ISRAEL

Who Owns Jerusalem?

Right now, the focus of the world is on the Middle East, but it is only part of a much larger problem that some call the clash of cultures. And the focus of that clash is centered in Jerusalem. But that is nothing new. For 2000 years, the tidal armies of the world powers have flowed back and forth over the land of Israel.

Today, there is worldwide confusion over who owns Jerusalem, and the land called Palestine. Those who don't know the Bible see it as just another religious squabble. The Jews lost the temple mount in 70 AD when the Romans leveled Herod's temple. When Rome fell, Islam was rising and overran the area all the way into central Europe. Except for brief periods during the crusades, Palestine has been in the hands of Muslims until 1948 when the Jews returned.

Islam teaches that any land that Muslims conquer belongs to Allah forever. Jews stand on the promises of God in the Old Testament that Palestine was given to Abraham and his seed forever. The pope, who claims that Christ put him in charge of earth as His "Vicar," also wants control of Jerusalem. His claims are based on what is called "replacement theology" that teaches that God is finished with Israel because they rejected their Messiah. Those who follow the pope are now the "people of God," replacing Israel as God's chosen people. Therefore, the "promised land" belongs to the pope.

But, Jesus told us how it would play out. In Luke 21 He said that "Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." Then there would be a time of great trouble into which Jesus promised that He would return to rule the world from the New Jerusalem.

John McTernan, in his book "As America Has Done To Israel," reminds us:

"When the armies of the world attempt to destroy Israel and take Jerusalem, God will unleash the greatest earthquake that has ever shaken the world. The trigger will be at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, when He stands on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. "This future earthquake will be so powerful that all the mountains and cities of the world will collapse, and every island will disappear. (Rev. 16:18-20) Looking at the Middle East today, and the acts perpetrated by Islamic nations prepared to destroy Israel, this day may not be too far in the future."

Students of prophecy debate endlessly over the details of how this will unfold. But Jesus made it simple. He said to go be His witnesses while we watch these things come to pass. When they do, we are to "look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh." Surely it is time to do both.

It is important for Christians to remember God's special relationship with Israel. His promise to Abraham was that He would give all of Canaan as an "everlasting" possession (Genesis 17:8). Although they have been driven out from time to time because of disobedience, the convenant still stands. Much of the world doesn't agree, so Jerusalem has become a "cup of trembling". Christians need to stand with Israel, and oppose "dividing the land" in a fruitless effort for peace. God has promised to bless us for it.

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