prophesied not only in the Old Testament, but in the New Testament. When Yeshua was asked by His disciples after His resurrection, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6), He does not rebuke them for asking a stupid question. For any student of prophets, this was the most logical question.
“This is what the Lord Almighty says: “I am very jealous for Zion; I am burning with jealousy for her … I will return to Zion and dwell in Jerusalem … I will save my people from the countries of the east and the west. I will bring them back to live in Jerusalem; they will be my people, and I will be faithful and righteous to them as their God.” (Zech. 8:2-3, 7-8)
There are dozens of passages such as this. So, of course the disciples would ask about the restoration of Israel. Yeshua responds:
“He said to them: ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’”
Did you see that? Many people miss it. Yeshua clearly indicates that the Father has set the time and date for Israel’s restoration. This why I have said, if President Trump is truly a type of Cyrus (to be clear, no one has ever said that Isaiah 44-45 was referring to Trump, but merely that Trump may have a Cyrus-type calling), then he will favor Zion. That is what Cyrus is known for. A Gentile head of state gets behind the restoration of Israel. And while Trump did not do this when we expected it in May, during Jerusalem’s 50-year anniversary, he has done it now.
My friend and mentor Asher Intrater paraphrases Yeshua’s response in his new book Alignment (free download here) and I think it is brilliant.
“You have asked Me to restore David’s kingdom to Israel. The prophets envisioned a much wider kingdom which would cover the whole earth (Is. 42, 49). Let’s not settle for just David’s kingdom; let’s go for the whole vision of the prophets. Let’s not set up the kingdom in Israel until we offer salvation to all the peoples of the earth. When they all have a chance to be part of the worldwide kingdom, let’s return and restore the kingdom to Israel. The kingdom will start in Israel as Isaiah said, with its capital in Jerusalem, but it will cover the whole earth. “I will establish the kingdom government on earth when I return. For now, proclaim both personal salvation and kingdom authority, from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. In the meantime, there is no need for the nation of Israel to be here until it is time for My return and the kingdom restoration. Therefore, Israel will be scattered while the gospel goes to the Gentiles (Matt. 24:14). Then in the period before I return, the nation of Israel will be restored, so that there will be a place for Me to return and set up the capital of My kingdom.”
I heard a replacement theology pastor share the other day from Matthew 23, how God is not really concerned anymore with Jerusalem and, in fact, the Jewish people rejected the Messiah in Jerusalem. He quotes Yeshua:
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate.” (Matt. 23:37-38)
Well, if we stop, it sure looks like Yeshua is done with those pesky Jews. That is what I call intellectual dishonesty. My dear brother was manipulating his hearers because he didn’t read the next verse.
“For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” (Matt. 23:39)
Read differently, Yeshua was saying to the Jews of Jerusalem, “You will see me again when you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” The phrase in Hebrew, Blessed is he who comes is a greeting. When someone comes back to Israel from traveling, we say, “Baruch haba” or “Blessed is he who comes.” And Zechariah clearly says that the Jews of Jerusalem will welcome Him back.
“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.” (Zech. 12:10)
Yeshua left the Mount of Olives with the angel saying, “He’s coming back the same way.” (Acts 1) Zechariah 14 shows a restored Jerusalem being attacked by the nations, and “then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights on a day of battle. On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem.” (Zech. 14:3-4)
Beloved, again, Zion means signpost and each step of restoration in Israel is a sign that we are one step closer to His coming. Maranatha. Come, oh Lord!