Weekly Update: The Battle for Jerusalem

6 June 2024

This week Israel celebrates Jerusalem Day.

Jerusalem Day (Yom Yerushaláyim) is an Israeli national holiday that commemorates the “reunification” of East Jerusalem with the rest of Jerusalem following the Six Day War of June 1967.

Jerusalem has always been the capital of the Jewish people. The Old City and its environs (often called the “Holy Basin”) was occupied by Jordan between 1948 and 1967. Jordan forcibly removed all Jews and destroyed synagogues and all other Jewish holy places. After June 1967, Israel has restored the city and it has become a thriving city for Jews, Christians, Moslims and others.

Jordan retains control, on behalf of the Islamic world, of the Temple Mount, known to Muslims as Haram Al Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary), on which the Al-Aqsa Mosque and other mosques are located.

The Old City of Jerusalem and surroundings including the Mount of Olives are also of great importance to the Christian world, being the place where Jesus taught in the Temple, and suffered, died, rose and ascended.

The undivided city

Jerusalem Day is celebrated annually on 28 Iyar on the Hebrew calendar throughout Israel with state ceremonies and memorial services. A notable celebration that marks the holiday is a flag-flying parade known as the Dance of Flags. The Israeli Chief Rabbinate declared Jerusalem Day to be a minor religious holiday.

Israel’s “reunification” of Jerusalem is a very divisive and controversial issue. For some people the undivided capital Jerusalem symbolizes the unity and destiny of the Jewish people. For others it is a painful reminder of the lack of peace between Israel and its neighbors, and of the tensions between the Jewish and non-Jewish communities in Israel.

This year, Jerusalem Day has an additional significance. Hamas is determind to liberate Jerusalem from Jewish control. On 7 October 2023, Hamas announced the start of what it called “Operation Al-Aqsa Flood”, stating it had fired over 5,000 rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel within a span of 20 minutes.

“In the midst of conflict and tension, the undivided city of Jerusalem is a testimony to the nations that the Lord God who created the whole world is in control of history.”

The war against Hamas in Gaza continues, and tensions are increasing in the north with Hezbollah in Lebanon. At the same time, increased political and legal pressure is being placed on Israel globally to accept the establishment of an Islamic Palestinian state with East Jerusalem (ie. the Old City and its environs) as its capital.

In the midst of conflict and tension, the undivided city of Jerusalem is a testimony to the nations that the Lord God who created the whole world is in control of history.

The scriptures remind us that there is a battle for Jerusalem, in which Jerusalem is an “immovable rock”, and the nations prepare to go up against Jerusalem. But one day the city will be the capital of the world, and all nations will go up to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles (Zechariah 8 -14).

The editorial team Israel & Christians Today

Tens of thousands gather in capital for Jerusalem Day
“We returned home, to the holy city, to the heart of our people,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
> Read more..

Debate deepens in Israel over Biden’s multi-stage truce framework
Yaakov Lappin at JNS: “U.S. ambiguity is part of an effort to bridge the “large gap” between the sides and allow the implementation of at least the first stage of a ceasefire, experts tell JNS.”
> Read more..

Netanyahu in Kiryat Shmona: ‘We are prepared for very intense action in the north
Israel National News: “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits Kiryat Shmona, speaks with military commanders at the scene. ‘Yesterday the ground burned here, but ground also burned in Lebanon. We are prepared for very intense action in the north.
> Read more..

Will Netanyahu declare war on Hezbollah?
Jonathan Syper: “The war in Gaza is perceived internationally as a limited affair, pitting Israel against the Islamist Hamas organisation within the confines of a narrow strip of territory on the Mediterranean coast. This view has long been reductive. A number of other fronts are active as a result of the outbreak of war in Gaza. And one of them – Lebanon – is currently showing signs of erupting into full conflict.”
> Read more..

SCRIPTURE FOR THE WEEK: Zechariah 14:1-18

A day of the Lord is coming, Jerusalem, when your possessions will be plundered and divided up within your very walls.

I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it;the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city. Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights on a day of battle. On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south. You will flee by my mountain valley, for it will extend to Azel. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him.

On that day there will be neither sunlight nor cold, frosty darkness. It will be a unique day—a day known only to the Lord—with no distinction between day and night. When evening comes, there will be light.

On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half of it east to the Dead Sea and half of it west to the Mediterranean Sea, in summer and in winter.

The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name.

10 The whole land, from Geba to Rimmon, south of Jerusalem, will become like the Arabah. But Jerusalem will be raised up high from the Benjamin Gate to the site of the First Gate, to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the royal winepresses, and will remain in its place. 11 It will be inhabited; never again will it be destroyed. Jerusalem will be secure.

12 This is the plague with which the Lord will strike all the nations that fought against Jerusalem: Their flesh will rot while they are still standing on their feet, their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths.13 On that day people will be stricken by the Lord with great panic. They will seize each other by the hand and attack one another. 14 Judah too will fight at Jerusalem. The wealth of all the surrounding nations will be collected—great quantities of gold and silver and clothing. 15 A similar plaguewill strike the horses and mules, the camels and donkeys, and all the animals in those camps.

16 Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles.17 If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, they will have no rain. 18 If the Egyptian people do not go up and take part, they will have no rain. The Lord will bring on them the plague he inflicts on the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles. 19 This will be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles.