On Wednesday, May 24th, 2017, the nation of Israel and the Jewish people will celebrate “יום ירושלים” – “Yom Yerushalayim” – “Jerusalem Day.” Jerusalem Day was established to honor the reunification of Jerusalem under the control of the Jewish people after more than 2000 years.
Jerusalem was officially reunited as one city under Jewish control on June 7th, 1967 in the middle of the famous Six-Day War (June 5-10, 1967). According to the Hebrew calendar, June 7th, 1967, the day that the Old City of Jerusalem came under Israeli control, was the 28th of Iyar, 5727. The yearly anniversary of this Hebrew date is adjusted to the Gregorian calendar and that is why Jerusalem Day is observed on various dates other than June 7th; for example this year when it will be celebrated on May 24th.
Celebrating the Reunification of Jerusalem
Jerusalem Day brings the Jewish people together from all over Israel to the city of Jerusalem to walk through its streets, to carry the Israeli flag, and to march together into the Old City of Jerusalem to what is considered to be the most holy place in Judaism today, the Western Wall of the Temple Mount. There is no other place than Jerusalem that stands as the capital of the nation of Israel and the spiritual center of Judaism.
This year, 2017 or 5777 on the Hebrew calendar, is a significant year because it marks the fiftieth anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem. There are many special events taking place in Jerusalem this year to celebrate this day, including the showing of a new movie which is called “In Our Hands,” a documentary detailing the thrilling events of the Six Day War. This movie will also be showing in the USA for one day only, May 23, 2017. I would encourage those of you who are able to find a theater near you. For more details, checkout their website: In His Hands
The Jerusalem Controversy
For many Jewish people and some Christians, the reunification of Jerusalem is considered to be a biblical right and a sign of the times. However, there are also many in this world (Jews, Christians, and others) that see the reunification of Jerusalem as an event that simply brought turmoil to the Middle East and they do not believe that there is any biblical basis for it. Most of the Arab world, as well as politicians around the globe, believe that what the nation of Israel did by conquering Jerusalem in 1967 was a great tragedy and they are demanding that Israel return East Jerusalem to the nation of Jordan or to the Palestinian people.
Just this past week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made extremely provocative statements against the nation of Israel for its “Judaization” of Jerusalem as he called on Muslims to flood the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Erdoğan is also quoted as saying, “Each day that Jerusalem is under occupation is an insult to us,…” Erdoğan was speaking at the International Forum on al-Quds Waqf in Istanbul. To read more about the speech that Erdoğan made and his rhetoric against Israel, you can visit this site: Erdoğan
After Israel officially annexed the Old City of Jerusalem in 1980, every foreign embassy represented in the nation of Israel moved from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, as a sign of protest. These events gave birth to a Christian organization called the ICEJ (The International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem), whose leaders decided to stand with Israel and show the loyalty of Evangelical Christians to the state of Israel with its capital at Jerusalem.
The Politics of Jerusalem
In 1995, the United States Congress passed a bill called the Jerusalem Embassy Act in support of the nation of Israel which appropriated funds for the US embassy to move the embassy from Tel Aviv back to Jerusalem by no later then May 31, 1999. This bill has been postponed every six months by consecutive US presidents ever since on the grounds of national security.
The current US President, Donald Trump, has made promises in the past that he will break the status quo and actually act upon this bill to begin taking the steps necessary to move the US embassy back to Jerusalem. The current waiver for postponing the embassy expires on May 31, 2017. President Trump will have to act before this date to keep his word.
As part of his first international tour, President Trump will be visiting Israel on May 22-23, 2017. Trump’s visit takes place one day before the celebration of Jerusalem Day. It will be interesting to see what Trump will say about this issue of moving the US embassy during his visit in Israel and what he will ultimately decide during the next couple of weeks as he has great pressure from both sides to act either for or against.
If Trump chooses to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem he will make good on his promise and show his support to the nation of Israel and the Jewish people. On the other side, there may be reactions from Arab nations, Arab Palestinians, and various world leaders, especially as represented at the UN. If Trump chooses to not move the embassy to Jerusalem, he will be maintaining the status quo by giving in to the fear of political pressure.
The Land of Israel
Whatever President Trump decides regarding the location of the US embassy in Israel, the city of Jerusalem will continue to be the capital of Israel and the focal point of contention for the nations of the world. The great polarization of the city of Jerusalem has less to do with politics and everything to do with God and His Word.
The nation of Israel today has been established on the same rock and soil that God promised to the Israelites after they came out of Egypt. When the LORD gave instructions to the Israelites through His prophet Moses in the desert, God explained to them the special nature of the Promised Land that they would inherit: “The land, moreover, shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are but aliens and sojourners with Me.” (Lev. 25:23) The Land of Israel, with Jerusalem at its center, was always to be considered God’s property with the Israelites given the right to join God on His beautiful Land.
God gave the Israelites a covenant to keep while they lived in the Land of Israel and this covenant provided special instructions relating to God, to other human beings, and to the Land itself. The Land of Israel was chosen and set apart as God’s property, just as the people of Israel were chosen and set apart as God’s people.
Jerusalem is God’s City
Jerusalem was not randomly chosen as the capital of Israel. God Himself chose Jerusalem as the place of communal worship for the Israelites and even stated that He would establish His Name upon this city:
But you shall seek the LORD at the place which the LORD your God will choose from all your tribes, to establish His name there for His dwelling, and there you shall come.” (Deut. 12:5)
After the Exodus, the LORD dwelt in the midst of the children of Israel by means of the Tabernacle which moved with the children of Israel wherever they went. In due time however, the LORD revealed to King David the exact place where his son Solomon was to build a more permanent structure in the city of Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 3:1).
Jerusalem is the city that God singled out from all of the cities of Israel and the place where He chose to establish His Name. Jerusalem was to be the central place of worship and a beacon of light to the world:
Thus says the LORD God, ‘This is Jerusalem; I have set her at the center of the nations, with lands around her’… – Ezekiel 5:5
The Land of Israel was to be a unique piece of real estate on this earth with Jerusalem as its center. In the heart of God, Jerusalem is to be a city that is to display the glory of God to the nations.
The Past, Present, & Future of Jerusalem
The Bible is crystal clear that God has chosen Jerusalem out of all the cities of this world with a special purpose to bring glory to Himself. We first read about Jerusalem before it is even named during the account of Abraham bringing his son Isaac up to the mountain of Moriah where God tested him (Gen. 22). Mount Moriah is the location of the Temple Mount which is in present day Jerusalem.
Jerusalem has had a significant past, it is currently having a very contentious present, and the Bible promises that Jerusalem has a prophetic future:
Now it will come about that in the last days the mountain of the house of the LORD will be established as the chief of the mountains, and will be raised above the hills; and all the nations will stream to it. And many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; that He may teach us concerning His ways and that we may walk in His paths.” For the law will go forth from Zion and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And He will judge between the nations, and will render decisions for many peoples; and they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they learn war. – Isaiah 2:1-4
Anyone who believes in God’s Word cannot deny that Jerusalem is still a significant city in the eyes of God. God still has a future for Jerusalem and the nations will one day submit to the will of the Father in heaven when they come to worship in this city and on this mountain.
A Shining City on Hill
Politicians will come and go while making their human decisions regarding Jerusalem. UN resolutions will continue to unfairly judge the nation of Israel and its claim on Jerusalem as its capital. And Jerusalem will also continue to be the cause of much contention throughout the world. Despite all of this, there will come a day when Jerusalem will take its place on the world stage and be the shining light on a hill that the LORD Almighty has destined her to be.
Shabbat Shalom – We welcome your comments below!
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Torah Portion: Lev. 25:1 – Lev. 27:34
Haftara: Jer. 16:19 – Jer. 17:14
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