Jerusalem is not just the focal point of today's Middle East conflicts. Your Bible reveals that Jerusalem will be the world capital, and that a new Jerusalem will ultimately come to planet Earth!
The city of Jerusalem is a focus of three major religions: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. The modern nation of Israel was established in 1948. Even though it controlled just half of the city, Israel declared Jerusalem its capital in 1950. After the six-day war in 1967, Israel united the old city with the new. Today, Palestinians also claim Jerusalem as their capital. The peace process between these peoples has stalled.
When we consider all the conflicts in the Middle East, the prospects for lasting peace look very dim. But Bible prophecy reveals that Jerusalem will not only be the future capital of the descendants of ancient Israel and Judah, but that Jerusalem will be the capital of the world. Even more amazing, Bible prophecy proclaims that a New Jerusalem will eventually come to earth from heaven, where it will be occupied by God the Father and the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Will you be a part of that glorious future?
Today, the Middle East remains a region of conflict and violence. Some observers are hopeful that Israel and the Palestinians can establish lasting peace. One of the obstacles to peace is the question of Jerusalem. Can Jerusalem function as the capital of both Israel, and a Palestinian state?
To the Jews, Jerusalem was the city of the great prophets, and the capital of the Kingdom of Israel under King David and his son King Solomon. The first and second temples were the center of worship until the destruction of the city by the Romans in 70ad. Jerusalem is also the third most holy city of Islam, after the cities of Mecca and Medina. Today the Islamic Mosque of Omar, or the Dome of the Rock, dominates the Temple Mount. The Arabic term for the holy place is "al-Haram as-Sharif" which means "The Noble Sanctuary." Muslims believe that Muhammad ascended to Heaven from that site. And that God told Abraham to sacrifice Ishmael rather than Isaac, at that location. Christians revere the city as the place where their Savior was crucified, and where He taught in the Temple. Christians believe Jesus will return to establish His Kingdom, with Jerusalem as world capital.
What lies ahead for the city of Jerusalem? The Scriptures reveal significant prophetic milestones. Regular readers of Tomorrow's World understand the end-time Tribulation and Day of the Lord, the 3½ years before Christ's return. Two major events during that time will focus on the city of Jerusalem. Notice what your Bible says—that for those 3½ years, God's two witnesses will challenge the Beast power, the coming European superpower we have been warning you about. "And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth" (Revelation 11:3).
God has always given a witness to the rebels and wicked of this world. The world thinks that it will have gained a victory over the two witnesses, who will be killed and will lie dead in Jerusalem for 3½ days. But God will resurrect the two dead witnesses—to the shock of their persecutors.
We read: "Now after the three-and-a-half days the breath of life from God entered them [the two witnesses], and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, 'Come up here.' And they ascended to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies saw them. In the same hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. In the earthquake seven thousand people were killed, and the rest were afraid and gave glory to the God of heaven" (Revelation 11:11–13).
What else will transpire during the 3½ years of the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord? Notice: "Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood, saying, 'Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there. But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months'" (Revelation 11:1–2).
Yes, Bible prophecy is clear. Jerusalem will be conquered by Gentiles and be oppressed for 3½ years, or forty-two months. During this forty-two month period, Jerusalem will be trodden down by the Gentiles. The two witnesses will prophesy for 1,260 days. The Church—true Christians—will be taken to a safe place in the wilderness for 3½ "times"—3½ years—and the Beast power will continue for 42 months.
What will happen at the end of those 42 months? The last of seven trumpets in the book of Revelation announces the establishment of God's kingdom on earth. The heavenly announcement ensures the end of mankind's rush to destruction and cosmocide. "Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, 'The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!'" (Revelation 11:15).
The general resurrection of faithful Christians will take place at this seventh trumpet, or the last trumpet as it is called in 1 Corinthians 15. That is the time when the dead in Christ will be transformed from mortal to immortal. They will be born into the royal, divine family of God. Scripture describes that transformation: "Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; [we are now flesh and blood. We have not yet inherited the Kingdom of God]; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality" (1 Corinthians 15:50–53).
Today's Christians want to be in that resurrection. If you feel God is calling you, and you want to make significant changes in your life, you may want to counsel with one of our representatives from the regional office nearest you, listed on page 4 of this magazine. You will have the opportunity to talk with someone who can answer your Bible questions and help you reflect on your desire to repent and be baptized. Remember the Apostle Peter's instruction to the masses of repentant people in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost in 31ad: "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38). Not only will the seventh trumpet signal the resurrection of faithful Christians, but it will also signal the final judgment on rebellious nations. Revelation 15 introduces the seven last plagues on rebellious human beings. John describes the heavenly scene this way: "Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever" (Revelation 15:7).
As long-time readers of this magazine are aware, the seven seals of Revelation describe prophetic events from the time of Christ through the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord. In fact, the seventh seal (Revelation 8) represents the seven trumpet events during the one-year Day of the Lord, and the seventh trumpet (Revelation 11:15) represents the seven last plagues.
John describes the sixth of the seven last plagues leading to the battle commonly referred to as Armageddon: "Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty" (Revelation 16:12–14).
Then, Jesus warns us all: "'Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.' And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon" (v. 15).
The battle of Armageddon has been described as the final battle between good and evil. The prophet Zechariah describes the setting for that battle. "Behold, the day of the Lord is coming, and your spoil will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem" (Zechariah 14:1).
Jerusalem will be the focus of the final battle. And who will win that battle? "Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as He fights in the day of battle. And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, from east to west, making a very large valley; half of the mountain shall move toward the north and half of it toward the south" (Zechariah 14:3–4).
Yes, Jesus Christ will once again set foot on planet Earth. He will conquer all rebellious nations. As it states in Revelation 17:14, "the Lamb will overcome them"—that is, all the military powers who fight against Christ at His coming. Notice the punishment that hateful and rebellious nations receive because they thought they could fight against God: "And this shall be the plague with which the Lord will strike all the people who fought against Jerusalem: Their flesh shall dissolve while they stand on their feet, their eyes shall dissolve in their sockets, and their tongues shall dissolve in their mouths" (Zechariah 14:12).
The King of kings will put an end to all wars among nations. He will teach all peoples the way to peace. But it will take time. Some nations and peoples learn the hard way. Jerusalem will be the world capital. All nations will send representatives to worship the King, Jesus Christ, in Jerusalem. Notice: "And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, on them there will be no rain" (Zechariah 14:16–17).
Human beings have never learned the way to lasting peace. Indeed, "the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes" (Romans 3:17–18). The King of kings will teach the nations the way to peace. Jerusalem will be the center of world government and education, and all nations will come to Jerusalem to learn God's way of love and peace. "Many nations shall come and say, 'Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.' For out of Zion the law shall go forth, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between many peoples, and rebuke strong nations afar off; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore" (Micah 4:2–3).
The nations will learn the Ten Commandments and the entire way of life taught by Christ, the way of life recorded in the Scriptures. Notice this inspiring description of Jerusalem's future: "Thus says the Lord: 'I will return to Zion, and dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be called the City of Truth, the Mountain of the Lord of hosts, the Holy Mountain'" (Zechariah 8:3).
Jerusalem is not now called the city of Truth. But it soon will be, when God's Kingdom is established all over the world. Continue reading in the book of Zechariah. Listen to this beautiful description of peace and family activity in Jerusalem, typical of peace in nations around the world. "Thus says the Lord of hosts: 'Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each one with his staff in his hand because of great age. The streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets'" (Zechariah 8:4–5).
The prophet Isaiah gives us a picture of the future joy within Jerusalem: "For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing, and her people a joy. I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in My people; the voice of weeping shall no longer be heard in her, nor the voice of crying" (Isaiah 65:17–19).
God plans a glorious future for us and for Jerusalem. He also will create new heavens and a new earth, along with a New Jerusalem. After the Millennium and the Great White Throne Judgment, God will purify the creation by fire. The lake of fire will expand over all the earth to purify it. Notice: "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up" (2 Peter 3:10--).
The lake of fire is described in Revelation 20:14-15. Revelation 21 describes the New Jerusalem. The Apostle John writes, "Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband" (Revelation 21:1–2).
Faithful Christians will eventually live in that New Jerusalem. Those who long to "go to heaven" should notice that God's very city is coming to planet Earth! Sadly, Bible critics often dismiss the coming reality of these amazing events. They say that the book of Revelation contains apocalyptic language and allegory such that most if not all of the events it describes are not literal.
Yes, it is true that the book of Revelation uses symbolic language. But it is also true that the Bible interprets the Bible, and can help us understand not just the literal truths directly written in Scripture but also the literal truths behind symbolic passages. Remember that the Revelator Himself, Jesus Christ, wants to show us the future and the major prophetic events yet to occur in their sequence. "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place" (Revelation 1:1).
As Christians, we need to know those major events Christ reveals. Remember the blessing He pronounces on those who seriously read and retain this book: "Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near" (Revelation 1:3).
Do you marvel at this description of the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21:9? Faithful Christians, referred to in Scripture as the Lamb's wife, will live in the New Jerusalem. An angel speaks to the Apostle John and gives him this vision: "'Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb's wife' And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal" (Revelation 21:9–11).
Over centuries past, Bible artists have drawn their concepts of the New Jerusalem. It is usually depicted as a cube, as per the scriptural description (Revelation 21:16). Note that the ancient tabernacle and Holy of Holies were also cubical in shape. Many have emphasized the brilliance of the city. Consider this description from Scripture: "But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life" (Revelation 21:22–27). Yes, those who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life will receive this glorious inheritance to be with God the Father—and with the Lamb, Jesus Christ—forever.
God Almighty has an awesome plan of salvation. You can be a part of the glorious plan and inherit all things. Jesus said, "The meek shall inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:5). Faithful Christians will rule with Christ on earth in the Kingdom for a thousand years, then we will inherit all things—the universe. "He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son" (Revelation 21:7).
Today, the world is in conflict, particularly in the Middle East. But soon, Jerusalem will become the capital of planet Earth. And you can have a part in that glorious Kingdom!