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Jerusalem Day is celebrated every year in Israel… but what does it mark? What is Jerusalem Day’s history? And why is Jerusalem Day important to Israel AND to us as Believers?
Join us as we uncover this remarkable celebration and learn how the miracles of God were instrumental in the creation of this event…
What is Jerusalem Day?
Celebrated on or around the 28th of Iyar every year—based on the Hebraic/biblical calendar—Jerusalem Day is an important time in Israel…
Jerusalem Day is largely a commemoration of Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War. Specifically, when on June 7th, 1967, Israeli soldiers liberated East Jerusalem from Jordanian rule, returning the whole of Jerusalem to the sovereignty of Israel!
Yet, there was more to events than that; and thousands of years of history that settled consequence upon Jerusalem itself…
The History of Jerusalem
We often connect Jerusalem to King David, as he was the Jewish king who took the city and chose to live there. Yet, even prior to King David’s rule, Jerusalem was a city that still found mention in the Word of God. Especially, as many believe that Jerusalem was in fact first mentioned within the Bible as “Salem,” and that, as a result, Melchizedek served as both king and priest of what would later become Jerusalem.
“Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High.”—Genesis 14:18 (emphasis added)
Melchizedek had been serving the Lord at Salem even before God changed Abram’s name to Abraham. If Salem is indeed the Jerusalem to which scholars and archaeological evidence point, then the Temple (known as Temple Zero) where Melchizedek served, worshipped and honored the Lord God is the place that would have an incredibly long and historic connection—to Jerusalem, the city upon which God chose to write His Name.
Certainly, we are provided with no specific dates regarding Melchizedek, however, as we do know that he interacted with Abram/Abraham, we can narrow down the time frame when Melchizedek would have served as king and priest. Dates surrounding Abraham do vary in estimation, but most have him being born somewhere between 2,200 and 1,800 BC. Further, we know that when Abraham first met Melchizedek, he was still known as Abram; as Abram’s name changed when he was 99 years old, we know that the two men met less than 99 years after Abraham’s birth. We can therefore determine with some certainty that Melchizedek was serving Salem by or well prior to 1,700 BC… with 2,000 BC being a common estimate. Thus, God may well have been worshipped in Jerusalem for around 4,000 years!
Other kings and priests would serve God in Jerusalem.
Our Messiah would enter Jerusalem.
And through it all, Israel would find themselves claiming Jerusalem, being exiled from it, reclaiming it, being exiled from it… until at last, in the mid-20th century, God again allowed them to return, preparing the prophetic restoration and fullness of Israel for the return of our Messiah!
The Six-Day War and the Reclaiming of Jerusalem
We know that Israel, during the time of David, captured Jerusalem, then was exiled from it, reclaimed it, and was exiled again… until recently, our Great God once again allowed His children, Israel, to come home. To possess the Land He promised them.
Israel officially became a nation once again on May 14, 1948; a refuge for many after the Holocaust. Yet, not even 24 hours after this official proclamation, Israel already had to defend itself from Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq in what is now known as Israel’s War of Independence. With a small, inadequately equipped IDF—Israel Defense Forces—it appeared as if protecting the nation would be impossible. However, despite fifteen months of fierce fighting, God miraculously stepped in time and time again. Protecting His people.
At the end of the fighting, the United Nations oversaw negotiations; and Israel was left with a far less favorable outcome than was their due…
What is now the Gaza Strip, found itself under Egyptian governance. Judea and Samaria became the West Bank under Jordanian authority, who also controlled the Eastern portion of Jerusalem, including all of the Old City—while Israel retained only the Western portion…
Between 1949 and 1967, Jerusalem was disjointed and the battle for Israel’s peace was continually being fought. However, when surrounding nations conspired against Israel… Israel responded before their enemies could gain an advantage. On June 5, 1967, Israel destroyed the majority of Egypt’s military airplanes while they were still on the ground. Yet, while it was a strategic and necessary move, it did have ramifications.
Jordan had a military pact with Egypt, and though Egypt had been actively building an army near Israel’s borders, blocking Israel’s southern shipping, and promising the complete destruction of Israel—Egypt therefore being responsible for Israel’s need to take action—Jordan still chose to battle Israel. However, Jordan was not the only member of this military pact. Syria and Iraq were also ready to battle Israel! And, just as Egypt in May of 1967 promised the annihilation of Israel, Syria and Iraq promised the same thing…
Israel was outnumbered and lacked the arms their aggressors possessed. The attack on Egypt’s grounded planes was helpful to be sure… but compared to the military might left to Egypt and the three other nations against them, Israel, in the natural, had little hope. On top of all this, Israel also possessed no active plans for things to come—such as the reclaiming of Jerusalem from Jordanian occupation.
Israel had less than half the number of soldiers available to their enemies; with their enemies likely able to gather even more troops if needed. Israel had far fewer airplanes, tanks, and other forms of weaponry. They had enemies on every side but that of the sea. And no one, not the United States, nor the United Nations, nor any other countries were ready or willing to help. Only with the help of God could Israel overcome!
And, just as God had come to the aid of His people many times over… like with Gideon, with David, with Moses, and so many others… God would come through again!
Egypt, even days before the war started, began to make mistakes:
- They appointed new, unqualified leaders for command of the border and other strategic positions.
- They held a party for all military leaders away from their most important military zones, leaving no commanders available when Israel attacked Egypt’s grounded planes.
- They had turned off their air defense system the same morning Israel attacked.
- They changed their decoder, allowing the coded, warning message from Jordan to be unreadable due to the person receiving the message having the wrong decoding code.
Each of these errors made by Egypt are an obvious result of God’s hand… but they would not be the last. Both Syria and Jordan quickly attacked Israel in response to Israel’s preemptive strike, but by the afternoon many hundreds of their airplanes were destroyed, while Israel had lost only a limited number of their own.
With air attacks not an option, Egypt began attacking on the ground. However, after Israel counter-attacked, pushing into the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip, Egypt’s Field Marshal called a general retreat. Meanwhile, due to false information of Egypt’s victory—sent through Egypt’s very own radio broadcasts from Cairo and other Egyptian sources—Jordanian soldiers started to release artillery fire into the Israeli controlled portion of Jerusalem. It was because of Jordan’s actions, which had been propelled by their belief in lies, that IDF soldiers would decide to enter East Jerusalem, recapturing it and the surrounding land.
Yes, the battle was fierce… but after only two days of fighting, Israel again possessed Jerusalem! They celebrated with prayer, weeping, and thankfulness at the Western Wall; thankful that 2,000 years of prayer for their return to Jerusalem had now been answered by God through His miraculous victory for them! And it was not only the God-fearing Jews who prayed, wept, and thanked God for His gift that day. There were many IDF soldiers who did not actively follow God or who did not follow Him at all, and still, they honored God. They realized that it was God who gave them victory!
Through the mighty hand of God and all the fighting that followed, Israel soon reclaimed not only Eastern Jerusalem, but also a massive amount of land besides.
Since then, however, the Temple Mount, the Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza Strip, etc., have all been relinquished by Israel in various ways in attempts to keep peace. Yet, no matter what our opinions of those decisions may be, there is no denying that God’s hand was upon Israel during the Six-Day War, which the people would later commemorate during Jerusalem Day. Alll glory and honor go to God!
Why is Jerusalem Day Important to Israel and Believers?
The entirety of the Six-Day War was miraculous, and while we have certainly only touched on pieces of God’s goodness and hand during the battles, it cannot be denied that God was moving. That God was the reason for ultimate victory!
Yet, if the entire war was a miracle, why is there a special day, known as Jerusalem Day, which celebrates only a portion of the war and God’s miracles? What sets apart the victory of June 7th, 1967?
Well, the answer lies in the history of Jerusalem. In the prophecies of the return of the Jewish people. In the end-time prophecies and promised return of Jesus. In the centuries of worship to our Great God. In the spiritual pull on our hearts toward the city. In God’s decision to write His Name upon Jerusalem…
All these and more provide Jerusalem and the victory of the Six-Day War with unique importance; to Israel and to Believers alike. Yes, we could argue about the political importance of possessing Jerusalem. There could be many earthly reasons why it is important. However, for those who follow God, and even for those who do not, Jerusalem directs us to God…
Take the soldiers who fought in the Six-Day War. Even the secular leaders of the IDF, Moshe Dayan and Yitzhak Rabin, who were in charge of all the military during that time… even they felt the impact of the victory in Jerusalem. Even they realized that it was God who had done this!
“This was the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.”—Psalm 118:23
Jerusalem Day is important to Israel and to us as Believers because it is God who gave the victory of June 7, 1967 / Iyar 28, 5727. It is God who fulfilled prophecy by returning Jerusalem to the children of Israel. It is God who chose the perfect moment to make a way where there was no way!
“I was glad when they said to me,
‘Let us go into the house of the Lord.’
Our feet have been standing
within your gates, O Jerusalem!
Jerusalem is built
as a city that is compact together,
where the tribes go up,
the tribes of the Lord,
to the Testimony of Israel,
to give thanks to the name of the Lord.
For thrones are set there for judgment,
the thrones of the house of David.”—Psalm 122:1-5
This Jerusalem Day let us honor God.
Let us remember God’s miraculous hand in the Six-Day War.
And let us respect our biblical call to bless Israel… and to pray for the peace of Jerusalem!
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
‘May they prosper who love you.
Peace be within your walls,
prosperity within your palaces.’
For the sake of my brethren and companions,
I will now say, ‘Peace be within you.’
Because of the house of the Lord our God
I will seek your good.”—Psalm 122:6-9