The name ‘Jerusalem’ probably means ‘foundation of peace’. Jerusalem has a significance in the Bible far beyond being simply the administrative capital of Israel today.

Jerusalem in the future

The nation of Israel and the land God gave them are central to the message of salvation in the Bible. It was from this nation and to this land that God’s only son Jesus came.

Before Jesus was born, his mother Mary was promised that:

“the Lord God shall give unto him (Jesus) the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Lk. 1:32,33).

This ‘throne of David’ was the royal seat of the kingdom of Israel in Jerusalem , which was promised by God to David’s descendants and ultimately to Jesus himself. [1] So, Jerusalem is going to be the royal city where Jesus will rule as King over the Kingdom of God. Jerusalem will then become capital city of that worldwide Kingdom.

The history of Jerusalem

Jerusalem first appears in history around 1900 B.C. as the hilltop city of Salem, associated with the king/priest Melchizedek who there met and blessed Abraham, the forefather of the Israelites. [2] It is mentioned later under the name Jebusi [3], the home of a Canaanite tribe, the Jebusites. It was from the Jebusites that David captured the city, around 1004 B.C., and made it the capital of Israel, also referred to as Zion, and the city of David. [4]

When the nation of Israel was split in two, Jerusalem continued as the capital of the southern kingdom of Judah . It was captured and destroyed by the Babylonians in B.C. 587 [5] but restored under the Persian Empire. [6] It remained the principal city during both the Greek and Roman periods, but was again destroyed and the temple burnt by the Romans in A.D. 70.

At various times after that, Jerusalem was occupied by Byzantines, Per-sians, Arabs, Crusaders, and Turks, eventually coming under British mandate following the First World War. After the founding of the State of Israel in 1948, the city was divided between Israel and Jordan until the Six-Day War in 1967, when it was reunited to become the modern capital of Israel .

The place for God’s Name

Even before the nation of Israel entered the land under Joshua, God had appointed a ‘place’ at which Israel would congregate to worship, and which is described as bearing His Name. [7] This place is not named in Deuteronomy, although it’s referred to twenty-one times. But, the connection with Abraham and the offering of his son Isaac on Mount Moriah, one of its hills on which Jerusalem is built [8] , clearly identifies Jerusalem as the appointed centre for Israel’s worship.

When David came to the throne, he understood Jerusalem to be ‘the place’ chosen by God as the nation’s capital and the location for the ‘house of the LORD ’, the temple [9]. God gave David the plans for this temple and David prepared all the building materials for its construction. David then gave his son Solomon the task of building the temple [10]. When it was finished, God accepted the temple as a fitting symbol of His spiritual presence among His chosen people of Israel. Although that temple was later destroyed, it was rebuilt after the Babylonian exile [11] .

During the Roman period, Herod the Great rebuilt the temple on a grander scale, but this was scarcely finished before the destruction of A.D. 70. This was the temple visited by the Lord Jesus Christ, who twice cleansed its courts by expelling the traders who misused it [12] . Jesus also prophesied that the temple would be destroyed because of the injustice and violence of its rulers [13].

Present strife, future glory

The Bible says that the city of Jerusalem will become the focus of a conflict among the nations, which will lead to Armageddon and the return of Jesus. Meanwhile, Jerusalem is proving to be an insoluble problem for the world’s leaders as prophesied in the Bible. [14]

But the Bible also prophesies that Jerusalem’s temple is to be rebuilt yet again to act as the centre of worship for the nations [15] and the Lord Jesus Christ is to make Jerusalem the seat of his worldwide government. From Jerusalem God’s righteous laws will be administered to bring worldwide justice and peace [16] . Those who are the true followers of Jesus by faith share the privilege of honorary citizenship of Jerusalem [17] and can look forward to being witnesses of its coming glory.

Bible references

1 1 Chron. 17:11 ,12; 28:5; 29:23
2 Gen. 14:18-20
3 Josh. 18:28
4 1 Chron. 11:4-7
5 2 Kgs. 25:1-10
6 Ezra 1:1-4; Neh. 2:17 ; 6:15
7 Deut. 12:10 ,11
8 Gen. 22:1,2,14
9 1 Chron. 21:28 ; 22:1
10 I Chron. 28:2-6,11,12; 29:1-5; 2 Chron. 2:1; 3:1; 8:1
11 Ezra 1:1-4; 5:1,2; 6:14 ,15
12 Jno. 2:13 -17; Mt. 21:12 ,13
13 Mt. 23:34 -39; 24:1,2
14 Zech. 12:1-3; 14:1-3
15 Zech. 14:16; Ezek. 43:4-7
16 Isa. 2:1-4; Mic. 4:1-7
17 Ps. 87:5,6