Editorial - Peace Be Upon Israel

"Peace be upon Israel!"

"Pray for the peace of Jerusalem"

Psalm 125:5; 122:6

The prospect of there being "peace upon Israel" which is what the Psalmist prayed, is bound up with the "peace of Jerusalem" (Psalm 126:6), for which we are all exhorted to pray. The two are dependent upon each other. One will not eventuate without the other.

And as the fate of Jerusalem has been making the headlines in our daily news bulletins for months now, we need to remember that although the adherents of Islam make quite vocal claims to the city, especially its holy places, nowhere in the Koran is the name of Jerusalem to be found.

Their claim on the grounds of former proprietorship of the Holy City is a complete furphy, only too readily accepted by the world's media, and therefore probably by most of their readers, their listeners and their viewers. But even as far back as Nehemiah's day we read that Nehemiah spoke to "Sanballet the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite and Geshem the Arab . . . 'The God of heaven himself will prosper us . . . but you have no heritage or right or memorial in Jerusalem'" (2:19-29).

On the other hand, although nowhere in the Koran is Jerusalem mentioned, in the Bible Jerusalem takes centre stage from the time King David captured the fortress from the Jebusites and made the city the capital of his kingdom. He even paid hard cash, "fifty shekels of silver", to Ornan the Jebusite for the site where the Temple later stood, as recorded in Second Samuel chapter 24.

The Lord God Himself chose the city of Jerusalem: "For the LORD has chosen Zion; he has desired it for his habitation: 'This is my resting place for ever; here will I dwell, for I have desired it'" (Psalm 132:13,14). It is called "the city of the great King" (Psalm 48:2), God Himself being "the great King."

In future days Jerusalem will be not only the point of controversy between the Moslem nations and Israel, but finally the venue for battle, with the Lord taking the initiative. He said: "I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem" (Zechariah 14:2), and this will be the beginning of the end for those ranged against Him, against His city, against His people, and against His land.

Political leaders will never, indeed can never, organize lasting peace in the Middle East. The task requires almighty God. He is the Divine Owner of the land: "The land shall not be sold permanently, for the land is mine . . . " (Leviticus 25:23); He chose the city for Himself: "I have chosen Jerusalem that my name may be there" (2 Chronicles 6:6); and He chose Israel for Himself: "The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth" (Deuteronomy 7:6).

He is the One to be consulted and sought in prayer, which is why we are told to "pray for the peace of Jerusalem" that "peace may be upon Israel!"