by Joseph Hunting

What paradox surrounds this universal Hebrew greeting — Shalom! (Peace!). Although it has been used from time immemorial, for the past forty years it has been the greeting and farewell in the land that has known anything but peace.

Shalom is probably the first Hebrew word that a Gentile hears when he first sets foot on Israel's soil. And it is possible that it will be the only Hebrew word he will remember long after all others are forgotten. No other greeting, in whatever country, can compare with Shalom! As a greeting.

Mankind's Futile Quest for Peace

Within my own life span there have been two world wars which combine to be the greatest blood-baths in human history, besides lesser conflicts too numerous to mention. In spite of glasnost and the current nuclear arms reduction by the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.A., these two world powers have more than sufficient nuclear war heads to destroy all life on planet earth. How odd that mankind should desire peace so desperately yet produce more and more effective forms of mass killing ever since man learned to fit a stone to a sling or an arrow to a bow!

Is there no way we can be prevented from periodic outbursts of war insanity? As we haven't been able to come up with a viable formula for world peace, including the League of Nations and the United Nations, over a period of recorded history covering six thousand years, we are forced to an emphatic answer "No!"

The Solution

The solution to the problem of peace lies with the city that hasn't known lasting peace for its entire history of over four thousand years. That city is Jerusalem, the city over which more wars have been fought and more blood spilt than any other city on earth. What a paradox!

But why Jerusalem? Because I believe there will never be lasting peace on this earth until there is peace in Jerusalem, and the Bible commands us to "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem", with the added incentive: "May they prosper who love you" (Psalm 122:6).

We may search in vain for a formula for world peace apart from that which the Bible gives. Tragically, apart from the forty years of peace and prosperity that Jerusalem enjoyed during the reign of Solomon, Jerusalem, the city of peace, has had more than its share of wars and political upheaval. Even today, the nations of the world prefer Tel Aviv in which to host their embassies than Israel's capital. What craven bowing to Arab oil pressure!

We would do well to ponder Isaiah's anguished cry over Jerusalem: "For Zion's sake I will not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a lamp that burns . . . I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem, who shall never hold their peace day nor night. You who make mention of the LORD, do not keep silent, and give Him no rest until He establishes and till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth" (62:1,6,7).

Jerusalem 's destiny hung in the balance nearly two thousand years ago. Prior to its total destruction by the Romans in 70 AD, Yeshua wept over the Holy City with these poignant words: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent unto her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. See, your house is left unto you desolate; for I say to you, You shall see Me no more till you shall say, Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord" (Matthew 23:37-39).

How true His words proved to be! The magnificent Temple, or "house" , was totally destroyed and has never been rebuilt. Left "desolate" indeed! He also made a further reference to Jerusalem that is worthy of our attention: "Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled" (Luke 21:24).

The June War of 1967 saw the end of Gentile domination of Jerusalem that had spanned the centuries since Nebuchadnezzar over-ran Jerusalem in 586 BCE. But true and lasting peace in Jerusalem seems as elusive as ever. The mafia-like elements of the PLO that control Arab interests and businesses in the Old City effectively prevent amicable relations between Jew and Arab.

Sar Shalom, Prince of Peace

Many Bible students believe that there will be a true and lasting peace in Jerusalem only when the One designated by Isaiah as the "Prince of Peace" reigns there upon the throne of David, as it is written: Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom to order it and to establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this" (9:7).

Zechariah's great end-time prophecy of Jerusalem links the Holy City and the house of David in a time of grief and mourning for the One who was pierced, the same One who wept and mourned over Jerusalem. Let the prophet describe the scene: "And I will pour upon the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look unto Me whom they have pierced; they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for his firstborn" (12:10).

Only when Sar Shalom, the Divinely-appointed Prince of Peace establishes His rule in Jerusalem will there be peace that shall have no end, "For the zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this."