Over ten years ago, a body of intercessory prayer groups from six continents felt prompted to call for 40 days of prayer and fasting for Jerusalem. After a number of other periods of prayer and fasting for 40 days for various needy groups, they believed item number one on the Lord’s agenda was Jerusalem. I believe it remains very important that we give ourselves to serious prayer and fasting for Jerusalem.
When I had a powerful personal encounter with Jesus Christ in 1941 in an army barrack room in England in the night, that encounter radically and permanently changed my life. God immediately began to teach me some amazing things, one of which was the importance and necessity of fasting.
In 1973 I published a book called Shaping History through Prayer and Fasting, in which I gave both personal examples and examples from history (primarily from the history of the United States), to show how in crucial times it was fasting in addition to prayer that made radical changes and caused God’s intervention in the events of history.
The significance of Jerusalem
How does all this relate to Jerusalem? Remarkably, Jerusalem is the focus of God’s purposes on earth. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Jerusalem was an insignificant little village in a province of the Ottoman Empire and of no real political consequence. If you had told people then that a hundred years later Jerusalem was to be the center of world attention and conflict, they wouldn’t have been able to believe it.
What is the underlying reason for all the attention and the controversy connected with Jerusalem? There is no sufficient natural or political explanation for the furor worldwide over this relatively small city with less than a million people in a little strip of a country. By the world’s standards, it is just a drop in the bucket. Yet you hardly open your newspaper without some reference to Israel. There is no adequate, practical reason for this; primarily it is a spiritual issue. And it is an issue of supreme importance. It concerns the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to set up His kingdom on earth. Behind all this furor is the enmity and the opposition of Satan.
Scripture makes it absolutely clear that Jesus will not come back to earth until the Jews have been reestablished in Jerusalem and in the land of Israel.
Satan, the arch enemy of God, His people and His purposes, hates and fears the thought of Jesus’ return more than any other. He is opposing with every means in his power the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. When Jesus returns, that will be the end of Satan’s period as the god of this world. He will be confined in a gloomy dungeon for a thousand years, released briefly, and then confined to the lake of fire for eternity.
Before Jesus will return, the Jews will have to be reestablished in Jerusalem. It has to become their city, and their hearts have to be prepared to recognize and receive the Messiah whom they rejected (see Matthew 23:37–39, Zechariah 12:10–12).
Jesus is coming back to a scene that has been prepared. It is a scene of the city of Jerusalem where the Jewish people are regathered and where they are spread abroad throughout the land. That is what Jesus is coming back to.
Opposition to the Lord’s return
Satan’s number one aim, I believe, is to prevent or delay the return of Jesus. He is clever enough and sufficiently acquainted with Scripture to know that if he can frustrate the return of the Jews to this land and the establishment of Jerusalem as their capital city, then Jesus will not come back.
This leads to a rather startling conclusion, but one that I believe is very true and scriptural: opposition to the reestablishment of the Jewish people in Jerusalem and in this land is, in reality, opposition to the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. The forces that are arrayed against the reestablishment of Israel are, in actual fact, opposing the return of the Lord Jesus Himself.
That throws a very important light on this whole controversial situation. It is not just a matter of politics. It is a matter of supreme spiritual importance. We need to be
concerned, each of us, for our own nations. Every nation, in a sense, has to be very careful as to their attitude toward what is central in God’s purposes.
Our debt to the Jewish people
I want to point out some elementary, simple truths. All Christians—whatever race or background or nationality—owe an incalculable debt to the Jewish people, a spiritual debt. Every spiritual blessing we have ever received we owe to one nation, the Jewish people.
Let me illustrate this briefly: If there had been no Jews, there would be no patriarchs, no prophets, no apostles, no Bible, and no Savior. How much would any of us have without those five things? No wonder Jesus Himself said in John 4:22: “Salvation is from the Jews.” Every person who has received salvation through faith in Jesus owes their whole spiritual inheritance to the Jewish people.
But the tragedy is that rather than acknowledge our debt to the Jewish people, multitudes of professing Christians over the centuries have compounded that debt by sixteen or more centuries of rabid anti-Semitism. Most of the anti-Semitic activity in Europe (which was the area mainly affected, but also in Russia) was carried out by professing Christians, often led by priests and by people carrying crucifixes, all done in the name of Christ.
If you find that Jewish people are rather reluctant to acknowledge the claims of Jesus, or to give ear to the claims of the Christian gospel, you need to bear that fact in mind. They have a background of sixteen or more centuries of vicious, unjust persecution carried out in the name of Christ by professing Christians.
What can we do?
You might ask: How can we make amends? The answer is, we can’t. There is nothing we can ever do that will expiate all the crimes that have been carried out in the name of Christ against the Jewish people for all those many centuries.
We cannot make amends. But we should repent. If we repent, John the Baptist instructed the people of his day, “Bear fruits worthy of repentance”(Matthew 3:8). In other words, “Do something practical to show that you really have repented.” One thing we can do, which is practical and very powerful, is to accept our responsibility to intercede for Israel, for Jerusalem and for the Jewish people.
There is a very beautiful picture in Isaiah that speaks about intercession for Jerusalem. The Lord is speaking and He says:
“I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they shall never hold their peace [never become silent] day or night. You who make mention of the LORD, do not keep silent, and give Him no rest till He establishes, and till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.” (Isaiah 62:6–7)
Other versions render that, “Give Him no rest, and take no rest for yourselves until the Lord establishes Jerusalem as the praise of the earth.” That is a word spoken to us as believers in Jesus at this time when God is moving for the restoration of Jerusalem. There should be watchmen, in a spiritual sense, on the walls of Jerusalem ringing the whole earth around in every nation where there are Christians. There should be intercessors taking their place on the walls of Jerusalem.
In the military, to be on watch is a very serious responsibility. If you fall asleep on watch it is a court-martial offense, and that is the seriousness I believe God wants us to attach to this commitment to intercede for Jerusalem. Though we may not be physically situated on the walls of Jerusalem, in a spiritual sense that is where God is posting intercessors from the nations all around the world.
An interesting word appears there. God says, “You who make mention of the LORD, do not keep silent.” The Hebrew word is mazkira, which means somebody who reminds somebody else. It is the modern Hebrew word for “secretary.” One of a secretary’s jobs is to remind her boss of his appointments and what he has to do. We are to be the Lord’s secretaries, reminding Him, “Lord, remember, You promised to Abraham, Isaac and Israel. Remember what Jesus said about Jerusalem? Remember, remember, remember.” In other words, we are holding God to His own commitment to Jerusalem.
That is the most powerful form of intercession we can practice. It says, “God, You said. We hold You to Your word. We will not keep quiet. We will not stop praying until You do what You have said.” God is looking for that kind of intercession all around the world.
Prayer points to use
Here are seven prayer points we should bring before the Lord:
- For God to remove the veil He has sovereignly placed upon the Jewish heart concerning the Messiahship of Jesus.
- For Jerusalem to remain as Israel’s undivided capital.
- For deliverance from religious spirits which dominate this whole territory—Jewish, Chris-tian and others—for they are all tremendously powerful.
- For peace between religious and secular Jews. There is a present crisis in the land on that issue.
- For peace between believers. And that, again, is not what exists at this time.
- For the Body of Messiah to become a praying, maturing body.
- For Christian leaders. Ask God to move supernaturally upon Christian leaders worldwide to recognize the unique significance of Jerusalem in God’s end-time purposes.
It is for you to determine how you will apply these points in your own particular prayer element.
How God will judge the nations
I want to give one more very important fact. It may shock you, but I will show it to you out of Scripture. God will judge the nations on the basis of their treatment of the Jews. He is not going to judge the nations on a lot of complicated issues. There is going to be one issue. This is a startling fact. Let me show you what Joel 3:1–2 says. The Lord is speaking in the first person:
“For behold, in those days and at that time, when I bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem [for this is the time of the restoration of the Jewish people to their own land] I will also gather all nations, and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; and I will enter into judgment with them there on account of My people, My heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; they have also divided up My land.”
Here we see two points on which God will judge the Gentile nations:
- How they have treated the Jewish people.
- What they have done to the land that God, with an eternal covenant, promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Israel forever.
At the end of World War I, the League of Nations assigned to Britain a mandate to administer this territory. One of the assigned purposes of the mandate was to establish a Jewish national home in this land. In 1922, Winston Churchill, with one stroke of the British pen, created an Arab state then known as Transjordan (now known as Jordan) on the east side of the Jordan River, occupying about 75 percent of the total inheritance promised to Israel. So that cut off 75 percent.
Then after World War II, the United Nations arranged to partition the remaining territory between Jews and Arabs, leaving the Jews perhaps 12 percent of the total territory promised to them by God. We have to acknowledge that the nations have divided up God’s land, and He has declared He will judge them on that basis.
He will also judge them on the way they have treated the Jews, and I have spoken about all the long, weary centuries of anti-Semitism. We need to bear in mind that God is going to take that into account too.
Not only does God say that in the Old Testament. He says it also in the New Testament. Matthew 25:31–46, in what is known as the Parable of the Sheep and Goats (however, this is not a parable but a prophecy), Jesus declares how God will judge the nations. He will separate them into two categories, the sheep an the goats. There will be only one basis of the division—how they have treated the brothers of Jesus, the Jewish people.
The sheep nations who have treated the Jews with kindness and compassion will inherit the earthly kingdom that Jesus has come to establish. But the goat nations that have persecuted and been merciless and unjust to the Jewish people will receive one of the most terrible sentences that has ever fallen from the lips of God:
“Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Matthew 25:41)
Notice that everlasting fi re was never prepared for human beings. However, human beings who do not meet with God’s conditions will end up there together with the devil and his angels. The point of division, the separating line, is very simple. Have the nations persecuted, oppressed and despised the Jewish people? Or, have they shown mercy and compassion to them in their hour of need? It is a very solemn issue. By it, nations will determine their destiny.
A time for intercession
There is another Scripture in Isaiah—one of those amazing Scriptures that you can read and not really notice what it says. In Isaiah 60:12, the Lord is speaking to Zion (that is, the Jewish people in their land), and He says:
“For the nation and kingdom which will not serve you shall perish, and those nations shall be utterly ruined.”
As you know, I am British by background, and I was serving with the British forces in Israel until I was discharged from the army in 1946. At that time, the British Empire was probably as large in territory as any empire in recorded history, having come victoriously through two world wars. Yet, between 1948 and the following few years, the British Empire fell apart totally, until today Britain is hardly a major world power any longer.
Britain was never defeated in war. There is only one explanation for this dramatic decline in the history and destiny of Britain. In the years 1947 and 1948, when the destiny of this land and the destiny of the state of Israel were being decided (and I was an eyewitness, I’m not theorizing), Britain did everything short of open war to frustrate and prevent the birth of the state of Israel. That is the point at which the decline of the British Empire became an avalanche.
Today I am an American citizen, and I want to say to my fellow Americans, I see the American government following the same policy as Britain followed in 1947 and 1948,which is not open war, but clever political manipulation to frustrate the purposes of God. The United States might be the wealthiest and most powerful nation, but that makes no difference. Any nation that does not serve God’s purposes, God says, will perish.
Not only is this a time of intercession for Jerusalem. For all of us from Gentile backgrounds, whatever our nationality, it should also be a time of intercession for our own nation and our government not to take a collision course with Almighty God and His purposes in history.
Will you pray that the Lord will impact you by the power of His Holy Spirit to lay hold of Him in fervent intercession?