Why Is Jerusalem Called The Holy City?

Guidelines for Living Daily Devotional

August 1, 2019

I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling. Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem.  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.  Zechariah 12:2-3 

A fifteenth century map of the world which is housed in the Vatican shows Jerusalem as the center of the world, and from this place radiate lines to the various continents and major cities of the world.  When I first saw that map, I smiled, but as I grew in understanding of how significant Jerusalem is to our world, no longer do my lips crease in amusement.  The ancient cartographer who drew that map also knew something of the theological importance of Jerusalem.

Actually, Jews have considered Jerusalem to be the center of the world for a long, long time.  The Mishnah, which is a commentary on oral Jewish law written about 500 AD, recognizes Jerusalem's importance.  It says, "As the navel is set in the center of the human body, so is the land of Israel the navel of the world... situated in the center of the world, and Jerusalem in the center of the land of Israel, and the sanctuary in the center of Jerusalem, and the holy place in the center of the sanctuary, and the ark in the center of the holy place, and the foundation stone before the holy place, because from it the world was founded."

And there you have it!  No other city in the world has either the history or the significance, as does Jerusalem.  Our English word Jerusalem is a combination of two ancient words, Jebus and salem which means "peace."  Possibly Melchizedek of Abraham's day had roots here because he was said to be the "King of Salem!" or the peaceful city, yet Jerusalem has been anything but a city of peace.

David and his men took the city about 1000 BC, when it became the capital of Judah.  But the Babylonians came in 603 BC and destroyed the city in seven years.  After the Romans destroyed the city in 70 AD, Jerusalem was in foreign hands, with the exception of a few years, until 1917, when the English forces under General Allenby liberated the city from the Turks,

After the Six Days War of 1967, Israel controlled this city; but the question is, "What is going to happen to Jerusalem?"   The King James translators called Jerusalem "a cup of trembling," and the prophet Zechariah recorded God's directive, saying that he would make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations, and whoever went against it would injure themselves.

Is that still true? Four thousand years of history with no breaks or exceptions say it is.  The Bible also says that when Jesus Christ returns to set up His kingdom at the end of the great conflict known as Armageddon, He will stand on the Mount of Olives which is--where?--in Jerusalem, the same mount he walked up before He turned and ascended to heaven.

Isaiah called the Jerusalem "the Holy City," yet Jeremiah pronounced woes upon it, and Jesus sighed over it saying, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing" (Matthew 23:37).

And how will peace come back to this old city so rich in history, so poor in concord?  If that question could be answered, perhaps the olive branch could become Jerusalem's symbol, but the conflict is rooted deeply in the psyche and the souls of those who live within the walls.

Jews, Muslims, Christians--all of whom have a wide spectrum of beliefs within each group--consider Jerusalem to be a holy place.  Of one thing we are certain: Someday it will be, when the King returns and takes His rightful place on the throne of our hearts, and rules and reigns in the affairs of our world.

Resource reading:  Zechariah 12-14.


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