Today is Jerusalem Day, or Yom Yerurshalayim, marking 50 years since reunification for the State of Israel.
The President of the State of Israel Reuven Rivlin closed the ceremony marking the anniversary of the Six-Day War and unification of Jerusalem in the Western Wall plaza with these words: “On the day of the liberation of the Western Wall, the Minister of Defense, Moshe Dayan, wrote a note and buried it in the stones of the Western Wall: ‘May peace be upon Israel.’ Today we continue with the same prayer. Would that peace would come to all Israel. ‘Rejoice in Jerusalem and revel in it – all its lovers revel in it. Happy Jerusalem Day.”
Jerusalem has been the holiest city for Judaism and Christianity for about 3,000 years now, and is considered the 3rd holiest city for Islam for about 1,400 years, but Jerusalem didn’t become the capital of Israel in 1948– the City of David was actually the capital of the Unified State of Israel around 1,000 BC under King David.
A reference to Jerusalem (or Salem) is first made in the Bible in Genesis 14:18
“Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High…”
And the final reference is made in the final book of the Bible, Revelation 22:19
“And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.”
God placed His Name in the city, as it says in 1 Kings 11:36
“But to his son I will give one tribe, that My servant David may have a lamp always before Me in Jerusalem, the city where I have chosen for Myself to put My name.”
David took all of Israel and the ark of covenant to Jerusalem in 1 Chronicles 15:1-3
“Now David built houses for himself in the city of David; and he prepared a place for the ark of God and pitched a tent for it. Then David said, “No one is to carry the ark of God but the Levites; for the LORD chose them to carry the ark of God and to minister to Him forever.” And David assembled all Israel at Jerusalem to bring up the ark of the LORD to its place which he had prepared for it.”
Solomon built the House of the Lord in Jerusalem in 2 Chronicles 3:1
“Then Solomon began to build the house of the LORD in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the LORD had appeared to his father David, at the place that David had prepared on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.”
God placed His Name in Jerusalem FOREVER in 2 Chronicles 33:7
“Then he put the carved image of the idol which he had made in the house of God, of which God had said to David and to Solomon his son, “In this house and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen from all the tribes of Israel, I will put My name forever;”
Jesus went to Jerusalem as a boy, as was the custom in Luke 2:41-51
“Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when He became twelve, they went up there according to the custom of the Feast; and as they were returning, after spending the full number of days, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem.”
Even the early church began in Jerusalem in Acts 1:8
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
The Lord placed watchmen on the walls of the city of Jerusalem in Isaiah 62:6-7
“On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen; All day and all night they will never keep silent You who remind the LORD, take no rest for yourselves; And give Him no rest until He establishes And makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.”
King David wrote these famous Psalms from the City of David
“As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people, from this time forth and forevermore.” – Psalm 125:2
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!” – Psalm 122:6
“For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem‘s sake I will not be quiet, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a burning torch.” – Isaiah 62:1
“If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill!” – Psalm 137:5
I’ve been to Jerusalem twice now, and I still can’t find the words to explain how amazing it is. One of the locals said the air was like a fine wine, and I couldn’t agree more. Also, I have never felt closer to God just by placing my feet on the ground. My absolute favorite memory was celebrating Shabbat (Sabbath) in Jerusalem. From praying at the Western Wall to Shabbat dinner to singing and dancing Saturday night with complete strangers that invited me to join them like I was part of their family.
From watching the news, you would think Jerusalem would feel like an uneasy, on-edge place, but in reality I never felt safer than I did in Jerusalem and more at peace — the very Bible I’d been reading since I can remember came to life.
Going to Jerusalem deepened my Christian faith and made me want to learn more about the Hebrew roots of my faith and learn more about Judaism as a whole.
Jerusalem has been a destination, an end to a pilgrimage for King David, Jesus Christ, and millions of Christians and Jews for thousands of years.
It’s a holy city, a complicated city, and there’s no place like it on earth. Thank you, Jerusalem for letting me walk where my Lord and Savior walked, look out from the same place King David wrote the Psalms, and pray and worship in the same city where my heroes of the faith did the same — but especially see where Jesus is coming again.
Today, we celebrate Jerusalem and pray for abundant life and inexplicable peace within her walls.