Making Jerusalem Whole Again
Yael Eckstein | May 17, 2023
I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city. — Zechariah 14:2
This week, Israel celebrates Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day, commemorating the reunification of the city, ending 19 years of separation into East and West Jerusalem. This is one of five devotions looking at the spiritual and historical significance of God’s Holy City.
If you’ve ever been to Jerusalem, you know how beautiful it is to walk the streets. Walking down Jaffa Street, one of the oldest and longest major streets that transects the city from east to west, it’s always breathtaking when you come around that last curve and see the walls of the Old City appear in front of your eyes.
Every time I see those ancient walls, I can’t help but think about the centuries of Jews who yearned to see these walls but who were not so fortunate.
Today, the streets leading to the Old City are among the most beautiful in Jerusalem. But it wasn’t always this way. In fact, if you go back not so long ago, the entire area near the Old City was in pretty bad shape.
You see, between the founding of the State of Israel in 1948 and the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967, the new downtown area of Jerusalem was in Israeli hands, while the Old City was under Jordanian control. Barbed wire fences, border patrols, and armed guards in watchtowers filled what is now the beautiful Mamilla Mall and the streets around it.
Making Jerusalem Whole Again
Amazingly, the division of Jerusalem was foretold in the Bible. In the Book of Zechariah we read, “I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city.”
While the popular understanding of this verse is that half the people of Jerusalem will be exiled, the plain meaning of the words in Hebrew are that “half of the city” will go into exile. Before 1948, Jerusalem had been captured many times, and there were certainly many centuries when no part of Jerusalem was governed by the nation of Israel. Only at a time when the Jewish people would have possession of half the city and the other half under foreign rule could this verse be fulfilled according to its plain meaning.
Zechariah goes on to describe the great victory that God will bring the nation of Israel, making Jerusalem whole again. On Jerusalem Day, we celebrate not only the reunification of the city under Jewish rule, but also the fulfillment of biblical prophecy.
As you thank God for living in a time when the prophecies of the Bible are coming true, continue to pray for peace for Jerusalem and the nation of Israel.