Published On: Wed, Dec 27th, 2017

Controversy over Jerusalem: Is the end here?

RUME OYITSO

Since the decision was made a forth night ago to recognize Jeruselem as the capital of Israel, the world especially the Islamic world, has lost its sleep. In countries after countries, demonstrations and violent protests have been going on to express anger over the decision. The Palestinians declared at three days of rage.  Even the world body, the United Nations waded in and condemned the action.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shakes hands with President Donald Trump in Jerusalem, Israel. Credit: AP Photo

American President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has put the world on edge. Analysts are swinging from one theory of global political engagement to another with only one man clear about what is really happening; Trump himself.

Is the Trump petulant gesture a sign of the Biblical end or is it another knee jerk response from a President as predictable as the British weather?

Past Presidents of the United States of America like Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama all made reference to Jerusalem being the capital of Israel, but none found the courage or political will to take action; enter Donald J. Trump, a man unafraid to shoot from the hip.

His decision to relocate the US embassy to the old Jewish capital has been met with condemnation from many quarters but has got Christian evangelicals, a major support base of the American President, applauding.

Christians and none Christians around the world have opinions ranging from the scripturally precise to the emotionally combustive. Whatever side of the fence observers find themselves there seems, for now, to be no ‘right’ answer. Even amongst Nigeria’s religious faithful, opinions have been hooded or biased.

Trumps latest international foray could either send him up as a saint or if it unravels lay him out as the devil’s chief co-conspirator.

“Going beyond the niceties of the political sound bites of his predecessors Trump has, in the minds of his supporters, shown courage and character in the face of previous hypocrisy. Says one Nigerian pastor who preferred not to be mentioned in print, ‘this American President is pushing against the walls of liberalism that have threatened to annihilate everything the modern Christian world represents and cherishes; moderation, piety and scriptural fidelity, you may not like his methods but you can’t fault his purpose’.

According to the pastor, ‘for too long liberals have defined the global agenda and Christianity has been in embarrassing retreat, but now somebody, a strong Christian, is stepping up to the plate and giving our faith a chance for redemption and perhaps more importantly, survival’.

What is it about Jerusalem?

Bible historians note that at the very heart of biblical prophecy is Israel and at the heart of Israel is Jerusalem.

Israel, according to them, was the land God promised His people, the Jews, through Abraham, which they took overafter their miraculous deliverance from bondage in Egypt through a supposedly historic splitting of the Red Sea.

The Jews claim to be descendants of Abraham, a man through whom God chose with intent to provide a savior for all people due to the fall of mankind as a result of Adam, the first man on earth’s transgression in the Garden of Eden.

It is reported that God cut a covenant with Abraham, which extended to his descendants. They became distinctively the heirs of promise. All they needed to do was to be obedient to God and He would make them a great nation and give them the Promised Land as their inheritance.

Christians believe that God said He would bless Abraham and His descendants and all who bless them would be blessed while those who cursed them would reap judgment. There were also curses that would come upon the Jews if they deviated from serving Him.

It is believed that the Jews did not faithfully obey God, and this led to their captivity by foreign nations. The history of the rise and fall of many empires over Israel can be understood in this light. The current nation of Israel is seen as a recapture of those lost territories.

Jews, Christians, Muslims and Jerusalem

The highly cherished but combustible city, Jerusalem, has been captured 52 times, recaptured 44 times, besieged 23 times, and has been attacked and completely destroyed twice.

The land on which the city stands on has changed hands many times over the course of human history, with various Semitic tribes, Egyptians, Romans, as well as the Ottoman Empire being among its rulers

The Jews believed that the promise of the messiah who would deliver the whole world was going to be fulfilled through the Jews.

Very significant about Jerusalem to the Jews is the Holy Temple which was built by King David’s son, Solomon on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem. It was basically referred to as the house of God where offering of sacrifices were made to God.

The temple was destroyed 410 years later in 423 BC. It was rebuilt in the same spot by returnees from the Babylonian exile and was renovated extensively in the year 19 BC, but later destroyed by the Romans in the year 69 AD.

All that remain of the Second Temple is a portion of the Western Wall (also called the Wailing Wall), which continues to be the focus of Jewish aspirations and pilgrimage.

Christians have claimed that the messiah, Jesus Christ, came two thousand years ago and died for the sins of the whole world in Jerusalem. They also believe that he rose from the dead in Jerusalem and ascended to heaven from Jerusalem with a promise of coming back again to reign as King of Kings over the whole earth from Jerusalem.

Muslims and Jeruselem

Muslims have never denied the existence of Jesus. But unlike Christians and the Jews who see him as their messiah, He is simply identified as one of the prophets as described in the Quran.

Muslims believe that Prophet Muhammad travelled to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem during his journey from Mecca, to pray with the souls of all the prophets. A few steps away, the shrine of the Dome of the Rock holds the foundation stone, from where Muslims believe Muhammad then ascended to heaven.

Muslims visit the holy site all year round, but every Friday during the holy month of Ramadan, hundreds of thousands of Muslims come to pray at the mosque.

The Jewish state

The modern history of the Jewish state began in 1947, when the UN approved a partition plan for Palestine (then under British rule) into two sovereign states, one Jewish, the other Arab, and giving Jerusalem a special international status.

Arabs rejected the move, calling for the creation of a “unitary” state of Palestine.

Tensions have been high between the young Jewish state and the Arab world ever since then, with the most significant conflicts breaking out in 1948 and 1967. The latter lasted only six days and resulted in the Israeli occupation of Jerusalem and the old city, where the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque, where the two holiest sites for Muslims are located.

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu during a recent visit to Brussels told EU leaders that there is no other place for the capital of Israel except Jerusalem, directing them to the Bible, which he said justified the move.

“You can read it in a very fine book, it’s called the Bible,” he said, as cited by Israeli media. “You can hear it in the history of Jewish communities throughout our diaspora…”

To the Muslims, the move which has led to protests and potential explosion of violence is a violation of international resolutions on the city’s status, they said. To the Christians, it is a wake-upcall for repentance ahead of the second coming of Jesus, the Messiah and the end of the world.

“You see, we have got a message for the whole world and we want them to know”, says Chris Oyakhilome, a televangelist. “Jesus is coming again”, he continued in an emotion laden teaching before breaking down to weep during a recent sermon.

End Time Christian theology claims that the Jewish people will maintain control over Israel and Jerusalem, a city founded by King David 1,600 years before Islam was founded and that they are destined to retake the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock before the return of the Christ.

Is prophesy really coming to pass?

Natanyahu has continued to insist that “It’s time that the Palestinians recognize the Jewish state and also recognize the fact that it has a capital. It’s called Jerusalem;” adding that he expects “that all or most” EU states “will move their embassies to Jerusalem.”

A Ghanaian Archbishop, Nicholas Duncan-Williams speaking about the end of the world said: “One of the things to really look out for is when the capital of Israel moves from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. We have to pray that it happens because it is part of prophecy that must be fulfilled”. Relating it to Trump’s decision he said, “That thought couldn’t have entered into the head of any of the Presidents of US until Donald trump. I don’t believe he himself understands what is happening. But something is going on”.

The Holy books of Christians and the Jews, the Bible and the Torah respectively are abundantly clear about God’s covenant promise to the Jewish people and to their land which He not only promised to return them to, but also to restore their capital, Jerusalem.

Modern historians and Archeologists do not accept as fact the prophecies of the Bible or the Torah.

 Would this occurrence be the alarm of the Last Days?

A large number of Christians possess unshakable belief that the end of the world will come by a series of prophetic events some of which have occurred, some of which are ongoing but all centered on Israel, which to them is the land of Christ’s return.

Christians have said that the current happenings in the world today; wars, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes, in different places are giving validation to the end-times prophecies of Jesus the Messiah. This is resulting in an eerie echo warning Christians and non-Christians alike that the end of human governance as we know it is near.

 

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