About Jesus    Steve Sweetman

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Claims On The Holy City


All three monotheistic world religions make some kind of claim on Jerusalem.  Although these claims have been made, only one claim is Biblically and historically valid.  Much of the background to these claims can be understood from the Biblical record, which in most circles, is one valid source of  history.  Therefore, the first mention of Jerusalem in the Bible is both relevant and significant to this issue.  Genesis 14:18 to 20 reads.  "Then Melchizedek King of Salem brought out bread and wine.  He was Priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, 'Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth.  And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hands'".  Can this historic event shed any light on the validity of the above three claims on Jerusalem?


Abram spoken of here is Abraham, who Jews, Christians, and Muslims, all hold in high esteem.  Melchizedek was both King of the city state of Salem and the Priest of the Most High God.  The name Salem evolved into the name Jerusalem, which means, "founded by God".  Jerusalem has often been associated with peace because the Hebrew word "salem" resembles the Hebrew word "shalom", which means "peace".  Ironically enough, there has been little peace in Jerusalem throughout its history, that dates as far back as 3500 B.C..


Two things in this passage tell me that God Himself has had some kind of claim on Jerusalem from its inception.  The fact that "Jerusalem" means "founded by God" tells me that people viewed Jerusalem as God's city from its infancy.  How this understanding came about is uncertain to me.  Maybe Melchizedek had a hand in that.  The fact that Melchizedek, the Priest of God, was King of Jerusalem, also tells me that God had a claim on Jerusalem.  


We also note from this passage that Abraham is closely associated with Jerusalem from its earliest days.  While finding some peace and rest from his enemies in Jerusalem, Abraham's visit with Melchizedek wasn't a casual coffee break.  Abraham was blessed by God through His representative Melchizedek.  I suggest that this blessing was some kind of covenant accompanied by a ceremonial meal, thus the reference to "bread and wine".  There's probably more to this event than what is recorded, and maybe it concerns Abraham's eternal association with Melchizedek and Jerusalem.      


This passage tells us that from the earliest historical records, God, Abraham, and a priestly king named Melchizedek, whom the book of Hebrews relates to the Lord Jesus Christ, all have a special association with the city of Jerusalem.  


Centuries later, when the descendents of Abraham grew into a nation, Jerusalem became the center-piece of Israeli society, as was promised by God on many occasions.  From that point on, off and on throughout history, Israel in one form or another, has held claim to Jerusalem.  This claim is once again being challenged. It sure isn't the first challenge, but it might well be the last challenge.     


Roughly 2600 years after Abraham's covenant blessing took place by God's representative Melchizedek, Mohammad began his Islamic revolution.  Islam spread throughout the middle east by deception and military conquest.  Muslims claim that while in Jerusalem Mohammad was taken up into heaven while riding his horse named "Barak". (interesting name)  While in heaven he saw the signs of God and led Old Testament prophets in prayer.  For this reason, Muslims have claimed Jerusalem as their third holiest city, behind Mecca and Medina. 


The above brief history lesson tells me that Jews have a more valid claim on Jerusalem than Muslims, whether they be Arab, Turks, Persians, or whoever. 


Christianity has also laid claims on Jerusalem over the years.  Although I don't consider it Christian, in the name of Christianity, many crusades were mounted in the attempt to conquer and Christianize the middle east, including Jerusalem.  I can certainly understand why Christians would want a stake in Jerusalem, but to make a political and historic claim on this city isn't really valid.  It's a little talked about fact, but Christians have another city they should lay claim to. 


In Galatians 4:26, the apostle Paul says that Christians are citizens of a Jerusalem "that is above".  Hebrews 13:14 says that Christians have "no enduring city" on earth.  We look for a "city yet to come".  In a vision, the apostle John, saw this heavenly city that is yet to come.  It's called the New Jerusalem. (Revelation 21)  Christians do have valid reasons to be concerned for Jerusalem, but at the moment, we should fervently stake our claim in the heavenly Jerusalem as we pray for, and support, those in the earthly Jerusalem.                        


Simple facts of history tell me that the descendents of Abraham through the blood-line of his son Isaac, not his son Ishmael, have the valid claim on Jerusalem.  


The battle for Jerusalem will rage on.  Much more blood will be shed.  The Lord Jesus Christ will return in physical form to take possession of the city.  He will hand the city over to the surviving war-torn Israelis who will have finally submitted their lives to their King.  The prophetic covenant blessing given to Abraham by Melchizedek, the Priest of God and King of Jerusalem, will be fulfilled when the Lord Jesus Christ, the Priest of God and King of Jerusalem, blesses Abraham's descendents Israel with their city.  Israel's claim on Jerusalem will then be validated.

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