On May 8th, Israelis will be celebrating Jerusalem Day, or “Yom Yerushalayim” in Hebrew. This is an exciting holiday that not only commemorates an important event in Israel’s history, but also plays a pivotal role in fulfilling Biblical prophecy.
Jerusalem Day is a celebration of the reunification of Jerusalem after Israel was able to take East Jerusalem following Jordan’s occupation of her after Israel’s independence. Jerusalem was originally to be an international city according to the 1947 UN Partition Plan. However, after Israel declared independence in 1948, Jordan quickly took over East Jerusalem, leaving the city divided. Jordan went on to destroy many synagogues and Jewish sites in the Old City. However, after Jordan, Syria and Egypt attacked Israel in the Six Day War (1967), Israel was able to take East Jerusalem, reuniting the city. This was a momentous occasion as it placed the Old City of Jerusalem, with the Temple Mount, Western Wall and many other Jewish sites, under Israeli control.
In Jerusalem, this holiday is celebrated with parades in the streets, memorials to those who fell while fighting for Jerusalem in 1967, ceremonies, and many Jerusalem-themed lectures and events. All around Israel, schoolchildren are taught about Jerusalem and TV and radio programming usually centers around Jerusalem.
The reunification of Jerusalem and the celebration of the city are fulfillments of several prophecies. Jeremiah 33:10-11 describes celebration in Jerusalem by saying that, “…in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem that are deserted …there will be heard once more the sounds of joy and gladness…For I will restore the fortunes of the land as they were before,’ says the Lord.” In addition, Zechariah describes Jerusalem as, “…a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling. On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves. ..Then the leaders of Judah will say, ‘The people of Jerusalem are strong, because the Lord Almighty is their God.’” (Zechariah 12:1-5). This is a great description both of what happened in 1967 as well as what will happen in the future. God already made Jerusalem an immovable rock for Israel’s enemies in the past and He will do it again.
Zechariah also describes a time in which people from around the world will come to Jerusalem, stating that “many peoples and powerful nations will come to Jerusalem to seek the Lord Almighty and to entreat Him.” (Zechariah 8:22). This prophecy is clearly being fulfilled in the time since the Six Day War, as many worshippers from around the world come to Jerusalem.
Isaiah also foretold Jerusalem’s deliverance and God’s pledge to preserve her by saying, “For I will defend this city to save it for my own sake and for my servant David’s sake.” (2 Kings 19:34). Isaiah also describes Jerusalem, saying, “You were sold for nothing, and without money you will be redeemed.” (Isaiah 52:3). This could be interpreted as both physical restoration, such as after the Six Day War, and as spiritual restoration, which is yet to come.
Though the spiritual restoration of Jerusalem is still needed, we can rejoice with Israel for the fulfillment of promises made and that many no longer need to say “Next year in Jerusalem” during Passover, as they are able to dwell in God’s Holy City and celebrate the holiday, no longer in exile. Jerusalem is at the center of God’s end time plan for the Jewish people and for the Body of Messiah worldwide; it is exciting to be able to celebrate her physical restoration knowing the beautiful plan that God has in the future for her spiritually.
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