The Fall And Rise Of Jerusalem

Series: An Eschatological Mix

Link to sermon video: The Fall And Rise Of Jerusalem - T Siverd


Sermon By Terry Siverd / August 22, 2021 / Cortland  Church of Christ

Thank you for accessing today's livestream sermon.  We welcome you and pray that this morning's sermon may prove to be a blessing to you.  This morning, I want to continue with our current sermon series on eschatology, with a sermon that I have titled, The Fall And Rise Of Jerusalem.

When we think back on the ancient city of Jerusalem, many things come to mind.  In Israel's distant past, Mount Moriah had been the place where Abraham offered up His son Isaac.  cf. Gen.22:4ff;  2Sam.24:16ff  and 2Chron.3:1.  In the days of Israel's united monarchy, Jerusalem was fondly spoken of as the city of David.  While David's place of birth was Bethlehem, after conquering the Jebusites, Jerusalem became his city.  2Sam.5:7 & 9 / David captured the the stronghold of Zion...So David lived in the stronghold, and called it the city of David. 2Sam.5:10 notes, David became greater and greater, for the Lord God of hosts was with him.  By itself, back around 1,000 BC, the city of Jerusalem (aka Zion) was a spectacular place - - quite a site to behold.  Jerusalem was a mountain top city (a city set on seven hills), planted among the clouds at an elevation of c. 2,600'.  With the Dead Sea located just 20 miles SE at 1,400' below sea level, Jerusalem's setting was even more dramatic.  Ps.48:2 / Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion in the far north, the city of the great King.  Jerusalem was safe and secure - - a walled city with an ample supply of water, boasting numerous towers and gates.  2Sam.6:12 tells of when David went and brought up the ARK (of the Covenant)...into the city of David with gladness.  Ps.125:2 / As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people.  Ps.46:4-5a / there is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the dwelling places of the Most High.  God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved.  While the city of Jerusalem became the royal, religious & commercial hub of the nation of Israel, it was not until the reign of David's son, King Solomon, that THE TEMPLE with all its splendor came to be built in Jerusalem.  The temple's presence in Jerusalem brought an accentuated recognition to Jerusalem - - as the city of God.  Jerusalem quickly became known as the holy city.  Ps.48:1 / Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, in the city of our God, His holy mountain.  The psalmist's reference to the city of God on His holy mountain, soon Jerusalem becomes known at the holy city.  e.g., Neh.11:1 & 18  and  Mt.4:5 & 27:53.   Heb.7:1ff records the story of a mysterious king named Melchizedek.  As indicated by his name, he was a king of righteousness and the king of Salem, a derivation of shalom, meaning peace.  Jerusalem came also to be associated with being a city or righteousness and peace.  To be in Jerusalem was the ultimate joy for the Jewish people:  Ps.100:4 / enter his gates with thanksgiving, And His courts with praise, Give thanks to Him; bless His name.

We do not have time this morning to trace the decline of Jerusalem.  What started with good intentions - - for Jerusalem to be a city set on a hill offering light and salt to the world around it (Mt.5:13-14), soon became wayward and apostate.  Its “light” was severely dimmed and its “salt” had become tasteless.  Over and over again in the Old Testament, we read of Jerusalem wandering astray and loosening her bond with Jehovah God.  If I could adapt the words of another:  her disobedience became a long slog in the wrong direction.  Jerusalem's corruption is repeatedly addressed by the prophets of old.   Isaiah devotes much to this topic, telling Israel that God's demand for righteousness cannot be thwarted. Isa.1:15 / When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you, Yes, even though you multiply your prayers, I will not listen.  Your hands are covered with blood.  While Isaiah's admonitions offer a glimmer of hope, the future of Israel continues to become ever more bleak.  Isa.1:18f / 'Come now, and let us reason together,' says the Lord, 'though your sins be as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be as wool.  If you consent and obey, you will eat the best of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.'  Truly the mouth of the Lord has spoken...How the faithful  city has become a HARLOT, She who was full of justice!  Righteousness once lodged in her, but now murderers.   Jerusalem's decadence is epitomized by a litany of woes pronounced upon the city by Jesus recorded in Mt.23.  Mt.23:37-38 / 'O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her!  How often I wanted to gather you together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and your were unwilling.  Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!'   This declaration becomes a segue to the Olivet discourse.  Unlike the odds of a weatherman, Jesus prognostication was absolute and there would be no turning back.  Jesus' prophecy about the fall of Jerusalem was fixed and it was only a matter of time, and the time was short.  The words of Isaiah and Jesus provide insight in helping us to understanding the Apocalypse, John's Revelation.  

The book of Revelation contains God's divorce decree against an apostate Israel.

I'm not sure where I first encountered this expression - - perhaps it came from David Chilton's/Days of Vengeance...or Cornelius Vanderwaal/Search The Scriptures...or Joseph Balyeat/Babylon The Great City of Revelation.  This theme is corroborated by the depiction of Jerusalem as Babylon - - the mother of all harlots.  cf. Rev.14-18, especially Rev.17:5.  And the severity of the Israel's transgression is punctuated by the label synagogue of Satan (Rev.2:9 & 3:9).

This is a key theme in the Apocalypse, but, thankfully, it is neither the only theme nor the overarching theme.  God's judgment upon Israel signals the end of the old Jerusalem, but it also heralds the beginning of the new Jerusalem.  Revelation contains bad news and good news.  The bad news is that God is divorcing the old Jerusalem.  But that's not the end of the story, the good news Is that God has kept His promises in creating a new Jerusalem.  

Read from Rev.21:1-5.

John follows Isaiah's lead in unveiling the arrival of the new heavens and new earth (cf. Isa.65:17ff with Rev.21:1ff). John's revelation is not focused upon a shift from physical life on earth to spiritual life in heaven.  Indeed, the focus is on a change from the carnal to the spiritual, but that change is COVENANTAL:  John is addressing the transference from the old covenant world to the new covenant realm.  This change is described by Hag.2:9, saying, the latter glory of this house will be greater than the former glory.  Also in Zech.8:3 / I will return to Zion and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem.  Then Jerusalem will be called the city of truth, and the mountain of the Lord of hosts will be called the holy mountain.  This world-changing shift was revealed to John and the early saints as being an event that was shortly to take place.  This new-covenant world had always been the aspiration of Father Abraham.  Heb.11:10 /  Abraham was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.  The writer of the book of Hebrews notes in Heb.8:13 - - When He said, 'A new covenant,' He has made the first obsolete.  But whatever is obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.  In Heb.12:22, the writer announces to the first-century saints:  you have come to Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.  In Galatians (Gal.4:26), Paul affirms the same:  the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother!

 One more text and then we will close in prayer. Turn to Heb.9:8!  Is there truly a connection between the removal of the old covenant with the establishment of the New Covenant?  ...The way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed, while the outer tabernacle is still standing. 

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