“For your name scorches the lips
Like the kiss of an angel…
Jerusalem of gold, and of bronze, and of light,
Behold I am a violin for all your songs'” –Naomi Shemer
Jerusalem 70 AD: Not One Stone Left upon Another
In 70 AD the land of Judea was plunged into chaos and turmoil. Bands of Zealots and other Jewish rebels groups roved the countryside attacking Roman garrisons and even their own Jewish brethren they accused of sympathizing or appeasing the Romans. The Romans reacted with brutality, showing no mercy as they indiscriminately killed men, women, and children. Scores of Jews throughout the land fleeing the Romans made their way to Jerusalem where the Zealots had successfully ousted the Roman garrison from the city in 66 AD. In April of 70 AD, the Roman General, Titus, who would later become Caesar, besieged the city of Jerusalem with over 100,000 people trapped inside. As the Romans tightened their strangle hold upon the city, the Zealots and groups opposing them began fighting each other within the city, even burning each other’s food supplies. Anarchy, fear, and starvation reigned within Jerusalem’s city walls. Outside the city camped the Romans who would crucify any man, woman, or child caught fleeing the city. So many crosses were being made to crucify those fleeing that the woods in the surrounding area were almost completely deforested.
After a four-month siege, on the 9th of the Jewish month of Av (then the 10th of August), the Romans stormed the city, killing everyone who was left inside and completely destroying the city and the Temple. It was said that so many were the slain on the Temple mount that the stairs to the Temple flowed with blood. Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, who was present in Jerusalem when the city was captured and burned, described the devastation in this manner:
“The countryside like the City was a pitiful sight; for where once there had been a lovely vista of woods and parks there was nothing but desert and stumps of treesÖ every trace of beauty had been blotted out by war, and nobody who had known it in the past and came upon it suddenly would have recognized the place: when he was already there he would still have been looking for the city.”
As the fire set by the Romans in 70 AD raged through the sanctuary in the Temple, quantities of silver and gold, which had been placed there for safe-keeping, melted and ran down between the stones. Roman soldiers tore apart the stones to retrieve the gold and silver, literally leaving “not one stone left upon another” as Yeshua had foretold forty years earlier as recorded in Matthew 24:2. At first the Romans forbade Jews to enter Jerusalem, then, sixty years later, with another failed revolt against the Romans, Jews were ultimately exiled from Judea. Thus began the period of the second Jewish exile, one that would far outlast the first. For the next 1,900 years, the Jewish people would be scattered throughout the earth where they would endure relentless persecution. Despite centuries of separation, Jerusalem remained the dream at the core of every Jewish heart, the ancient capitol and spiritual home. Throughout the generations, when gathering together to celebrate the Passover meal each year, Jews around the world would end their Seder meal with the pronunciation “Next year in Jerusalem!”
Jerusalem from 70 AD to 1967: Trodden by the Gentiles
“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is nearÖAnd they will fall by the sword and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” -Luke: 21:20, 24
The Romans painstakingly tried to erase any Jewish vestiges left in the city and rebuilt it into a Roman city they called Aelia Capitolina. They also built a temple to the Roman god Jupiter on the Jewish Temple site. Over the next 1,900 years, Jerusalem would change hands at least eight different times in continual cycle of war and conquest. In the end of the 7th century, Muslim conquers built the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount, where it remains to this day. The words of Yeshua had become a stark reality: Jerusalem was trodden by the Gentiles.
In 1867, when the Ottoman Turks controlled what was then Palestine, American author and humorist Mark Twain joined a tour of the Holy Land. His travel log of the experience, Innocents Abroad, gives a stunning, objective look at the land just fifteen years before the first Jewish pioneers began returning to their ancient homeland. The ultimate goal of his journey was, of course, to reach the holy city of Jerusalem that had lived in the imagination of religious pilgrims over the centuries. Twain records his impressions of the real Jerusalem that met him:
“[In Jerusalem] rags, wretchedness, poverty and dirt, those signs and symbols that indicate the presence of Moslem rule more surely than the crescent-flag itself, abound. To see the numbers of maimed, malformed and diseased humanity that throng the holy places and obstruct the gates, one might suppose that the ancient days had come again, and that the angel of the Lord was expected to descend at any moment to stir the waters of Bethesda. Jerusalem is mournful, and dreary, and lifeless. I would not desire to live here. “”Renowned Jerusalem’the stateliest name in history, has lost all its ancient grandeur, and is become a pauper village.” -Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad
1967: “The Temple Mount is in Our Hands!”
In the Jewish war of Independence in 1948, the Jordanian army captured the West Bank and east Jerusalem, including the Old City, banishing Jews from those areas. All of that would change in the miraculous Six Day War in 1967. Just two days into the war, the Israeli Paratrooper Brigade led by Motta Gur captured the Old City from the Jordanians. When they secured the Temple Mount, Motta Gur radioed the famous declaration, “The Temple Mount is in our hands!”, thus marking a profound moment in prophetic history; for the first time in 1,900 years, since the devastating destruction of the Jewish Temple and Jerusalem and the long and miserable exile, Jews had returned to Israel and Jerusalem was again in their control. Dazed and awestruck, the battle-weary Israeli Paratroopers made their way to the Western Wall. Touching the stones of the ancient wall, the soldiers wept. The chief Rabbi of the Israeli army rushed to the Temple Mount and loosed a triumphant blast of the shofar. That morning, Naomi Shemer, composer of a newly released Israeli balled called “Jerusalem the Golden”, arrived to sing the song for the troops. On the spot that morning, she composed a new verse that she sang to the troops:
“We have come back to the deep wells
To the marketplace again.
The trumpet sounds on the Mount of the Temple
In the Old City.
In the caverns of the cliff
Glitter a thousand suns.
We shall go down to the Dead Sea Again
By the road of Jericho.”
The Ultimate Question: Who Will Be Worshipped in Jerusalem?
“…the Lord has said, “In Jerusalem I will put my name.” -2Kings 21:4
“I am zealous for Zion with great zeal; with great fervor I am zealous for her.” -Zechariah 8:2
The most outstanding landmark in Jerusalem’s Old City is the copious Dome of the Rock, an Islamic shrine which stands upon the Temple Mount. In the summer of 2000 at the Camp David Peace summit during which then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered the Palestinians a capitol in East Jerusalem and ultimate authority over the Temple Mount in exchange for peace, PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat declared to all in attendance that there was never a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. Through the fallout of the failed Camp David peace summit, several things were brought to light. Firstly, many secular Israelis were willing to do the unimaginable: offer Jerusalem, the Jewish crown jewel, upon the altar of “peace”. Also, just as the Romans tried to remove any Jewish traces in the city in 70 AD and gave the city a Roman name, the Muslims are bent on denying any Jewish claim on Jerusalem, to the point of destroying Jewish antiquities found on the Temple Mount, and call it by the Arabic name, Al Kuds. Most of the international community refuses to recognize Jerusalem as the Jewish capitol because it is, according to them, “disputed territory.”
“I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem. They shall never hold their peace day or night. You who make mention of the Lord, do not keep silent, and give Him no rest till He establishes and till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.” -Isaiah 62:6-7
Jerusalem is the one place on earth the Lord claims as His own. It is the place where the Messiah will return to reign, and from where His justice, truth, and righteousness will fill the earth. The Prince of the Air covets that worship for himself, just as he covets that city to be the place where he will be worshipped. In the end of days, it is where the man of sin himself will demand to be worshipped in a yet to be reestablished Jewish Temple. As the turmoil in and over Jerusalem increases, the Lord has very clear directions for His followers regarding Jerusalem: pray day and night that the Lord will establish Jerusalem as a praise in the earth. All of Satan’s energy will be thrown into making the city the place where he will be worshipped. And, indeed, all of human history is careening toward the point of that ultimate battle. Reading the Word reveals how passionately the Father is about Jerusalem and what He wants to accomplish there. For those of us to whom the Lord has given the burden to be “watchmen on the walls” of Jerusalem, He wants us to give Him no rest in constant intercession until that plan is accomplished, allowing us to partner with Him to bring His kingdom to the earth!
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