This Place: Jerusalem

by Kenneth J Price

"Thus saith the Lord GOD: 'This is Jerusalem:

I have set it in the midst of the nations

And countries that are round about her'"

Jerusalem , habitation of peace, and yet in the Bible at least twelve sieges of Jerusalem are recorded. And when we consider secular history we can name eighteen sieges, and archaeologists have revealed through their excavations that there are at least nine strata of civilizations in Jerusalem, which reveals that the city has been destroyed and rebuilt many times.

Ezekiel, speaking from the heart of the Lord, makes it clear that God has made Jerusalem central. Jerusalem is historically central; Jerusalem is geographically central; Jerusalem is also spiritually central.

The city is mentioned over eight hundred times in Scripture. It was the capital of Israel from the time that David was anointed king over the twelve tribes until Nebuchadnezzar, and it became the captial of restored Israel in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, but was totally destroyed in 70 A.D.

THIS PLACE: the historical Record

To trace Jerusalem's historical centrality we are taken back to Genesis chapter 14 where we are introduced to Melchizedek, King of Salem, who "brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High" . Then we come on in the historical record of the city to the wonderful and deeply moving account of the beginning of substitution (Genesis 22) when Abraham showed his willingness and obedience to God in offering his son Isaac as an offering to God. The Lord, seeing his willingness interfered with his act of obedience and accepted it as fully completed by providing a ram in the thicket in place of Isaac so that Abraham could still offer his sacrifice and yet spare his son.

What rapturous joy must have filled the heart of Abraham when, while he was willing to offer in worship the best possession and dearest treasure that he had, he saw God's provision of the ram in the thicket!

"And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the Angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, 'Do not lay your hand of the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.' Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. And Abraham called the name of the place, The LORD-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, 'In the Mount of the LORD it shall be provided.'"

Surely this was the time when God chose THIS PLACE to place His name there. Throughout the Testament record constantly we read of THIS PLACE where God has chosen to place His name. This is Jerusalem.

THIS PLACE of Sin's Sacrifice

As we follow the record through we see the importance of THIS PLACE. There came a time when pride overtook David the king, and this was shown in the numbering of the people, contrary to the demand and command of God, and despite Joab's faithful protest to the king. David still insisted on numbering the people. Consequently God's judgement came upon the nation.

However, God in His mercy sent Gad, David's seer, to instruct him in his repentance, and God offered David a choice with regard to the punishment He would bring. Further instruction was made clear through Gad that David was to go to THAT PLACE where God had already placed His name, and the instruction was clear. "Go up, erect an altar to the LORD on the threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite.' So David, according to the word of Gad, went up as the LORD commanded. (II Samuel 42:18,19).

So it was established by God Himself, THIS PLACE of sin's sacrifice, the place King David bought from Araunah being the very site of Jerusalem, the place where God's hand was stayed, the very place where God accepted the king's sacrifice.

THIS PLACE: the Place for God's Name

"Now Solomon began to build the house of the LORD at Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the LORD had appeared to his father David, at the place that David had prepared on the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite" (II Chronicles 3:1). So here, in the Temple, at THIS PLACE, sin's sacrifice would be made for the people, and all that was laid down with regard to the atonement would be offered here at THIS PLACE in the Temple, day by day and year by year.

Because it is by atonement that reconciliation is made with God, and this brings spiritual union and blessing, not only to a nation but also to every individual, therefore we see the spiritual centrality associated with the historical centrality of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is where God has chosen to place His name, and this has never been withdrawn or changed. THIS PLACE is geographically central; THIS PLACE is the place of blood sacrifice. "For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul" (Leviticus 17:11).

At the institution of the Passover, as we read in Exodus chapter 12, we have an indication of the efficacy of the blood. Judgement fell on Egypt, but during that judgement Israel was spared through the shedding of the blood of a lamb. It preserved them from the judgement and from death. It saved them from the condemnation that was coming upon Egypt.

Yet our minds are centring upon a literal lamb, an animal, but as we go further into the record of events and the prophecy of Isaiah, the whole scene changes. Up to this book in the Bible the Scriptures have spoken of a literal lamb, but Isaiah speaks of a PERSON, not just an animal. This PERSON is spoken of as a sacrificial lamb offered to God. "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed." This is God's provision of a substitute for "the iniquity of us all."

What a beautiful description we have in this whole Scripture (Isaiah 53) of the suffering of the Lamb of God who offered Himself, as our substitution, there in Jerusalem, right in the world's centre!


In the Centre of the Nations

"Thus says the Lord GOD: 'This is Jerusalem;

I have set her in the midst of the nations

And the countries all around her'"

Ezekiel 5:5