Why is Jerusalem the center of so much conflict?
The Significance of Jerusalem
The significance of Jerusalem extends far beyond its political, religious, and geographic importance. It is far more than a historic city. In fact, it is much more than a city. In Jeremiah 8:5, God uses “Jerusalem” to refer to all the people of Judah. If a major part of God’s eternal plan is the “New Jerusalem,” it must have both spiritual meaning and eternal significance. Jerusalem must represent something far beyond our earthly understanding of a city.
Reveal her Great King
I have come to realize that God’s purpose for this great city was to reveal her Great King—the Lord Jesus. Jerusalem was never meant to be adored as a city or worshipped as an idol. She is important because she is the city of the Great King (Mt. 5:35). From Abraham’s offering of Isaac on Mt. Moriah (Jerusalem) to the future return of Jesus on Mt. Olivet (Jerusalem), Jesus is displayed.
Three times every year all the males in Israel were required to make the trek to Jerusalem to worship God by participating in the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Tabernacles. The King of this great city chose it as the place where mankind would be redeemed through His death. It was there He was resurrected, showing God’s acceptance of His final sacrifice. Through this great city and all she has endured, God has allowed the world to become acquainted with her Great King. The Gospel was spread to the world from this great city and after her King’s return (Jesus’s Second Coming), the fruit of the Gospel will return to her.
Abraham’s Unique Encounter
Even before Abraham was called to sacrifice Isaac on Mt. Moriah, he had a unique encounter that set Jerusalem apart from all other cities. When he met Melchizedek, king of Salem (Genesis 14:18), Abraham was looking for the city which has foundations whose architect and builder is God (Hebrews 11:10). By faith, Abraham was looking for the heavenly Jerusalem. Where did he find himself? He was in the earthly Jerusalem before it was even built. Jerusalem later grew from the original city of Salem, which means “peace.” Melchizedek (meaning righteous king) offered Abraham bread and wine. This offer went beyond exercising hospitality to a weary traveler. Centuries before Jesus walked the earth, the “body and blood” covenant between God and man was tied to Jerusalem.
The Meaning of her Name
Even her name points to Jesus. Jerusalem is made up of two Hebrew words: Jeru and Salem. Jeru means “to lay down a foundation” or “to cast down from above.” It pictures Jesus being laid down from heaven as our chief cornerstone (Isaiah 28:16). Salem means “peace,” or more specifically, “an inheritance of peace,” pointing to the King of Righteousness, the King of Peace as pictured in Melchizedek. Until the King of Peace appears, worldly negotiations are useless. Until the world seeks after God’s heart, His ways, and His peace, chaos will continue to reign. In any case, Jerusalem will be in the center of the action because this is the city through which God’s plans have been, and will be, made known.
She Testifies of Jesus
Jerusalem is at the center of God’s heart. It is an earthly version of a heavenly city with foundations whose architect and builder is God. The city in the middle of current events represents the foundation of something greater. It testifies of Jesus, the coming King. I know of no other city for which God commands us to pray because no other city is so much more than just a city. These are all reasons why Jerusalem is at the heart of the current Middle East conflict.
As long as Muslims maintain a presence in Israel, they will always demand control of East Jerusalem. This is a problem because the old city of Jerusalem is located in East Jerusalem. This is where the temple was located. This is where God’s name dwelled. This is the focal point of God’s interaction with man and the earthly spot where He displayed His glory.
Why are Muslims so Interested?
The interest of Muslims in Jerusalem isn’t just for geographic and political control. It’s all about sovereignty. Muslims believe that they had demonstrated Islam’s triumph over Judaism and Christianity by building the Dome of the Rock directly over the temple ruins in Jerusalem. When Israel took control of East Jerusalem (including the Temple Mount) during the ’67 war, it called into question Islam’s claim of sovereignty. They want to regain control. This is the underlying reason for the constant turmoil at the Temple Mount.
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