Jews, Christians, and Muslims all worship in this holy city, where they each have a number of sacred sites.

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.

Above: Evening settles across a Muslim cemetery and the eastern wall of Jerusalem’s Old City. The golden Dome of the Rock (center) and the domed al-Aqsa Mosque (far left) rest atop what Jews and Christians call the Temple Mount and Muslims call the Haram esh-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary). (Photograph © 1999 John Telford.) Far left: A model depicts Jerusalem at the time of Christ. (Photograph by Richard Cleave.) Left: Sheep graze outside an ancient section of the Old City wall. (Photograph by Floyd Holdman.)

Far left: Jews gather for spiritual renewal near the Western Wall of the Temple Mount. (Photograph © ASAP Ltd/Index Stock.) Left inset: A Jewish family celebrates a bar mitzvah, a boy’s passage into manhood. (Photograph by Don L. Searle.) Left: Abraham’s Rock rests in the Dome of the Rock. Tradition indicates Abraham placed Isaac on this rock as a sacrificial offering. Tradition also designates this rock as the site from which the Muslim prophet Muhammad ascended into heaven. (Photograph by Richard Cleave.) Below: A man places his written prayer between cracks in the Western Wall and reads from sacred Jewish writings. (Photograph © ASAP Ltd/Index Stock.)

Above inset: According to tradition Jesus and His Apostles ate the Last Supper in this upper room. (Photograph © 2002 John Telford.) Above: Some Christians believe Jesus’ body was laid in this garden tomb. (Photograph © 2002 John Telford.) Left inset: Other Christians believe Jesus’ body was laid in a tomb now located within this building, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. (Photograph by Floyd Holdman.) Left: Ancient olive trees adorn the Garden of Gethsemane. (Photograph © 2002 John Telford.)

Top: Worshipers gather to pray inside the al-Aqsa Mosque on the holy mount. (Photograph © ASAP Ltd/Index Stock.) Above: Muslims perform ceremonial washings at this fountain before entering the mosque. (Jews, Christians, and Muslims all practice ritual cleansings before sacred rites.) (Photograph © 2002 John Telford.) Left and left inset: The Dome of the Rock is one of Islam’s holiest sites. It was dedicated in A.D. 691. (Left photograph by Floyd Holdman; left inset: Photograph © ASAP Ltd/Index Stock.)

Left: The sun rises over the Mount of Olives, where the Messiah will descend in great glory. The Orson Hyde Memorial Garden is nearly surrounded by a line of tall trees at upper left. The Garden of Gethsemane is at right center. (Photograph by William Schaefermeyer.) Below and left inset: Brigham Young University’s Jerusalem Center overlooks the city. (Below: Photograph by D. Kelly Ogden; left inset: photograph by Giuman Maurizio.) Bottom: A pathway leads through the area where Elder Orson Hyde of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles dedicated the Holy Land in 1841. (Photograph by William Schaefermeyer.)

D. Kelly Ogden is a member of the Edgemont Sixth Ward, Provo Utah Edgemont Stake.

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    Note

  1.   1.

    Quoted in Walid Khalidi, Before Their Diaspora: A Photographic History of the Palestinians, 1876–1948 (1984), 21.