To use our advanced search functionality (to search for terms in specific content), please use syntax such as the following examples:
A troubled city with an ancient past has a remarkable future ahead! What does the Bible say will happen to Jerusalem before Jesus Christ’s return—and after?
When the Palestinian nationalist organization Hamas announced in December 2022 its plans to “liberate Jerusalem and its holy sites” from Israeli rule, few outside of Israel took notice. Widely denounced as a terrorist group, Hamas celebrated its 35th anniversary by circulating maps showing a “Palestine” stretching from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea—implying the end of Israel and the establishment of Jerusalem as Palestine’s capital city. Though few expect Hamas’ threats to succeed, they remain a source of tension and bloodshed.
Though it is at the center of Middle East conflict, relatively few today think of Jerusalem as a true “world city.” The American journal Foreign Policy publishes a ranking of “Global Cities” highlighting the metropolitan areas that are at the heart of economic, political, media, and cultural importance on our planet. As of January 2023, London in the United Kingdom and New York City in the United States are the top-rated cities at an “Alpha++” designation. “Alpha+” cities include Beijing and Shanghai in China, Tokyo in Japan, and the island nation of Singapore. Falling below “Beta” and “Gamma” rankings, Jerusalem in Israel is rated as a city of “Sufficiency,” behind more than 200 other cities on the planet deemed more important.
Financiers often point to New York City in the United States or London in the UK as the capital of the world. Los Angeles, California, is sometimes considered the world’s entertainment capital. More than 1.5 billion Muslims around the world look to Mecca as the most important city of their faith, and more than a billion Roman Catholics look to Vatican City. For sheer size, the Tokyo metropolitan area in Japan is the world’s largest urban area, home to more than 35 million residents.
By today’s most popular measures, the ancient city of Jerusalem may not seem to be very important. Yet your Bible reveals a little-known truth: Jerusalem will be at the center of prophesied end-time events and will soon become the capital of planet Earth!
King Nebuchadnezzar built the Hanging Gardens in Babylon, long considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The ancient Greek historian Herodotus wrote of Babylon that, in addition to its size, “in magnificence there is no other city that approaches to it” (Histories, book 1, section 178).
Babylon was once the world’s largest city. Historians and archaeologists today say it was the first city to surpass a population of 200,000. In 2019, it was declared a World Heritage City by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, joining Jerusalem, which was given that designation in 1981.
The Bible documents King Nebuchadnezzar’s great pride and boasting over his accomplishments. The prophet Daniel had warned the king to humble himself. “At the end of the twelve months he was walking about the royal palace of Babylon. The king spoke, saying, ‘Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?’” (Daniel 4:29–30). God punished King Nebuchadnezzar, who finally learned his lesson: “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down” (v. 37).
Nebuchadnezzar’s mighty empire eventually fell, and the great city of Babylon fell with it.
The kingdom of Babylon gave way to the great Medo-Persian Empire, and when that empire fell to the Greeks, the world saw the rise of the Greco-Macedonian Empire. The powerful warrior Alexander the Great led military campaigns across Europe and Asia, through which he established more than a dozen cities named “Alexandria” in his honor. The Alexandria in Egypt served as capital of the Egyptian kingdom for nearly a thousand years before the Muslim conquest in 641 AD. Upon the rise of the Roman Empire, the city of Rome rose to world prominence, with Caesars and Popes reigning from its famous seven hills.
Why do these empires matter? Your Bible reveals a succession of great empires. The prophet Daniel foretold this, describing a mysterious figure with head of gold, chest and arms of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron, and feet of iron and clay (Daniel 2:32–43). We read also of a ten-horned beast that represents world empires (Daniel 7). The Apostle John prophesied of an end-time “beast” figure who will rule the world from a powerful capital. How powerful will this beast power become? We read that “authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation” (Revelation 13:7).
The good news is that Jesus Christ, the coming King of kings, will conquer and destroy this coming beast power (Revelation 17:14). But where will Christ the King set up His government? What city on earth will be the capital of the world?
The answer is, Jerusalem! Many different scriptures confirm this wonderful fact. Notice a specific prophecy concerning the future of this city: “The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it” (Isaiah 2:1–2).
As regular Tomorrow’s World magazine readers may know, mountains are a biblical symbol for a kingdom or government. Isaiah stated plainly that the Lord’s Kingdom would be established in Jerusalem. Yes, Jerusalem will be the capital of the world! Notice that “all nations shall flow to it,” submitting to the new world government.
We must understand that this will not be government in the hands of selfish human beings. The new government will be the world-ruling Kingdom of God. This world-ruling Kingdom will be ruled by the Savior and King of kings, Jesus Christ! That’s the good news we all look forward to. I hope that you’re looking forward to that time of world peace, yearning for the Kingdom to come, and praying, “Your Kingdom come,” as we’re taught to pray in Matthew 6:10!
When the Prince of Peace returns, Jerusalem will become His capital—the center of world government, religion, and education. Jerusalem’s very name means “city of peace,” but that name does not seem to reflect today’s reality in the troubled capital. In fact, most modern nations do not even recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital because of that nation’s ongoing disputes with the Palestinians, who also claim the city as their capital. There was worldwide controversy when in December 2017 U.S. President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city. Australia followed suit for a while, but in October 2022 reversed its decision and returned to its prior position that considers Tel Aviv the Israeli capital.
Since the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel has fought wars and negotiated peace treaties with several Arab states. But Israel has never been able to negotiate a permanent peace agreement with the Palestinians. Before his death in 2001, Faisal Husseini, a representative of the Palestinian Authority in Jerusalem, stated that Israel “must withdraw from all of east Jerusalem to the pre-’67 borders… all settlements and Israeli neighborhoods in east Jerusalem must be dismantled… Israel must compensate the Palestinians for the damages it has inflicted including the changes in the character of the city and the lives of its citizens” (The Jerusalem Post, November 19, 1999).
Of course, Israel has not withdrawn from East Jerusalem and does not intend to. But in July 2000, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak did what no Israeli negotiator had done before—he proposed that Israel would grant administrative self-governance to Palestinians in East Jerusalem. But Barak wanted Israel to retain security control over East Jerusalem, and the Palestinians rejected his proposal. Negotiations broke down, leading to the current conflict. What caused the impasse in negotiations? The one issue that appears unsolvable is this: “Who will control Jerusalem?”
If both sides consider their positions non-negotiable, there’s an impasse. The Israeli position remains unchanged—that is, they insist that Jerusalem will remain united under sole Israeli sovereignty.
Yes, the gap between views over the sovereignty of Jerusalem is wide and deep! What does the international community think about this conflict? What is the solution? In 1980, when Israel declared Jerusalem to be Israel’s “united and eternal capital,” the Vatican strongly objected to that declaration. Later, in 1984, Pope John Paul II called for Jerusalem to have a “special internationally guaranteed status.” As recently as his Easter address in April of 2022, Pope Francis urged that Israelis and Palestinians “enjoy free access to the Holy Places in mutual respect for the rights of each.”
We can be sure that the status of Jerusalem will continue to be a major issue in geopolitics. You need to be watching the Middle East—and the trends that will mean major changes in political and religious control over the city of Jerusalem.
Jesus spoke of a time when enemy armies will invade the Holy Land and surround the city of Jerusalem. “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near” (Luke 21:20). So, we see that there are at least two signs Jesus tells us to watch for: the “abomination of desolation” (Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14), and Jerusalem surrounded by armies. These will not just be any armies of the Middle East, but the Gentile armies that will control Jerusalem for three-and-a-half years, as we read in Revelation 11:2. Continuing in Luke 21, we read the following:
For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled (Luke 21:22–24).
The Apostle John wrote, “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).
For 42 months, the Holy City, Jerusalem, will be controlled not by the Jews, but by the Gentiles. As you read through the book of Revelation, you’ll see that this period of three-and-a-half years precedes the return of Christ.
After Daniel was given a revelatory vision by an angel, he asked the meaning of the message. The angel told him, “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end” (Daniel 12:9). More than 2,500 years later, we can now understand these prophecies—this is the time of the end!
These prophecies contain one vital end-time detail that many fail to notice: “And from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days” (v. 11). At the time of the end, shortly before the return of Christ, God reveals that the daily sacrifice will be stopped, or “taken away.” This obviously implies that the sacrifices must first be started! The Roman armies destroyed Jerusalem and the second temple in 70 AD. The Jews have not offered temple sacrifices since that time.
But consider that in ancient times, when they returned to Jerusalem from exile, the Jews actually began sacrificing before they laid the foundation to rebuild their temple. The Jews also observed the Feast of Tabernacles with daily sacrifices (Ezra 3:4), and “from the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to the Lord, although the foundation of the temple of the Lord had not been laid” (v. 6).
Notice another important point: The exiles returned where? Ezra refers to the location of the holy place as the “House of God” although the temple had not yet been rebuilt (Ezra 3:8). This was around 536 BC. But there was no building as yet—the rest of Ezra 3 describes the laying of the temple’s foundation.
The point is that sacrifices must be presented in a holy place—but this example in Ezra shows us that sacrifices were made daily without a physical building called a temple. The returning Jewish exiles referred to the Holy Place as “the House of God,” even though no temple existed. In recent years, Jews have been pressuring for a religious presence on the Temple Mount, where only Muslims are currently allowed to worship. The holiest place currently under the control of the Jewish religious authorities is the Western Wall, or the Wailing Wall—the western retaining wall to the Temple Mount.
But sacrifices are not yet possible for another reason. One long-missing element for the Jews to begin sacrifices has been the ritually pure calves to kill. The carcasses of these calves are to be burned for the ashes used in ancient purification rituals. Known as “red heifers,” these special calves must be at least two years old and never used for work. They must have no brands or punctured ears, no blemishes, and no more than two non-red hairs. The Jewish Temple Institute has for decades been preparing for future animal sacrifices, and in 2022 the Institute received from a Texas ranch five potentially acceptable year-old calves that will be inspected for ritual purity as they age (“Red Heifers Arrive in Israel,” Israel365News.com, September 16, 2022). Will one of these be used in preparation for a restored daily sacrifice—with or without a restored temple building?
Jesus Christ will come from Heaven with all the resurrected saints to rule the earth for a thousand years of peace and prosperity. Jerusalem will be His capital, the capital of the world. Jerusalem will be not only the world’s governmental capital, but also its educational capital.
The great Educator and Teacher, Jesus Christ, will teach true knowledge based on the word of God. “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.’ 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 8:3–5).
During the Millennium, the first thousand years of Christ’s reign on the earth as King of kings, all nations on earth will look to Jerusalem as the capital of the world and will send representatives to worship Him. “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” (Zechariah 14:16).
All nations will finally learn the way to peace, not war. And they will learn the true way of love toward God and love toward neighbor. Nations will no longer desire military power and go to war to solve problems. They will want the truth taught to them from the world’s capital city, Jerusalem.
Many people 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 shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; 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 (Isaiah 2:3–4).
The city of Jerusalem will finally live up to its name, “City of Peace,” because the Lord, the Eternal, the glorified Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, will personally dwell there. As He said, “I will return to Zion, and dwell in the midst of Jerusalem.” That’s when we’ll begin to experience genuine world peace. As we’ve read, Jerusalem will be called the “City of Truth” (Zechariah 8:3). All nations will learn the eternal principles, laws, and values that guarantee peace and prosperity to all. As Isaiah foretold, the people will come to the Holy Land and say, “‘He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.’ For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:3).
The future of Jerusalem is also the good news of your future—and the future of the world. Eventually, the New Jerusalem will come down from Heaven to this earth as the capital of the universe, more glorious than any humanly designed capital. You can read about that magnificent time in Revelation 21–22. In the meantime, we look forward to the soon-coming establishment of earthly Jerusalem as the world’s capital.
The “city of peace” has experienced vicious wars and bloodshed over the centuries. But it will soon achieve peace. Until then, if you live by the laws of the coming King, Jesus Christ, and you receive the Holy Spirit as your indwelling source of power and peace, you can have a foretaste in your own life now of what the world will soon experience. God speed that day!