JERUSALEMPerhaps it is the wording of certain phrase in the column, but immediately, Psalm 137 came to mind where the Jews, having been residing in Babylon during the Exile Period, composed a sorrowful lamentation over the loss of Jerusalem:
It's early in the morning as we enter Jerusalem through the Zahra door, the door through which Salahuddin al-Ayyubi entered the city. I touch the walls as I walk by to feel the history that this ancient city has accumulated over thousands of years.
There is sorrow, heartache, longing, excitement and holiness.
There is no one in the streets of the old city. Solitude has taken over the streets.
There is desolateness in the streets that lead to Al-Aqsa.
The shops are just opening. Students are tired and unwillingly walking to school. Tired faces, thoughtful eyes and deep lines walk past me.
With the recent Israeli security policies going into effect, trade, religious life and visits to East Jerusalem have decreased.
You can feel this change in the streets.
How does it feel to come face-to-face with occupation soldiers?
I am on Salahuddin Street.
Looking at the masjids, marketplaces, street taps and fountains and pulpits you can see the importance the Ottomans attached to Jerusalem and the respect they had for Jerusalem. The crescent star engravings, sultan signatures, writing engraved on ceramic tiles, stained glasses and mosaics are all proof of this.
They all seemed sorrowful to me. Sorrowful and lonely.
I break off an olive leaf. I grab a handful of soil from the ground.
It smells of Jerusalem, it smells of history, it smells Muslim. [More]
By the rivers of Babylon - there we sat down and there we wept when we remembered Zion. On the willows there we hung up our harps. For there our captors asked us for songs, and our tormentors asked for mirth, saying, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion!" How could we sing the LORD's song in a foreign land? If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither! Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy. Psalms 137:1-6The real estate of Jerusalem is the most fought over cities in the world, throughout history, blood have been spilled over the ownership of Jerusalem, from when David the King took Jerusalem as the capital through stealth, to the fall of Jerusalem into the hands of the Babylonian Empire, to the restoration of Jerusalem until Antichrist prototype, Emperor Antiochus Epiphanies came and installed a foreshadow of the abomination of desolation - where he placed the statue of Zeus in the temple of God, angering orthodox Jews and led by the rebel leader, Mattahias Maccabeus, they fought against Seleucid Dynasty. Rome would later occupy Jerusalem when Christ the Lord was born and was crucified, first for the nation of Israel and then for the rest of the world, and it would be the Roman X Legion, made up of nationalities of eastern nations (today, they would be Islamic), that destroyed the temple and Jerusalem.
The Muslim and Christian crusaders would fight battles over Jerusalem as the ownership would change hands until it fell permanently into Ottoman hands before finally being liberated by pro-Catholic, Protestant British general, Allenby, to Israel capturing the eastern portion of Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War, and today, Jerusalem is hand of the Israeli government. For now.
History is our guide and history tells us that Jerusalem would be fought over once more. The Antichrist will invade Jerusalem.
One of the least studied prophecies concerns an oracle from Zechariah predicts the fate of Jerusalem in the future:
See, a day is coming from the LORD, when the plunder taken from you will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses looted and the women raped; half the city shall go into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle. Zechariah 14:1-3Jewish historian, Josephus, extensively documented the fate of the Jerusalemites during the Jewish War of 67-70AD, the fate suffered by the residents there were horrible. Gangs of looters roamed the city, searching for food, and one report of a mother slewing her infant as she nursed and cooked the infant, attracting the attention of looters, but horrified by what they saw, the mother was eating the cooked infant and offered the baby to be consumed. There were story of temple virgins throwing themselves into the fire to avoid being raped by the Roman's soldiers.
During that horrible time, the Christians were nowhere to be found as they fled from Jerusalem, having remembered Christ's warning:
When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then those in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those inside the city must leave it, and those out in the country must not enter it; for these are days of vengeance, as a fulfillment of all that is written. Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress on the earth and wrath against this people; they will fall by the edge of the sword and be taken away as captives among all nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. Luke 21:20-24In the future, we will see this prophecy repeated once more when the revived Ottoman Empire arrive to occupy Jerusalem. We know there are a number of Catholic and Orthodox Christians who resides in Jerusalem.
We also know that the nations who surrounds Israel are Islamic and when they are given the order, they will assemble against Jerusalem where God will bring "strangers against you [the Antichrist], the most terrible of nations; they shall draw their swords against the beauty of your wisdom and defile your splendor," (Ezekiel 28:7). Terrible as in mighty in battle which describes a few nations.
Daniel, too, predicted the Antichrist would establish a residence in Israel, "but reports from the east and the north shall alarm him, and he shall go out with great fury to bring ruin and complete destruction to many. He shall pitch his palatial tents between the sea and the beautiful holy mountain. Yet he shall come to his end, with no one to help him," (Daniel 11:44-45).
The fall of the Antichrist will confuse many as Christ arrives in a timely fashion to destroy the Antichrist and his armies. St. Peter predicted the Day of the Lord would be a time of great victory:
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed. Since all these are to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire? 2 Peter 3:10-12A great many Christians, mainly those of the evangelical camp who are heavily pro-Israel, are too consumed with the earthly Jerusalem, forgetting the Scripture spoke of two Jerusalems - the earthly Jerusalem that will fall, and the heavenly Jerusalem that will never be destroyed or defiled:
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. Hebrews 12:22-24It is through the Mass of the Catholic and Orthodox churches that we approach the Mount Zion, where angels are gathered together with us in "festal gathering", a clear reference to the Eucharistic worship where Catholic and Orthodox Christians believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Even in the Anglican's Book of Common Prayer, we say, "Therefore with Angels and Archangels, and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify thy glorious Name; evermore praising thee, and saying, 'HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, Lord God of hosts, heaven and earth are full of thy glory: Glory be to thee, O Lord Most High. Amen,'" (page 77).
|A Beautiful Representation of Approaching Mount Zion. Photo credit: Orthodox Arts Journal.|
It is the rejection of the veneration of saints, of veneration of icons, rejecting the life-giving and grace-giving gift of the Sacrament of the Eucharist, along with continual confessions of our sins to priests who listen and absolve our sins as if they were Christ Himself, that places one soul in peril. Those who reject those gifts are more than likely to unwittingly join force with the Antichrist and would help drive Catholics and Orthodox residing in Jerusalem and aboard to the grave. Christ will come and fight for them as well as for the remnant of the Jews who will be instantly converted to Christ at His coming.
The choice is always before us - choose life and to choose wisely.