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Jerusalem the Golden

The hymn Jerusalem the Golden is based on a text by the twelfth century monk Bernard of Cluny. The hymn concludes with this prayer:

Oh, sweet and blessed country
The home of God’s elect!
Oh, sweet and blessed country
That eager hearts expect!

In mercy, Jesus, bring us
To that dear land of rest!
You are, with God the Father
And spirit, ever blest.

These words symbolically associate Jerusalem with Heaven. But the Bible’s interest in Jerusalem is on earth. Jerusalem plays a central role in God’s redemptive plan, especially in the days that lead up to Christ’s return.

The designation “prophecy” or oracle in verse 1 indicates the predictive nature of Zechariah’s message. The siege in verse 2 must refer to the battle of Armageddon described in Revelation 16:13–16. It cannot be the siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonians since it had already taken place. The extent of the battle also makes it unlikely that it refers to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 a.d. by the Romans. The battle that Zechariah describes involves “all the nations of the earth” (v. 3).

The outcome of the battle is certain. Those who oppose Jerusalem will be defeated. God promises to make Jerusalem “an immovable rock.” Those who try to carry it away will only “injure themselves” (v. 3). The Hebrew word used here means to cut or lacerate. Their defeat is a self-inflicted wound brought on by the hostility of the nations toward Jerusalem. Jerusalem’s defense will not come about by ordinary military means. Her armies or her allies will not save her. God Himself will defend Jerusalem. He will strike terror into the hearts of Jerusalem’s enemies (v. 4). Second Thessalonians 2:8 says that when Jesus comes, He will overthrow the Antichrist “with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.”

Apply the Word

Anti-semitism is on the rise around the world and in the United States. Sadly, it is growing among Christians as well. Those who hate the Jews will find that God opposes them. He has plans for Jerusalem that no earthly power can stop. Pray today for our Jewish friends, that God will sustain and protect them.

BY Dr. John Koessler

Dr. John Koessler, who retired as professor emeritus from Moody Bible Institute, formerly served in the division of applied theology and church ministry. John and his wife Jane enjoy living in a lakeside town in Michigan. A prolific writer, John’s books include The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody), and True Discipleship (Moody). John is a contributing editor and columnist for Today in the Word.

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