Jerusalem – A Burdensome Stone

US Vice President Mike Pence receives standing ovation from eight hundred guests in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, on January 22, 2018, when he declares, “Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.”

Yes, Jerusalem, God’s earthly residence for over three millennia (Ps. 46:4 [5]; 48:2) and capital city of the Jewish people.

For 50 years now it has been a fully reunited city following a partial occupation by Muslims. Jordan (created out of thin air by the British), occupied part of Jerusalem from 1948 to 1967 and willfully destroyed 58 centuries-old synagogues and yeshivot (theological schools), and desecrated 38,000 graves.

In my lecture tours in Denmark, Germany and Sweden last year, I spoke in detail about Jerusalem, a week-long seminar reduced to one lecture. I dealt with the current city, the future one of a thousand years’ peace, and the Heavenly one that will descend to earth. The rabbis, who by spiritual revelation always refer to Jerusalem in plural (Hebrew Yerushalayim), say, “Whoever despises the earthly Jerusalem has no part in the Heavenly one.”

Although the Jerusalem we all know has special biblical importance for Jews and Christians, it has had influential significance for the entire world since the days of Abraham. Allow me to consider a current issue: According to Zechariah 12:2-3, Jerusalem will become a “cup of trembling” and a “burdensome stone” for all nations. Indeed, “all the people of the earth will gather against it.” One need not be very religious to recognize the developments that are taking place at an ever-increasing pace in our days, along with preparations for war against Israel.

On account of history and existing facts, on December 6, 2017, US President Donald Trump decided to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. A majority of nations at the United Nations (128 out of 193), including 22 of the 28 EU states, voted to declare this recognition invalid. There were mass demonstrations and fatal violence around the world. What was already barely concealed anti-Semitism flared up anew.

German friendship

Germany was among those nations who rejected Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish people. I recall that former Chancellor Helmut Kohl, just like current Chancellor Angela Merkel, has stated many times that Germany and Israel share a fateful history, one which is “non-negotiable,” and which also impacts Israel’s security. But don’t actions speak louder than words?

And if I, as a Holocaust survivor, note how a nation that brought about the deaths of six million Jews now allows a million people into its borders, many of whom belong to those who say clearly they want to kill all the Jews, then what can I expect to happen? Germany had fewer than 600,000 Jews before the genocide.

In April 2017, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel visited the Jewish state. He claimed before Israeli Members of Parliament that Israel was not giving the Palestinian-Arabs enough water. Facts prove, however, that Israel allocates far more water for them (and to the Jordanians also), than it is contractually obligated to give. And it does so despite the Palestinian Authority’s crippling of the water resources due to uncontrolled wastewater dumping and illegal drilling.

The latest blatantly anti-Semitic remark came mid-December when the same cabinet minister told a group of Muslims in Berlin that Israel’s relationship with Arabs reminded him of South-African Apartheid, an absurd slander.

From what cesspool does this privileged representative of the German people dredge up his lies? He should know: Since the reunification of Jerusalem, members of all faiths have had access to their religious sites. Arabs in Israel are better off than in Muslim lands. In Israel, Jewish and Muslim doctors and hospital personnel work together, and in universities there are Jewish as well as Muslim students and instructors. There are Muslim lawyers and judges in Israel, serving as high as the Supreme Court. The chief justices even rule for or against military actions. Muslims have Israeli citizenship and access to all social services, the same as any other citizen.

God will confront the foe

As I have indicated, there is a clear polarization among the nations in the battle over Jerusalem. The UN already uses only Arabic descriptions to identify Jerusalem’s Jewish holy sites and regularly demands that Jews should not even build there.

With regard to the war preparations by Muslim states to the north of Israel, and the ever-deeper involvement of Russia, there is a distinct development towards the prophesied attack of Gog of Magog against Israel (Ezek. 38 and 39)–and the dispute revolves around Jerusalem. Should we fear? God said: “I will punish him with pestilence and with blood; torrential rain and great hailstones, fire and brimstone will I rain upon him and upon his bands, and upon the many peoples that are with him” (38:22).

It also states: “In that day the LORD shall defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem….And it shall come to pass on that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against
Jerusalem” (Zech. 12:8-9). That a state of war with such apocalyptic dimensions would cause suffering for Israel, too, is not impossible. More could be said here eschatologically, but I want to limit it to these comments.

Weary or “of little faith”?

An observation: When the Jewish State of Israel was restored in 1948, sermons were preached in most Evangelical churches about prophesied endtime events. Today that has mostly ceased. Why? Has the Bible changed after 70 years?

Or is it due to replacement teaching (that Christians have become the “new Israel”)? Otherwise, the churches would have to make some hopeful statement about Israel–the Jews. But all too often we hear, rather, about God’s punishments (which took place millennia ago!), as instruments to induce the Jews to finally accept Christian teaching. It smacks of the same old sword and spear to goad the Jews to convert. Or have some churches become “sleeping virgins”? Such people might be reminded of the words of Jesus: “[W]hen the Son of man comes, shall He find faith on the earth?” (Lk. 18:8).

Allow me to end on a joyful spiritual note: “Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all you that love her; rejoice for joy with her, all you that mourn for her” (Isai. 66:10ff).