Pray for Jerusalem’s Peace
To pray for the peace of Jerusalem is a solemn task. The Bible passage with the mandate to pray for the peace of Jerusalem was given by King David some 3,000 years ago. The directive is found in one of the Psalms of Ascent that was sung during the pilgrimage feasts of Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot.
PSALM 122 (CJB)
“I was glad when they said to me,
‘The house of Adonai! Let’s go!’
Our feet were already standing
at your gates, Yerushalayim.
Yerushalayim, built as a city
fostering friendship and unity.
The tribes have gone up there, the tribes of Adonai,
as a witness to Isra’el, to give thanks to the name of Adonai.
For there the thrones of justice were set up,
the thrones of the house of David.
Pray for shalom in Yerushalayim;
may those who love you prosper.
May shalom be within your ramparts,
prosperity in your palaces.
For the sake of my family and friends, I say,
‘Shalom be within you!’
For the sake of the house of Adonai our God,
I will seek your well-being.”
We rightly focus on praying for peace in Jerusalem based on the command to do so. The promise of prosperity is conditioned upon one’s love for Jerusalem in verse six. David, however, also provides the key for understanding why prayer for Jerusalem is incumbent on all who love and revere the Word of God.
We pray because the mandate is documented in both testaments
The conclusion of Psalm 122—For the sake of my family and friends, I say, Shalom be within you! For the sake of the house of Adonai our God, I will seek your well-being—is the foundation for the two-fold purpose for specifically praying for Jerusalem (vv. 8-9).
- We pray for Jerusalem’s peace because God’s Chosen People are at the epicenter of His plan and purpose.
- We seek the well-being of Jerusalem because of the house of Adonai.
What is the house of Adonai?
The house of Adonai is none other than the still-future Temple of Jehovah that the prophet Ezekiel takes eight chapters to describe in great detail (Ezek. 40-48). The Messianic (Millennial) Temple is prophesied in the Old and New Testaments.
In this era or Age of Grace in which we now live, those of us who have been redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ are called God’s temple. The apostles Peter and Paul both confirm the Spirit of God dwells in us as New Testament believers (1 Cor. 3:16, 6:19; Eph. 2:19-22).
Yet, there will be a physical temple in the Messianic Kingdom perhaps functioning as a remembrance or memorial of the finished work of Christ, much like the temple in the Old Testament foreshadowed or looked forward to the substitutionary sacrifice of our Lord.
Getting back to our text in Psalm 122, How is the house of Adonai connected to peace in Jerusalem?
The Messianic Temple will be the focal point of worship for the whole world (Zech. 8:22-23). There will only be true peace when Messiah rules the world from Jerusalem.
We are commanded to seek the well-being of Jerusalem because the house of Adonai, the Messianic Temple, will again shine as a beacon to the nations.
Look how Zechariah describes Jerusalem during the Messianic Kingdom:
“Adonai-Tzva’ot [the Lord of Hosts] says, ‘In the future, peoples and inhabitants of many cities will come; the inhabitants of one city will travel to another and say, “We must go to ask Adonai’s favor and consult Adonai-Tzva’ot. I’ll go too.”
Yes, many peoples and powerful nations will come to consult Adonai-Tzva’ot in Yerushalayim and to ask Adonai’s favor.’
Adonai-Tzva’ot says, ‘When that time comes, ten men—speaking all the languages of the nations—will grab hold of the cloak of a Jew and say, “We want to go with you, because we have heard that God is with you”’” (Zech. 8:22-23).
I think you’ll agree that Zechariah’s prophecy stands in stark contrast to a recent conflict that shut down Jewish and Christian access to the Temple Mount in August of 2019. (1)
King David says, Don’t close your eyes to what is happening in Jerusalem. Seek the well-being of Jerusalem for the sake of the House of Adonai.
In the New Testament, there is a counterpart to David’s mandate embedded in a prayer you likely have committed to memory.
“Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”
Here in the context of what is known as the Lord’s Prayer that Jesus offered as a model for all prayer, we are urged to pray for the fulfillment of the Messianic Kingdom. Pay attention to the first petition recorded in verse 10 of Matthew 6.
When we pray Your kingdom come, we are asking God to hasten the day when the Messianic Kingdom will be a reality. When we pray, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven, we are agreeing with God’s purposes and can rest in the confidence that our prayers will be answered.
This is a powerful combination of acknowledging God’s will, while at the time confessing His sovereignty over the affairs of men and in the domain of heaven.
The signs of the times signal the nearness of the Messianic Kingdom
The times in which we live are like a brooding storm that is gaining strength and momentum. Like the chaos of a hurricane or blizzard that prevents us from seeing our surroundings, world events can blind us to the fact that prophecy is being fulfilled before our eyes.
When Israel was reborn as a nation in 1948, God’s prophetic program seems to have been accelerated. The Six-Day War in 1967 holds similar prophetic significance, though rarely discussed in that context.
When the Eternal City of Jerusalem was reunited on June 7, 1967 after 19 years of illegal Jordanian occupation, the most memorable moment occurred as Rabbi Shlomo Goren, Chief Rabbi of the Israel Defense Forces, blew the shofar at the Western Wall and again on the Temple Mount.
At first glance, that act appears to be a response driven by the euphoria in the turn of events. But, what if the sounding of the shofar 52 years ago had prophetic implications?
Pay close attention to the way the shofar is used in Scripture. In the 89th Psalm, the shofar is a joyful blast.
“Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! They walk, O Lord, in the light of Your countenance” (Ps. 89:15).
Here the word translated “joyful sound” is actually the Hebrew word teruah or trumpet. Rendered “joyful shout” in the Tanakh, a side note in the Hebrew Study Bible describes the word as a “blast of the ram’s horn.” The word “know” is yawdah in Hebrew and conveys the idea of understanding or comprehension. The psalmist states that the blessed people are those who grasp the prophetic implications of the shofar blast.
A brief look at the Old Testament prophecy of Joel may help us see a connection between Rabbi Goren’s monumental act and the prophetic significance. In the first verse of chapter two and again in the 15th verse, the prophet Joel exclaims, “tiqu shofar be’tsyion” literally, “sound the shofar in Zion” (Joel 2:1, 15).
Traditionally, there are two purposes for blowing the shofar in Scripture—to give warning and to call an assembly of the people. Joel includes both—the “joyful sound” of calling the assembly and the alarm of warning—in his prophecy related to the end of the age.
“Blow the trumpet [shofar] in Zion,
And sound an alarm in My holy mountain!
Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble;
For the day of the Lord is coming,
For it is at hand
Blow the trumpet [shofar] in Zion,
Consecrate a fast,
Call a sacred assembly” (Joel 2:1, 15)
In ancient Jerusalem, soldiers positioned on the city walls used shofars to warn residents of impending danger. In Joel’s prophecy, however, the shofar was to be sounded not from the walls of the city, but from Zion—the Temple Mount—indicating the spiritual purpose of the shofar blasts.
In the spirit of Joel’s prophesy, the sound of Rabbi Goren’s shofar echoed from the Temple Mount and reverberated around the world.
The sounding of the shofar on June 7, 1967 was a “joyful sound” marking a victory that actually became an alarm and a call to repentance when administration of the Temple Mount was handed-off to the Jordanian Waqf just a few days later.
I believe God used that shofar blast as a wake-up call to the whole world of the impending Day of the Lord and the need for repentance. That it has been 52 years since Rabbi Goren sounded the shofar means we are closer to the unfolding Day of the Lord than ever before. The Day of the Lord is the still future time of global judgement during the Seven-year Tribulation that precedes the return of Messiah to inaugurate the Messianic Kingdom.
The seeming delay is not an impediment to the certainty of future fulfillment. Remember, God gave the antediluvian world 120 years to repent before sending the Great Flood (Gen 6:3). Today with instantaneous worldwide communication, the time to repent may well be much shorter.
Praying for the peace of Jerusalem is a personal commitment
The call to pray for the peace of Jerusalem is not limited to the context of ancient Israel and is a viable tenet of New Testament teaching. Praying for the peace of Jerusalem is a mandate that 21st century Christians should embrace.
When we recognize the prophetic ramifications of Rabbi Goren’s shofar blast from the Temple Mount in light of Joel’s prophecy, we see that praying for the Eternal City is a personal obligation. The alarm must not be ignored—the Day of the Lord is close at hand (Joel 2:1; 1 Thess. 5:1-3).
The regathering of Israel foretold in Scripture—that is happening in incremental stages as the prophets foretold—is a prophetic sign (Isa. 43:5-6; Ezek. 11:16-17).
Speaking through the prophet Moses, God assured Israel,
“If any of you are driven out to the farthest parts under heaven, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you.
Then the Lord your God will bring you to the land, which your fathers possessed and you shall possess it. He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers” (Deut. 30:4-5).
Just prior to the celebration of Yom Teruah—the Day of Trumpets 5780, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Israel’s total population had topped 9,000,000. In 1967, the Jewish population of Israel was just under 2.5 million and has grown to nearly 7 million today.
We live at a privileged time in God’s plan and purpose as witnesses of the rebirth and phenomenal growth of the nation of Israel, as well as the reunification of Jerusalem, the eternal capital (2 Chr. 6:5-6). We can be encouraged that the prophetic aspect of the call to assemble in Joel 2:15 is observable in the ongoing return of the Jewish people back to the land of Israel.
In that regard, 21st century Christians live at a critical juncture in history. You may grasp the importance of Israel in God’s plan and purpose. You may have acknowledged that prayer for the peace of Jerusalem is commanded in Scripture.
But, I’m asking you to do more than that. I’m asking you to make a commitment—call it a vow—to personally pray for the peace and seek the welfare of Jerusalem every day.
Scripture assures that praying for the peace of Jerusalem is not only within the scope of God’s will, but also covers any eventuality Israel may face—from menacing threats of annihilation, terrorism and war to the outcomes of elections.
Believers have ready access to the throne of God. His ear is always open to our cries (Ps. 34:15). And even though the blessing of prosperity is included for those willing to pray, you may be hesitant based on past failings to keep a vow. The inadequacies of the past, however, are no impediment to future success.
Try this approach. Today, I pledge to pray for the peace and seek the well-being of Jerusalem. Tomorrow, renew your pledge. Daily renew your pledge as the week progresses. Vows are more likely to be kept with renewed daily commitment. Good and bad habits become routine after three weeks of practice.
Praying for Jerusalem is not only a good habit, God commands that we do so. May the promise of prosperity be realized in your commitment to love and pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
1) “Waqf guard injures police officer after being arrested on Temple Mount,” Times of Israel, August 7, 2019.
1) Army Chief Chaplain Rabbi Shlomo Goren and IDF soldiers blows the shofar at the Western Wall in Jerusalem on June 7, 1967. (Photo credit: Courtesy Israel GPO/Enhancement, MKM Portfolios)
2) Jerusalem Temple Mount. (Featured image ) (Photo credit: Pixabay/Enhancement, MKM Portfolios)
3) Pray for the Jerusalem’s Peace. (Photo credit: background image courtesy, Pixabay/Digital composition, MKM Portfolios)
Copyright © 2019 Charles E. McCracken, commentary only. Repost/Reprint with permission. Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.