“….he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem…he sent two of the disciples, saying, ‘Go into the village in front of you…you will find a colt…untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, “Why are you untying it?”…say this: “The Lord has need of it.’” Those who were sent…found it just as he had told them…And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. As he was drawing near…the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’ And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples.’ He answered, ‘I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.’ (From Luke 19)
Thus began Jesus’ approach to Jerusalem.
The first solid biblical reference to the location of Jerusalem is in Genesis 22 where God refers to “Moriah.” From 2 Chronicles 3, we know that Mount Moriah is the location of the temple. In Genesis 22:2 God says to Abraham: “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah and offer him there as a burnt-offering on one of the mountains which I shall show you.”
Now, you cannot begin to understand this story unless you understand: That this son of Abraham is the miraculous gift from God, for which Abraham has waited his whole life. And that this son is the “promised blessing,” through which God has promised to “bless all the families of the earth.” And that this seed is the judgment on all humanity, for God says,“I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you.”
That’s why some people say you must bless whatever the nation-state of Israel decides to do–because they are “the seed of Abraham.” Interestingly enough, Muslims also claim to be “seed of Abraham,” and according to Scripture, they are: Isaac and Ishmael are brothers. The New Testament argues that the “promised seed” of Abraham is not plural but singular, and His name is Jesus.
Well, in Genesis 22:3 we read that Abraham rose early, saddled his ass, took Isaac and traveled to Moriah. He gathered wood and placed his only begotten son on the wood… He prepared the fire, lifted the knife…and surrendered his control of the promised blessing.
He trusted that God was good and even if Isaac died, God could raise him from the dead. As he prepared to plunge the knife into his son, the Angel of Yahweh–a weird Old Testament God-man sort of figure–stopped Abraham’s hand and provided a substitute for sacrifice.
About one thousand years later, a son of Abraham named David captured Mount Moriah, which had become a fortress named “Mount Zion” or “Jerusalem.” King David wanted to build a house for God, and God revealed the spot for that house through David’s own sin.
In 2 Samuel 24 and 1 Chronicles 21 we read David’s sin was “numbering his troops.” That is, David relied on his military might rather than the grace of God to defend Jerusalem. Because of that, a plague falls on Israel and seventy thousand of David’s men die (men that he just numbered). David sees an angel standing on a threshing floor on Mount Zion. He stands between Heaven and earth with his sword stretched out over Jerusalem. David’s heart breaks, he drops to his knees, confesses his sin, and calls for God’s judgment to fall on himself and his lineage rather than Jerusalem.
Jesus is called “The Son of David” that builds the temple; for God tells David that his hands are covered in too much blood. Solomon is the immediate son of David; Solomon means peace…”prince of peace.” The temple is built with stones prepared at the quarry, so no human tools can touch them on the Holy mountain…like a temple not made with human hands.
Well, David’s descendants ruled Jerusalem for the next 550 years. However, the kingdom divided, and Jerusalem began to suffer great violence as the Israelites fought among themselves. But prophets began to foretell the most amazing things about Jerusalem…that it would be destroyed, and yet one day, a King would come to Jerusalem and command peace to all nations: “The government will be on his shoulders and the of the increase of his peace there will be no end.” He will swallow up death forever and wipe the tears away from all faces on His Holy Mountain. (Isaiah 25:8)
A whole lot of history happened from the time David’s descendants ruled Jerusalem to the time Jesus, the prophesied King, came to Jerusalem. All of those years, were filled with hopes for a victorious Messiah to come and conquer the enemy. Even to this day many wait and hope for that. And, historically, many have conquered Jerusalem militarily.
Ironically, “The City of Peace” is easily the most violent and violated city in the world. Just look at a list of Jerusalem’s conquerors…and yet, if you study one of those lists closely, you might notice one Conqueror is missing. And we Christians claim that He entered the city, conquered the city, and indeed conquered all things.
And He did it, not by militaristic means but by offering up Himself. He was brutally beaten, carried His cross, and was crucified on that cross, that we might know peace. Some act like Jesus failed, and so they believe He will come back with a new attitude the second time around. Yet Scripture says, “He doesn’t change.”
In John 12, on Palm Sunday, John records Jesus as saying, “NOW is the judgment of this world.” “NOW will the ruler of this world be cast out.” “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth will draw all people to myself.” And this He said to show by what death He would die. “I will draw” can be translated: “I will romance all people to myself.”
In Luke 19:40 Jesus said, “If these disciples are silenced the very stones will cry out.” And you know, Scripture talks quite a bit about living stones that sing praises. And in the Revelation, John sees a New Jerusalem coming down; she’s built with living stones and she is a Bride. And that’s not some obscure theme in just the Revelation. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea all refer to Jerusalem as a Bride, a harlot bride, a bride who cheats on her bridegroom, but a bride that will be redeemed by covenant blood.
On Palm Sunday, Jesus was conquering Jerusalem…not with tanks but with romance. If Jerusalem is real estate, you can use brute force, guns, and money to conquer it. But if Jerusalem is a bride you cannot conquer her like that. The conquering of her heart must look more like a love story than brute force.
As Jesus neared Jerusalem the crowds cried out: “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
That’s an amazing scene: There were throngs of people shouting, “Hosanna.” You would think Jesus would be overjoyed…but look at the next verse; He’s weeping. Why’s He weeping?
“And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it saying, Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace!”
Could it be that the U.S. government, the nation-state of Israel, and much of the institutional church does not know the thing that makes for peace? We say, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem,” but we don’t know what makes for peace; for perhaps, we don’t see Jerusalem. Jerusalem is a Bride not made of stone but people.
How do you capture the city? Well…
How do you capture a bride, or your child’s heart, or an enemy’s heart?
You speak a word at the right time like: “As you wish” or “Father forgive them.”
That kind of approach may make you feel like an ass, but note: the Word rides an ass, and conquers the city, even makes the city…the city of peace.
Now I know what you may be thinking: “Come on! What’s Israel to do? What’s the U.S. government to do?” I don’t know what the kingdom of the U.S. is to do, but I know they can’t make real peace. That takes weapons from the Kingdom of God.
And you may say, “Look, if you go into a situation like that with no guns, no tanks, no military, you’ll get yourself killed, and what good will that do? If you go in with nothing but a Word, you’ll get yourself crucified…” Exactly! You’ll become a conqueror or at least the Body of THE Conqueror–His Body broken, and His blood shed.
Maybe He’s weeping because we don’t know how to conquer the city and because He knows we don’t want Him to conquer the city (we are the city).
Maybe we don’t “know the time of our visitation;” for we don’t truly see the One who is visiting. We see… But we don’t see…
In this story, Jesus knows that in five days, when He performs no “mighty works,” Jerusalem will chant, “Crucify him, crucify him, crucify him.” “The evil and adulterous generation seeks a sign.” They want signs, and miracles, and mighty works. They want the power of God and not the heart of God. They want a new Herod or new Caesar to kick out the old Caesar, but they don’t want to open the gate of their hearts to King Jesus.
So when the crowds of Jerusalem do not know the time of their visitation, they deliver Jesus to Rome for crucifixion, and Jesus does not resist with His limitless strength; He surrenders to His Bride in weakness as if to say, “As you wish. Do you see what you wish? And now would you begin to wish for Me, as I have wished or you?”
She delivered Jesus to Rome for crucifixion…
And God delivered Jerusalem to Rome for destruction.
The wrath of God is that He hands us over to the abusers that we have chosen. We are delivered up…but delivered up for the destruction of our flesh, the destruction of arrogance, pride, and independence, the destruction of the city that WE have built in order to become the city that GOD has built, the city that opens her gates to Jesus…for He refuses to take our hearts another way.
When Jerusalem was destroyed, Jerusalem and the whole world began to see Jesus Christ and Him crucified. She began to see and wish what He wished, and she is the New Jerusalem coming down: A temple destroyed and rebuilt in three days, a temple cleansed of money changers and filled with Grace. No longer a harlot (unfaithful to her groom) but the Bride.
In the Revelation, John sees the great harlot destroyed by the kings of the earth, and then he sees the Word riding a warhorse, and then he sees the New Jerusalem coming down. It’s in the midst of the destruction of our old city, in the midst of pain, that we hear the Word of God. It looks weak, but nothing is more powerful!
Well, Jesus knew He would conquer Jerusalem and capture her heart, and yet He wept; for she did not know the time of her visitation. I wonder if we know the time of our visitation. They sure missed it two thousand years ago on Palm Sunday. I wonder if we miss it today…
This devotional was prepared by Kimberly Weynen, Peter Hiett’s assistant. It is a compilation of excerpts from the sermon titled “How to Conquer Jerusalem.” To read, watch, or listen to the entire sermon click here: How to Conquer Jerusalem.