Jerusalem: Old or New?


Many Christians these days are sorely confused about the role of Israel and the city of Jerusalem in end time Bible prophecy. It is their sincerely held belief that Israel in the flesh are still the chosen people of God, irrespective of their faith in Christ or lack thereof, and that Old [or earthly] Jerusalem is immutably the city of God. Therefore, they believe it is their Christian duty to support it no matter what. Some popular so-called Christian teachers even teach their congregations that it is wrong to work for the conversion of a Jewish person so that he/she might become a believer in Jesus Christ because God has two different plans of salvation operating – one way for the Gentile and a different way for the Jew. Friends, these teachings are all quite false.

The reality of the situation here friends is that Old [aka: earthly] Jerusalem – the city which now is – is presented negatively in the New Testament. It is presented as being in bondage due to her rejection of Jesus Christ and corresponding legalism. By rejecting the Savior and His offer of righteousness by faith, instead attempting to earn their own salvation through the law (see Romans 10:3), the earthly city of Jerusalem became a symbol of bondage and apostasy. Don’t take my word for it but hear the apostle Paul:

“For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. 25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.27 For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband (Gal 4:22-27)

Did you catch it? Old Jerusalem, the city that now is, in bondage. There is actually another Jerusalem, one that is “above” and “free,” that is our mother. Now what’s very interesting is that Galatians 4:27 is actually a quote from Isaiah 54:1. If you read that chapter in context it was actually a prophecy that belonged to the earthly Jerusalem but the apostle Paul has applied it to the heavenly one. How can this be? Why this change? The answer is found in the Person of Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God. Look at what He said about the earthly city of Jerusalem:

“And when He was come near, He beheld the city, and wept over it, 42 Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! But now they are hid from thine eyes (Luke 19:41, 42)

There were prophecies, absolutely amazing promises from God, that belonged to earthly Jerusalem. They were all a part of her peace. Yet these promises were inseparably connected to their reception of His only begotten Son for “all the promises of God in Him are yea” (2 Cor 1:20). By rejecting Jesus, the promises were hidden from Jerusalem. In fact, their theocracy was actually removed due His murder by the leadership at that time. Jesus revealed this in His parable of the vineyard and the husbandman.

“Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof (Matt 21:43)

Consequently, the earthly city of Jerusalem is now synonymous with other infamous historical powers such as “Sodom and Egypt” in identifying the apocalyptic “great city” that wars against God’s people:

“And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified (Rev 11:8)

These are true Bible teachings yet they are quite offensive to some today. Nevertheless, let God be true and every man a liar.

So what is the point? Namely this – if you are focused on earthly Jerusalem, thinking it your Christian duty to support that city without working for the conversion of its inhabitants to the Lord Jesus Christ, then you are contrary to God’s Word and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Old Jerusalem will never be built up. Our monies, time and efforts should not be focused there unless it is for the advancement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The promises that once belonged to it now belong to the New Jerusalem [aka: heavenly Jerusalem]. Please go back to Isaiah 54, the passage that Paul references in Galatians 4, and read the whole chapter. Do you see the description of all the precious materials that will build up Jerusalem? Now please go and read the description of the New Jerusalem that descends from God out of heaven. It’s in Revelation 21. You see this promise from Isaiah has been hidden from the earthly Jerusalem and now belongs to the New. I hope this is clear.

And I will say one last thing. God has not rejected the Jewish people simply because they are Jewish and their ancestors crucified His Son. He isn’t unfair like that.

“I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin (Romans 11:1)

While it is true that the covenant no longer belongs to them in an exclusive sense it is still their heritage and privilege to partake therein and they are advantaged in that they were the keepers of God’s oracles:

“Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises (Rom 9:4)

“What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? 2 Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God (Rom 3:1, 2)

The Bible was written almost exclusively by Israelites and the Christian church was started by Jews. The New Covenant is still theirs in an inclusive sense – it belongs to both Jew and Gentile in Jesus. Therefore, a Jew can be grafted into the New Covenant just as verily as a Gentile can by accepting the Lord Jesus Christ.

“And they [Jews] also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again. 24 For if thou [Gentiles] wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these [Jews], which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree? (Romans 11:23, 24 brackets added for clarity)

So if your minister is teaching that you, as a Gentile Christian, are not to work for the salvation of the unbelieving Jewish people by teaching them the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then your minister is completely wrong. If you hold to a theology that cannot say, along with the apostle Paul -“Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved (Rom 10:1)- then you need to go back to the drawing board. Do not be deceived by false teachers who create a dichotomy of two plans of salvation when there is really only one:

< p class=”” style=”white-space:pre-wrap;”>“For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:12, 13)