Great is Adonai, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God – His holy mountain. A beautiful height–the joy of the whole earth—–Mount Zion, on the northern side of the city of the great King.
―Psalm 48:3 TLV
Jerusalem: It’s where David purchased the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite to build an altar according to God’s commandment (2 Samuel 24:18–25). On that very site, David’s son Solomon built the First Temple (2 Chronicles 3:1) and, after it was destroyed, God used Cyrus to rebuild it (2 Chronicles 36:23). It was at the Temple in Jerusalem that the High Priest made sacrifices on behalf of the people.
Each year, as commanded in Deuteronomy 16:16, Jewish men from all over Israel came to Jerusalem to observe the pilgrimage Feasts of Passover, Shavuot (Shah-VOO-ote) and Sukkot (SOO-kote). As a boy, Yeshua (Jesus) made these Festival journeys with His family. After one trip, when His worried parents couldn’t locate Him among the caravan going home, they returned to Jerusalem to find Him sitting in the Temple amazing the rabbis with His insight (Luke 2:41–49).
Scripture records that Jesus also traveled to Jerusalem as a Jewish man to observe the pilgrimage Feasts (John 2:23, 5:1 and 71–53). It was while overlooking the city of Jerusalem that He wept for His people (Matthew 23:37). And it was in Jerusalem that Messiah Yeshua was killed on Passover to make atonement for sin (Matthew 16:21).
In Jerusalem, the promised Holy Spirit descended on the disciples, enabling them to speak in the languages of those Jewish travelers who had come in obedience to observe the Feast of Shavuot (Acts 2). The Gospel spread to all the world beginning in Jerusalem (Luke 24:47). And Scripture tells us that it will be to Jerusalem – o n the Mount of Olives – that Yeshua will return in His glory (Zechariah 14:4), and where God will establish the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2).
Jerusalem is central in Jewish history. The holy city is important to the Jewish people and to God. When Israel became a nation in 1948, the War of Independence left Jerusalem divided and partially controlled by Jordan. In 1967, the Six-Day War erupted between Israel and the Arab Alliance. Although Israel asked them to stay out of the conflict, Jordan entered the fray with rocket fire on Jerusalem, seeking full control of the historically Jewish city. But Israel prevailed, and for the first time in 2,000 years gained full possession of an undivided Jerusalem.
The city remains Israel’s capital today, though much of the world refuses to recognize it as such. For decades, avoiding controversy, nations have housed their embassies in Tel Aviv rather than Jerusalem. In December 2017, the U.S. officially acknowledged Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and immediately made plans to move its embassy. Guatemala and Paraguay plan to move their embassies as well, and several other nations are engaged in discussions regarding such a move. The new U.S. embassy is scheduled to open in Jerusalem on May 14, 2018, which is, according to the Gregorian calendar, the 70th anniversary of Israel’s independence.
Jerusalem Day is a national holiday in Israel and falls on the 28th day of the Hebrew month of Iyar. In 2018, Jerusalem Day begins at sunset on May 12. Festivities will include parades, city tours, special museum exhibits and prayer at the Western Wall.