Editorial - Jeruslaem, A Cup of Trembling

by Joseph Hunting

Two thousand five hundred years ago the prophet Zechariah spoke of a coming day when the Lord "will make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it." (Zechariah 12:3).

Since the rebirth of the State of Israel in 1948 Jerusalem has had more than its share of the media's attention. Why? Surely there are other cities that have a far larger population, or far greater scenic attractions or which may have greater political prestige.

Since 1948 Israel's claim to Jerusalem as its capital has been hotly contested by Arab and Moslem countries as well as China, Soviet Russia and her satellite communist countries, India, South-East Asian countries and a number of the Black African States. Even Israel's closest ally, the U.S.A., does not officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital!

With such a massive bloc which included the Vatican for good measure it would appear that Zechariah did not exaggerate when he foretold a time when all the people of the earth would be aligned against Jerusalem.

If the old adage that "thirty million Frenchmen can't be wrong" is true then Israel's claim to Jerusalem can not stand up.

However, I believe that Israel's claim to Jerusalem as its capital is authentic in spite of overwhelming opinion to the contrary. Why? Because Israel's roots are intertwined in Jerusalem's earliest history — a time when mankind's secular history is shrouded in fragmentary archaeological evidence, a time when Israel's beginnings were documented in detail in the Bible, where we find recorded Israel's history past, present and future.

For instance, the first Hebrew, the ancestor of the Jewish race, Abraham, paid tithes to the king of Salem as Jerusalem was then called. Then they dined together.

Centuries later David captured Jerusalem from the Jebusites. At that time the city was located on the Ophel ridge, a small area bounded by the Hinnom and Kidron valleys. Its earliest name was Zion. Now listen to David's own words and the Lord's reply: "I will not give sleep to mine eyes, nor slumber to mine eyelids, until I find out a place for the Lord, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob."

The Lord's reply to David is worthy of note. "The Lord hath sworn in truth unto David; He will not turn from it; of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne ... For the Lord hath chosen Zion; He hath desired it for His habitation. This is My rest forever: here will I dwell for I have desired it." (Psalm 132).

In his lifetime David extended the bounds of the city, but it was during the reign of his famous son Solomon that Jerusalem's international status was established as the centre of Hebrew culture, wisdom and justice. It is interesting to observe that Jerusalem was the centre of civilization when many of the nations that oppose Israel's claim to the Holy city were in a highly uncivilized state.

Jerusalem remained the capital of Israel for a millennium with the exception of the seventy year Babylonian captivity, until the Romans destroyed the city in 70 A.D. During the centuries that followed Jerusalem was overturned and rebuilt several times. Although a number of nations fought over it and possessed it for a time, none claimed it as their capital until Israel was reborn on May 14th 1948.

Was that momentous event the catalyst that set in motion the train of events that catapulted Jerusalem centre stage in the eyes of the world?

During 1948 the Jordanians illegally occupied Jerusalem when the Jewish defenders were outnumbered and they then set about desecrating and destroying Jewish synagogues with their priceless scrolls. Even Jewish tombstones were used for the construction of latrines and housing.

On June 7th 1967 Israeli forces recaptured Jerusalem and immediately tore down the barricades and barbed wire and opened the gates of the Old City for all who would worship there, Jew, Arab and Christian -- it made no difference.

Then began a massive clean-up programme with thousands of tons of debris being removed. Electricity, water and sewerage improved the lot of Jerusalem's inhabitants. The areas surrounding the walls of Jerusalem were landscaped with gardens and paths. The transformation was breathtaking.

The city that for centuries was an isolated backwater in the affairs of mankind again throbbed with vibrant life. In less than ten years it became Israel's largest city and still continues to grow apace.

And in spite of threatened embargoes and boycotts Prime Minister Begin in 1980 announced what was already an established fact -- that Jerusalem was the indivisible, non-negotiable capital of the State of Israel. And in doing so he was endorsing for Jewish people everywhere what the Lord had sworn to David three thousand years ago and what Bible-believing people world-wide affirm with a hearty AMEN!