JERUSALEM & THE PROPHETS:
OUR HONOR, OR SHAME & ULTIMATE HUMILIATION
By Dawud Jabal
The futures of Gaza, the West Bank and of Jerusalem are very much of concern these days. Will there be peace or more battles? Sometimes hope glimmers and sometimes it fades. Many people have tried to solve these problems. But there are always serious stumbling blocks to achieving stability and peace in these troubled areas. Various groups push their historic and religious interests as well as personal agendas. Each one of us may have ideas and preferences for ways to try to solve these problems. We can try to influence political and religious leaders with our ideas for bringing peace. But, most of us have very little influence in that regard. However, in some respects, our personal future of honor, or shame and humiliation will depend upon our relationship with the future Ruler of Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank.
JERUSALEM: LIKE A CUP OF STAGGERING AND A BURDENSOME STONE
What we need to be seriously concerned about is the FUTURE, over which neither we, nor politicians, nor religious leaders will have ultimate control. This all is in the ultimate control of God. He is the One who is taking the initiative to bring the attention of the whole world to the city of Jerusalem. About 520 years before the time of Jesus, God told the prophet Zechariah that some day, "... I will make Jerusalem a cup of staggering unto all the people round about ..." God also said that "... I will make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people ..." (Prophet Zechariah at 12:1-3)
Another startling revelation by God through the Prophet Zechariah is that the military forces from ALL OF OUR NATIONS will be defeated one day! Yes, this will be when all of our nations will gather to fight against Jerusalem. Then the LORD will go to fight against our nations. Now some people think, this was probably written just to make ancient Jewish people happy. But, dear friend, the army defending Jerusalem will be defeated first. Jerusalem will be captured! That will be humiliating for the people of the city and their defenders. Then, after that, as the LORD goes and fights against our military forces which will be arrayed against Jerusalem, ALL of our nations will be shamed and humiliated!
These things seem too amazing to be true. But, we read them where God told the sons of Israel through the Prophet Zechariah:
14:1 "Behold, the DAY OF THE LORD is coming, and your reward shall be divided among you. 2 For I WILL GATHER ALL NATIONS against JERUSALEM to BATTLE; and the city shall be CAPTURED, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and HALF OF THE CITY SHALL GO OUT INTO EXILE, but the remainder of the people shall not be cut-off from the city." (In the translation, I have capitalized certain special words.)
ALL of our nations will be gathered together for the purpose of being defeated by God! This has never happened before in all of history. All the nations have never gathered against Jerusalem. Why would this happen? From the human political viewpoint it may well be that the conflict will escalate between Israel and the Palestinians, with the Palestinians receiving greater losses. When the whole region is extremely destabilized, the United Nations or some other multi-national agency, may call ALL the countries of the world to send forces against Jerusalem. At least token military or political support could be sent from every nation. The military forces defending Jerusalem will collapse and Jerusalem will be captured by the military troops of the nations. The troops will pillage and rape. Half of the people of Jerusalem will be exiled from the city. The defense forces of the city will have been defeated and humiliated!
From the human viewpoint, the defeat of Jerusalem will be man's valiant attempt to bring stability and perhaps even peace to the region. The nations could divide (or unite) the city of Jerusalem in any way they decide. There could be no meaningful opposition from the remaining inhabitants of the city. From the human viewpoint perhaps peace could be achieved this way by the military power of all of our nations uniting and ruling the city and adjacent areas.
BUT, God will have a different viewpoint. As we look further in that prophecy of Zechariah, we find that it reveals:
14:3 "THEN THE LORD shall go out, and FIGHT AGAINST THOSE NATIONS, as when He fought in the day of battle. 4 And HIS FEET SHALL STAND in that day upon the MOUNT OF OLIVES, which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in the middle from the east to the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall move toward the north, and half of it toward the south. 5 And you shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yes, you shall flee, like as you fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with Him." (In the translation, I have capitalized certain words. King Uzziah of Judah ruled in Jerusalem about 792-740 BC.)
DEFEAT OF THE ARMIES OF ALL OF OUR NATIONS
We read above that FIRST the City of Jerusalem will be captured, which would mean that the military force defending Jerusalem will be DEFEATED by the armed forces of the nations that come against the City. Imagine how SHAMEFUL and HUMILIATING that will be for the defenders and people of Jerusalem!
BUT THEN, SECOND, the LORD HIMSELF WILL COME TO FIGHT AGAINST the military forces of each one of our own nations, yours and mine! Won't we be ASHAMED of our own nations when we realize that the LORD will be coming to personally fight against OUR OWN TROOPS? ALL of our governments will be on the WRONG SIDE (opposite God) in that battle! This means ALL of the nations of Europe, of north and south America, of Africa, of Asia, and of the Mid-East. What shame and humiliation all of our political and military leaders will feel when they are defeated by the LORD Himself! Many of our social and religious leaders will also be humiliated!
THE ULTIMATE VICTOR
Further along we will mention the textual evidence that this One who comes to fight and to rule in Jerusalem will be the Messiah, specifically Jesus of Nazareth. It is interesting to note at this point that when Jesus was teaching and preaching almost 2,000 years ago in Jerusalem and the areas to the north, that some people were hoping that He had come to defeat the Roman army and bring liberation from the idolators. But, at that time He did not even try to defeat the army of the Romans. But, next time He will defeat every military force that comes from every nation on earth!
God has a glorious future ahead for the City of Jerusalem
Earthly rulers have only brought temporary peace between many wars. But God has a glorious future ahead for the City of Jerusalem. Let us consider the continuation of this prophecy of what will happen AFTER THE BATTLE:
Continuing from the Prophet Zechariah, 14:8 "And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea [Dead Sea], and half of them toward the hinder sea [Mediterranean Sea]: in summer and in winter shall it be. 9 And the LORD shall be King over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and His name one. 10 All the land shall be turned as a plain from Geba [north of Jerusalem] to Rimmon south of Jerusalem: and it shall be lifted up, and inhabited in her place, from [the City of Jerusalem's] Benjamin's gate unto the place of the first gate, unto the corner gate, and from the tower of Hananeel unto the king's grape-presses. 11 And men shall dwell in it, and there shall be no more utter destruction; but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited." (In the translation, I capitalized certain words and put the notes in brackets.)
Won't that be a wonderful blessed time when the LORD personally and specifically rules over ALL of the earth, over all of our different people?
The Prophet Isaiah revealed (in 9:5-7) that the Child to be born, the Son to be given, would be on the throne of King David, and His government would never end. Among other things, He would be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Father of Eternity, Prince of Peace. He would reign over the kingdom, establishing it and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever more. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this!
The Prophet Jeremiah at 23:5-8 said: "The days are coming," declares the LORD, "when I will raise up to David a Righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In His days, Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which He will be called: 'The LORD Our Righteousness.' So then, the days are coming," declares the LORD, "when people will no longer say, 'As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the sons of Israel up out of Egypt,' but they will say, 'As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the descendants of Israel up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where He had banished them.' Then they will live in their own land."
Specifically, It is revealed that King David will be back again! He will apparently be a vice-regent or vizier under the LORD, Jesus. The Prophet Ezekiel (at 34:23-24) reported the words of God, "I will place over them one shepherd, My servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd. I the LORD will be their God, and My servant David will be prince among them. I the LORD have spoken."
BE ON THE LORD'S SIDE WHEN HE COMES
BUT before then, I'm concerned that each one of us, individually and as families, be on the LORD's side when He comes. We are from many different people groups, nations, and even religions. Wouldn't it be HONORABLE to be on the LORD's side in ALL OF OUR responsibilities of life AND DUTIES TO GOD when THE LORD comes? We know that ALL of our nations will be shamed, humiliated and be defeated by the might and power of the LORD. So to be wise, we will want the LORD to know that we are on His side, no matter what our background or our nationality. We do not want to be personally shamed and humiliated! God is the One who will be calling all of our nations together to fight against Jerusalem. God will be calling our nations to be defeated! This can be hard for us to understand.
We have to remember that God's view of things is not necessarily the same as man's view. A good man may be thinking that he has the right attitude, but it might be exactly opposite what God wants. Consider the time when Jesus was teaching His disciples plainly that He would suffer many things, be rejected by religious leaders and be killed and after three days rise again. PETER looked at these things from MAN'S VIEW. The One whom Peter was convinced was rabbi, Prophet, Messiah, and even Son of God, was going to be rejected and killed. Rejection and killing of such a One certainly would be a "wrong" by human standards. So Peter told Jesus that He shouldn't be saying such things. He actually rebuked Jesus! But, Jesus in turn rebuked Peter strongly calling him the "adversary." Jesus said that Peter did not have his mind on God's interest, but on man's interest! (recorded by Mark at 8:31-33 and by Matthew at 16:21-23)
The Prophet Joseph, a good godly young man, a son of Jacob (Israel), was sold by his brothers into slavery and was taken to Egypt. There he served as a slave, was falsely accused and spent more than 10 years in prison. Finally, God had him released from prison and raised to be the second in command of the whole country of Egypt under the pharaoh himself. Joseph was made the overseer of all of the food production. The slavery and imprisonment were certainly wrong in man's eyes. But, Joseph recognized God's viewpoint. Afterwards, he told his brothers, "Do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. ... Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God ..." (Genesis 45:5-8) Additionally we read that Joseph said to his brothers, "And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result to preserve many people alive." (Genesis 50:20) The "many people" saved from famine included not just the family of Jacob (Israel), but the people of Egypt who received food during the seven years of famine. This was a blessing from God and His desired result.
ARE YOU FOR US OR AGAINST US? THE CAPTAIN OF THE LORD'S ARMY
There is a very interesting event which occurred when the sons of Israel were near the city of Jericho. Some days before, God had stopped the waters of the Jordan river so that the people of Israel had walked on the dry riverbed from the east bank to the west bank. Memorial stones had been set up as God had commanded. (Joshua chapters 3-5) The men had been circumcised. But, after all of this, Joshua who was the new leader after the death of Moses was still in for a big surprise.
We read the record in the book of Joshua 5:13, "Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and saw a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, 'Are you for us or for our adversaries?'"
Now we would think that question would be very simple to answer. The geopolitical and military tension in the area was great. Some man, with his sword drawn, would either be for the people of Jericho or for the sons of Israel. He would not be for both sides. There should be no two ways about it!
BUT, let's read what this one answered, verses 14-15, "And he said, 'NO, rather I indeed come now as Captain of the Army of the LORD.' At this word, Joshua bowed down, and said to him, 'What has my lord to say to his servant?' The Captain of the LORD's Army said to Joshua, 'Remove your sandals from your feet because the place where you are standing is holy.' And Joshua did so."
This is amazing and it should keep all of us humble. The Captain of the LORD's Army was concerned with matters that were even bigger than the immediate critical geopolitical and military tension of that day. His message regarded the land and its holiness, "Remove your sandals from your feet because the place where you are standing is holy." The message could have been about the land of the people of Canaan or about the sons of Israel. Instead, it was about the holiness of the land. The land was not "holy" because of the presence of the people of Canaan, nor because of the presence of the sons of Israel. It was holy only because of the immediate presence of the Captain of the Army of the LORD! The holiness of God is greater than all of our immediate concerns about land, houses, and rights or wrongs. Joshua bowed down and then was instructed to take off his sandals. If you or I, or any of our political or religious leaders, were there, the command would have been the same, "Remove your sandals from your feet because the place where you are standing is holy."
The request of Joshua, is a good prayer for us to use, "What has my Lord to say to His servant?"
God's viewpoint can be entirely different than our ours. After God knocked down the walls of Jericho, God gave a prophecy through Joshua (perhaps about 1400 B.C.). The ancient city (tell/ruin) of Jericho (Tell El-Sultan) should be left desolate. Perhaps this was to be a reminder sign to later people to go along with God's plan even if it does not match with our own very limited human understanding of God's ways and our place in His ultimate work. Joshua proclaimed God's order, "Cursed before the LORD is the man who rises up and builds this city, Jericho. With the loss of his first born he shall lay the foundation, and with the loss of his youngest son he shall set up the gates." (Joshua 6:26) Was this true? Yes. About 500 years later, in about 874-853 B.C., in the days of King Ahab of Israel, "Hiel of Bethel built Jericho. He laid its foundations with the loss of Abiram, his first born, and set up the gates with the loss of his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the LORD, which He spoke to Joshua the son of Nun." (1st Kings 16:34). God was serious and the prophecy came true! It was tragic for that man and his two sons that he did not accept the warning of God!
GOD AND JERUSALEM
More channels of communication are open today between people for information and entertainment. People can be distracted to hundreds of good things or hundreds of evils. BUT, God is focusing our attention and that of the world on the city of Jerusalem, which is both ancient and modern. Even the most ungodly people are being forced by events to think about Jerusalem.
One of the main purposes for the Temple in Jerusalem was as the place for the substitute sacrifices. Animals were sacrificed there. These were for the sins of the nation and the sins of the individuals. The animals of the substitute sacrifices died instead of the sinners themselves dying as a punishment for their own sins.
Jerusalem is the one city in the world where God had the temple built for His Name. His eyes would be open to it and His ears listening to the prayers offered there. (1st Kings 8:1-66 and 9:1-3)
God is really serious about His commands. During the time of the Prophet/King David in Jerusalem, a plague was brought on the people after a national census. God's law for the sons of Israel was that during a census each individual man who was counted was required to personally give 1/2 shekel of silver to the LORD, or else a plague would come. But, when King David conduced the census, there was NO record that the men gave the 1/2 shekel. Therefore, God brought a great plague on the people. Seventy thousand men died throughout the nation. The Prophet/King David saw a large angel standing on the threshing floor of Araunah a man of Jebus. David bought the threshing floor from Araunah and built and altar and made prayers and sacrifices there. God stopped the plague. (Exodus 30:12-16 & 2nd Samuel 24:1-25) This location is where King David's son, King Solomon, built the Temple about 966 B.C. in Jerusalem.
Almost 300 years after the plague, about 710 B.C., God defended Jerusalem against King Sennachereb and the Assyrian army. God did this, not for the sake of the general population, but as the LORD said, "I will defend this city and save it, for My sake and for the sake of David my servant!" Then "the angel of the LORD went out and killed 185,000 men in the Assyrian camp." (2nd Kings 19;20-37 and Prophet Isaiah 37:21-38)
Later, the Prophet Daniel was in captivity about 880 km/550 mi east of Jerusalem in the city of Babylon in Mesopotamia (under the Medes and Persians). He routinely prayed three times a day, kneeling to the west toward Jerusalem. Darius, the Babylon King, signed a law that no person was to make a petition or prayer to anyone else except the King. The Prophet Daniel continued to pray to God three times daily, kneeling toward Jerusalem. As punishment the Prophet was thrown in a den of lions. God shut the mouths of the lions and saved the life of the Prophet Daniel! (read about it in the Prophet Daniel 6:1-28)
Overall, God is much more concerned about Jerusalem than any person can be concerned because of such person's nationalistic or even religious ideas. God expressed great concern about this earthly Jerusalem and the people of that city. The word "Jerusalem" is specifically used over 800 times in the Bible. We see special references to the "Holy City" in: Nehemiah 11:1 & 18; Psalm 48:1; Prophet Isaiah 48:2 and 52:1; Prophet Jeremiah 31:40; Prophet Daniel 9:16-25; Prophet Zechariah 8:3; Gospel of the Prophet Jesus recorded by St. Matthew 4:5 and 27:53; and The Revelation (Apocalypse) 11:2.
THE NEW JERUSALEM
But God did NOT just identify ONE holy city, nor three holy cities, but He identified TWO holy cities. The FIRST one is the present Jerusalem. The SECOND one is the NEW JERUSALEM! It will be made in Heaven and come down from there from God. There will be a New Earth. This New Jerusalem will be the city where God will dwell with mankind; He will wipe away every tear from our eyes (if we are there) (we cannot imagine what His touch will be like); there will not be any death; no mourning or crying or pain; there will not be any sun or moon because the Glory of God will be the light to illuminate it and the "Lamp" (which radiates the light) will be the "Lamb" of God (a technical term for Jesus the Messiah). There will be a "River of the Water of Life," as clear as crystal, coming from the Throne of God and of the Lamb. The "Tree of Life" will be for the healing of all our ethnic groups. There will not be any curse there. His servants will serve Him. The kings and people of the New Earth will bring the glory and honor of the ethnic groups (nations) into the New Jerusalem. But, nothing unclean and no one who practices abominations and lying shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life. Read details about this in the last two chapters of the Bible, The Revelation (Apocalypse) chapters 21 and 22.
JESUS, PURE SON OF MARYAM, & THE MOUNT OF OLIVES EAST OF JERUSALEM
The first time Jesus came, it was quietly as a baby in Bethlehem. It was not an event which had a lot of public attention. Angels made the birth announcement to some nearby shepherds. The Magians were hundreds of miles away and they saw the special star which lead them on their journey to go worship the newly born King.
About 33 years later toward the end of His earthly ministry, Jesus entered into Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives riding on a donkey, not a horse. This showed everyone that when He came at that time He was not coming as a military conqueror. He did not attack or destroy the Roman army that was in Jerusalem. (recorded by Matthew at 21:1-11)
In the last few days just before His death (and resurrection), the Prophet Jesus gave one of His most serious and stirring messages. He sat there on the Mount of Olives and taught about a terrible future, but also of glorious victory. This message is called the Olivet Discourse or sometimes the Sermon on the Mount of Olives. Details of it were recorded and are found in the record of Matthew in chapters 24 & 25. Jesus told about: false messiahs; wars and rumors of wars [conspiracy theories?]; nations and kingdoms fighting against each other; famines and earthquakes; tribulation; apostasy and betrayal; false prophets misleading many people; increase in lawlessness; love growing cold; the person who endures to the end will be saved; the good news of the Kingdom will be preached in the whole earth for a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24 & 25)
When Jesus ascended into Heaven, from where did He leave? It was from the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem. When this occurred, two heavenly messengers told the witnesses, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into Heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into Heaven." (the Acts 1:11)
Jesus warned His followers that when He comes this next time, we are not to go looking for Him! His coming will be apparent to everyone. He will immediately attract world wide attention. He said, "Just as the lightening comes from the east, and flashes even to the west, so shall be the coming of the Son of Man." (recorded in Matthew 24:27) The term "Son of Man" is a technical term for the "Messiah," the One who is "Anointed" by God, and is first from the Prophet Daniel at 7:13. It might be more adequately translated from the Aramaic language of the Prophet Daniel into English as "Son of Mankind" or "son of humanity." The Aramaic word does NOT refer to a "male" sexually, but rather to "mankind" or "humanity" as a group. Similarly, in the Greek New Testament records where Jesus speaks of "Son of Man," the Greek word for "man" is "anthropou" which again is better translated "mankind" or "humanity." We of course get our English word "anthropology," the study of humanity, from the same Greek word. The "humanity" aspect of the being of Jesus emphasizes His voluntary identification and attachment to the human race. God created the human race. Each one of us had no choice but to be born and be identified with the human race. BUT, Jesus is the only Person who chose to be born of a human mother and to voluntarily identify with we humans! What great love God has for us. Thus Jesus, born of the Virgin, was truly a physical "son of humanity." But, He was NOT a physical son from an immediate male parent. Jesus used the term frequently referring to Himself and His disciples understood this. (recorded in Matthew 16:24-28 & 17:22-23 and Mark 8:31-33, etc.)
As we read above, the Prophet Zechariah (at 14:4) writes that, "And HIS FEET SHALL STAND in that day upon the MOUNT OF OLIVES, which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in the middle from the east to the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall move toward the north, and half of it toward the south." This has never yet happened. Because of our understanding from several different portions of the Scriptures that Jesus will be returning some day in power, we believe that HE is the One who will come and stand on the Mount of Olives. He will be the LORD who will fight against all of our nations (people groups) because by then all of our nations will have gone up to fight against Jerusalem. He will come with all the Holy Ones (saints) with Him. (Prophet Zechariah 14:1-5)
JESUS WARNED, "THEREFORE BE ON THE ALERT,
BECAUSE YOU DO NOT KNOW WHICH DAY YOUR LORD IS COMING!"
Jesus sounded this alert in the last few days before His death and resurrection. (recorded by Matthew at 24:42) How should we live? Jesus gave quite a few commands as recorded by the four recorders of the Good News (Gospel). But right here in Matthew chapters 24 and 25, we can see several points for our faith and practice.
Jesus told His followers, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words shall NOT pass away." (Matthew 24:35) "The coming of the Son of Man will be like it was in the days of Noah. For as in those days which were before the flood, they were eating and drinking, they were marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all way, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be." (24:37-39) "For this reason you be ready too; because the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think." (24:44)
Jesus taught that our family and religious and national leaders are to be servants (slaves) of the Son of Man (Messiah). They are to feed their people physical and spiritual food. They are not to beat them or eat and drink with drunkards. They should realize that the MASTER will return when they don't expect Him and He will bring judgment of death on such evil servants. (24:45-50)
Again Jesus warned, "Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour." (25:13) He explained more points and then said, "And throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (25:30) What shame and humiliation there will be for those who are unfaithful worthless people who should have been proper followers and servants of God.
The Day of Judgment is coming! Jesus will divide the righteous people from the unrighteous accursed people. He said, "When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. And all the ethnic groups ("nations") will be gathered in front of Him. And He will separate them one from the other, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And He will put the sheep at His right, and the goats at the left. Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world. Because 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; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.'" But the people on the right side will ask Him when did they see Him in those conditions and help Him. He, the King, will answer, "Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me." (25:31-40)
But what of the others. "Then He will say to those on His left, 'DEPART from Me, ACCURSED ONES, INTO THE ETERNAL FIRE WHICH HAS BEEN PREPARED FOR THE DEVIL AND HIS ANGELS; because I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick and in prison, and you did not visit Me.'" But then these people on the left side will ask Him when did they see Him in those conditions and not help Him. He, the King, will answer them, "Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did NOT do it to one of the least of these, you did NOT do it to Me." (25:41-45)
Then He says, "And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." (25:46) What great shame and eternal humiliation for the unrighteous people. But, what great honor and eternal joy and blessing for the righteous people.
Earlier in His ministry, Jesus gave an extended message with commandments on how people should live and the faith they should have. He taught about both our thoughts and actions. He commanded that we love our enemies and pray for those people who persecute us. We are to be perfect, as our Father in Heaven is perfect. Here He gave the model prayer, often called "The Lord's Prayer" because He taught it for His followers to pray to the Father. The person(s) praying is in the plural, not the singular. It refers to OUR Father; give US this day OUR daily bread; forgive US OUR sins, as WE forgive those who sin against US; lead US not into temptation, but deliver US from evil. Jesus also commanded them (and us) to "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness..." Also, "Do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." The whole message is usually called The Sermon on the Mount. It is found in the record by Matthew in chapters 5, 6, and 7.
Jesus had some wonderful words of encouragement for a lady who was at the well which the Prophet/Patriarch Jacob had dug in Samaria. This well is beside the modern city of Nabulus on the West Bank. Jacob dug it probably about 1800 or 1900 B.C. Even though the woman at the well that day was a sinner, and of a different nationality, and a different religion, Jesus told her that He could give her and others the Water of Life! "... The water that I shall give ... shall become ... a well of water springing up to eternal life!" Many of the people of city came and heard Jesus teaching. They were from a different race and religion, but they believed and said, "... we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world." Jesus is still the Savior of the world. He can save US yet TODAY and will provide each of us with this spiritual Water of Life IF we ask Him! IF you have never yet asked Him for the Water of Life, you may come to Him now in prayer and ask Him and receive it. This is honorable, being submitted to God and a disciple of the Way which Jesus taught. (recorded by John at 4:4-43)
On another occasion, Jesus Himself gave this invitation, "Come to Me, all who work to exhaustion and have heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke (bond or tie) upon you and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you can find rest for your souls, because My yoke is easy, and My load is light." (recorded by Matthew at 11:28-30)
Dear brothers and sisters, please accept the invitation which Jesus extended right there in Samaria when He said, "The water that I shall give ... shall become ... a well of water springing up to eternal life!" Accept and follow Him. That way, we do not have to be shamed and humiliated on The Day of Judgment. We can look forward to being citizens of the New Jerusalem!
Your friend and brother
ADDITIONAL NOTES: It is recognized that some students of the Bible believe that certain of the prophecies referred to in this article about Jerusalem have somehow already been fulfilled. Usually this means that the promised events are not taken as referring to the named geographical locations, but rather to some spiritual fulfillment, either in heaven or in the church.
But, it seems that besides "spiritualizing" geographical Jerusalem and rejecting its physical importance, these other locations would have to be "spiritualized":
- Mount of Olives (north and south parts)
- new east-west valley dividing Mount of Olives into two parts
- former sea [now Dead Sea, to the east of Jerusalem]
- the hinder sea [Mediterranean Sea, to the west of Jerusalem] [In the ancient Semitic cultures, including of the Bible times, the tops of the maps were to the east. So from Jerusalem, the things in the east were "before," and things west were "behind."]
- Geba [north of Jerusalem]
- Rimmon south of Jerusalem
- Benjamin's gate of Jerusalem
- first gate of Jerusalem
- corner gate of Jerusalem
- tower of Hananeel of Jerusalem
- king's grape-presses of Jerusalem
So far, at the time of this writing, in May 2002, all of the nations have never in history gathered against the city of Jerusalem, nor has the Mount of Olives ever split forming a valley through which people escaped or water flowed. Therefore, the "spiritualizing" and the substitution theories do not seem to be sufficient to destroy the geographical and physical occurrence which God has planned yet for the future. These events will display His supreme power and authority over all of our nations, our leaders, our military establishments, and our factions.
One time a ruler of the Jewish people came to interview Jesus about spiritual matters. Jesus told him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a person is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, 'You must be born from above.'" John 3
The Prophet Moses delivered a message of humility and this reminder to the sons of Israel, "The LORD did not set His affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the LORD loved you and kept his oath he swore to your forefathers [Abraham, Isaac, Jacob] that He brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt." Deuteronomy 7:7-8
The Prophet Jesus taught in the Temple in Jerusalem. (See the record in Matthew 31:12-15; 26:55: Luke 2:46; 19:47; Luke chapters 20-21)