Is Jerusalem the Capital of Israel?… (A Blog Post Compendium)

U.S. Vice President, Mike Pence, an evangelical Christian, at Jerusalem’s “Wailing Wall,” January 23, 2018. While many American Christians enthusiastically supported the visit of U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, to Jerusalem, many Middle Eastern Christian leaders refused to meet with him. Why the rebuff of the American leader, by fellow Christians? (photo credit: REUTERS, Ronen Zvulun)

U.S. President Donald Trump made news in December, 2017, by announcing that the United States would move their embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, to honor the Israeli claim that Jerusalem is truly the capital of that modern nation-state. For many Christians, when they read their Bibles, they think that this is a “no-brainer.” Jerusalem has been the center of Judaism since the days of the Old Testament. Why not now?

But a lot of other Christians, when they read their Bibles, beg to differ.

As British theologian Ian Paul writes, Theodore Herzl, the pioneer of modern Jewish Zionism, modestly envisioned Mount Carmel as the capital for a modern Jewish state, and not Jerusalem. Ben-Gurion, the first prime minister of modern Israel, was willing to accept the loss of Jerusalem as the price to be paid for having a homeland at all, for the Jews, in the Middle East.

The 1967, Six-Days War, whereby Israeli forces took control of all of Jerusalem, changed all of that.

The latest move by the United States, as many see it, is simply accepting what everyone knows is the reality behind modern day Israel.  Why pretend? Jerusalem is, and should be, the capital of Israel.

Well, others are quite uncomfortable with the idea, The planned implementation of U.S. foreign policy creates concerns that this move could lead (and in a few cases, has already led) to unnecessary violence..

They call Jerusalem, the “city of peace.” Why then, is it so controversial? What does the Bible have to say about all of this?

A Compendium of Previous Veracity Blog Posts… With More to Come

In 2016, I got about halfway through a blog series on “Christian Zionism,” before I took a break. Aside from the “science vs. the Bible” issue, this has been the most fascinating and complex issue I have ever written about here on the Veracity blog. It involves all sorts of topics, including the relationship between the Old Testament and the New Testament, dispensationalism vs. covenant theology, and the “End Times.” All of that serves as a mere backdrop to the pressing geopolitical concerns in the Middle East.

The status of Jerusalem is just one piece in a much larger puzzle. In a nutshell, “Christian Zionism” is at the root, and it involves one primary question: Is God now restoring, or will God in the future restore, the land of Israel to the Jewish people, to the original borders as described in the Old Testament, extending from the border with Egypt, to the Euphrates River in central Iraq, hundreds of miles away, with Jerusalem as its capital?

Is the secular nation state of Israel a fulfillment of Bible prophecy? Veracity tackles a “hot potato.”

Christians are divided on this issue. So, it takes some effort studying the Bible, and in current events and history, to try to sort all of this out… and learning to listen to one another. Throughout the coming year, I plan to publish the remaining half of the drafted blog posts that address “Christian Zionism,” in order to resume that conversation.

But before doing that, I am compiling here a compendium of previous blog posts, that you can review, if you are new to the series. Some posts are introductory in nature, some are interesting rabbit trails I went on, and others constitute the main flow of the story; that is, my story as to how I am trying to get a handle on this most difficult issue.

One thing is for certain: the topic of  “Jerusalem,” or “Israel,” in general, is not simply about some far away place off in the Middle East. What we think about “Jerusalem” tells us a lot about what it means to be a “Christian.” As philosopher Richard Weaver once said, “Ideas have consequences.” So, the ideas presented here will make you think, and they will have an impact on how you live your life as a Christian, whether you realize it or not, whether you agree or disagree with certain ideas presented for discussion:

Introductory:

The Zionism Series (The First Half!):

Romans 9-11: The most important passage in the New Testament relevant to this topic.

Rabbit Trails:

About Clarke Morledge

Clarke Morledge -- Computer Network Engineer, College of William and Mary... I hiked the Mount of the Holy Cross, one of the famous Colorado Fourteeners, with some friends in July, 2012. My buddy, Mike Scott, snapped this photo of me on the summit. View all posts by Clarke Morledge

2 responses to “Is Jerusalem the Capital of Israel?… (A Blog Post Compendium)

  • shjoiner

    Thanks for your blog on Jerusalem Clarke. Here a few thoughts that I had re. Trump’s decision.

    The Lord Jesus, and other Bible prophets, make clear predictions about Jerusalem. They make these predictions to warn us that Jesus’ return is near and we need to get ready by trying to live our lives according to God’s standards.

    President Trump has declared that America now acknowledges Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and that the U.S. will eventually move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Guatemala and Honduras appear to be following Trump’s lead. Now, I do not support any nation politically – not the UK, USA or Israel. None. But I am interested in what the Bible has to say about various nations and I think that Trump’s move might be significant. (Notice my language: might, perhaps, possibly, maybe… probably.)

    As the Palestinian state views East Jerusalem as its capital, Trump’s move is bound to have repercussions, as the BBC reported: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-42265337?SThisFB

    The consequences could be terrible and bring about much suffering for Palestinians and Israelis alike.

    One of the Old Testament prophets, Zechariah, has this to say about Jerusalem and it might well be relevant to what’s happening right now (I’ve put links on the Bible verses so you can read the whole chapters if you’re a keeny):

    “The Lord, who stretches out the heavens, who lays the foundation of the earth, and who forms the human spirit within a person, declares: 2 ‘I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling. Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem. 3 On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves” (Zechariah 12: 1-3).

    The key points of this prophecy are:
    Jerusalem will be an international problem
    There will be an attack on Jerusalem involving “all the nations of the earth”
    Those who attack Jerusalem will ultimately only “injure themselves”.

    Zechariah goes on to give more details:

    “A day of the Lord is coming, Jerusalem, when your possessions will be plundered and divided up within your very walls. I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city. 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, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south… The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name” (Zechariah 14:1-9).

    Zechariah 14 underscores the same point as Zechariah 12:

    “All nations” will come to fight against Jerusalem

    But now we have some additional information:
    The attack will initially be successful as the city will be captured
    Its destruction will be horrific with the sordid distress of plunder and rape
    Half of the city’s inhabitants will be taken prisoner – why half? Possibly because half of the city is Israeli and the other half Palestinian?
    Those who attack Jerusalem will only injure themselves as “the Lord will go out and fight against those nations”, because
    Jesus will return to the Mount of Olives (Acts 1:6-12) to save Jerusalem and to reign as king of the whole earth
    Jesus himself, when he is asked by his disciples when his kingdom will be established (Matthew 24:3), takes up Zechariah’s message about the fate of Jerusalem being a sign that his return is near (Luke 21: 20-28).

    Humanly speaking, Trump’s decision seems crazy – pouring oil on to the flames of the struggling relationship between Israel and Palestine. But, perhaps… perhaps… it’s all part of God’s plan. Part of his warning to us to get ready, to change our lives and to open our hearts to Jesus Christ: The king and judge of the world. For Jesus’ advice on how to get ready to welcome him, have a read of Matthew 24 & 25. Pure brilliance.

    The parable of the sheep and the goats in particular, is one that makes me think that Jesus is truly the saviour who is worth following. He said:

    “‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. ‘Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was ill and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

    ‘Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison and go to visit you?”

    ‘The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me…” (Matthew 25:31-46). Love it! It’s a good way to live and a lot of society’s problems would be solved in the here-and-now if we all tried to do this.

    Jesus is the world ruler we so desperately need. Here’s praying he returns as soon as!

    Like

    • Clarke Morledge

      Sarah, I share your cautious view, regarding the question of Jerusalem.

      Hopefully, as the blog posts (here and there, over the coming year) will attempt to argue, it is difficult to be dogmatic on this issue.

      Take the Book of Zechariah that you extensively quoted. Most futurists would say that what Zechariah is talking about here most definitely refers to future events, surrounding Jerusalem. However, there are preterists who say that many, if not all, of the events, in Zechariah, have already been fulfilled. Though it is important to note that Zechariah 14 presents a huge difficulty for a preterist view.

      Either way, Zechariah is one of the most difficult books in the Old Testament for us to fully grasp, as it sits a lot within the genre of the apocalyptic, a type of literature largely foreign to the modern mind.

      I am still wrestling with this all myself. But I fully appreciate where you land: “Jesus is the world ruler we so desperately need. Here’s praying he returns as soon as!”

      Amen, to that!

      Thank you for contributing at Veracity.

      Like

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