Israel At 40, According to Psalm 102

by Joseph Hunting

In spite of being scattered among the nations for nineteen centuries Israel has plenty to show for its forty years of Statehood. Also after two thousand five hundred years of Gentile domination, wars and total destruction by invading armies Jerusalem is now the unified capital of this miracle nation at least partially fulfilling the remarkable prophecy of Psalm 102 verses 13 to 16. "Thou shalt arise and have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favour her, yea, the set (specific or designated) time is come. For thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favour the dust thereof. So the heathen shall fear the name of the LORD, and all the kings of the earth thy glory. WHEN THE LORD SHALL BUILD UP ZION HE SHALL APPEAR IN HIS GLORY."

I recently returned from my sixth visit to Israel since 1960, and seven years had elapsed since my last visit. Never had I seen the Holy Land looking so lovely. It was spring time and after the wettest winter for thirty years even the once desolate hills were lush and wild flowers were in abundance. Magnificent crops of wheat and barley had transformed the once desolate northern Negev. Wildflowers in this region made me think of Isaiah's prophecy that "The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose" (35:1).

And the Old City of Jerusalem with its massive ramparts, towers and domes was looking more beautiful than I had seen it before. By day the landscaped gardens surrounding its walls were ablaze with colour and at night the flood-lit walls had an ethereal beauty.

Inside the walls the ancient and modern dwellings in the Jewish sector of the city were a masterpiece of archaeological and architectural co-operation and planning. Both blend in so beautifully it almost seems that it was originally intended to be that way. Tastefully designed modern apartments and an ancient wall built by King Hezekiah 2,700 years ago are side by side. Roman columns and the main Roman thoroughfare called the Cardo have been restored under the present buildings of the Old City.

For those in search of further archaeological surprises you can pass through a doorway and go down a few steps to gaze in awe at the opulence of wealthy Herodian Jews and their life-style before the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 A.D., as at least six large homes from that period have been excavated.

But it was the amazing development of modern Jerusalem that had taken place since my previous visit that riveted my attention on Psalm 102. Whilst Jaffa Road was just as choked with traffic and buses as it had been on my previous visits, it was the transformation of the mountains surrounding Jerusalem that brings this ancient prophecy to life.

The population of Jerusalem has exploded. Not only is it the largest city in Israel but it is also the fastest growing one. Those ancient mountains surrounding Jerusalem witnessed David transforming the Jebusite city into the Capital of his kingdom. David fell in love with Jerusalem and sang its praises in his psalms, "Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth is Mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King" ( 48:2).

They also witnessed the city's destruction by Nebuchadnezzar and, again, six hundred years later, by the Romans. They witnessed the bloody battles fought over it by the Crusaders and the Saracens. They saw its walls rebuilt by Suleiman the Magnificent. Then finally they saw the fall of the Ottoman empire and fifty years later the miracle that reunited Jerusalem after long centuries of Gentile overlordship.

And now those very mountains are clothed with new suburbs giving tangible testimony to the soon coming of Israel's Messiah-King-Redeemer, for "WHEN THE LORD SHALL BUILD UP ZION, HE SHALL APPEAR IN HIS GLORY."