Visiting the Holy Land: “The Holy City”

July 7, 2011

 Is the tradition of calling Jerusalem“the holy city?” something Jews or Christians just came up with, or is there a legitimate biblical basis?  There is indeed a strong biblical basis.  Both Matthew 27:53 and Revelation 11:2 refer to “the holy city” in contexts clearly referring toJerusalem.  Both wider passages contain references to the Jerusalem Temple and both refer to the crucifixion of Jesus, which took place nearJerusalem.

Was Jerusalem really any holier than any other city, though?  No, if the sinfulness of its inhabitants is the measure being used.  The Lord allowed the Babylonians and, six plus centuries later, the Romans to destroy Jerusalem because of its history of sin against Him and His standards.  Yes, if the reason for the wording “the holy city” was because of the presence of the Temple there.  The inner chamber of both Solomon’s Temple and the Second Temple(which was in existence in Jesus’ lifetime) was called “the holy of holies” (i.e., “the holiest place”).  It was originally filled with the Skekinah glory of God (which left before the Babylonians destroyedJerusalem [see Ezekiel 10-11], and has never returned).

Actually,Jerusalem is claimed to be a holy city by three of the great historic world religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  Obviously,Jerusalem is the ancient capital of Israel, as well as the location of theTemple.  It’s also where Jesus was crucified, which Christians believe was the act of paying for all the sins of the world, making eternal salvation available through faith in Christ (John 3:16).  Muslims believe that two mosques in Jerusalem commemorate Mohammed landing in Jerusalem on his horse after a flight from Saudi Arabia, then being transported to heaven from a location approximately where the Jewish Temple had previously stood.

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