In the days of first apostles, very little is said of Jerusalem except that it was the birthplace of the church. As such, the leaders of the early church would often resort there for council. So how shall we consider this question of the Jerusalem which presently exists, and how shall we relate to it? We will explore the first part of the Jerusalem question, and how Christian/Messianic brethren should consider the matter today.
THE DESOLATION OF JERUSALEM
A question was set forth by the disciples of Christ, “what is the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Mat. 24:3) When asked what would be the sign of His coming by His disciples, Christ foretold that Jerusalem would be destroyed, and it’s temple would be thrown down. Yet this was not only to be a sign of the destruction in their days, but a sign for the last days, that Jerusalem would again be desolated before the coming of Christ.
In this discourse to his disciples, he foresaw the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, and the third great destruction of that city before His return. Thus did He foretell the time when His people would have to flee Jerusalem, and not hold expectations that this earthly city was to become the great Messianic center to which all nations would flow and make annual pilgrimage. “And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto.” (Luke 21:20-21) Far from His professed followers making pilgrimages to Jerusalem to meet the Messiah, He strictly warned, “Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.” (Matthew 24:26) So it was with the land of Judah and so shall it be again.
WHAT DID THE APOSTLES PROCLAIM ABOUT JERUSALEM?
The affections of the early Messianic church were to be weaned from Jerusalem prior to it’s destruction by the Roman empire, and they were to flee out of the midst of it. If it was supposed to be the land wherein the messiah was to reign, the apostles were startlingly silent regarding it when it was standing. Furthermore, they speak little of it’s importance of being reinstated. In fact, when writing to the Hebrews, the apostle wrote in his letter: “For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.” (Hebrews 13:14) The enduring city which he speaks of is not the Jerusalem upon the earth, but rather the same author spoke of “the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” “whose builder and maker is God” (Heb. 12:22, 11:10).
THE TWO SEEDS OF THE TWO JERUSALEMS
In fact, the apostle Paul compared the heavenly Jerusalem in contrast with the earthly Jerusalem in no uncertain terms. He likened the earthly Jerusalem to Abraham’s covenant with Hagar the slavewoman, while the heavenly Jerusalem was likened unto Abraham’s covenant with Sarah the freewoman. “For this Hagar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.” (Galatians 4:25-26) The illustration is clear. The heavenly Jerusalem is the mother of the spirit-born children, who are born by the power and promise of God as Isaac was. Yet the earthly Jerusalem is the mother of the flesh-and-blood children, who are born by the works of the flesh.
Nevertheless, today many are anticipating a great revival of the twelve tribes of Israel, who shall dwell at Jerusalem that now is, and that the Messiah will come and reign from the third temple. Consider that Ishmael was likened to the earthly Jerusalem and the fleshly descendants of Israel, and that God promised to bless Ishmael, the fleshly seed of Abraham, and out of him would come twelve tribes also (Gen. 25:16). Therefore, earthly Jerusalem is classed with the bondwoman and Israelites after the flesh, even twelve flesh and blood tribes, and the heavenly Jerusalem is classed with the freewoman and the born again Israelites after the Spirit, which also are classed as twelve tribes (See Rev. 7:2-8).
CASTING OUT THE BONDWOMAN AND HER SEED
How is it then that some are saying that the bondwoman’s children are the heirs of God’s kingdom, where Christ’s throne shall be seated? The Scriptures are plain concerning this point that the bondwoman does not inherit the kingdom of the saints, nor is the fleshly seed given preferential treatment over the children of the Spirit; otherwise God would be a respecter of persons. “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption” (1 Cor. 15:50), “Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.” (Galatians 4:30) It is evident therefore, that the children of the flesh will not inherit the kingdom which is given to the children of the Spirit, but are fated to be “cast out” unless they are born again; for a man cannot see nor enter the kingdom of God unless he is born again (John 3:3,5).
Paul the apostle foresaw this casting out, or else he had never written of it. Although Paul once regarded his fleshly descent from the tribe of Benjamin, yet when he knew his identity in Christ, things changed. He counted his fleshly heritage “loss for Christ…that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection” (Phil. 3:7-10). But how did he relate to the earthly bondwoman, Jerusalem that now is, who was his mother after the flesh? To the Galatians, he continues his narrative regarding the allegory of the covenants of Hagar and Sarah representing the two Jerusalems. “For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood…” (Galatians 1:13-16) It is evident that his “mother’s womb” was none other than the Jewish religion he prided himself in, and the nation thereof.
Moreover, Christ foresaw that this casting out of the fleshly seed would be just the case with Jerusalem that now is, and her fleshly seed which are still slaves to sin. If ever there was a people to inherit the promised blessings of being the children of the Spirit, it ought to be the children of Jacob after the flesh, to whom were given an abundance of advantages. Yet when encountering the great faith of a Gentile Roman centurion, Christ marvelled, “Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 8:10-12) He foresaw that the Gentiles would be justified and heirs with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, yet the children to whom belongs the promises, who had not the faith and works of Abraham would be “cast out”.
OF ISHMAEL OR OF ISAAC?
Many who are deeply fascinated in the late revival of the Jewish nation will make the claim that if you bless the Jews, you are blessed, and if you curse the Jews, you are cursed. They bless the bondwoman, and turn a blind eye to the freewoman; they bless the seed of evildoers who are in bondage to sin, but are willing to curse those who are made free in the Spirit from sin. Such overlook the fact that a great number of the Jews residing in Jerusalem are indeed in bondage to sin as the apostle said. Many, although not all, are unbelieving, practicing Kabbalah (eastern mystic sorcery, including the belief in reincarnation), while the nation itself has a whole month dedicated to gay pride, and has one of the highest abortion rates in the world.
Since we are dealing with the question of the two Jerusalems and the two seeds, one must ask: Is such a teaching biblical? Must you bless the seed of the flesh regardless of their sins? And if you do not show them favor above all men, shall you be cursed? Abraham and his seed were told that whosoever blessed them would be blessed, but whosoever curses them would be cursed (See Gen. 12:3, 27:29). Therefore, according to the popular teachings of the Evangelicals of today, if the fleshly seed of Abraham, no matter how wicked they are, are denounced for their wickedness, such would be regarded as accursed. That is the present teaching in our current generation of Evangelicals. Since this is the case, the Evangelicals look with great fervor and honor to earthly Jerusalem and the Jewish people.
If such a doctrine were correct, then why would Isaiah have spoken so hard in his words against Israel? What of Amos who prophesied of coming judgment? What of Jeremiah who spoke against the holy priestly order and their beloved temple, prophesying it’s destruction? What of John the baptist, who called the leadership in Jerusalem, with it’s priestly class, a generation of vipers (Matt. 3:7)? And above all of these, what of the Messiah, who called that wicked generation a “generation of vipers”, and “evil”, and not able to “escape the damnation of hell”? Christ went further than this, declaring the unbelieving Jewish leaders to be of their father, “the devil” (John 8:44), that “if ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham.” (v. 39) Therefore, we see that the wicked Jews were often cursed by the most noteworthy of the men of Israel, and were never cursed for speaking the truth. Rather, the wicked Jews were cursed for speaking agains the spirit-filled prophets of God. These prophets were the true children of Abraham, and were as surely born of the Spirit as the believing children of God are today. These were persecuted, hewn down, put to death, for their testimony, yet they were moved and blessed of God. Those who persecuted them were the fleshly seed, who would not tolerate reproof. Even now, many will not tolerate the reproof, but their flesh will rise up against it, thus showing they are children of the bondwoman and not of the free.
“Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now…So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.” (Galatians 4:28-31) Bear in mind that Isaac was born by the power of the promise of God to Abraham. We are told that Abraham “considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara’s womb”, but was full of faith in the one “quickens the dead, and calls those things which be not as though they were.” (Rom. 4:17-19) Thus was Isaac born by the resurrecting power of the word of God. Even so, Paul the apostle calls the Gentile converts of Galatia “brethren” and children who are not of Jerusalem which now is, but of Jerusalem above; not of the flesh, but of the Spirit. Therefore, he includes himself in that number who do not regard flesh and blood descent as anything worthy of regard, but regard the descent of the Holy Spirit as of highest importance.
ARE YOU CURSED FOR NOT HONORING FLESH AND BLOOD?
Therefore we conclude that the fact that earthly Jerusalem was reinstated to fulfill certain key end-time events will not make the children of the flesh heirs of the Kingdom of God. This would not be true anymore than would Abraham’s receiving of Hagar make her child the child of the promise, and Isaac would be required to bless Ishmael in order to be blessed (as many are affirming the born again believers must do with the Jews to not be accursed); neither does it make his covenant with Sarah of no consequence. But rather, we have an abundance of evidence that God is not a respector of persons, inasmuch as He would take the children of the east and west, who were once Gentiles in the flesh, and make them to be children of Abraham and a genuine seed in the Spirit of Christ, while casting out the unbelieving children of Abraham into outer darkness who have shut out the Spirit of Christ against themselves.
Notwithstanding this brethren, do not be deceived. The children of the Spirit are not cast out for the children of the flesh, as some are zealously affirming today among some extreme Messianic and Evangelical circles. However, if the children of the Spirit cease to walk in faith and lose the Spirit, although they profess to be the children of God, and the children of the flesh, Israelites, receive the Spirit through faith, then without doubt, the tables have turned once more.
Let us not, therefore, be ensnared into the deception that God regards with partiality children of flesh and blood, whether Jew or believing Gentile, even unto cursing the children of the Spirit, whether Jew or believing Gentile. For so do those who believe this deception do likewise, although they are commanded not to be respecters of persons. Such a teaching proceeds not from the Father in heaven, but derives from the leaven of flesh and blood, which Christ warned us about (See Matt. 16), which makes of no effect the Scriptures.
However, prophecy does say something more regarding the importance of earthly Jerusalem in the last days, as it does the condition of the Israelites before the return of Christ as an imminent sign of the resurrection. There is a much more significant prophetic role in several respects that both of these shall play than many have considered. But that is the subject of the next article in this series.