The Importance of Praying for Israel and the Peace of Jerusalem

16 June 2023

7.1 MINS

Most people would have heard of the proposed two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians.  Such a solution is not Biblical, as the God of Israel did in fact give the whole of the land to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, that is, the Jews.  Nevertheless, from a political perspective, to most of the world having two states seems like the perfect answer which will bring lasting peace.

One of the hindrances to this two-state solution is the status of Jerusalem.  The Palestinians say they want East Jerusalem as their capital.  However, this is something Israel is very reluctant to agree to.  But why is that?  Why isn’t Israel happy for Palestine to have East Jerusalem as its capital, while Israel has West Jerusalem as its capital?

Before I answer that question, I would like to look at why Jerusalem is so important from a scriptural point of view.

Importance of Jerusalem in Scripture

The Bible makes it clear that Jerusalem is God’s special city and that He chose it to be His dwelling place.

Since the day that I brought My people out of the land of Egypt, I have chosen no city from any tribe of Israel in which to build a house, that My name might be there, nor did I choose any man to be a ruler over My people Israel.  Yet I have chosen Jerusalem, that My name may be there; and I have chosen David to be over My people Israel.  (2 Chronicles 6:5-6 NKJV)

For the Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His dwelling place: “This is My resting place forever; here I will dwell, for I have desired it.”  (Psalm 132:13-14 NKJV)

We see in this last verse that God’s choosing of Jerusalem was not just for a short time, or maybe ceased two thousand years ago when the Jews were scattered around the world and no longer had their own nation.  It is forever.  That means up to the present day.

David made Jerusalem his capital when he became king over all the tribes of Israel, and God’s temple was built there.  It has remained Israel’s capital ever since, if not in practice, then in the hearts of the Jewish people.  It is a very special and sacred place to them.  All through the centuries of them being scattered, they have said, “Next year in Jerusalem.”

God likewise chose Jerusalem to be the place where His Son, Jesus, the Messiah, was to die and then rise again from the dead.  Jerusalem was the City of David and Jesus was the Son of David, both as David’s physical descendant and as His spiritual heir, the rightful King over Jerusalem and Israel.

Map 1UN Partition Plan 29 November 1947: Jerusalem a “corpus separatum” – separate body internationally administered

Map 1
UN Partition Plan
29 November 1947:
Jerusalem a “corpus separatum” – separate body internationally administered.

Recent History of Jerusalem

In order to understand the current issues regarding Jerusalem, it’s necessary to know something of its recent history.

When the United Nations presented their proposed partition plan in 1947, which divided the land into Jewish and Arab states, Jerusalem was intended to be a separate entity, officially called a “corpus separatum”, under international administration and not part of any state (Map 1).

When Israel first declared statehood on 14 May 1948, just over 75 years ago, it had to fight a war with the surrounding Arab countries which attacked it (the War of Independence).

By the end of this war, Israel had won a lot of land that it had not originally been assigned in the partition plan, including the west part of Jerusalem (Map 2).  On 5 December 1949, the first Israeli Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, declared Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel.

Israel

Map 2
State of Israel after the War of Independence:
Jerusalem divided

After the War of Independence, part of the eastern border of the country was defined by the 1949 Armistice Line, which is known as the Green Line (Map 2).  This line separated the official State of Israel from the West Bank.  The line divided Jerusalem, with Israel having West Jerusalem, and East Jerusalem belonging to the country of Jordan.  This division can be seen more clearly in Map 3.

Israel

Map 3
Jerusalem city boundaries

In 1967, Israel was again attacked in what is known as the Six-Day War.  During this war, Israel captured East Jerusalem (along with the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights).  Israel subsequently expanded the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem to include East Jerusalem, effectively annexing it (the blue line on Map 3).  Then in 1980, the Israeli government passed the Jerusalem Law, ratifying the 1967 annexation of East Jerusalem and declaring all of Jerusalem, both East and West, to be the complete and unified capital of Israel.

The majority of the international community, however, still does not believe that Israel has a legal right to Jerusalem, be that East or West.  The United Nations still says that Jerusalem should be a “corpus separatum”, and consequently the UN and most of the world’s countries refuse to recognise even West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, never mind East Jerusalem.  There is an especially great outcry whenever Israel dares to build housing for its Jewish population in East Jerusalem!

Almost all the countries’ embassies are located in Tel Aviv, the USA being a notable exception, having moved its embassy to Jerusalem on 14 May 2018.  A handful of other countries have followed suit.  Australia did recognise West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2018 under the Morrison government; however, this recognition was reversed in October 2022 under the Albanese government.  Australia’s official position is that the status of Jerusalem should be decided through negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

Importance of Jerusalem to Israel

The international community consistently proposes the Green Line as the rightful border between Israel and Palestine, meaning Israel would retain West Jerusalem while the Palestinians have East Jerusalem.  This proposal is unacceptable to Israel, which wants all of Jerusalem to remain as its capital.  But why is that?

One of the main issues is where exactly the border lies between East and West Jerusalem.  It is not always realised that the Green Line actually runs to the west of the Old City, as can be seen on Map 3.  This means that all the Old City, including the Jewish quarter, the Western (Wailing) Wall and the Temple Mount, is officially part of East Jerusalem (nos. 1-2 on Map 4) and thus would be part of the Palestinian capital.

The Temple Mount is the most sacred site in Judaism, but even now the Jews are restricted from being able to worship freely there, since it is still officially under Jordan’s authority and only Muslim prayers are allowed, not Jewish nor Christian or any other kind.  Thus for the most part the Jews have to content themselves with merely the Western Wall, which is simply a retaining wall for the mount.

If the Old City becomes part of a Palestinian capital, the Jews will not have access to these sites.  Israel currently allows Muslims access to freely worship at their sacred sites, but the Palestinians would not allow Jews the same access.  The Palestinian Authority does not even acknowledge that the Jews have any historical connection to the Temple Mount or Jerusalem.

East Jerusalem also includes the original site of the City of David, south of the Temple Mount (no. 3 on Map 4), where archaeologists are constantly finding new evidence of the Jewish history of the area including what is possibly David’s palace.  Thus, all of ancient Jerusalem as it existed at the time of David and at the time of the first temple is currently part of East Jerusalem.

It also includes sites important to Christianity, such as the Mount of Olives, the Garden of Gethsemane and both possible sites of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, the Garden Tomb and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (nos. 4-7 on Map 4).  Should these all become part of a Palestinian capital, it is very possible that Christians also would not be able to have the same free access to these sites that we do now.

Jerusalem, Israel

Map 4
Jerusalem (detail), showing sites important to Jews and Christians in East Jerusalem.
1. Jewish Quarter and Western Wall
2. Temple Mount
3. City of David
4. Mount of Olives
5. Garden of Gethsemane
6. Garden Tomb
7. Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Consequently, we can understand why Israel would wish to, and indeed should, retain all of Jerusalem as its capital.  In practice, although the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem, they also actually want all of Jerusalem and, indeed, all of the land.  However, as stated at the outset, we know that God intends the whole land, including the West Bank (Biblical Judea and Samaria), to be for His chosen people, the Jews!

With two peoples competing over the same city and the same land, it’s no wonder that no two-state solution has yet been able to be implemented.  As Christians, we can understand from a spiritual perspective why Jerusalem is so hotly contested, as being God’s city, the spiritual centre of the world (Map 5).

Jerusalem, Israel

Map 5
“The Whole World in a Cloverleaf”, Heinrich Bünting, 1581, depicting Jerusalem as the centre of the world.

The Future

God has promised that He will choose Jerusalem again.

“Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion! For behold, I am coming and I will dwell in your midst,” says the Lord. … “And the Lord will take possession of Judah as His inheritance in the Holy Land, and will again choose Jerusalem.”  (Zechariah 2:10, 12 NKJV)

With the rebirth of the nation of Israel 75 years ago and the declaration of Jerusalem as its capital, we are close to the fulfilment of this scripture!  Judah, which is referred to here, is part of the West Bank, which is currently claimed by the Palestinians.  But the Bible says it is God’s inheritance and He will possess it as well as Jerusalem.

Thus says the Lord of hosts: “I am zealous for Zion with great zeal; with great fervour I am zealous for her.” Thus says the Lord: “I will return to Zion, and dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be called the City of Truth, the Mountain of the Lord of hosts, the Holy Mountain.”  (Zechariah 8:2-3 NKJV)

This promise that God will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem will ultimately be fulfilled when Jesus returns.  He will return to the Mount of Olives, which is in East Jerusalem.  To God, there is no division between West and East Jerusalem.  The whole city is His city, “the City of Truth, the Mountain of the Lord.”

It is therefore important to pray for Jerusalem!  We are to give God no rest until Jerusalem is made a praise in the earth.

You who make mention of the Lord, do not keep silent, and give Him no rest till He establishes and till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth. (Isaiah 62:6b-7 NKJV)

___

Photo by Haley Black.

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5 Comments

  1. Barbara Bluett 16 June 2023 at 2:40 pm - Reply

    Thanks Sue, that is excellent.

  2. Ian Moncrieff. 16 June 2023 at 2:42 pm - Reply

    Thank you Sue……Good and vital information in your article.
    “And the Lord will take possession of Judah as His inheritance in the Holy Land, and will again choose Jerusalem.” (Zechariah 2:10, 12 NKJV)
    Next year in Jerusalem!

  3. Kaylene Emery 16 June 2023 at 7:57 pm - Reply

    Your article is masterful Sue.
    Mazel Tov and thank you.

  4. Leonie Robson 19 June 2023 at 6:39 pm - Reply

    An awesome synopsis.
    Thanks so much.

  5. Jim 23 August 2023 at 8:40 pm - Reply

    The Hebrews were (past tense) Gods chosen people, not ‘the Jews’ , they were only one of the twelve tribes. The Hebrews broke the covenant & subsequently were scattered leading to dispossession of the land known as Isreal. In AD times, Isreal is the body of believers of Jesus Christ around the world, it is not a place. In order for a Jew to be saved they must believe on Jesus Christ, just the same as anyone else. Jesus died for all people including Palestinians & Jews. Modern day Judaism has absolutely nothing in common with the tribe of Judah (Jews) of the Old Testament, it has much more in common with satanism. At its core that’s what modern day (Babylonian) Judaism is. The Talmud is the codification of the ‘Tradition of the elders’ that Jesus was so scathing about. To think that the Jews are Gods chosen people is just nuts, & to think that these people have a claim on the place referred to as Israel is just nuts also. Christian Zionism is a cancer in the Christian church & has no place within Christianity. It exists because of the corrupted Codex Sianaticus has made its way into most modern bibles, instead of using the original Textus receptus of the KJV, Bishops bible, Geneva bible etc. we have an enemy, he is the devil & rest assured he is fixed on destroying the Christian church, & he is making a good fist of it. Christians need to be aware that we are the declared enemy of Talmudic Jews, they believe the Jesus is in hell boiling in excrement, this is in their Talmud & can be found by anyone interested in doing so. I apologise if I seem abrasive or controversial here, it’s not my intention, to be so, however I’m just saying it as it is, people can believe or disbelieve as they se fit.

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