No city has shaped earth’s history and destiny as has Jerusalem. For 40 centuries Semites, Egyptians, Hittites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Muslims, Crusaders, Turks, Europeans, Arabs, and Israelis have all paraded through the pages of its history. Impressive personalities such as Melchizedek, Abraham, David, Solomon, Isaiah, Lehi, Jeremiah, Alexander the Great, Pompey, Cleopatra, Herod, Peter, Paul, Titus, Constantine, Muhammad, Richard the Lion-Hearted, Maimonides, Saladin, Süleyman the Magnificent, and a host of others have played pivotal roles in Jerusalem’s past.
Positioned at the crossroads of the eastern Mediterranean lands—the only region in the world where three continents come together—Jerusalem has naturally evolved as a focal point of international economic, political, and religious concern. However, it has never been an economic or political superpower. Its importance and influence stem primarily from its religious relevance. Jerusalem will forever stand as a symbol of God’s contact with earth.
Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God in the flesh, was born near here. Jerusalem is where the Redeemer brought about the greatest events and contributions of all time—His atoning sacrifice and Resurrection from the dead. These and many other events have made the name Jerusalem forever holy.
There have been and are now other important religious cities in the ancient and modern worlds, but only Jerusalem is central to three of the world’s major religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. To adherents of these faiths, including the millions of believers who have never seen Jerusalem, the depth of feeling for this city is revealed in the following expressions.
From Judaism: “Of the ten measures of beauty that came down to the world, Jerusalem took nine” (Talmud, Kiddushin 49b). “A man who has not seen Jerusalem in its splendor has never seen a beautiful city in his life” (Talmud, Succah 51b).
From Christianity: Of Jerusalem, Jesus said, “It is the city of the great King” (Matt. 5:35), and the Apostle Paul taught, “Come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” (Heb. 12:22).
From Islam: “The choice of Allah of all his lands is Jerusalem. … The dew which descends upon Jerusalem is a remedy from every sickness because it is from the gardens of Paradise.” 1
Not only have these three great religions sung praises to Jerusalem, they have erected an impressive array of buildings at sacred sites. Jerusalem’s palaces, synagogues, churches, shrines, monasteries, convents, mosques, yeshivas, and other centers of government, learning, and worship represent an incalculable collective influence on the course of human history.
Throughout its past and present devastating conflicts, Jerusalem has remained a revered city. And it has the promise of a peaceful future as a dwelling place for the Lord and His Saints during His great millennial reign.
Quoted in Walid Khalidi, Before Their Diaspora: A Photographic History of the Palestinians, 1876–1948 (1984), 21.