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The Holy City
by Wayne Blank
"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see Me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in The Name of the Lord" (Matthew 23:34-39 KJV)"
"I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven"
Jerusalem is commonly referred to as "the holy city," but that is only true by virtue of what it ultimately represents. Just as the Levite high priest was merely a very imperfect symbol of humanity's perfect High Priest (see Christ The High Priest), so too the city of Jerusalem is merely a foreshadow of the true Holy City to come. As described above, a carnal, physical place that has always become corrupt before The Lord throughout its history is actually more worthy of the title "Sodom and Egypt" - a term that God actually uses for it (see the Fact Finder question below).
Throughout the Holy Bible, Jerusalem is referred to as "the holy city," even though in its past and present form it has repeatedly corrupted itself before The Lord. That is why The Lord brought about the destruction of the city by the Babylonians (see Why Babylon?) and again, centuries later, by the Romans (see Fall of Jerusalem In 70 A.D.). Nevertheless, each time The Lord had the city rebuilt because of what it represents as it awaits the future fulfillment (see The City To Come). This example occurred in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah when the people of Judah were allowed to return from their captivity in Babylon.
"And the rulers of the people dwelt at Jerusalem: the rest of the people also cast lots, to bring one of ten to dwell in Jerusalem the holy city, and nine parts to dwell in other cities. And the people blessed all the men, that willingly offered themselves to dwell at Jerusalem." (Nehemiah 11:1-2 KJV)
Nevertheless, "they call themselves of the holy city, and stay themselves upon the God of Israel" has always been the way of the present Jerusalem.
"Hear ye this, O house of Jacob, which are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah, which swear by the Name of The Lord, and make mention of the God of Israel, but not in truth, nor in righteousness. For they call themselves of the holy city, and stay themselves upon the God of Israel; The Lord of hosts is His Name. I have declared the former things from the beginning; and they went forth out of My mouth, and I showed them; I did them suddenly, and they came to pass. Because I knew that thou art obstinate, and thy neck is an iron sinew, and thy brow brass" (Isaiah 48:1-4 KJV)
Just as the physical city of Jerusalem is merely a simulation of the New Jerusalem to come, so too physical Israelites are themselves merely a work in progress (see Daughter of Zion and The Zion Of The Lord).
"Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean. Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem: loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion." (Isaiah 52:1-2 KJV)
Despite that it rejected Him (as He spoke of as quoted in the opening verses), at the time of the first coming of the Messiah Jerusalem was referred to as the holy city - because of what Christ would do there to ultimately make it a holy city (see The Throne Of God, From Heaven To Earth).
"Then the devil taketh Him up into the holy city, and setteth Him on a pinnacle of the Temple, And saith unto Him, If Thou be the Son of God, cast Thyself down: for it is written, He shall give His angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God" (Matthew 4:5-7 KJV) (see Could Jesus Have Sinned?)
In Prophecy, Jerusalem is also referred to (along with "Sodom and Egypt" - see the Fact Finder question below) as "the holy city" right to the end (see The End Of The World?) because of what it represents.
"Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times." (Daniel 9:24-25 KJV)
After all has been completed, Jerusalem will truly be The Holy City.
"And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the Holy City, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the Tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away" (Revelation 21:1-4 KJV)
Fact Finder: Why does The Lord equate the present Jerusalem with "Sodom and Egypt"?