I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD!”
Our feet have been standing within your gates, O Jerusalem! (Psalm 122:1-2, ESV)
Jerusalem is the heart and soul of our Christian faith. It was here that Jesus made His triumphal entry through the Golden Gate as crowds cried, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” It was here that Jesus was arrested, mocked, tortured, beaten, and then crucified and buried. And it was here that He rose again, leaving behind an empty tomb. It is also the heart and soul of the Jewish faith, the site of the Temple Mount where the first temple built by Solomon stood before it was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, and where the second temple built by Herod stood before it was destroyed by the Romans. And Jerusalem is also the second most sacred place in the Muslim faith, the place where they believe Muhammed ascended into heaven.
Jerusalem today is a place of tension, as each of these faiths disagrees over who it really belongs to. Because of these tensions, security is high, and heavily armed Israeli soldiers and police walk around the streets of the Old City. Disagreements also exist among various Christian churches, who squabble over the sites that are precious to the Christian faith. The disagreement is so strong that in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, several churches hold claim to certain sections of the building. Because none of these churches trust each other to hold the keys to the building, the keys are held by a Muslim family, who opens and closes the church. This is sad when you stop to think that the keys to His church were given by Jesus to Peter and the disciples. It is sadder still when you read the words that Jesus spoke the night before He died, when He prayed that all of His believers may be one so that the world may believe in Him (John 17:20-22).
As we spent time in the Old City today, we sat outside of the church of St. Ann, by the place where the pool of Bethesda once stood. While we sat there, I was watching bees gathering pollen from some flowers. I noticed that there were two different types of bees in the same group of flowers. While one type of bee was gathering pollen, another type was hovering behind it and following it from flower to flower. Then, at one point, the bee following the one gathering pollen attacked the other bee and they began to fight as they fell to the ground. I felt that God was giving me a vision in nature of what exists in Jerusalem and even within the Christian churches. Like the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faiths, and like the various Christian churches, the bees were fighting over territory, the bees were fighting over the flowers in that section of the garden.
One day, there will be peace in Jerusalem. Jesus will return to establish His reign on earth. He will once again enter the Old City of Jerusalem through the Golden Gate. A day will come when, at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess Jesus as Lord (Philippians 2:10). Christians, Jews, and Muslims will all look to Him as Lord and peace will reign over Jerusalem and over all the world. In the meantime, as it says in Psalm 122:6-7, we must all continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.