But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem- Hebrews 12:22
There are two Jerusalems - one on earth and one in heaven.
We must live between the two; in this present age.
The Jerusalem on earth a model of the Jerusalem in heaven, just like the Tabernacle that was made according to pattern in Heaven. (Exodus 25 v9 )
Think of the model of 1st Century Jerusalem in the Israel Museum, and of Mini Israel.
As David Pawson observed, a major criticism of Christian Zionists is that we are hooked on the earthly Jerusalem and hardly think of the heavenly Jerusalem. That is a challenge we should take seriously.
We belong to the heavenly Jerusalem – the earthly one belongs to the Jews. We are strangers, dispersed and exiled from our home. (1 Peter 1 v1 and 2 v11) But we can visit the earthly Jerusalem as ambassadors and to pray for the Peace of Jerusalem.
There are two particular passages we are accused of ignoring.
22 But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
24 These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. 25Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. 26But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother. ………………. 31Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.
So the heavenly Jerusalem is the city of the Living God; the earthly Jerusalem is not! Do we accept that?
Jerusalem was the city where God dwelt (2 Chronicles) and it will be again (Revelation 21) but it is not today! There is no Temple in Jerusalem, and even in Jesus’ day there was no Ark and no Shekinah in the Temple, behind the curtain. (Ezekiel ?)
We experience the presence of God when we all come to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles. Taking part in the Jerusalem March is an amazing experience; seeing how moved the Jerusalemites are to see us. But what lies behind all the joy?
They are so pleased to welcome us, but that is because we come representing Israel's only remaining faithful friends. They are not welcoming us as bringers of Christianity. What is so good about this March is that it is breaking down barriers and removing stumbling blocks that centuries of Christian anti-Semitism have erected.
Praying at the Western Wall, alongside our Jewish elder brothers, can be a very profound experience of closeness to God. What is it that we are experiencing?
Surely the Holy Spirit is not in the stones of Jerusalem but in the congregations of living stones – us! We bring a bit of the heavenly city when we come. Perhaps you could picture it as thousands of individuals, each carrying a little candle, coming together.
When we wander around the city on our own the experience can be very different! It is good to see the faith of the Jewish people observing their festivals but at the same time it causes the heart to cry out "How long until you remove the veil, O LORD?"
The Western Wall experience may also be explained by Psalm 22:3 “But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.” Most of Israel may be estranged from God, but He is still listening in love and desiring to receive their prayers in trusting faith. Indeed Jesus is listening for the inhabitants of Jerusalem to call upon him to come back, in the words of Matthew 23:39 /Psalm 118:26.
Jerusalem, perhaps less than Tel Aviv or Israel in general, is like any the cities of any other nation in being enslaved to sin. Walk around long enough or ask someone who has lived there and you will understand Jerusalem’s shortcomings.
You will also notice how the religious Jews are slaves to Legalism and The Muslims are slaves of Islam; slaves of Allah. You might even feel that there are Christians in slavery to a religious spirit.
It is wonderful to experience the warmth of our welcome from the Jews when they realise that we love them and support Israel, but the experience of the resident Messianic communities and Christians who are suspected of missionary motives tells quite another story; one more like the book of Acts. (Romans 11, particularly v28-32)
I would suggest that the blessing of being in Jerusalem is the blessing that comes from being obedient to God’s call of Isaiah 40, to comfort His people, and in sharing God’s Holy Spirit love where ministry begins (Acts 1 v8).
In the past Jerusalem was the place where YHVH dwelt with his people and all nations were welcome to pray towards the Temple where God's Sh'kinah dwelt above the Mercy Seat in the Holy of Holies. By the time of the Second Temple the Mercy Seat, the Ark of the Covenant and the Sh'kinah were all gone. The Romans destroyed the Temple and all that is left is the retaining walls of the Temple Mount platform.
In the present we see the Jews regathering from Exile but the days of Zechariah 12 and Romans 11 have not yet arrived. Visitors can rejoice in the history of Jerusalem and attempt to trace the footsteps of Jesus and the prophets, but we have no part in this city. Replacement theologians see only the past in Jerusalem and not a future. The future to them is only Heaven because they have overlooked the end of the Book - Jerusalem coming down.
In the future, when the Messiah takes up his earthly rule (Jesus returns and we get to meet him over Jerusalem - Zech 14 (v5) and 1 Thes 4 (v17) we will have a part in Jerusalem.
After the Millennuim when the New Jerusalem comes down from Heaven (Revelation 21) there will only be one Jerusalem and we will dwell there in our resurrection bodies. Replacement theologians see Jerusalem only in the past but we rejoice in the glorious future when God makes it a Praise in all the Earth. (Isaiah 62)
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