Today (June 2, 2008) is Jerusalem Day in Israel. With parades in the streets and prayers in synagogues, Jewish citizens will celebrate the reunification of Jerusalem in the Six Day War of 1967.
Jerusalem remains, however, a contested city. Palestinians believe that East Jerusalem, including the holy site now occupied by the Al Aksa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock Shrine, belong to a long awaited Palestinian State. Many Israeli’s, however, are determined that Jerusalem will never be divided again.
While many only see the conflict over Jerusalem as a political and military issue, there is an interesting prophecy in the Bible that reflects another factor. Together with Old Testament predictions about the future of Jerusalem, Jesus foresaw the fall of Jerusalem and added, “Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (Luke 21:24).
The “times of the Gentiles” began in 605 BC when Babylon conquered Jerusalem. Since then, Israel has controlled it’s most holy city only for brief periods of time.
So what about today? Does Israel’s control of Jerusalem signal that “the time of the Gentiles” has come to an end (See also Rom 11:25)? All we have to do is look at the skyline of Jerusalem to see that this city is still being contested by Gentiles.
When, in 1967, the Israeli Defense Force took control of East Jerusalem and the site occupied prior to 70 AD by the first and second Jewish temples, officials quickly returned control of the holy site to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to avoid further inflaming neighboring Arab states.
The result is that the Dome of the Rock remains as evidence of a complex problem that has defied international efforts for a just and merciful solution.
Seems to me that God’s pattern has always been to fulfill prophecy in unpredictable ways that can’t be anticipated until he brings his predictions to pass. So I look at the Gentile presence in Jerusalem not as a way to see where we are on God’s prophetic calendar– but rather as an indication that the most contested piece of real estate in the world gives us a very visible indication that God is still in control of his plan.
As the place of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and promised return, Jerusalem is not just a Jewish-Palestinian issue. She is linked historically, geographically, and prophetically to our faith– like no other city in the world.