As we speak, the streets of Jerusalem once again are being stained with fresh blood. Palestinian protesters are throwing stones at the Israeli police. In the shootings in Gaza and West Bank, four people were killed and more than 200 were wounded in the clashes between the police and the protesters. On December 6, US President Donald Trump announced that he was formally recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Israel was founded in 1948. The Jews felt incomplete without Jerusalem. In 1967 Arab-Israeli War, Israel drove Jordan from East Jerusalem and occupied the city. The Palestinians want Jerusalem as their capital. Jerusalem became the central point of conflict between Jews and Palestinian Muslims. A few days ago, Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) assembled in Istanbul, Turkey. It has 57 Muslim nations as its members. It declared Jerusalem as the capital of Palestinian state. In its formal declaration it called Jerusalem the City of Al-Quds Ash-Sharif. The defence minister of Malaysia announced that his nation was willing to send its army to Jerusalem to defend it for Muslims.
For those of us following the Bible prophecy, these events could be disturbing, but not surprising. Prophet Zechariah told us about the coming invasion of Jerusalem by the armies of the world. Let me read from Zechariah chapter 12
1 The burden of the word of the Lord for Israel, saith the Lord, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him.
2 Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem.
3 And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.
When I was in Jerusalem last time, I was greeted with ‘Shalom’ in the Jewish quarter, and Assalamalekum in Muslim quarter. Both greetings mean ‘peace to you’. But why is there no peace in our world today? Last week, I was in Hyderabad, India. I went to visit Charminar, constructed in 1591, this mosque became a global icon of Hyderabad. Taj Mahal became a global icon of India. Hindu radicals are not comfortable that their cities have to be identified by structures built by Muslim conquerors. Many Jews are not comfortable that Dome of the rock mosque became the global icon of Jerusalem, the holiest city in Judaism.
From Charminar, I walked over to Makkah Masjid. This is the one of the largest mosques in India. I had to go through metal detectors and security screening to enter this mosque. I remember visiting this mosque almost 30 years ago as a school boy. Those days, there were no metal detectors and security screening. I felt nostalgic that my family was able to go directly into the mosque without any screening and spend some time in the coolness of the central hall. On 18 May 2007, there was a bomb explosion inside the mosque during Friday prayers. Thirteen people were killed. Now, everyone has to walk through metal detectors. Thanks to radical Islam, now every major mosque, every major Hindu temple, every major cathedral, every major synagogue, every airport have had to install metal detectors and security personnel.
Coming back to Jerusalem, this city has been holy for three major religions of the world. Judaism, Christianity and Islam. For the Jews, the Temple Mount is the holiest site for their faith. Here, their forefather Abraham tried to sacrifice Isaac. Their most famous king, David established Jerusalem as the capital of United Kingdom of Israel three thousand years ago. Ever since, Jerusalem became the central focus of Jewish life.
For Christians, Lord Jesus was born in Bethlehem, a small town near Jerusalem. He was circumcised in Jerusalem. He preached in Jerusalem. He performed miracles in Jerusalem. He entered into Jerusalem in the triumphal entry to present Himself as the messiah to the Jews. He was rejected, crucified, buried and resurrected in Jerusalem. He ascended into heaven from Jerusalem and in His Second Coming, He will return to this world through Jerusalem. Because of this association with the life of Jesus, Jerusalem became a beloved city for countless Christians around the world.
For Muslims, Jerusalem became the third holiest city after Mecca and Medina. After conquering Jerusalem from Christian Byzantines in 7th century, the Muslim kings built two mosques on the Temple Mount: Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosque.
Dome of the rock: There is a huge rock inside this mosque. Muslims believe Adam was created on this rock. Later Abraham tried to sacrifice Ishmael – not Isaac – on this rock.
Al-Aqsa Mosque: This mosque is mentioned in Quran. Muslims believe that Muhammad in his famous night journey traveled to heaven from this mosque. This is mentioned in Quran in Al-Isra 17:1
“Holy is He who carried His servant by night from the Holy Masjid (in Makkah) to the farther Masjid (in Jerusalem) whose surroundings We have blessed that We might show him some of Our Signs. Indeed He alone is All-Hearing, All-Seeing”
After founding his new religion, Muhammad commanded his followers to face Jerusalem during their prayers. Later this practice changed, Muslims now face Mecca during their prayers. So, Al-Aqsa mosque was their first qibla. Muslims consider Abraham a Muslim. So, Abraham built the first mosque on this site. David was also a Muslim. His private chamber was in al-Aqsa mosque (Quran 38:18-21). Solomon was a Muslim and he built his famous mosque on this site. Now, get ready for this: Jesus too was a Muslim and visited this place. So, according to Muslims, this is a Muslim sanctuary since the creation of first Muslim, Adam. They call this whole complex Al-Haram Al-Sharif. They call Jerusalem al-Quds.
Jews, Christians and Muslims : Each have their own beliefs and sentiments which revolve around Jerusalem. Both Jews and Muslims have been fighting over Jerusalem. Where will this fighting end? Prophet Zechariah said some time in the future the nations of the world will encircle Jerusalem to destroy the city and its Jewish inhabitants.
Let us read Zechariah 12:3
And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.
Why are the nations of the world going to war against Jerusalem? Didn’t God want to bless the world through Jerusalem?
We read in Psalm 132:13 – 14
For the LORD hath chosen Zion; He hath desired it for His habitation:
This is My rest for ever; here will I dwell, for I have desired it.
God of the universe chose Jerusalem as His resting place. But both Jews and gentiles disturbed the peace of God with their sins and abominations. God made a special covenant with Jews and Jerusalem. But our increasingly secular world does not recognize this special relationship God established with the nation of Israel.
Ninety-nine percent of the world is enraged with Donald Trump’s decision to officially recognize Jerusalem as Jewish capital. So, it is not surprising they will send their armies to fight Israel. But God says, through prophet Zechariah, that He will destroy the armies of the world when they encircle Jerusalem.
We might ask, didn’t God want to save the world through Jerusalem and its Messiah? Then, why is He going to destroy the gentiles? Because the gentiles rejected the Messiah. The gentiles rejected God’s plan of salvation for this world. They developed their own utopias like Marxism, and Darwinian welfare state.
From Jerusalem, Lord Jesus sent his disciples to preach the gospel around the world. God wants to make peace with the world through Christ. But the world is not interested. God has a plan for the world through Christ. But the world is not interested. The gentiles have rejected the gospel that came from Jerusalem. Finally they go to war over Jerusalem. It’s the culmination of human rebellion against God of Israel.
Then, let us see verse 1, Lord, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him.
Who are these people fighting against? The Creator God of the universe. The God of the universe on one side, and the whole world on the other side. It will be a rude awakening for most of the world because it has forgotten the Creator God. It decided to follow godless philosophies like Darwinism, pluralism, communism and atheism.
China and North Korea officially declared themselves as atheist nations. North Korea has been supplying nuclear technology to Iran, the arch enemy of Israel. China has built the largest army in the world. Spending hundreds of billions of dollars on its military, it has accumulated thousands of missiles, nuclear weapons, fighter jets, war tanks and drones. With One Belt One Road Initiative, China wants to connect 60 countries in Asia, Europe and Africa. China will definitely use this modern silk road to send its armies to fight against Jerusalem.
Europe and America have taken the fast lane to become Post-Christian cultures. Over the last two hundred years, they have abandoned the biblical worldview. Naturalism driven textual criticism gave a fatal blow to once Christian West’s confidence in the Word of God. So they left the Christian view of human history and embraced the Darwinian natural history. For most people in the West, God of the Bible became a relic of the past. But they will have a rude awakening when they encircle Jerusalem.
Imagine being taught all your life that you are a production of evolution, nothing more than a walking and talking chimpanzee, and then finding yourself on the outskirts of Jerusalem and realizing that you are fighting none other than the Creator of the universe and of the mankind! So, the armies of this world will face the Creator of the universe when they battle against Jerusalem. Next,
When will this battle happen?
God revealed a full prophetic calendar to Daniel. Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem in 586 BC. Daniel and thousands of his fellow Jews were taken to Babylon as captives. When Daniel was in Babylon, God revealed him the 70 week prophecy.
This is among the most powerful prophecies in the Bible. Using this prophecy, British Evangelist John Nelson Darby (1800 – 1882) predicted the rebirth of the nation of Israel in 1829. That is 120 years before 1948, the year Israel was actually born. That is the power of Bible prophecies. Quran or any other religious text cannot even come close to the Bible. The uniqueness of the Bible is the fulfillment of its amazing prophecies.
So, in Daniel’s 70 week prophecy, first 69 weeks ended with the crucifixion of our Lord. Before his death, Lord Jesus predicted the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. ‘See ye not all these things? Verily I say unto you, there shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down’ (Matthew 24:2). On his way to Calvary, Jesus told the women standing by, “Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children”
In this admonition, Jesus was predicting the destruction of Jerusalem by Romans. In AD 70, Jerusalem was destroyed along with the temple, just as Lord Jesus predicted. In Daniel’s 70 week prophecy, 69 weeks were fulfilled. Only one week remaining to be fulfilled. During this last one week, that is 7 years, AntiChrist will rule our world. At the end of these 7 years, we will have the Battle of Armageddon. That is the Battle described here in Zechariah chapter 12. It will happen at the end of 7 year tribulation period.
Now, let us see how this battle is waged. Zechariah 12:3-4
And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people. All who burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.In that day,” saith the LORD, “I will smite every horse with astonishment and his rider with madness. And I will open Mine eyes upon the house of Judah, and will smite every horse of the people with blindness;
Horse is the symbol of military power. God will smite the military power of the gentiles. He will smite the riders of the horses with madness and every horse with blindness.
Zechariah 12: 6 “In that day will I make the governors of Judah like a hearth of fire among the wood, and like a torch of fire in a sheaf, and they shall devour all the people round about on the right hand and on the left; and Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place, even in Jerusalem.While enervating the gentiles, God will invigorate the Israel. It will become a fire and destroy its attackers.
How is this war ending?
Let us see verse 9 and 10. Zechariah 12
- And it shall come to pass in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. 10. And I will pour upon the house of David and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of grace and of supplication; and they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for Him as one who is in bitterness for his firstborn.
After destroying its enemies, God will pour His Holy Spirit upon Israel: The spirit of grace and of supplication. What is the central problem with Islam? It does not have the spirit of grace. It is a religion of works. Judaism today has the same problem. It is a religion of works. Both Judaism and Islam are devoid of grace. Grace is unique to Christian faith. But God will pour the spirit of grace on Israel and the Jews will realize their mistake.
Then, ‘they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced’
When did the Jews stab God? Two thousand years ago, when Jesus was hanging on the cross.
‘I whom you have pierced’ : God is saying those words. And we can see the divinity of Lord Jesus Christ in those words. Piercing Jesus is piercing God.
The Jews will bitterly weep as they repent of their sin. The sin of rejecting their true Messiah: our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. They will beat their chests: Did we pierce our Messiah? Did we pierce our Savior? Did we pierce our God? They will weep, repent, convert and get saved. Then they will render true worship to God. What is true worship?
Let us turn to John chapter 4. Jesus talks to Samaritan woman in this chapter. Let me read a few verses:
- Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and ye say that Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.”21. Jesus said unto her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour cometh when ye shall neither on this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.22. Ye worship ye know not what; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.23. But the hour cometh and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship Him.24. God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.”
She says to Jesus, ‘Sir, our fathers worshiped on Mt.Gerizim, and you the Jews say we ought to worship in Jerusalem’. Jesus replies to her, ‘You don’t have to go to Mt.Gerizim or Mt.Zion. God is a spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth’ True worship is not related to a physical place, but to a spiritual person, God himself.
Jesus knew that we would slaughter each other for Holy places.
Jesus knew that we would slaughter people for Jerusalem.
That’s the beauty of Christianity. By spiritualizing worship, Jesus told his followers to stay away from contested sites like Jerusalem. Off course, Christians did not understand this message of Christ. The Crusaders thought they could offer true worship to God only in Jerusalem. They killed thousands of people to occupy Jerusalem.
Jews and Muslims are in a perpetual war for Jerusalem. If they understand the message of Lord Jesus Christ, they will give up on violence. The kingdom of God will not come through physical coercion, but through spiritual conversion.
In Jerusalem, Jesus shed his blood for our sins. Unless we see His blood shed for us, we will continue to shed our blood and other people’s blood for the sake of Jerusalem.
Unless we see Jesus who was pierced for our sins, we will continue to pierce each other for Jerusalem.
Unless we see Jesus who was stabbed for our sins, we will continue to stab each other for Jerusalem.
Unless we make peace with God through Jesus, we will never have peace with our neighbors.
I pray that you come to Jesus today, repent of your sins, make Him your Lord and Savior.
Prayer: ‘Lord Jesus, you were crucified in Jerusalem for our sins, and resurrected from the grave to give us hope of eternal life. We ask that you open the eyes of this generation with your spirit of grace and of supplication. To see you the pierced one, who was stabbed on the cross for our sins. To see your precious blood shed for our salvation. In your precious name, we pray, Amen’