“The Holy City” is my favorite hymn. It was written by Frederic Weatherly in 1892 with music by Michael Maybrick.
This hymn is so popular and well-known that everyone knows, without even hearing the hymn, that the “Holy City” itself is a reference to Jerusalem.
Today Jerusalem is the capital city for the nation of Israel and at the center of the Arab/Israeli conflict. It is a city divided into quarters, each with its own unique culture. There is a Jewish quarter, an Arab quarter, a Muslim quarter and an Armenian quarter. The modern city of Jerusalem has a population of close to 1 million people, but the old city occupies a very small section with a total area of only one-third of a square mile.
It is amazing that this small city has so captured the world’s attention. When asked why, one author made the bold statement that it was because of the prominent role Jerusalem plays in the Bible. In fact, the Bible has much to say about this tiny city.
Jerusalem as a city has been around for more than 3,000 years, having been established as the first capital of the Israelite kingdom by King David back in 1004 B.C. Twice the city was completely destroyed—in 586 B.C. by the Babylonians and again in A.D. 70 by the Romans. Sadly, the temple built by Solomon was destroyed on the ninth day of Ab on the Jewish calendar in 586 B.C., and the second temple was also destroyed on the same day, the ninth day of Ab in A.D. 70 by the Romans.
On May 14, 1948, Israel became a sovereign state. This set off a series of wars with their Arab neighbors that resulted in Jerusalem being annexed from Jordan in the Six-Day War of 1967.
In 1980 Israel declared Jerusalem as its capital city. This set off outrage in the Arab community.
Why would the world be so concerned with such a small and ancient city like Jerusalem? It is located approximately 27 miles inland from the coast. It has no natural resources and, from a geographical perspective, has no strategic value to anyone. Most of it is built upon the ruins of previous structures. Yet Jerusalem is the only city that has ever been set up with its own special covenant by the United Nations.
In the Bible, we read in Zechariah 12:2, “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples.”
Zechariah 14 tells us that Jesus Christ will return to the Mount of Olives, which is just across the Kidron Valley from the Old City. Christ Himself promised that He would return to this area with His saints at the time of the resurrection.
The hymn “The Holy City” begins with these words: “Last night I lay a sleeping. There came a dream so fair, I stood in Old Jerusalem beside the Temple there.” And the hymn ends by quoting from Revelation and the future world of peace. It seems that Jerusalem, which means city of peace, will finally live up to its name.
If you are at all interested in the fulfillment of prophecy, then you will take note of the city of Jerusalem. As goes this city, so will go the world.
Jerusalem is a type of barometer for future world events, according to the Bible. Christ told His disciples to “watch” world events. Jerusalem will be one of those areas that bear watching.
For Life, Hope & Truth, I’m Jim Franks.