Topical Studies

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What the Bible says about Jerusalem
(From Forerunner Commentary)

"Zion" may stand for Jerusalem (Zechariah 9:9), the church (Isaiah 40:9), or both (Zechariah 1:17)! At other times, a prophecy written to an ancient people (the antitype) will also apply to a modern people (the type), so great care needs to be taken when assigning prophecies to particular peoples. As in all cases of trying to understand the Bible, read the prophecy in its context to determine its subject, time frame, and purpose.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
What's in a Name?

Related Topics: Church, The | Jerusalem | Zion


Genesis 14:18-20

Notice that Melchizedek was king of Salem. That is the city of Jerusalem. "Salem" comes from the Hebrew word meaning "peace." That would make Melchizedek the "King of Peace" (Hebrews 7:2). The Hebrew name Melchizedek itself means "King of Righteousness" (Hebrews 7:2). The same individual is mentioned in Psalm 110:4. Speaking prophetically of Christ, David stated: "The Eternal hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek." This verse is quoted again in Hebrews 5:6, 10.

Herbert W. Armstrong (1892-1986)
The Mystery of Melchizedek Solved!

2 Kings 19:21

This is a question from God: "Do you realize, Sennacherib, who it is that you are blaspheming when you speak those words against My city, Jerusalem?"

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 3)

Ezekiel 16:44-46

Jerusalem here is being compared to Sodom.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Where Is the Beast? (Part Five)

Ezekiel 16:44-49

Ezekiel 16:44-49 shows us another way that can be used to identify the Great Harlot of Revelation: by observing parallel conduct. The word "parallel" opens another avenue for consideration of duality, but this time not directly in a prophecy. At this point in God's narration concerning Judah and Jerusalem, He is showing the parallel behavior of Judah with Samaria to the north and with Sodom to the south.

Verse 47 is especially clear regarding parallel conduct. The Revised English Bible translates it as, "Did you not behave as they did and commit the same abominations?" Regarding their relationship, verse 49 declares they are "sisters under the skin," as we would say today, because their behavior is so similar.

This opens the door to consider the parallel conduct that leads Him to call Jerusalem by the derogatory names of "Sodom and Egypt" (Revelation 11:8). At the time of the end, God observes parallel behaviors and attitudes in Jerusalem, Sodom, and Egypt. Thus Jerusalem, representing all of Israel, reveals her spiritual source, which is most certainly not the God of the Bible, despite what the Israelites might say in calling themselves "Christian." If God can name Israel "Sodom," why can He not also call her "Babylon"?

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beast and Babylon (Part Ten): Babylon the Great Is a Nation

Ezekiel 16:44-48

This passage is a brief insight into the three sisters in the land of Canaan, which were three cities. Samaria is the oldest, Sodom the middle, and the youngest is Jerusalem. Jerusalem, though not the oldest, is the vilest. This gives us insight that we need to heed because of the times in which we live—because our day tends to foster the same effects as occurred in these cities, and perhaps especially as occurred in Sodom.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part Four)

Ezekiel 16:45

That last phrase—"your mother was a Hittite, and your father an Amorite"—tells you whom He is talking about. He also says this in Ezekiel 16:3, directly after he says, "Jerusalem."

John W. Ritenbaugh
Where Is the Beast? (Part Four)

Hosea 7:11

When God uses the term "Ephraim," He may be referring to the actual family of Ephraim, but it is more likely that He is using it as He uses the term "Jerusalem": for the whole country. Ephraim represents or symbolizes the ten northern tribes, Israel as distinct from Judah, because Ephraim was its leading tribe.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Where Is the Beast? (Part Six)

Related Topics: Ephraim | Israel | Jerusalem


Micah 4:1-2

This passage shows that Jesus Christ will dwell on earth in Jerusalem, accessible to physical people and nations—not in heaven!

Is Heaven the Reward of the Saved?

Luke 21:20-22

The times are so bad at this point, Jesus Christ says not even to come down and get one's clothes. How can a person, in coming down off his housetop, not go through his house and pick up some clothing? The answer involves the way the homes were built in Jerusalem. It was entirely possible to run from one housetop to another because they butted up against one another. The top of the houses were built flat, and the people used it in the same way that we would use a patio. In the cool of the evening, they went to the top of their house and sat there and talked to their neighbors on the adjacent rooftops.

So if a person were on his rooftop when the time came to get out of Jerusalem, he could literally run from housetop to housetop to housetop without ever coming down on the street for a long distance. Such a thing would never happen in the U.S. and Canada. But, nonetheless, it conveys an intense sense of urgency. If indeed a person happens to be there in Jerusalem at that time, he would have to flee immediately for his life.

The question always arises, "Was this fulfilled when the Temple was destroyed in AD 70?" It is interesting when one looks into church history (apart from the Bible), though not necessarily true church history - call it "secular church history," in which the people call themselves Christians but their doctrines do not conform to the Bible. These people left a record of events of the time. The church historian, Eusebius, had this to say regarding the true church in Jerusalem during the period between AD 66 and 70:

That it [the church] was instructed to leave Jerusalem and take up residence in one of the cities of Perea.

The church did not flee in the sense that Jesus means in Matthew 24. It migrated from Jerusalem to one of the cities of Perea, Pella. Pella is not in a wilderness area but one of the cities of the Decapolis. Decapolis means "ten cities"; there were ten small cities in a small area right around the Sea of Galilee. It is not in the mountains, though it is near some. The church probably left somewhere in late AD 69. If they had left earlier than that, they would have run headlong into Vespasian's army, because Vespasian's army was stalled fighting in the area of Galilee. In AD 69, Vespasian was recalled to Rome where he was crowned Emperor. His son Titus took over the army and came down on Jerusalem. Now by moving his army toward Jerusalem, it became safe for the church to migrate away from Jerusalem.

Josephus records that on the Day of Pentecost, while a great multitude was in the Temple, the people heard a voice say, "Let us go from hence." The church, then, left in an orderly way without urgency, migrating to the area of Pella. This is the exact opposite direction the Bible indicates the Place of Safety is located. So we would have to conclude that what happened in AD 66-70 was a "type" of the church being removed to a place of safety so that it could survive. However, it was not what Jesus was talking about for the end-time church, when some will flee with such urgency that they do not even come down into their house for their clothing.

John W. Ritenbaugh
A Place of Safety? (Part 1)

John 4:20

Jesus Himself did not actually say that, but this woman was speaking to a Jew, and the Jews certainly taught that Jerusalem was the only place to worship.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part Fifteen)

Galatians 4:27-31

The New Covenant gives freedom from the bondage of sin and death because it provides for justification through faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Sarah, therefore, corresponds to Jerusalem above, and the church is seen as the children, just as miraculously conceived as Isaac was. It is free because of the combination of justification and the Spirit of God, both of which are contained in the New Covenant.

What happened to the bondwoman—the Old Covenant and what it produced? It is thrown out! In a different context, Paul says it is made obsolete (Hebrews 8:13). Why? It has served its purpose. There is nothing complex about it. It was merely a bridge until Christ's coming. The Old Covenant could not deliver, though it served God's purpose for the time it was in force.

But the freewoman—the New Covenant and what it promises—remains and continues to produce.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part Twenty-Seven)

Revelation 11:8

Babylon is called great (Revelation 14:8; 16:19) in the same way that Jerusalem, representing all of Israel, was called great (Revelation 11:8). When "great" is used in this manner in this kind of a context, it not complimentary. The word in the Greek is megas, and it literally means "big." It can mean big or great in size, magnitude, intensity, or rank, in either a good or a bad sense. It depends on the context. This is interesting, because when God symbolically dwelt in the Holy of Holies, Jerusalem was known by its citizens as the "Holy City."

Tradition tells us (especially through Josephus) that God departed His residence there shortly before AD 70. The "Holy City" title for Jerusalem does not come back into the story-flow of the book of Revelation until Revelation 21:2-3.

In Revelation 21, the title "Holy City" is once again going to be applied to Jerusalem, but until that time, when God dwells there, it is known as the "great" city. It is great just like Babylon in its anti-God, sinful influence and economic, political, and military power. But most certainly it is not great in holiness. Israel's conduct puts its place next to Sodom, Gomorrah, Egypt, and Babylon in great defiance against God, against His message and His messengers, and thus it lost its identification as "the Holy City" and became "great."

John W. Ritenbaugh
Where Is the Beast? (Part Five)

Revelation 11:8

In Revelation 11:8, Jerusalem is referred to as "the great city." At first thought, Jerusalem is not a great city as New York City is great; it does not occupy as much territory nor does it have the population base. It is not of that sort of magnitude. However, we must not forget that Jerusalem, as a capital city, represents the entire nation of Israel and its greatness lies in what was given to it and what was expected of it considering those gifts.

The apostle John writes in Revelation 14:8, "And another angel followed, saying, 'Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication." He adds in Revelation 16:19, "Now the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. And great Babylon was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath."

Babylon is great too. When "great" is so used in this kind of context, it is not complimentary. "Great" is megálee in Greek, and it literally means "big." It can mean big or great in size, magnitude, and intensity or rank in a good or bad sense. How it is to be understood depends on what is being compared.

When God symbolically dwelt in the Holy of Holies, Jerusalem was known by its citizens as "the holy city." Tradition tells us that God departed His residence in the Temple shortly before AD 70. Jerusalem's title as "the holy city" does not come back into the story flow until Revelation 21:2, when New Jerusalem comes down from God out of heaven—long after the time covered in these prophecies. Revelation 21:3 specifically says that God again dwells there. However, at the time of the prophecies in Revelation 14 and 16, Revelation calls both Jerusalem and Babylon "great." This is not a positive comparison. Israel is great as Babylon is great, and at that time, neither of them is great in holiness.

Babylon is great in its anti-God, sinful influence and in economic, political, and military power, but it is most certainly not great in righteousness. Israel's conduct places it next to Sodom, Egypt, and Babylon in great defiance of God, His message, and His servants, and thus it loses its identification as "the holy city."

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beast and Babylon (Part Five): The Great Harlot

Related Topics: Babylon | Great Whore | Holy City, The | Jerusalem


Revelation 17:5

In Revelation 17:5, "harlot" is to be understood as including men too, involved in what the Bible specifies as "harlotry," something that in normal circumstances would only be said of a female, but biblically includes both men and women. Therefore, "MOTHER OF HARLOTS" specifically refers to unfaithfulness within a covenant relationship with God, not a specific human sexual sin.

The Protestant churches that revolted from the Catholic Church were certainly not unfaithful to God as churches. Neither was the Catholic Church unfaithful to God as a church. Why? Because they never entered into a covenant with Him! They were never His church! But the citizens of the nations of Israel were certainly unfaithful to God within a covenant relationship.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Where Is the Beast? (Part Five)

Find more Bible verses about Jerusalem:
Jerusalem {Nave's}
Jerusalem {Torrey's}

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