Longing for Zion

Image result for psalm 84:1

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!

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!

 

For Zion’s Sake – June 2017

Hey gang, it’s first Wednesday…which means time to join millions of other believers around the world in prayer for the peace of Jerusalem.  The Bible commands it (Psalm 122, Isaiah 62), we obey it!

PRAISE: Lord, we are Your appointed ‘rememberers.’ You have made us mindful of You, from sunrise to sunset, in seasons of darkness as well as light. Thank You that this is so. Amen

PROCLAIM: 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.  (Isaiah 62:6)

PONDER: Isaiah suggests here that Jerusalem is twice walled: a literal wall of crenelated limestone protects the city, but there is another wall too, a spiritual wall that her watchmen provide.  In the ancient world, a watchman was a protector, one who “hedged about,” preserved and attended that which he guarded. Watchmen were alert, even when the inhabitants of the city slept or went about their daily chores.  Men may have built the quarried walls to protect Jerusalem, but today, God musters watchmen from every time zone on the globe to continually, perpetually and always speak to Him, forming a holy hedge of defense around the city.  So we add our voices to this supernatural force-field with our prayers.

Isaiah 62PRAY: Please find June’s prayer points here.   Also, I encourage you to take your call as a watchman on the wall seriously.  Please commit to pray on the first Wednesday each month, and if at all possible, join a local Isaiah 62 prayer group.

As always, if you are in the Phoenix area, I strongly encourage you to join us at 6:00pm on the first Wednesday of every month at Calvary Community Church.  (More info and directions here.)

BTW – this prayer initiative is a ministry of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.  The US branch reports there are 4 states in the US that have not yet established Isaiah 62 Prayer groups.  Is your state one of them?  (Find a map here.)  Even if your state has one or more groups, why not organize one in your city or area?  It is simple to do and ICEJ supplies you with everything you need to facilitate the group!

A Call to Christians: The Appointed Time has Come!

Image result for watchmen on the wall

On your walls, O Jerusalem,
I have set watchmen;
all the day and all the night
they shall never be silent.
You who put the Lord in remembrance,
take no rest,
and give him no rest
until he establishes Jerusalem
and makes it a praise in the earth.
~Isaiah 62:6-7

Today, my message is to Christians!  If you stumbled upon this blog by accident, you are more than welcome to follow along.  If you are not a Christ follower, or even if you are a skeptic, you may listen in on our “family” conversation.  However, Christian friends, I’m talking to you today!

Those who studied with me through Why Israel Matters or who are involved in the Isaiah 62 Prayer Initiative know that Isaiah 62 instructs us as Christians to be watchmen on the wall for Israel.  In fact, verses 6-7 tell us to take no rest and give God no rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes it a praise in the earth.

Our duty is to pray for Israel.  We are to do so persistently until God establishes Jerusalem and makes her a praise in the earth.  I have prayed that and taught that for several years now, yet the Lord ignited a new flame in my gut while attending the ICEJ Summer Conference last weekend.  So, I want to spread the flame!

The theme of this year’s conference centered around a passage from Psalm 102:

But you, O Lord, are enthroned forever;
you are remembered throughout all generations.
You will arise and have pity on Zion;
it is the time to favor her;
the appointed time has come….
Let this be recorded for a generation to come,
so that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord:
…that they may declare in Zion the name of the Lord,
and in Jerusalem his praise,
when peoples gather together,
and kingdoms, to worship the Lord.
~Psalm 102:12-13, 18, 21-22

Together with the Isaiah 62 passage, this Psalm came alive to me in a new way!  Both passages are very familiar, yet the Holy Spirit pulled back the veil of familiarity to enable me to compile new depths of truth, particularly in light of the Jubilee year of celebration of the reunification of Jerusalem.

Psalm 102 is a prayer of lament, beseeching God to hear prayers and not to hide His face in days of distress.  The Psalmist knew that the Lord would arise and have pity on Zion.  But that didn’t remove the distress!

Throughout Israel’s history, there has been distress, and throughout history, God has invited His people to pray to Him.  But what is astounding to me is the way the Lord continually invites us Gentiles to join in His business with His people!  In Isaiah 62, He calls us “watchmen on the walls” for Israel’s sake, and He wants our attention all night and all day.  As we put the Lord in remembrance, we are encouraged to bug the living daylights out of Him (I don’t think He’s bugged!) until He establishes Jerusalem and makes her a praise in the earth!

Well, get this: He has established Jerusalem!  Though He may not be done fully establishing her, Jerusalem was reunited under Israeli control in 1967, and in 1980, Israel’s Knesset declared Jerusalem to be the eternal capital of Israel!  Furthermore, Jerusalem has never been the capital city of any kingdom or nation other than Israel!

To re-cap a bit of history:

  • King David reigned from Jerusalem in ancient times, making it the official capital of the kingdom in 1003BC.
  • Jerusalem remained the capital for 400 years until conquered by the Babylonians.
  • Jerusalem again served as the capital when the Jews returned from captivity in 538BC.
  • At the time of Christ, Rome ruled, followed by the Byzantines (until the mid-600’s AD)…both of whom ruled from Caesarea, not Jerusalem.
  • Under Muslim Arab rule (638 – 1099AD), Israel was ruled from Damascus, Baghdad and Cairo.
  • During the 1250-1516AD rule of the Mamluks, the land was ruled from Damascus.
  • In Ottoman times (1517-1917AD) the capital was Constantinople.
  • Under British rule (1922-1948), Jerusalem was home to the High Commissioner, but not recognized as a capital city.
  • Israel declared statehood in 1948, but was attacked by 5 Arab countries the next day. The city was divided, and the eastern portion (including Temple Mount and the rest of the Old City) was annexed by Jordan, who ruled from their own capital city of Amman.  The western sector of Jerusalem became Israel’s capital.
  • In 1967, with Egyptian, Syrian and Jordanian tanks sitting on her borders, Israel carried out a preemptive strike and the Six Day War ended with Israel taking back all of Jerusalem (as well as other territory), and for the first time since the Romans drove the Jews out of the land, Jerusalem was back in the hands of the Jewish people!

Throughout history, God was establishing Jerusalem, not as just any city, but as the capital city of His empire!  After all, He has put His name upon that city…it is His! (2 Kings 21:4, 7, 2 Kings 23:27, 2 Chronicles 6:6)  I don’t believe He is done “establishing” just yet, but Jerusalem is now under Israeli control, and despite political incorrectness, Israel has declared Jerusalem to be her capital city!

Now, consider Psalm 102 (above).  Indeed, God is enthroned forever and can do as He pleases.  But, what pleases Him is when His people hear and follow His instruction.  He wants to include us in His business!

Because He is enthroned and can do as He wishes, He has arisen to show favor to Zion!  The appointed time has come!  But friends, that is where you and I need to understand something!  It is time to declare the name of God in Zion, and His praise in Jerusalem!  God is fulfilling prophecy right before our eyes.

In Isaiah 62, we are told to pray until He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.  I don’t fully know all that God does with prayer, but when HIS name is declared in Zion, Jerusalem will be a praise in the earth!  The appointed time has come, fellow Christians!  Rise up in prayer for Israel.  From a distant land we can declare His name over the city of Jerusalem.  This is our time of obedience to Him.   Don’t miss the appointed time!