Longing for Zion

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Oh, the Lord’s timing is incredible!  I want to extend our brief study on the City of David one more day because, literally, just yesterday I received an email from ICEJ containing a recent article regarding the longing for Zion.

If you have followed the past two days, you know that Zion is another name for the City of David.  You also know that ancient Jerusalem was not within today’s Old City, but was actually down the hill to the south.  Ancient Jerusalem was the City of David and the people longed to be in the courts of the Lord!

That feeds right into the article I want to share today!  Take two minutes to discover the Jubilee Years God has used to cause Jerusalem to rise, and why Jewish people throughout history have longed for Jerusalem!

Longing for Zion

One final note:  “Jerusalem” in English is “Yerushalayim” in Hebrew.  When you see a Hebrew word ending in “-im,” you know it is plural.  So, what can we draw from that?  Are there two Jerusalems…one in the City of David and one in the current Old City?  Yes…and no!  Indeed, there are two Jerusalems, but I don’t believe the plurality refers to ancient Jerusalem and modern-day Jerusalem.

I believe it refers to the earthly Jerusalem and the heavenly Jerusalem!  Revelation 21:1-2 describes a new heaven and a new earth, and the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.  That city is being prepared for those of us who will spend eternity with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

A new Jerusalem…a new Zion!  I long for Zion, too.  Don’t you?

Have a blessed Lord’s Day!

Jerusalem Rising!

Awake, awake,
    put on your strength, O Zion;
put on your beautiful garments,
    O Jerusalem, the holy city;
for there shall no more come into you
    the uncircumcised and the unclean.
Shake yourself from the dust and arise;
    be seated, O Jerusalem;
loose the bonds from your neck,
    O captive daughter of Zion.
~Isaiah 52:1-2

Welcome back…so glad you’re here!  Yesterday we laid the groundwork for today’s exciting finish.  If you missed yesterday’s post, go back and pick it up before proceeding today.  Take your time through today’s post!

We have established the fact that the City of David (Zion) was the ancient site of Jerusalem.  The Old City within today’s walls is NOT the Jerusalem of David’s day!

In 1867, a British archeologist discovered the City of David, which was buried under succeeding layers of civilization.  The City of David is now being excavated, and it has a story to tell!  It is a story of what the Bible tells us will occur before the Second Coming of Jesus.  Jerusalem will rise…and we have a part to play!  I want you to hear about what is happening at the City of David, but before we do that, please pause to read Isaiah 52:1-2 (above).  Take time to review Isaiah 62 as well!  Enjoy!

(Note: this video is 4 minutes long and contains an opportunity to support the work of Jerusalem Watch.  My point is not so much that you support them [though I believe it is a worthy cause], but that you hear the significance of this discovery.  So, please watch the entire video.)

Shabbat shalom!

Where is Jerusalem?

Awake, awake,
    put on your strength, O Zion;
put on your beautiful garments,
    O Jerusalem, the holy city;
for there shall no more come into you
    the uncircumcised and the unclean.
Shake yourself from the dust and arise;
    be seated, O Jerusalem;
loose the bonds from your neck,
    O captive daughter of Zion.
~Isaiah 52:1-2

Welcome back friends!  I am really excited today as I’ve spent the past few days studying about the City of David, and what Scripture tells us about that city in the last days.  (I’ve also found some cool resources!)  Isaiah 52:1-2 (above) serves as a foundation today, and will come alive tomorrow in part 2 of this mini-series!

Ok Bible students, are you ready for some action?  Pull out your Bibles (or just use the links I provide).  Be sure to look up the verses or you won’t be able to follow along well!

According to 2 Samuel 5:7 or 1 Chronicles 11:5, what is another name for Zion?

You remember David, right?  The Psalmist, the man after God’s own heart, Israel’s most beloved king.  Where did he rule from? (Hint: read Psalm 132.  David ruled from the place the Lord chose to dwell.)

Now it gets interesting!  Look up 2 Samuel 20:3.  Where did David live?  But wait…I thought he lived and ruled from the City of David.  What’s going on here?  (We will get there.  Stick with me!)

Scripture teaches us that David wanted to build the Lord a Temple, but he was not allowed.  Find out why, and who ultimately did build the Temple, in 1 Chronicles 22:7-8.

After completion of the Temple, what happened, according to 1 Kings 8:1 and 2 Chronicles 5:2?  Now, notice two key words in both of those verses:  “bring up.”

You see, the Israelites brought the ark of the covenant UP from Zion (City of David) to the Temple!  We know that the Temple is in what is known today as the Old City of Jerusalem.  In fact, here is a model city of Jerusalem during Jesus’ time (well after David’s time):

Model City, looking north

Keep your focus within the fenced in part of the picture above.  (This model city is at the Israel Museum, so the actual building you see in the background is the entrance to this exhibit.)  Temple Mount is the large structure to the right side of the picture.

Temple Mount, and the Temple Solomon built, were on a hill, and the ark of the covenant was indeed moved UP from the City of David (Zion).  Remember, this model city is from Jesus’ day, so back in David’s day, it did not extend very far to the west (left, in this picture).  So, can you guess where the City of David was?  If you said in the lower right-hand quadrant of the picture, you are correct!

But here is where we solve the mystery.  Today’s walls of the Old City are up the hill.  In fact, this picture is looking north toward Temple Mount and the southern wall of Temple Mount today is the southern wall of the Old City, and it extends to the west (left).  But in David’s day, the lower City of David WAS Jerusalem!  No city existed on the hill when Solomon built the Temple.  Jerusalem (also known as Zion and the City of David) were all the same place, yet today we think of Jerusalem as the Old City, up the hill, within the current walls.

What’s the point of today’s study?  Ahhhh….so glad you asked!  I am setting you up for tomorrow!  You see, there is tremendous significance to the discovery of the City of David in 1867…but you’ll have to come back tomorrow for that!

Meanwhile, consider Isaiah 52:1-2 (above).  When it speaks of Jerusalem, now you know to where the prophet Isaiah is referring!  Tomorrow you will understand the significance!

See you then!

 

Jesus on Trial

Imagine…the Savior of the World on trial.  For what?  What crime is it for the Son of God to become the Son of Man in order to bring redemption to you and me?  Sobering thought, isn’t it?

I’ll do my best to help make Jesus’ trials come alive for you…but you’ll need to read God’s Word in order for it to come alive!

Prior to Judas’ betrayal in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus had celebrated the Passover with His disciples in the Upper Room.  (Luke 22)  The Upper Room of Jesus’ day is no longer standing, though there is a site that commemorates the place of that Passover meal.  The site is on Mount Zion and is called Dormition Abbey.

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From this locale, Jesus walked with His disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane, where He was betrayed by Judas.  (See yesterday’s post.)  Shortly thereafter, Judas hung himself, likely in the Valley of Hinnom just south of Temple Mount.  This is the Valley of Hinnom (or Gehenna) today.  (As a side note, the ancient Jews deemed this valley accursed, as it is the valley in which children were sacrificed to the god Moloch.)

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Once betrayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was put on trial six times (3 religious, 3 civil) over the next few hours…all illegal trials.  In the midnight darkness, Jesus was taken first to Annas, a former high priest and father-in-law to Caiaphas, the present high priest.  Jesus was not yet charged with anything, yet faced illegal interrogation.  Likewise, it was not legal to strike a prisoner, or to try a person at night.  Take a moment to read this account in Luke 22 and John 18:12-27.

Jesus also appeared before Caiaphas, his second illegal trial.  (Also held at night, and with false witnesses.)  Notice, in the passages above, that while Jesus was being interrogated, Peter was put to the test as well…and denied Jesus.  This place is perhaps one of the most sobering to me for two reasons.  First, who of us has not “denied Jesus” in some way?  The grief that Peter must have felt…and the grief that we face when we deny Jesus and His ways in our lives.  Secondly, at Caiaphas’ house, Jesus was thrown into a dungeon through a hole, to be kept there until early the next morning…when He would be tried for the third time.  In that dungeon, He must have agonized.  He was alone and forsaken.  (Read Psalm 88, a Psalm He likely recited.)

Today, a Byzantine-era church sits atop Caiaphas’ house.

This is likely the dungeon Jesus was thrown into, via the hole in the ceiling.  (There were obviously no light fixtures or stairs here in Jesus’ day.)  Imagine Jesus alone, in utter darkness, in this dungeon.  Brings deep meaning to Psalm 88, doesn’t it.

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Meanwhile, outside Peter was denying Jesus…perhaps in this courtyard.  The statue commemorates that event.

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Early the next morning, Jesus was taken to appear at a third religious (and also illegal) trial before the Sanhedrin.  (Illegal for several reasons…it was a feast day – Passover, the Sanhedrin was not polled as required by law, Jesus had no one to represent Him, and the law required a day of fasting between a sentence and an execution.)  Imagine Jesus being led down these steps from Caiaphas’ house to the Council Chamber of the Sanhedrin.

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These were the first three (religious) of six illegal trials of Jesus.  Tomorrow we’ll examine the three civil trials before Pilate and Herod.  Hope the pictures help bring life to what Scripture tells us!

Shabbat Shalom!  Shabbat is the Jewish Sabbath, from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday.  Thus, on the Sabbath, Jews wish one another Shabbat Shalom!  (It’s approaching sundown Saturday, so I will get it in quickly!)