Scripture instructs the Believer to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Why Jerusalem? In the days of David and Solomon, it was where the Believer went to obtain proximity to the Lord.
Naturally, it must be seen through the point of reference of someone in Old Testament times. In this day, we can approach the Father through Christ in a way that was not dared thought of then, with complete confidence in His grace (Hebrews 4:16).
Jerusalem was the focal point of feast days and religious commemoration in the Old Testament. The city of Jerusalem is mentioned 806 times in the Bible, 660 in the Old Testament alone. The book of Revelation concludes with the New Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is synonymous in name to the dwelling of God with His people. And in history it is inseparable from the children of Israel.
Why then do Muslims venerate and claim Jerusalem? An oblique reference to the farthest mosque (Al-Aqsa) in the 17th chapter of the Qur’an is the sole incident where Jerusalem is hinted at but not named. The account in the Qur’an chronicles a fantastical tale where Mohammed travels to an outlying mosque from Mecca and journeys from that point on a winged horse named al-Buraq to paradise. In Mohammed’s time, there was no mosque in Jerusalem, or indeed any Muslims who would have need of a mosque.
With Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Israel, a host of people predicted doom. This move was also thought to be hurtful to many of the world’s Muslims.
Doubtless, what many didn’t consider was how God sees the move, or indeed his covenant people, Israel.
When I consider the Jewish claim to Jerusalem and the Muslim counter-claim I think of the wise ruling by Solomon. Now, Solomon’s judgement about a dispute over a baby is not an allegory for Jerusalem. It’s simply an account of a dispute that showcased the wisdom Solomon displayed and of more importance, the God who gave it to him.
Briefly, two women claim a living child for their own, alleging that the dead child belongs to the other. Solomon instructs that the child be cut in half and the pieces shared among the claimants. The real mother is concerned with the life of her child and the false mother with her case against her rival. Thus, Solomon is able to ascertain the real mother and make his judgement.
Looking at that account, I think of Jerusalem, a city that the Muslims/Palestinians want to divide. It’s an impossible thing to divide, and makes about as much sense as killing a child by dividing it.
When I think of the word ‘peace’ (as in we should pray for the peace of Jerusalem), it evokes for me something whole, united, complete, at rest. Dividing the city does the opposite of what I imagine peace to do.
I will be willing to concede that I may be wrong in applying a subjective connotation of the word ‘peace’ with the unity of a city, however consider that Berlin was not a peaceful city during the cold war, when it was divided and two antagonists faced off against each other within its boundaries.
The nations move carefully, and some spitefully, when it comes to Jerusalem. It is my hope that God would cause the division in the world over Jerusalem to point the people of Israel to the One they have pierced, and mourn for him and repent of the time they wasted in not believing him.
It is also my hope that the nations that are arrayed against a Jerusalem under Jewish control can consider God’s will before attacking her and ending up on the wrong side.
From Psalm 122:
6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May those who love you be secure.
7 May there be peace within your walls
and security within your citadels.”
8 For the sake of my family and friends,
I will say, “Peace be within you.”
9 For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
I will seek your prosperity. (NIV)