God inspired the prophet Zechariah to write, more than 2,500 years ago, that "it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces" (Zechariah 12:3). For nearly a century, Jerusalem has fulfilled this prophecy.
Many cities around the world are from time to time the focus of violent conflicts. But the city of Jerusalem—especially its Temple Mount—is again and again at the center of world attention. This is no surprise to anyone familiar with Bible prophecy. Dozens of prophecies indicate that the city of Jerusalem will dominate news headlines just before Jesus Christ's return and the end of this age.
In recent years, seemingly endless political negotiations have been launched in pursuit of Middle East peace. Yet success has eluded every effort, just as the Bible predicted! God inspired the prophet Zechariah to write, more than 2,500 years ago, that "it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces" (Zechariah 12:3). For nearly a century, Jerusalem has fulfilled this prophecy. Britain, Israel and the United States have all tried—and failed—to bring peace to this troubled city and its region. Now the Europeans, the Russians, the United Nations and even the Vatican want to try to solve this age-old problem. According to Bible prophecy, all who try will fail—until Christ returns!
Zechariah recorded another end-time prophecy. "Behold, the day of the Lord is coming… I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem; the city shall be taken, the houses rifled, and the women ravished. Half of the city shall go into captivity, but the remnant of the people shall not be cut off from the city" (Zechariah 14:1–2). This prophecy appears to be on the verge of fulfillment. Jerusalem was devastated by the Babylonians in the seventh century bc, and by the Romans in 70ad. Later the Arabs, and then the Ottoman Turks, controlled the city. However, the prophesied end-time conquest and devastation will come at the hands of "all the nations." In previous sieges, the entire city was conquered and laid waste, but in the last days only half the city will be conquered. This could well be the Jewish half, if the other half—East Jerusalem—becomes the recognized capital of a full Palestinian state, as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has proposed.
Abbas, like most Palestinians, wants Arab-dominated East Jerusalem—which Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war and has annexed in spite of international objections—to be the officially recognized capital of a Palestinian state in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has tried to focus on other less contentious issues when negotiating with Palestinian leaders; as a spokesman for Olmert's Kadima party noted, "The issue of Jerusalem is very sensitive and in this regard it is preferable to begin with issues that have a chance of achieving understanding rather than starting with issues where the disagreements initially are large." However, negotiations over the status of Jerusalem cannot be avoided indefinitely. As those negotiations proceed, it will become more and more obvious that conditions are developing in Jerusalem which could see key Bible prophecies fulfilled in the near future.
Jeremiah records another of God's prophetic warnings to the people of Jerusalem, "I will hand them over to trouble, to all kingdoms of the earth" (Jeremiah 15:4). Jerusalem has been dominated by individual nations at different times, but never by all the kingdoms of the earth. However, if United Nations observers and peacekeepers enter the picture, this prophecy will be fulfilled in a remarkable way. The Bible also reveals that Jerusalem's future devastation will come suddenly at the hands of a multitude of nations (Jeremiah 6:26; 15:8; Isaiah 29:5; 30:13). Recent decades' developments in high-tech warfare, and anti-Israel hatreds inflamed by Arab nations and their allies, add ominous relevance to this prophecy.
Jesus Christ revealed an even greater significance of these Old Testament prophecies. When Jesus' disciples asked Him, "what will be the sign of Your [second] coming, and of the end of the age?" (Matthew 24:3), He told them to watch for one particular development involving Jerusalem: "When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near" (Luke 21:20). Christ went on to reveal that "Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled" (Luke 21:24). The Bible indicates that this end-time Gentile domination of Jerusalem will last for 42 months—three-and-a-half years (see Revelation 11:2). Since 1948, the UN agenda has included an intention to place Jerusalem under international administration. This idea is gaining credence today, and variations of it have even been offered by popes and U.S. diplomats. In conjunction with numerous other prophesied end-time events, this should alert us to the real significance of the times in which we live (see Matthew 16:3; 24:32–34)!
The Temple Mount is a focal point of religious interest in Jerusalem for three major religions. Though it was once the site of Solomon's temple and of the Herodian temple during Jesus' human lifetime, Jews are now forbidden to worship on the Temple Mount, which is now occupied by Islam's Dome of the Rock! The Temple Mount has been called "the most volatile spot on the face of the earth." Bible prophecy indicates that significant events will occur on the Temple Mount just before Jesus Christ's return. These events will be a warning—for those who have eyes to see—that the end of this present age is near!
Biblical prophecies describe two prominent individuals appearing on the world stage in the end times (see Revelation 20:10). One is a powerful and persuasive political figure called the Beast (see Revelation 13:1–10; 17:12–13). The other is a highly influential religious figure known as the false prophet or man of sin (see Revelation 13:11–18; 2 Thessalonians 2). The Bible reveals that they will focus their attention on Jerusalem—and on the Temple Mount in particular. These two Satan-inspired leaders will orchestrate two distinct events repeatedly mentioned in Scripture. They will cause the daily sacrifices to cease, and they will defile the temple sanctuary (see Daniel 8:11–12; 9:27; 11:31; 12:11). These two distinct actions will take place in Jerusalem just before Christ's return (Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14). However, before the daily sacrifices can be stopped, they must begin! And before a sanctuary can be defiled, it must be established! These two events will also be extremely significant.
Remarkable as it may seem to secular minds today, plans are well underway in Jerusalem that may lead to the fulfillment of these ancient prophecies. Since 1967, Jewish scholars have been studying the location of previous temples on the Temple Mount, selecting and training priests and preparing the vessels necessary to reinstitute the daily sacrifices previously carried out in the temple. All that is needed is a place to erect a sanctuary, and permission to begin the sacrifices—which the Bible indicates will happen just before the end of this present age!
Daniel writes of a coming leader who will deceitfully enter into a covenant (Daniel 11:31–32) with the Jewish people—a covenant that appears to include the resumption of sacrifices and the construction of a sanctuary (Daniel 9:26–27), perhaps in exchange for ceding East Jerusalem to the Palestinians. This agreement, however, will be abruptly broken after three years (ibid.)—probably in an effort to enforce religious uniformity. The rebuilt sanctuary will then be defiled in some way (ibid.). Antiochus Epiphanes' actions in 168bc can be understood as a prototype of end-time events. Antiochus attempted to exterminate the Jewish religion by placing a pagan idol in the temple and offering swine's blood on the altar. Scripture describes the coming false prophet taking similar actions. He is described as one who actively opposes biblical religion and "sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God" (2 Thessalonians 2:4). These long-foretold activities will take place in Jerusalem just before Christ's Second Coming. Millions, unaware of these events' true significance, will be deceived. However, this deception will end, Jerusalem will be liberated and peace will finally be established when Jesus Christ returns to establish the kingdom of God (Zechariah 12:7–9; 14:3–11).
You can avoid being misled by these momentous events if you understand what the Bible clearly reveals about the end times. Study your Bible, watch world events, request our free booklet The Beast of Revelation: Myth, Metaphor or Soon-Coming Reality? if you have not done so already—and keep reading Tomorrow's World, where you will see prophecy come alive!