JERUSALEM OF GOLD
~Keren Hannah Pryor
The wonder and beauty of Jerusalem make a deep impression. The bustle, the noise and the inevitable grime of any modern city, makes things look quite natural. Then suddenly, as if a veil is gently pulled aside for a lingering moment, one sees something of deep and breathtaking splendor. It’s a beauty that is different than that found in any other beautiful city. A quality one not only sees, but experiences with all one’s being. It is the revelation of a miracle concealed in the seemingly mundane. This can be unnerving, as generally people feel comfortable in the essential sameness of things—when things fit neatly into a category.
However, the rebirth of modern Israel and the re-establishment of Jerusalem as its capital are, of themselves, a proclamation of the extraordinary. Her existence shakes the complacently conventional and the established norms, and confronts the world with the reality of the Word of God. Suddenly the long-forgotten words of the ancient prophets—the “resurrection” of Ezekiel, the “returns” of Isaiah and Jeremiah and the “redemption” of Zechariah—are front-page news!
A Meeting Place
Jerusalem is a place of meeting. Here, in this city, heaven meets earth; the past and the present meet with the future. Even in her Hebrew name, Yerushalayim (ירושלים), the ending of the word, ayim, denotes a matching pair. For example raglayim (רגלים) means “feet” and aynayim (ענים) means “eyes.” Yerushalayim denotes that the earthly city has a matching one—a heavenly counterpart. The Holy City is where we will meet our coming Messiah, a day when this fleeting life will meet eternity. In the very meaning of her Hebrew name, the two unique and distinguishable Hebrew words yireh (ירה) “vision” and shalom (שלום) “peace” are combined. What vision is this that is combined with peace? It is one which is central to all of her splendid themes—the one envisioned from before the very Beginning and which will be fulfilled in radiance in this City of Peace chosen by God for this very purpose—the establishing forever of the eternal Dwelling Place of the Holy One of Israel!
“Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for lo I come and will dwell in the midst of you,” says the LORD.
His Sanctuary will be established with powerful praise and in unshakable strength in His city, which is the heart of the universe—the City of the Great King. Therein, His throne will be set and the light of Zion will shine forth to the nations, bearing the vision of eternity in the spirit of kindness and truth. The song will flow forth, a pure haunting melody carrying luminous words of redemption and hope. And this holy place will finally become a House of Prayer for all nations, as foretold by the prophet Isaiah. (Isaiah 56:7)
Gold and Light
Jerusalem is a city built with stones; stones that interact with light in a way that causes them to reflect different shades of color depending on the weather and the time of day. The hue of the stones changes from steel gray on a cloudy day to bright white in the glare of the midday sun; and from the soft pastels of early morning light or gentle twilight, to shimmering gold when the light of the sunrise or sunset appears. It is the glory reflected in the last that earned the city its name, “Jerusalem of Gold.” Biblically, gold is the metal representing the kingly glory of God, and the radiance of His Presence. This is, therefore, a fitting name for the city where He has chosen to place His Name forever, and from where His King will rule and reign over all the earth.
King Solomon knew God’s purpose for His Dwelling Place on earth and the vision of promise it contained. When he dedicated the first beautiful Temple in Jerusalem, which he had built as designed by his father King David in accord with God’s specific instructions and plan, he proclaimed:
“… that all the peoples of the earth may know Your Name and fear Thee, as do Thy people Israel,
and that they may know that this House which I have built is called by Thy Name” (I Kings 8:41–43).
The structure of Solomon’s Temple would be destroyed, but even at the time of deepest sorrow, as Jerusalem lay desolate with the Temple a smoldering ruin at her heart, the prophet who most lamented the destruction would nevertheless sing the refrain of promise and hope:
“At that time Yerushalayim shall be called the throne of the Lord, and all the nations shall gather to it—to the Presence of the Lord in Yerushalayim—and they shall no more stubbornly follow their own evil heart.” (Jeremiah 3:17)
Although Jeremiah was filled with grief as his eyes beheld the charred, shattered stones that once formed the Dwelling Place of the Most High, yet he could see beyond to that future day when the glory of God’s Presence would fill Yerushalayim and its golden radiance would shine forth to the outermost parts of the earth.
To this day, the annual Jerusalem Day celebrations and festivities mark the remembrance of King David’s establishment of Yerushalayim as the capital city of Israel over three thousand years ago.
Excerpted from article Jerusalem of Gold first printed in FFOZ’s Bikkurei Tziyon Magazine, Issue #64, May/June 2000 and republished in Messiah Magazine, Issue #5.
* Picture – by Jerusalem artist Alex Levine