Jerusalem and New Jerusalem – Where Is the True Holy Land of Christians?
Jerusalem Geography and City Information
Jerusalem is located on a high plateau, about 55km (34 miles) east of the Mediterranean Sea and 25 km (16 miles) west of the Dead Sea. Israel has occupied Jerusalem since the 1967 Middle East War. However, no country owns Jerusalem under international law. Israel’s administrative capital is Tel Aviv.
At the present time, urbanized Jerusalem has greatly expanded compared to it in the Bible. The northeast area is where the ancient city, a background of the Bible, was established. At the time, the Kidron valley to the east and the Hinnom valley to the south surrounded the city.
In the old city, there is a place where Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, considered to be holy places, are concentrated together. Not only is the city area just 1 km2, but it is also divided into four sections: Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Armenian. According to the 2000 Jerusalem Statistical Yearbook, there are 1204 synagogues, 158 churches, and 73 mosques in Jerusalem.
On the east side of the old city is the Mount of Olives where Jesus ascended. At the foot of Mount of Olives is Gethsemane Garden, where Jesus’ passion began, and the Temple Mount, where Solomon [[Solomon, King Who Led Israel’s Golden Years]] built the temple. Mount Moriah is the place where Abraham was going to sacrifice Isaac. The Wailing Wall, a part of the Temple Mount’s old wall remains, is considered the most sacred prayer place in Judaism. Legend has it, the Al-Aqsa Mosque was built on a rock, where Mohammad the founder of Islam ascended from. It is the third holiest place to the Muslims, after Mecca and Medina.
In the north-west part of the old city, there is Golgotha (Calvary) hill where Jesus carried the cross up the hill. Here, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is established. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is divided into different sections and many denominations including Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Coptic, Syrian Orthodox, and Armenian Orthodox, share the church. Muslims have the keys to the church. Near Mount Zion in the south of the old city, there is the tomb of King David, in addition to Mark’s upper room, where Jesus kept the last supper [[Passover and the Last Supper]], as well as Siloam pond.
In the 14th Century BC Amarna Letters, there is a record where Jerusalem is called Urusalim. According to the Bible, “Jebus” is another name for Jerusalem.1.
The first mention of Jerusalem is in Joshua 10:1. It was when Israel conquered Canaan under Joshua’s command. At that time Adoni-Zedek was king of Jerusalem. History scholars assume that Salem in Genesis 14 is Jerusalem. And if that is true, then Melchizedek was also king of Jerusalem.
The relationship between Israel and Jerusalem goes back to Abraham’s time. Abraham, who lived with his father Terah, left his hometown (Ur), settled in Haran, and at God’s instruction moved to Canaan. Today, this area is Israel. Moreover, Abraham received the test of his life on Mount Moriah.
Later, Abraham’s descendant, Jacob, and his family moved to Egypt, lived there according to God’s prophecy, and became guests of the Gentiles for 430 years. The Israelites came out of Egypt around BC 1498 just after keeping the Passover [Passover and Exodus]. Israel underwent a forty-year desert-life under Moses’ leadership and entered Canaan, the promised land.
God distributed Canaan to Israel’s twelve tribes. Israel went through the age of Judges and reached the age of Israel’s unified kingdom. Israel’s second king, David, moved the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem and made it the kingdom’s capital. After Solomon completed God’s temple, he firmly established it as the center of faith.
Jerusalem became a sacred and divine area, but it is a repetitive history of disputes between country and religion. Aldous Huxley, a British novelist, and critic, sarcastically called Jerusalem, “the slaughterhouse of religions”.
((Jerusalem: The Biography, Simon Sebag Montefiore, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, p. 23, ISBN 9780307266514))
Captivity and Destruction
Around 587 BC, Nebuchadnezzar II of New Babylonia captured Jerusalem. At that time, the Babylonians completely destroyed Jerusalem Temple that Solomon had built and took many Jews captive. Afterward, Persia’s Cyrus the Great conquered New Babylonia and freed the Jews.
The Jews who returned to their homeland rebuilt the Temple, however after Greece’s reign, in the time of Roman rule, the Romans persecuted Israel. The Jews defied and went to war against Rome. In AD 70, the Titus-led Roman army captured the city. Flames surrounded Judah’s capital and along with the many people killed, it became a pile of ashes.
Jerusalem in the Middle Ages – The Crusades
In AD 637, Jerusalem fell into Islam’s hands. Consequently, Pilgrim’s footsteps to the holy city for repentance and pilgrimage (journey to the holy land) followed. Accordingly Saracens (Arab Muslims) welcomed pilgrims for commercial purposes. After Seljuk Turk Saracens captured Israel’s capital city in 1076, they started to hinder pilgrimages. This provided the motive for the Crusades.
When a foreign enemy put pilgrims in danger and threatened the Eastern Roman Empire capital, Constantinople (Istanbul), the Eastern Roman Empire Emperor asked the pope for reinforcements. Pope Urban II convened a religious conference in Clermont, France in November 1095 and appealed for the recapture of the Holy Land.
The Catholics used incentives in order to recruit Crusade forces under the pope’s leadership. A brief application guideline summary.
The Pope will protect the (Crusade) soldier’s family and property.
All sins of a (Crusade) soldier can be forgiven.
If a felon serving prison time becomes a (Crusade) soldier, all his sins, worldly and religious will be forgiven.
After a (Crusade) soldiers’ debts are canceled and if he dies in battle, he will go to heaven
Asia has many saints’ skeletal remains, gold treasures, and beautiful girls which soldiers could take as the spoils of war.
Many people, including poor people, and farmers signed up because of such exceptional conditions. Soldiers believed if they swept away the heathen pagans and died, God would save them. Among the soldiers were innocent young men, con artists, hoodlums, and hooligans, as well as prisoners. Starting with the first crusade in the autumn of 1096, 9 large battles took place. The soldiers, consisting of delinquents, suddenly turned into a band of robbers looking for gold and silver treasures and beautiful women that the pope had promised.
The Crusades between Catholics and Saracens for nearly 200 years ended with the Saracen’s victory. This is the reason for calling the Crusades, the ‘Pope’s Failed Holy War’. The word ‘Crusade’ came about because soldiers had a red cross insignia on their right arm and shoulder.
Present Age-Modern Jerusalem
Zionism took place at the end of the nineteenth century, beginning with influential and powerful European Jews. This outcome came after the end of World War II. In 1948 Israel declared independence. Since then, Israel has triumphed in the four wars in the Middle East and restored Jerusalem. It has been just 1900 years since the Roman army destroyed the capital of Judah.
Jerusalem has the meaning of ‘peaceful city’. However, contrary to Jerusalem’s name, she is called the ‘Middle East Powder keg’. The reason is the never-ending bloody battles between three religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) and two peoples (Israel and Palestine). In the 21st century, Israel occupies Jerusalem. But it is hard to find the atmosphere of the backbone of faith that David pursued. The interesting point is despite all that, Jerusalem’s divine image is as sacred as ever and has not faded away.
Prophecy about the New Jerusalem
Since David made Jerusalem the capital of the kingdom, whenever it came time for God’s Feasts, such as the Passover [[Passover Date]], etc., Israel’s entire assembly would gather in Jerusalem. Thus the Israelites passed this religious tradition down into the New Testament times. The gospel journalists wrote that Jesus went up to Jerusalem when it came time for the feasts.2. In particular, Jesus stayed there all the way through to the last week of His public life.
Although the history of war outweighs the reign of peace, regardless of all ages and countries and all time and places, those who look to God’s salvation pay attention to Jerusalem. In reality, the Bible prophesies the inhabitants of Jerusalem will receive God’s blessings.3
‘Jerusalem’ or ‘Jerusalem Temple’ mentioned in the Bible often draws the reader’s attention. The Apostle John describes in detail the Heavenly Jerusalem City, which the angel showed him. When we look at the word Heavenly Jerusalem along with the phrase ‘Holy City’, they have some points in common with the temple Solomon built. The common points are the structure, a square shape, and the length, width, and height4 all equal in measurement. In particular, the size of the inner sanctuary where the Ark of the Covenant is kept, that is the Most Holy Place [[Most Holy Place, the Secret Hidden in the Holy Place]] is the same.
The Heavenly City was built out of jasper, the foundation stones consisted of twelve kinds of jewels, the twelve doors were made of pearl, and the city streets were made of pure gold, clear as transparent glass. The size is also formidable. The length, width, and height of the city John saw in Revelation were all equal in size, 12,000 Stadia. Stadia is a Greek measurement, and 1 stadia is 185m (600ft). Furthermore, if you do the measurement conversion, the Heavenly City is a 2,200 km (7,217,800 ft) cube structure.
The New Jerusalem City, described in Revelation 21, is a building impossible to build with human hands. There is a clue at the beginning of chapter 21 that reads, “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven…prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.”, “…I will show you the bride, the wife of the lamb…and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven…”5
The Old Testament expresses Jerusalem as, “… rise up, sit enthroned Jerusalem.”, “… and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth.”, ” “…all you who love her (Jerusalem);… As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.” Jerusalem is associated with a person, specifically, a woman or a mother not just simply the name of a place or building.6
The writer of the Galatians [[The Secret in Galatians]], the Apostle Paul, gives a clear answer in one word about the existence of New Jerusalem which is like a mystery. Heavenly Jerusalem is our ‘Mother’.7. According to Paul’s testimony, Jerusalem in Arabia had already lost authority as a holy place two thousand years ago. Paul encouraged Christians to turn their sights towards Mother, who is the “Jerusalem that is above (in heaven)”. And that shows that the Holy Land Christians must seek is, ‘Heavenly Jerusalem’, in other words, God the Mother.