With the recent recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, what is a perspective we can take as believers in Jesus?
Let’s begin by going to an interaction between Jesus and His disciples in Jerusalem of His time described in Luke 21. As the disciples from the rural Galilee were walking through the Temple they couldn’t help but comment about the magnificent site of the man-made structure. They were looking at what they could see in the natural, but Jesus says:
“As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.” (Luke 21:6)
The disciples were not expecting such an answer. They were thinking in terms of a newly restored political capital of an independent Jewish State, and look around, we already have a magnificent Temple to worship in. Isn’t that a great beginning?
But Jesus didn’t come to be the king of another earthly kingdom. He came to make a way for us to be a part of a different kind of kingdom-a heavenly one.
The stunned disciples inquire as to when and how this kingdom will be revealed.
Jesus then describes that there will be a period where they, His disciples, will go through a lot of suffering and then will come the destruction of Jerusalem:
“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” (Luke 21:20-24)
Jesus is predicting that the destruction of Jerusalem would happen, and that the city will be “trampled by Gentiles” for a certain and limited time. This period started when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D. but was predicted as a season lasting only until the “times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” After this period of desolation, it will be restored to those who had her before she was destroyed. Jerusalem’s predicted destruction was fulfilled, and now is the time of her restoration with Jewish sovereignty over the State.
But then Jesus continues to describe a season after Jerusalem’s restoration to Jewish sovereignty by saying:
“And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” (Luke 21:25-28)
President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is a sign to us whose hope is in Jesus as to the season we are in. We can fully expect there to be a continuing of “the distress of nations” and “the waves roaring.” But Jesus’ exhortation to His disciples today is the same as His exhortation to His disciples back then; that when we see these things happening, we ought not to look around us, but to LOOK UP, for our redemption is drawing near!