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CITY OF GOLD - Stuck between a rock and a hard place!

Updated: Jun 12

Standing on the Mount of Olives as the sun rises or sets over the city of Jerusalem has to be a highlight of every tour to Israel. The light cast across the city reflecting off the Jerusalem stone buildings and structures gives a golden glow that is truly majestic.

But throughout history Jerusalem has not always retained that golden glow. Jeremiah lamented the state of the city as the Babylonians besieged and set fire to it in 586 B.C. “How dark the gold has become, How the pure gold has changed! The sacred stones are poured out At the corner of every street.” (Lamentations 4:1, NASB95)

As Judah and the occupants of Jerusalem were exiled from the city and led captive on the long road to Babylon, these familiar and distressing words of the Psalmist were being lived out.

By the rivers of Babylon, There we sat down and wept, When we remembered Zion.” “How can we sing the Lord’s song In a foreign land? If I forget you, O Jerusalem, May my right hand forget her skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth If I do not remember you, If I do not exalt Jerusalem Above my chief joy.” (Psalm 137:1, 4–6, NASB95)

The city of Gold became the city of ashes until around 538 B.C. when a remnant of exiles returned after 70 years in captivity to rebuild the city, firstly under the leadership of Zerubbabel, then over time under Ezra and Nehemiah. It was during the rebuilding under Nehemiah there was great opposition from enemies of the Jews. Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah, an Ammonite and Gesham, an Arab. They taunted and mocked the Jews as they rebuilt the city walls and gates with Sanballat on one occasion saying, “…“What are these feeble Jews doing? Are they going to restore it for themselves? Can they offer sacrifices? Can they finish in a day? Can they revive the stones from the dusty rubble even the burned ones?” (Nehemiah 4:2 NASB95)

Now fast forward to 37 B.C. the Roman appointed Idumaean King, Herod the Great is reigning over Judea and it is during his reign that our Lord Jesus enters the world. Herod is renowned for his extravagant building projects throughout the region. Among the many projects Herod built were palaces at Herodium, Masada and Caesarea Maritime, the building over the Caves of the Patriarchs in Hebron and the expansion of the Jewish Temple and Temple Mount platform where you see the most recognisable landmark in Jerusalem, the Dome of the Rock. Herod used large hewn stones likely taken from “Solomons Quarries”,  limestone caves of some five acres underneath the muslim quarter of the old city. These rocks weighed between 2-5 tonnes with the largest found in the Western Wall complex weighing approximately 660 tonnes and measuring 12.8 meters in length, 3.4 wide and 4.3 meters deep.

The temple in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus was an impressive spectacle to behold. But it was a hollow figment of the intentions God had for His Holy dwelling in the city He has placed His Name. As impressive as Herod’s temple looked on the outside, it was devoid of Gods glory and would never be the structure to which He would return. Nevertheless Jesus’s disciples were enamoured by what they saw, and in Matthew 24 they point this out to Jesus who replied, “… Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.”” (Matthew 24:2, NASB95). Jesus went on to say, “and they [inhabitants of Jerusalem] will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” (Luke 21:24, NASB95)

In AD 70 the Romans fulfilled the words of Jesus, the temple was reduced to rubble and over time most of the Jews of the city were scattered. Historian and witness to the sacking of Jerusalem, Flavius Josephus said “[surrounding Jerusalem], it was so thoroughly laid even with the ground by those that dug it up to the foundation, that there was left nothing to make those that came thither believe it [Jerusalem] had ever been inhabited. This was the end which Jerusalem came to by the madness of those that were for innovations; a city otherwise of great magnificence, and of mighty fame among all mankind.” He goes on to lament the sad state of the now unrecognisable city…

“And truly, the very view itself was a melancholy thing; for those places which were adorned with trees and pleasant gardens, were now become desolate country every way, and its trees were all cut down. Nor could any foreigner that had formerly seen Judaea and the most beautiful suburbs of the city, and now saw it as a desert, but lament and mourn sadly at so great a change. For the war had laid all signs of beauty quite waste. Nor had anyone who had known the place before, had come on a sudden to it now, would he have known it again. But though he [a foreigner] were at the city itself, yet would he have inquired for it.”

Yom Yerushalayim

On the 5th June Israel celebrated Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day), a relatively modern and minor remembrance commemorating the reunification of Jerusalem as a result of the victory in the Six Day war of 1967. Israel defeated their Arab enemies, and for the first time since the destruction of the Second Temple gained control over East Jerusalem and the holy sites including the Temple Mount and the old city. What was a monumental victory soon became a global flashpoint and following the UN Security Council’s Resolution 242 Israel conceded much of what they gained from the brief but successful war. This included the right to govern the Temple Mount which to this day remains under the watchful eyes of the Jordanians.

You worship at a what?

Today, Judaism’s most holy place is the Western Wall. Yes they worship at a wall, albeit there are a few small synagogues and worship nooks within the complex that allow worshippers as close to the site of the “Holy of Holies” as is possible. But this is something no religious Jew accepts as satisfactory. A temple on the mount will continue to be the driving force among those seeking the messianic age.

In the meantime, Jerusalem remains a significant obstacle for peace in the Middle East. Just as Jesus foretold, Jerusalem is right now being trodden down” by the strong feet of the Gentile nations. Never have we seen this more fiercely than what we have seen in recent days. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday this week that his country is “engaged in a war on multiple fronts amid international pressure”. It is pressure that has nations pressing hard to have Israel convicted of war crimes, of Israeli leaders treated as war criminals and the perpetrators of October 7th being rewarded with statehood.

The Psalmist saw the heart of the matter in the words of Psalm 2.

Why are the nations in an uproar And the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand And the rulers take counsel together Against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us tear their fetters apart And cast away their cords from us!” He who sits in the heavens laughs, The Lord scoffs at them. Then He will speak to them in His anger And terrify them in His fury, saying, “But as for Me, I have installed My King Upon Zion, My holy mountain.” “I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. ‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, And the very ends of the earth as Your possession. ‘You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware.’ ” Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; Take warning, O judges of the earth. Worship the Lord with reverence And rejoice with trembling. Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, For His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!” (Psalm 2, NASB95)

Notice three things….

  1. The nations devise a vain (futile) thing

  2. The nations stand against God and His Son (King)

  3. God has installed His King in Jerusalem to shatter His enemies

The Prophet Zechariah declared the word of the Lord concerning Jerusalem both in the near and distant future. ““Behold, I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that causes reeling to all the peoples around; and when the siege is against Jerusalem, it will also be against Judah. “It will come about in that day that I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples; all who lift it will be severely injured. And all the nations of the earth will be gathered against it.” (Zechariah 12:2–3, NASB95)

For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished and half of the city exiled, but the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city.” (Zechariah 14:2, NASB95)


Right now Israel is stuck between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand they have a fierce determination to defeat their enemies who want to eradicate Israel from the map, and on the other hand many are wanting peace at all costs.

The simple reality is there will be no end to this conflict until the final curtain of God’s prophetic plan outlined in the Bible is brought down. 

It will be when the “Rock of ages” crushes His enemies, Israel will come through at the right time albeit with great difficulty and the true Messianic age will commence.

Ultimately of course we are looking towards a city of gold that really glistens, the new Jerusalem (Revelation 22: 15-21) where the temple will consist of the “Lord God Almighty and the Lamb”. The curse and the conflict will at last be gone forever.

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