Goodnews Christian Ministry
"I will restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem and build them again as they were before." ---Jeremiah 33:7
"On the day I cleanse you from all your sins, I will repopulate the cities
and cause the ruins to be rebuilt."
When Mark Twain visited Palestine about a hundred years ago, he found Jerusalem a small and poverty stricken village abandoned by the nations and lying in great ruin and desolation.
He described his journey through Palestine in a book he wrote entitled, 'Innocents Abroad'. In its pages he detailed the wilderness he observed there:
"Renowned Jerusalem itself, the stateliest name in history, has lost all its ancient grandeur and is become a pauper village. Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes. Nazareth is forlorn. Capernaum is a shapeless ruin; Magdala is the home of beggared Arabs; Bethsaida and Chorazin have vanished from the earth, and the 'desert places' around them, where thousands of men once listened to the Saviour's voice and ate the miraculous bread, sleep today in the hush of a solitude that is inhabited only by birds of prey and skulking foxes."
What a change this is from the nation that we see there today, just one hundred years later.
Jerusalem -- the pauper village of Mark Twain's era has risen up to become once again as it was 2000 years ago, a great world city filled with life and vitality -- the most important political focal point on the planet earth.
Jerusalem did not awaken from it's millenial desolation until well after the end of the First World War. In fact, it did not return as a center of world political attention until after the end of World War II.
During almost the entire period of Christian history, then, the restoration of Jerusalem, the great theme of all the prophecies in the Bible, has been happening on a spiritual level, not a physical one. Almost no part of God's rebuilding has taken place in Palestine.
With acts of righteousness, Christianity has spent almost 2000 years rebuilding another Jerusalem -- the one that God has kept safe in the heavens. Its designer and architect is Jesus Christ.
"He will fulfil my whole purpose, saying of Jerusalem, 'Let her be rebuilt', and of the temple, 'Let your foundation be set in place'. He will rebuild the ancient ruins, build up on the old foundations. He will rebuild my city, will bring my exiles back without ransom or indemnity...He will be called 'Breach-mender', 'Restorer of ruined houses'." (Is.44:28,45:13, 58:12).
Because the rebuilding of Jerusalem is the hallmark of the new Covenant, and since, for almost two thousand years virtually none of this reconstruction has taken place in Palestine, these biblical prophecies can only be pointing to the formation of the holy city of Jerusalem in the kingdom of God.
It was this city, hidden in the hearts of the people, that Jeremiah was referring to when he said in the Spirit of God, "I will build you once more; you shall be rebuilt, virgin of Israel." (Jer.31:4).
The prophets described Jerusalem's restoration in terms of ethics, "I will turn my hand against you, I will smelt away your dross in the furnace, I will remove all your base metal from you. I will restore your judges as of old, your counsellors as in bygone days. Then you will be called City of Integrity, Faithful City." (Is.1:25-26).
Statements like this in scripture proved that the site of the rebuilding was not a city in Palestine; it had nothing to do with bricks and mortar. Instead, these phrases involved the very soul of the people themselves.
When Jeremiah said, "The city shall be rebuilt on its ruins, the citadel restored on its site" (Jer.30:18), he was not referencing the buildings and landscape of a dusty Jerusalem. He was pointing to the 'living stones' that made up God's spiritual house: people who had rebuilt their lives in Christ's integrity.
Speaking in the Spirit, Ezekiel prophesied, "I, God, have rebuilt what was destroyed and replanted what was ruined." (Ez.36:36). In Christ, God had given His people release from ethical bankruptcy, enabling them to rebuild themselves in His righteous image.
This restoration began the moment Jesus first started preaching God's word, and it has continued throughout the entire millenium. "Know this and understand: from the time this message went out: 'Return and rebuild Jerusalem' to the coming of an anointed prince, seven weeks and sixty-two weeks -- with squares and ramparts restored and rebuilt, but in a time of trouble." (Dn.9:25).
The seven weeks and sixty two weeks have passed slowly by, etched in a framework of 2000 years. The squares and ramparts of a hidden Jerusalem have quietly been rebuilt in the prophecy's 'time of trouble'.
The 'coming prince' is Michael the Archangel who is destined to appear at the end of the 69 weeks once all the reconstruction has been completed.. (Dn. 12:1).
Because it is a spiritual rebuilding it has occured secluded from human eyes. It has taken place on this earth, in the bodies of those who have repented and converted to Jesus Christ, so it has been rebuilt on the site of its ruins -- but it's reconstruction has not been centered in Palestine, nor will the city of God ever be centered there again.
"For you have made the town a heap of stones, the fortified city a ruin. The citadel of the proud is a city no longer, it will never be rebuilt." (Is.25:2).
What does this mean for the Jerusalem in Palestine?
That city is God's instrument of justice -- the place He has structured for judgment. Look carefully at its composition. It is being reconstructed not in olive branches, but as a war machine.
The armies of that Jerusalem have become the marvel of the entire planet. Stockpiling nuclear warheads around a sophisticated military complex, its potent martial presence has driven the Middle East into a frenzy of religious fanaticsm and a precipitous thirst for battle.
"Look, I am going to make Jerusalem an intoxicating cup to all the surrounding peoples..." (Zech. 12:2). "When that day comes, I mean to make Jerusalem a stone to be lifted by all the peoples; and all who lift it will hurt themselves severely. (And all the nations of the earth will mass against her.)" -Zech. 12:3.
While the command of God decrees confession and repentance and a change of ways, the Jerusalem in Palestine is plotting a far different course. There is no repentance there, so that city is still in ruins as far as God is concerned. It may look like it has been rebuilt, but its image exactly mirrors that of the world, not God.
It has rebuilt itself in the image of Babylon.
The absence of repentance in the Judean restoration shows that the construction proceeding now in Israel has another purpose. That purpose is judgment. The nations are being gathered to a place where they are going to be put on trial for their behavior. (Ez.20:34-38). We will explore this in greater detail in the pages ahead.
But first we need to examine the mechanics of the reconstruction -- the major elements defined by the prophecies.
The Bible shows quite clearly that the key to Jerusalem's restoration is contained in its walls. In order to better understand this, we need to look at the primary allegory for the city's reclamation which occurred more than 2400 years ago when the Jews returned from the original Babylon (the Babylon of the Euphrates).
According to the Bible, when the Jews returned from their captivity in that Babylon, the first thing they did was to rebuild Jerusalem's walls -- a project that took Ezra and the refugees 52 days to complete. That speed was a momentous accomplishment according to scripture which impressed the time frame deeply into the mechanics of the restitution prophecy:
"The wall was finished within fifty-two days. When all our enemies heard about it, and all the surrounding nations had seen it, they were deeply impressed and acknowledged that this work had been accomplished by the power of our God." (Neh.6:15-16).
This fifty-two days has great symbolic significance because it points directly to the wall of God that surrounds the true Jerusalem -- the one that surrounds the hidden Jerusalem in heaven.
That wall, scripture states, is a wall of fire.
It is called grace and it is imparted into us the moment we receive the presence of the Holy Spirit. And, in perfect harmony with the prophecy, the Holy Spirit appeared on earth at Pentecost, exactly 52 days after Jesus was crucified.
By sending us the Holy Spirit on that particular day, God proved that He had built our wall of grace -- the wall of heavenly Jerusalem -- in exactly the same number of days that it took Ezra and his Israelites to reconstruct the wall around earthly Jerusalem when they returned from the first 'Babylon'.
Uniting the two Babylon's of scripture, a period of 52 days encompassed both inaugural renovations in the reconstruction of Jerusalem at the end of a hostile world captivity, showing that each was a part of the other.
Fooled by the first recovery, the Jews considered all the prophecies which heralded their return as applying to them alone, and to their escape from the clutches of Nebuchaddnezzar and his heirs. They saw no future reference in scripture to a spiritual Babylon, or to a more dynamic captivity than their first brief stay at the banks of the Euphrates river.
And a 2000-year diaspora has not altered their perception.
But the Holy Spirit's sudden appearance at Pentecost, by reproducing the 52 days of Jerusalem's wall, has proved that the ultimate return from Babylon was to be centered in Christ, not Ezra. God had emplaced a spiritual wall to replace the fallen ruins of the first return. And He had constructed it in the same time-frame as a biblical proof of the transformation.
With the appearance on earth of the Holy Spirit, the rebuilding heralded by the prophets could truly begin because the impenetrable wall protecting the reconstruction of the spiritual ruins of Jerusalem was at that moment perfectly in place.
Jerusalem's ruins were synonymous with a humanity that had fallen into the clutches of wickedness. The collapsed walls around it represented a structure without any external defense against sin.
Therefore, reconstruction of the wall -- the defense of Jerusalem -- was the first and most crucial element in its restoration: "Sacrifice gives you no pleasure...my sacrifice is this broken spirit...show your favor graciously to Zion, rebuild the walls of Jerusalem; then there will be proper sacrifice to please you..." (Ps.51:16-19).
The wall surrounding the Jerusalem of heaven is the Holy Spirit -- because the Holy Spirit is all the defense that God's city needs.
"Jerusalem is to remain unwalled, because of the great number of men and cattle there will be in her. But I -- it is God who speaks -- I will be a wall of fire for her all round her, and I will be her glory in the midst of her." (Zech.2:4-5).
That heavenly wall of God's defense extends to us in the form of His grace and is represented by the presence of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us -- forming a wall of grace which surrounds us and protects us from Satan's power.
Forming our wall of grace against sin, the Holy Spirit is the guardian that Jesus has sent to keep us safe in the faith of the Lord.
Because God has wrapped us in this heavenly garment, we can stumble and not die. God's grace keeps us free from sin. We cannot stay down when we slip, of course, but, because of grace, we can get up and continue on our journey to the kingdom of heaven even though we fall down many times.
Therefore, as long as we don't give up the exodus we have begun, the wall of grace that God has built around us -- the wall that appeared at Pentecost, 52 days after the crucifixion of Jesus -- will keep us safe on our journey to Christ's righteousness.
Again, this shows that we, ourselves, not the rocks and stones in Palestine, are the ruins of Jerusalem.
The wall that Ezra built fell down again, but God's spiritual wall of everlasting grace is an eternal guard, guaranteed by God to keep us safe forever as long as we remain in His word. This wall will never fall.
Because the old Covenant was a group covenant, when Adam sinned, he plunged the entire human race into Satan's power.
Using baptism as the means to set us free from this group covenant, Jesus has created a way for us to be individually forgiven from the penalty of this rebellion, one by one.
But the people of Judah in rejecting Christ have refused the covenant of individual salvation and still cling to the group covenant of the past.
Because they have thwarted God's plan to rescue them individually, they must be rescued as a group.
The mechanism for salvation, however, remains unchanged. God rescues us when we repent in Christ, and God is going to rescue the Jews in Palestine the moment they do the same.
Paul said, "If your lips confess that Jesus is Lord and if you believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, then you will be saved." (Rom.10:9). The moment the Jews do confess Jesus in this way, as a group, the heavens will open, God will come down and the resurrection of the world will be instantly manifest.
"Since their rejection meant the reconciliation of the world, do you know what their admission will mean? Nothing less than a resurrection from the dead!" (Rom.11:15).
This is the moment of the group conversion of the Jews, and it is the instant of the resurrection when all the books will be opened and the people of the world will be gathered together in front of the throne of God.
Everything has been made for this moment -- for the conversion of the rebellious Judean city of Jerusalem so that the victory of God over Babylon can be complete.
It is only this event that can halt the 'successive devastations' that Daniel said would come against Jerusalem. "Lord God, how long will you wait before taking pity on Jerusalem and the cities of Judah on which you have inflicted your anger for the past seventy years?" (Zech.1:12). "The seventy years that must pass before the successive devastations of Jerusalem come to an end." ? (Dn.9:2).
Until that moment of conversion arrives, any reconstruction in Jerusalem will only lead to more destruction as the succession of violence continues. All this violence is leading to the judgment of the earth and so the reconstruction of Jerusalem in Palestine points not to a resurrection of Judaism, but to God's final rescue.
God will have no use for an earthly city once the Jews repent in Christ. The Palestinian city will be replaced by a new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven.
Therefore the city now being revived in the land of Israel is part and parcel with the end of the world -- it is to be the last nail in the coffin of Babylon. "Lord, you have made this people an instrument of justice, set it firm as a rock in order to punish." (Hab.1:12).
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