By Charles H. Welch
The earliest reference to this city is in Genesis 14: 18, where Melchizedek is called "King of Salem". Melchizedek, as we know, means "king of righteousness" (Heb. 7:1,2), and in Joshua 10:1 we meet with another king of Jerusalem, Adonizedek "Lord of righteousness". There is no doubt as to the meaning of Salem, it means "peace" (Heb. 7: 1,2), but there is a difference of opinion as to the meaning of the prefix Jeru. This may be the word indicating a foundation, habitation or possession, and there are advocates for each meaning. There is, however, another meaning which has much in its favour, namely "the sight or vision of peace". This would have some support from the name given to the mountain of Moriah, namely Jehovah Jireh, "in the mount of the Lord it shall be seen" (Gen. 22:14). The name Salem was continued unto the days of the Psalms, "In Judah is God known . . . in Salem also is His tabernacle, and His dwelling place in Zion" (Psa. 76:1,2).
On this same Mount Moriah where Abraham saw by faith the offering of the Saviour set forth in type, Solomon built the house of the Lord, where the Lord had appeared unto David his father. Although David reigned over Judah seven years and six months, he reigned in Hebron, but when he became king over all Israel and Judah he reigned in Jerusalem (2 Sam. 5:5). In the fourth year of Solomon's reign he began to build the temple at Jerusalem (1 Kings 6:1) and when the house was finished, the ark of the covenant was brought to the temple at Jerusalem, and there the great dedication was made (1 Kings 8).
From this time ancient Jerusalem became the city of Israel. There not only was the temple, but the palace of the king, and the sepu1chre of kings and great men of the nation. Jerusalem was continually besieged, and Nehemiah's prayer, and the edict of Cyrus were focused upon the restoration of this city. Jerusalem became the spiritual centre and home of the Jew, "Our feet shall stand within thy gates, 0 Jerusalem" (Psa. 122:2).
"If I forget thee, 0 Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth: if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy" (Psa. 137:5,6). While the desolations of Jerusalem are the sorrow of the prophets: the restoration of this same city involves their highest flights of imagery, "put on thy beautiful garments, 0 Jerusalem", "give Him no rest, till He establish, and till He make Jerusalem a praise in the earth". "Be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create, for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy" (Isa. 52:1,62:7,65:18). The Saviour not only mourned over Jerusalem, but He also said concerning His own sacrificial death, "It cannot he that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem" (Luke 13:33).
The chief service that Jerusalem offers in the study of dispensational truth is its relation to the times of the Gentiles. We may entertain our own opinion as to whether Rome does, or does not come in the vision of Daniel two (for ourselves we believe it does), but one thing we do know that Jerusalem, not Babylon, Persia, Greece or any other nation is the key to the times of the Gentiles.
This is definite and final. Whichever of the nations dominates Jerusalem at any time, that nation is the Gentile successor of Nebuchadnezzar. .
The translation "tread down" and its implications have been denied by some by reason of their prophetic views, but no "views" whether ours or another's can alter the fact that the Greek word pateo, used in Luke 21 :24 is employed by the LXX in the following passages:
Facts are confessedly stubborn things, and those of us who would abide by the "facts" of Scripture can have no hesitation in accepting the translation of the A.V. in Luke 21:24 with all the implications of that translation. The domination of Jerusalem by Gentile powers is an important factor in the interpretation of prophecy, and any theory that discounts it must be suspect.
Earthly Jerusalem finds its counterpart in the heavenly calling (Heb. 3:1) and is placed over against Sinai (see SION).
In connexion with the heavenly Jerusalem is the great theme of the overcomer (which see) and the Firstborn's position (see also HOPE, and PRIZE), and as an adjunct to this study we give the structure of Hebrews twelve.
From this skeleton structure we lift out the member 12:15-25 for enlargement.
While therefore the bulk of the references to Jerusalem in the Scriptures are of prophetic as opposed to dispensational interest, its important relationship with Israel, the times of the Gentiles, the heavenly calling, the Bride (see BRIDE and BODY), the dispensational movement indicated by the geography of the Acts (see ACTS), and our Saviour's past and future associations with that city make it of great importance and of sacred interest to every believer.