Glimpses of Israel - The Jerusalem I Love

by Joseph H Hunting

My love affair with Jerusalem began long before I ever set eyes on her. It began about 45 years ago when I began reading the Bible with more than passing interest.

Cities are cities the world over. Of the ones I know best in Australia, Sydney has a magnificent harbour, Melbourne has gardens that rank with the finest in the world, but I read in the Bible of another city that was "Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth … Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God has shined ... For the Lord has chosen Zion: He has desired it for His habitation" (Psalm 48,50,132).

In 1960 I first set eyes on the Jerusalem spoken of in another Psalm as the focus of the longing felt by those in exile: "If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember you, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy" (137). In those days Jordan controlled the Holy City. Because my Australian Passport had been stamped with the word ISRAEL when I arrived at Ben Gurion airport I was not permitted to enter the Old City.

It was my unforgettable experience to visit Israel again not long after the Six Day War in 1967. What a transformation was taking place! Gone were the barriers and barbed wire and machine guns. In their place the Gates of Zion were flung open and I remembered that "The Lord loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob" . My wife and I will never forget the thrill of being able to join the throngs of people: Jews, Arabs and tourists that passed in and out of the Holy City through those gates. We walked through them all -- the Damascus, New, Herod's, Lion's, Dung, Zion and Jaffa Gates. And yes, there was another gate that is still shut -- the Golden Gate, for "This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter in by it; because the LORD, the God of Israel, has entered in by it, therefore it shall be shut" (Ezekiel 44:2),

I have visited Jerusalem several times since then and every time there is something new. First, thousands of tons of debris and filth left by the Jordanians were removed. Then began the beautification program with the landscaping and gardens that now surround the walls. Then archaeologists uncovered long-forgotten areas of ancient Jerusalem.

But Jerusalem's true splendour and glory are yet to be revealed when the Messiah makes this city His throne, and "the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea" (Habakkuk 2:14).