I have been to Israel 45 times, and every time my spiritual life has been enriched. I recently took a video cameraman with me and had him shoot on the fly as I led a pilgrimage group through the land. We began in Tel Aviv, and went from there to Tiberias in the north, and then back to Jerusalem.
I'll continue to share some of the sermons I presented from that trip with you. As I do so, I think you'll come to understand why a person once wrote, "A pilgrimage to the Holy Land converts the Bible from black and white into Technicolor."
My next message was presented in the Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem. There we will discover what the Prophet Zechariah revealed about the future of Jerusalem.
History of the Jewish Quarter
The Old City of Jerusalem is one of the most fascinating places on planet earth. It is a place of great spiritual significance to Christians. It is where Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected. And, it is where He is going to return to rule over all the world.
Walking through the Old City of Jerusalem will make one understand why one of the most popular t-shirts found in the Old City is one that says, "I walked my feet off in Jerusalem." On a typical tour of Jerusalem, I will start at the Mount of Olives then come down to the Kidron Valley. Then I'll walked from the Old City at the Lion's Gate all the way across to the Jaffa Gate. After coming back to Mount Zion, I lead our group through the Zion Gate and into the Jewish Quarter.
People who travel on our tours will see each quarter except for the Armenian Quarter. The Armenian's are very reclusive, which is why they've built a wall all around their buildings and churches. They don't want anybody interfering with them, so there's nothing to see there.
Quite the opposite, the Jewish Quarter is amazing. It's all brand-spanking new compared to the other parts of the city. The reason for this is that in 1948 and '49 there was fierce fighting there to control the Jewish part of the Old City, and the Jews lost it. The Jordanian forces conquered all of the Old City in the war of '48 and '49 and then they came in and systematically destroyed the Jewish Quarter. They destroyed all the houses and blew up the synagogues. One of the greatest Jewish synagogues that once stood in the Jewish Quarter was blow up. There are historical videos of all of this happening.
In 1967, the Jews reconquered the city of Jerusalem and started to rebuild, but before they began rebuilding someone said, "Let's dig first." The whole rebuilding of the Jewish Quarter was held up by archaeologists who came in and did archaeological digs all over the area. Every one of the buildings there today are built over archaeological excavations. In many of them you can go down into the basement and see all these amazing archaeological excavations. That's why the city looks so new, because it was built not too long ago. The Jews even rebuilt their great synagogue.
Right in the center of the Jewish Quarter is a major plaza that I love to come to and just sit and eat lunch and watch all the people dance. You wouldn't see that going on the eve of the Sabbath. On the Sabbath eve all of the Jewish Quarter closes down around 2 or 3 pm in the afternoon. The shops don't even wait until the Sabbath starts. That way everything is closed in time for the Sabbath. But, on a regular day, you could come to the square and sit and watch people playing musical instruments. Even the rabbis join in dancing in the streets and it's really wonderful to watch as they join hands and dance and sing.
The Millennial Future of Jerusalem
The dancing always reminds me of a glorious passage found in the book of Zechariah chapter 8. Now remember, the Prophet Zechariah was already written after the Jews came back from Babylonian captivity, therefore Zechariah is talking about something that's going to happen in the future. Listen how he describes what Jerusalem is going to be like.
"Again the word of the Lord of host came to me saying, Thus says the Lord of host, 'I am zealous for Zion with a great zeal with great fervor I am zealous for her.' Thus says the Lord, 'I will return to Zion and dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be called the City of truth, the mountain of the Lord of host, the holy mountain.' Thus says the Lord of host, 'Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each one with his staff in his hand because of great age. The streets of the city shall be full of boys, and girls playing in the streets.' Thus says the Lord of host, 'Behold, I will save My people from the land of the east, from the land of the west; I will bring them back, and they will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem, they shall be My people and I will be their God in truth and in righteousness.' It shall come to pass that just as you were accursed among the nations, oh, house of Judah and house of Israe,l so I will save you and you shall be a blessing. Do not fear let your hands be strong for thus says the Lord of host, 'Just as I determine to punish you when your fathers provoked me to wrath.' Says the Lord of host, 'And I would not relent, so again in those final days I am determined to do good to Jerusalem and to the house of Judah do not fear.'"
Zechariah then ends with these words, "Many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of host in Jerusalem and to pray before the Lord." And then the last verse which is absolutely incredible, "Thus says the Lord of host, 'In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man and say, 'Let me go with you for we have heard that God is with you.'"
That prophecy will not be fulfilled until the Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ. But, just think about it, we live in a world today where the Jew is despised, hated, cursed and hunted down and killed. But, in the day of the millennial reign of Jesus Christ, the glory of the Lord will go forth from Jerusalem to all the world. What radiance there will be in the reign of the Lord Jesus Christ!
We are told that the nations will send representatives each year to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. So great will be the blessings flowing from Jerusalem through the Jewish people to all the world that when one Jew walks by, ten Gentiles will grab his robe and say, "Let us walk with you because we know that God is with you." The world is going to be turned upside down in its attitude toward the Jewish people.