Sermon- From Story to Symbols to Prophecy

Sep 2011

I love to read history, I love to read the Bible as history. This is based upon a literal interpretation of the words being read. It leaves open the possibility of a bad translation, but generally, in the original language it is a sound telling of the events. If the words start to form symbolic and poetic structures then that’s okay too. But when it goes prophetic then I mostly keep reading, hoping that I will understand at some point.

My question is, do you find that happening to you?

Okay, here is the historic Jerusalem…

Jerusalem is mentioned 762 times in the NASB. The first mention is in Joshua10, 12, and 15. And those verses identify it as a Jebusite city that was not conquered by Joshua and they remained living side by side. The KJV goes on to mention that it was called Jebusi.

According to Wikipedia, “During its long history, Jerusalem has been destroyed twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times. The oldest part of the city was settled in the 4th millennium BCE.”

Some archaeologists, believe Jerusalem was founded by Northwest Semitic people with organized settlements from around 2600 BCE. The biblical account first mentions Jerusalem (“Salem”) as ruled by Melchizedek, an ally of Abraham.

Genesis 14:18

And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High. 

So, Abraham came from Ur, a Sumerian city that was not Semetic, but was conquered by a Semetic people, the Akkadians. Abraham’s family roots

was from Haran, a close neighbor of the Akkadians. Terah, Nahor and Abraham and the whole family went back to Haran. But Abraham listened to God and left his home to go down to the Holy Land where he met Melchizedek (king of right), a priest of the God Most High, who was King of Salem, a city founded by Semetics from the area of Haran. Salem was the early name of Jerusalem

Later, Abraham climbed Mt Moriah to sacrifice his son. In the book of Chronicles it is reported that the location of Araunah’s threshing floor is “in Mt Moriah” and that the Temple of Solomon was built over Araunah’s threshing floor. This has led to the classical rabbinical supposition that this is at the peak of Moriah. However there is a debate that it must be a different place in the Mt Moriah range because the city of Salem already existed before Abraham.

Before Joshua’s invasion, Jerusalem had become an Egyptian outpost for several centuries. That might be surprising, then as the Egyptians once again retreated back to the Nile, the local Canaanites or Jebusites, filled the vacuum. As I said the Five Kings formed an alliance against Joshua, but he beat them all, yet he left Jerusalem, in the area controlled by Benjamin, untouched with a Jebusite King.

It wasn’t until David that it was conquered, and was so important a victory that David transferred his capital from Hebron to what he called, the City of David.

Now what you might not remember is that David didn’t replace Saul directly. Saul’s son Ish-bosheth (which means man of shame), ruled the land of Benjamin for almost two years.

After Ish-bosheth was killed by two of his captains and his head delivered to David, David became enraged and executed the captains. But now David was free to continue the war and his attention was on Salem/Jebusi/ Jerusalem. 

In 2 samuel 5:8

8 David said on that day, Whoever smites the Jebusites, let him get up through the water shaft and smite the lame and the blind who are detested by David’s soul. So they say, The blind and the lame shall not come into the house. 

9 So David dwelt in the stronghold and called it the City of David. And he built round about from the Millo and inward.

Is David so cruel? New findings about the Hittites brings forth that they would parade the lame and the blind before their enemies as part of a witchcraft practice in order to curse the enemy. The Jebusites were allies of the Hittites. David would not tolerate witchcraft in the Holy City.

With David’s guidance, the city grew and became the center of his kingdom. Workers from the entire region came to the city to build new walls and eventually the temple under Solomon’s rule.

The first temple may have been the largest building in the known world, and Jerusalem’s fame was largely based upon the temple and not because it was the capital of the kingdom.

After the death of Rehoboam, David’s grandson, the ten Northern tribes split from the kingdom and set up Israel in the north, with only Judah and Benjamin in the south along with the City of David, Jerusalem.

After about 200 years, the Assryians attacked both countries, and carted off the ten tribes, and they are missing to this day. The Assyrians backed off their attack on Jerusalem and went home to being conquered by the Babylonians, who eventually came back to destroy the Kingdom of Judah in 586 BC, level the temple and deport the people to Babylon.

The walls destroyed, the temple torn down, Jerusalem became a shadow of itself. Eventually Babylon was conquered by Cyrus and the kingdom of Persia was created. King Zerubbabel was allowed to start building the second temple. Seven years later Cyrus decreed in an edict to complete the temple and rebuild Jerusalem. Eventually Nehemiah was charged to be the governor, to complete the temple and rebuild the walls. Under Persian control, the Hebrews again had the temple and the city of Jerusalem.

This temple continued through many changes in rule, from Alexander to Roman times. Then the Roman installed King Herod and Herod completely changed the Temple Mount, the Temple, and the city of Jerusalem. It was said to be so magnificent and so remarkable that when Jesus said the Temple could be destroyed and rebuilt in three days, it was a laughable comment. It is also believed the the great Temple that Jesus knew, was only completed for about four years, then completely torn down by the Romans in 70 ad. In 135 AD the entire city was leveled to the ground floor, all the leftover stones carried off to build Roman villas and temples in other areas. A new Roman city Aelia Capitolina. Jews were even banned from the area for at least 500 years, so the bishops of Jerusalem had to be Gentiles, not Hebrew Christians. The city became Christian under the rule of Constantine in 325 AD and remained so until 638 when it was given to the Caliph Umar.

Christians became persecuted more and more by the Muslim rulers and in 1099 the city was once more conquered and under Christian control. Nearly everyone in the city was killed except the resident Eastern Christians, but they were expelled because they were not trusted. This lasted almost a hundred years, until 1187 when it was once again conquered by the Muslim leader Saladin. Saladin invited the Eastern Christians back to Jerusalem to manage the churches and the Holy Sepulcher.

What we can see today, the walls, the buildings, the roads are mostly from the Muslim era, with a massive building program during the early Ottoman Empire. The Catholic Church and Western powers kept pressuring the Ottomans to allow them control of the Holy sites. Sultan Abd-ul-Mejid I (1839–1861), perhaps out of despair, published a firman that laid out in detail the exact rights and responsibility of each community at the Holy Sepulchre. This document became known as the Status Quo, and is still the basis for the complex protocol of the shrine. Five different Christian churches still share the control of the site.

In 1947 the Jewish state of Israel was formed and the old City of Jerusalem was still divided into four sections, the Armenean, the Jewish, the Christian, and the Muslim..

Thomas Ice has written, “Some evangelicals say, ‘we must understand the background and culture of the text of Scripture in order to properly understand it.’ I too believe in the use of background material, but the question is how should it be used. These evangelicals are not using this material to merely add depth to an interpretation that is gleaned primarily from the text itself, but instead they are using this extra-biblical information to introduce whole new interpretations of the text that one could not get without this alternate information. Thus, the basis of their interpretation becomes the extra-textual information that they often use to discredit the traditional and plain understanding of a given Scriptural passage.”  

The LORD bless you, and keep you; 

The LORD make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you; 

The LORD lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace.’ 

Adonai will kneel before you presenting gifts and will guard you with a hedge of protection, Adoni will illuminate the wholeness of his being toward you, bringing order, and he will beautify you, Adoni will lift up his wholeness of being, and look upon you, and he will set in place all you need to be whole and complete!