There is widespread consternation in many political circles over Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the legitimate capital of Israel. The Muslim world is incensed and the decision promises to prompt widespread protests.
This is no surprise to students of Bible prophecy. In Zechariah we read: ‘I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples” (12:2). The ancient city will be ‘a very heavy stone for all peoples’ (12:3).
The prophecy continues by describing a great destruction of the nations that ‘come against Jerusalem’ by ‘the LORD’ who will ‘defend the inhabitants’ (12:8).
A few verses later we read that the same LORD who fights against the nations ‘will stand upon the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east’ (14:3,4).
Finally, ‘the LORD shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be “The LORD is one,” and His name one’ (14:9).
So in this prophecy we have a vision of Jerusalem being a focal point for international conflict, but being saved from destruction by ‘the LORD’. So who is ‘the LORD’?
The capital letters indicate to us that the original Hebrew word is ‘YAHWEH’. This is the name of the God who made promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the patriarchs of Israel, and to David, Israel’s greatest king.
These promises foretell that a ‘seed’ or descendant of these faithful men will bring blessings to all nations, when he comes to occupy ‘the throne of his father David’ in Jerusalem and to ‘rule over the house of Jacob for ever’ (Luke 1:32,33).
This seed is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ, whose destiny is to bring glory to God and ‘on earth peace, goodwill toward men’ (Luke 2:14). Because he perfectly demonstrated the character of YAHWEH, he was ‘Immanuel’ – ‘God with us’ (Matthew 1:23).
The gospels tell of his life and teaching, and of his cruel death by crucifixion outside the walls of Jerusalem. But the gospel – or ‘good news’ – assures us that God raised him to new life, after he had spent three days and nights in the grave. At the end of 40 days of appearances to hundreds of people, he took his closest followers onto the Mount of Olives and was taken up from them to his Father in heaven.
While the disciples looked on in astonishment, two angels appeared to them, assuring them that one day Jesus would return ‘in like manner as you saw him go into heaven’ (Acts 1:9-11).
We can see now the significance of the words of Zechariah concerning the LORD who will stand on the Mount of Olives, the one who will confront those nations that have come against Jerusalem, and finally establish his rule over all the earth. For just as Jesus did the work of his Father during his first coming, so he will represent his Father at his second coming, so that his rule over the earth can be described as ‘the kingdom of God’.
The gospel is described in the Bible as ‘the gospel of the kingdom of God’. It is good news, because the turmoil and conflict in our world will be resolved by his just and righteous rule, bringing peace and well-being to people from every nation.
So, why does Jerusalem matter? Because beyond the political squabbles of the present situation is the prospect of Jerusalem becoming the capital of the world, from which divine laws will govern the nations, whose weapons of destruction will be replaced by instruments of productivity (Isaiah 2:3,4).
This is a message of hope for the world, of hope for all people who hear the word of God and believe in its inspired message.