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Historic Jerusalem is not Prophetic Jerusalem

"For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem" (Isaiah 2:3).

Jerusalem, Jerusalem. There is probably more confused preaching in recent years on "Jerusalem" than on any other name from Scripture except perhaps "Jew".

Scripture such as that quoted above is used by a great many Christian ministers to mean the literal city of Jerusalem in old Palestine. They say that there God is going to restore His Israel people and begin to set up His earthly kingdom from which Jewish missionaries will go out to preach the gospel all over the world! Other ministers claim this Jerusalem is a "heavenly" city located somewhere other than on the earth.

One of the major sources of confusion in today's preaching comes from ministers who are unable to separate historic Biblical cities from prophetic cities of the Bible. They do fairly well on Babylon, since the actual city has been destroyed and exits no more in the earth. So when Babylon is used in prophecy, they realize it must be something other than the old city.

But with Jerusalem they are fooled. Because the old city still exists and still carries its ancient name, they assume prophetic Jerusalem must have something to do with the old city of Jerusalem.

It was Voltaire who is credited with saying, "If you would speak with me, define your terms." He realized that words must have an understandable meaning to both parties to a conversation, or one would be confused or deceived. And so it is with "Jerusalem." I want you to follow me in the Scriptures to find God's true meaning of Jerusalem, when He says, "For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem."

In Matthew 23:37-39 we read the words of Jesus Christ: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, ye shall not see Me henceforth, till ye shall say, blessed is he that cometh in the Name of the Lord."

Here Christ was speaking to the city of Jerusalem that He was standing and looking at - Jerusalem, the city that had killed Israel's prophets down through the centuries; and He said, Jerusalem, "your house is left unto you desolate." He could not have been speaking of prophetic Jerusalem, for that has a glorious future!

The Lord Shall Yet Choose Jerusalem

I will quote some Scripture verses used by those who insist that the old city of Jerusalem will be the Jerusalem that will be "chosen" and "blessed" of God. They are in the first chapter of Zechariah. "I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with great jealousy I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies: My house shall be built in it and the Lord shall yet comfort Zion, and shall yet choose Jerusalem." These are phrases from verses 14 through 17, and those who quote them say they mean that God will set up the temple (His house) at some future time in the old city of Jerusalem.

But there are other phrases in the same verses which must be considered. I will add them here in their context. "Thus saith the Lord of Hosts; My cities through prosperity [good] shall yet be spread abroad." Then comes "and the Lord shall yet comfort Zion, and shall yet choose Jerusalem." Since the phrase, "spread abroad," was spoken through Zechariah while he was in old Palestine, it could mean places other than old Palestine!

Christ also gave some indication that the cities of Israel would be in great number and cover much territory. In Matthew 10 are His well-known instructions to the twelve disciples. In verse 6, He tells them to "go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel," and then in verse 23 He says, "For verily I say unto you, ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come." The disciples could have gone over the towns in old Palestine in a matter of weeks, and missionaries still could do so today. But if the cities of Israel were to be "spread abroad" and to be a great number, it could not be done so quickly.

We must also take into consideration that Zechariah, as a prophet to Israel, spoke not only to those in the Babylonian captivity, but to the millions of Israelites who were at that time in the Assyrian lands and never returned to Jerusalem or Palestine. That Zechariah's prophecy above was not fulfilled by the return of less than 45,000 Jews from Babylon under Ezra and Nehemiah will be clear as we go on. Also, what the "Jerusalem" is that the Lord "shall yet choose" is made clearer by reading on in the next verses from the same prophet.

An Angel Will Measure New Jerusalem

Read on in Zechariah 2:1-4, "I lifted up mine eyes again, and looked and behold a man with a measuring line in his hand. Then said I, Whither goest thou? And he said to me, To measure Jerusalem, to see what is the breadth thereof, and what is the length thereof. And, behold, the angel that talked with me went forth, and another angel went out to meet him. And said unto him, Run, speak to this young man, saying, Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls for the multitude of men and cattle therein."

That is quite a description. "Towns" (plural) and many men and cattle were to be in it. This is the Jerusalem of prophecy, and it is so large it took an angel to measure it! Maybe this was because it had been then "spread abroad" as was prophesied in Zechariah 1:17.

In chapter 8 of Zechariah (and Zechariah has much to say about prophetic Jerusalem) we read in verse 2, "Thus saith the Lord of hosts; I was jealous for Zion with great jealousy and I was jealous for her with great fury. Thus saith the Lord; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem." So God says He will be in both Zion and Jerusalem. Zion is the seat of government; Jerusalem is the whole nation.

"And Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the Lord of hosts the holy mountain."(vs. 3) This is similar to what we have in Isaiah 2 and Micah 4, "the mountain of the Lord." It will help you understand prophecy, if you know that mountain usually means nation. Micah, Isaiah, Zechariah and others are actually saying that prophetic Jerusalem will be the nation of the Lord.

Then in verse 7 of Zechariah 8 we read, "Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Behold I will save My people from the east country, and from the west country; and I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness." God is saying that "My people" (Israel) will be brought to this Jerusalem by Him, and they will be His people "in truth and in righteousness." i.e. they will be Christians.

Preachers Confuse Old City with New Jerusalem

Now if we take these prophecies and attempt to put them in little old Palestine, we are in trouble! It is just not big enough. As these scriptures show, the Lord will dwell there, Zion will be there, many from the east country and the west country, a multitude of men and cattle, and it will spread abroad and be so large that angels will have to measure it.

I have some statistics on the Jewish occupied area of old Jerusalem and Palestine that will show it is not the size for a "multitude of people." Jerusalem, as it was set aside by the United Nations, has 289 sq. miles. It is about 20 miles long and 15 miles wide. That would be about the size of Phoenix, Arizona and its suburbs or twice the size of Baltimore.

The entire country of Palestine, as established by the U.N. mandate, was 7,993 sq. miles. Since the so-called war in 1967 the area controlled has increased substantially, but even if they took control of several entire Arab countries, it would still be smaller than an average American state! That is hardly fitting for Zechariah's prophecy, is it?