When it comes to Christians and Bible prophecy, the hot spot is Jerusalem. Prophecy teachers around the world are talking about Arafat, the PLO, the Jews, the Arabs, the peace process, a rebuilt Jewish Temple, and a final Middle East war of Armageddon.
Pastor John Hagee’s recently published book, The Battle for Jerusalem (2001), reveals this current focus. An advertisement declares, “Pastor John Hagee explains the heart of Israel’s struggle for Jerusalem and the Holy Temple Mount – and why the battle for Jerusalem should be of major concern to Christians around the world.” John Hagee Ministries (magazine), March / April 2001.
Should it really? While Christians should love Jewish people (and everyone else), and should definitely support Israel in her struggle against terrorism, we wish to ask – Does the New Testament really say we should focus on the earthly city of Jerusalem? And do New Testament prophecies, as is so commonly taught, really swirl around this location? The answer may surprise you. First of all, there is not one single direct reference in the book of Revelation to the earthly city of Jerusalem! Look for yourself. Jesus referred to “the city of my God, which is New Jerusalem , which cometh down from heaven from my God” (Revelation 3:12). “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem,coming down out of heaven from my God” (Revelation 21:2). “And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God” (Revelation 21:10). Here the New Jerusalem is plainly called “the holy city,” and this is where the saints of God are to live eternally.
Revelation 11:2 also refers to “the holy city.” Again, in Revelation 22:19, we read about “the holy city.” And Revelation 20:9 describes a final battle at the end of the 1000 years against “the camp of the saints … the beloved city” (20:9). Christians sometimes apply these verses to the present, earthly city of Jerusalem, but Revelation itself does not do this. As we have already seen, Revelation defines “the holy city” as the “new Jerusalem” (21:2). Thus there is no proof that the book of Revelation has even one reference to earthly Jerusalem!
Concerning the saints of God, the New Testament says, “But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city” (Hebrews 11:16). This city is clearly the New Jerusalem. Paul told his readers, “But you are come to mount sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” (Hebrews 12:22).
The most powerful New Testament section on this subject is Galatians 4:22-31. An honest and careful study of Paul’s words reveals that earthly “Jerusalem which now is” (verse 25) is compared to Hagar, Ishmael, (verse 22), and the flesh (verse 23). Amazingly, it is “cast out” (verse 31) and is no longer an “heir” to the promises of God. But the “Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all” (verse 26).
Christians should love Jewish people, and should seek to thoughtfully share with them the message of Jesus their Messiah. Yet according to the New Testament, our focus should be on the New Jerusalem, rather than the present, war torn city in the Middle East.