The Sacred City of Jerusalem
Jerusalem is one of the holiest places on Earth. The city is sacred to three Abrahamic religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It is also the most disputed city on Earth, being home to millions of humans and animals for more than three thousand years. It was here that Jewish high priests had sacrificed thousands of animal lives for religious rituals. The Old Testament Book of Numbers provides descriptions of the sacrifices that were performed. Countless lives have been lost as humans continue to fight over Jerusalem.
Some of the most well-known religious figures such as Abraham, Elijah, King David and Solomon, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad all have their stories connected to Jerusalem. Three religious sacred books: the Torah of Jews, the Bible of Christians, and the Quran of Muslims all have stories to tell about Jerusalem. It is here that the Jews await the arrival of their long-promised warrior king, Yeshua; it is here that the Christians believed that the Saviour of mankind was born, crucified, and resurrected; it is here that the Muslims commune with angels and prophets – where the last prophet of Allah ascended into heaven. In the end time, it has been promised that the Saviour of humankind is supposed to appear through the gates of Jerusalem.
The tribes of Israelites had fought over the city since their emancipation from slavery in Egypt. The Babylonians, Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans had all attempted to destroy it. In fact, Jerusalem has been destroyed and rebuilt many times over.
We are told that the fate of humankind is linked to the fate of Jerusalem. In his book Jerusalem Biography, author Simon Sebag Montefiore began with the following quote about Jerusalem:
The view of Jerusalem is the history of the world; it is more; it is the history of heaven and earth. – Benjamin Disraeli, Tancred. (The British statesman and Conservative politician).
An Islamic scholar of the 8th century who lived in Jerusalem, Thaur ibn Yazid, Fadail, wrote:
The sanctuary of the earth is Syria; the sanctuary of Syria is Palestine; the sanctuary of Palestine is Jerusalem; the sanctuary of Jerusalem is the Mount; the sanctuary of the Mount is the place of worship; the sanctuary of the place of worship is the Dome of the Rock.
Christians would say that Jerusalem is the place where humanity, creation, and God were converged on the cross of Jesus Christ thousands of years ago. These kinds of words give us a glimpse of what the city of Jerusalem means to different people.
The fundamental worldview of the three Abrahamic religions is framed by and through the lens of Jerusalem. Without Jerusalem there is no Judaism, Christianity, or Islam. All have claimed the city as theirs and they are willing to sacrifice the whole world for the sake of Jerusalem.
On May 18, the Turkish President Erdogan stated, “Turkish will continue to watch our Jerusalem with 84 million altogether.”
I am sure many people of faith all over the world would feel the same about Jerusalem – there is a deep sense of “my Jerusalem” or “our Jerusalem”. For 20 years I used to be part of the Christian religion club; if you asked me back then about Jerusalem, I would have said that I love Jerusalem and I would be ready to die for her.
The Israel-Palestinian conflicts that have been ongoing since the state of Israel was created 60 years ago is not a new story. This is an old story; it is our most remembered Sunday School story where the young Jew David confronted the giant Goliath.
Christianity, Islam, and Judaism continue to shape the minds of the next generation with their stories of Jerusalem. Without a fundamental shift in the consciousness of the followers of these religions, Jerusalem remains both the symbol of the cursed and the blessed.
The Cursed City of Jerusalem
Unfortunately, Jerusalem is also a city that has been portrayed in the Bible and Torah as an unfaithful lover, a vineyard that doesn’t produce grapes, the lost sheep, or a baby chick without a mother hen. Over the centuries, gallons of animal blood have been spilled on the alter in Jerusalem temple; forests of trees have been cut to keep the fire of God burning at the altar; the city has been accused of murdering prophets sent by God. This tragedy made Jesus weep on the hill outside of the city.
Jesus’ close friends, Mathew the Roman tax collector and Luke the doctor, recorded these sayings of Jesus about Jerusalem:
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing (Mathew 23: 37).
If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you. (Luke 19:41-44).
Jerusalem is a city where Jesus was welcomed as a king on a donkey during the Passover, while the Jewish religious underbelly was orchestrating to have him killed.
The city is the gateway of both heaven and hell – so much hell has been created there, yet so many stories of heaven have come from there, too. Jerusalem is an enigma that connects and divides the three faiths.
Warnings Against the City of Jerusalem
Many prophets, kings, and writers of the Bible had something to say about Jerusalem. Before Jesus spoke of those words, centuries earlier, King David wrote:
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: may those who love you be secure. May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels. For the sake of my family and friends, I will say, peace be within you. For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your prosperity (Psalm 122: 6-9).
Even back then, the chief of Jerusalem, King David, was worrying about the instability in his home city. That worry has not ended – millions of people all over the world are praying for peace in Jerusalem.
Daniel, his four friends, and the Jewish royal families who had been taken into Babylonian captivity by Nebuchadnezzars looked to Jerusalem daily and prayed to their God, despite the threat of being thrown into the fire pit and lion’s den (Daniel 6:10-11).
Prophets Jeremiah, Isiah, and others have warned that the imminent threats and destruction bestowed upon Judah and Jerusalem is because of their sins and rebellion towards their God.
Habakkuk, a prophet to the Southern Kingdom of Judah, took these tragedies and sins of Jerusalem around 625-604 B.C and asked God, “why?” Habakkuk would ask why the righteous God of Israel used wicked people to punish Israel.
Despite these questions, prayers, and warnings, Jerusalem has been destroyed – twice. The first was in 586 BCE by the Babylonians; the second by the Romans in 70 AD. Today, only the Western walls remain. The first-century Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, reported the Jewish and Roman wars that led to the second destruction. Centuries later, both Christian and Islamic armies fought over the city during crusader raids-a fight over Jerusalem that continues today.
Despite this destruction, the sacred stories of Jerusalem were kept in the hearts of the scattered Jewish people for more than two thousand years. The Christian missionaries, Islamic conquests, and all those inquisitive visitors and admirers spread these tales across the world. It is fair to say that the holy Roman empire, Byzantine, Ottoman, and Western world view Jerusalem as the spiritual capital of their civilization. Jerusalem sits at the heart of the Western man’s quest for a lost paradise, and it is the heartbeat of Judeo-Christian and Islamic civilizations.
We often oversimplify the Arab’s and Israeli’s conflicts, contributing them to religion and land. While these are certainly still part of it, these conflicts have much deeper roots. Conflicts are over God, the meaning and purpose of life, the history and judgment day for mankind, and much more. Millions of people around the would not see history, life, and future the same way if Jerusalem did not exist. They see existence through Jerusalem; it is the corridor to heaven and hell.
This is not a conflict that can be resolved via a UN policy, street protesting, or nuclear attacks, rather it is one that needs to be resolved through a resolution in the heart of every Jew, Christian, Muslim, and human being for the peace of the land which they all claimed to be the holy place.
The New Jerusalem
Despite the headaches Jerusalem brings, a new celestial Jerusalem has been promised. One day, Jerusalem is going to be restored, says the writers of the Bible. The city will be called the City of Righteousness (Isa 1:26); the Holy City (Isa 52.1); the Throne of the Lord (Jer 3.17); the city of Truth (Zech 8.3).
These prophets prophesied that there will be a new Jerusalem in the future and the city would be ruled by a righteous King. The book of Revelation (3:12; 21:2, 10, 12) talks about a new Jerusalem coming down from heaven where Jesus Christ is symbolically depicted as a lamb and lamb’s wife – Christ’s bride represents Christians uniting with Jesus in that new Jerusalem.
John, the author of the book, goes on to say:
And he showed me a river of water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing out from the throne of God and of the Lamb, down the middle of its main street. On both sides of the river were trees of life producing 12 crops of fruit, yielding their fruit each month. And the leaves of the trees were for the healing of the nations (Revelation 22:1-2).
The new Jerusalem is the promise of a future world where mourning, fighting, and death will be no more. Many people might attribute the conflicts in Israel to the Jews and Arabs, but for those who believe in the eschatological stories described in the Abrahamic books, they keep account of every single event that has been taking place in the holy land as a sign of fulfilling prophecies concerning Jerusalem. If you want to know what happens to the future of mankind and the universe, one must keep a close eye on what happens to Jerusalem.
We Need a New Jerusalem Now
With ever increasing doomsday prophecies that have been ongoing in our world as humanity marches towards global collapse, we need a new Jerusalem now more than before. Many look for their ‘New Age Messiah;’ the Muslims look for their ‘Mahdi’; the Hindus look for their ‘Krishna’; the Jews look for their ‘Mashiach’; the Christians look for the return of Christ and the original first nation people are fighting to defending the earth from imminent destruction in the hands of industrial machine men. A new celestial Jerusalem required a new worldview, but it is our fragmented worldviews about these beliefs and prophesies that had brought us into the current predicament.
From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya
When I came to Australia 20 years ago, I was gifted a book called From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya, written by an American missiologist, Ruth A. Tucker. I was told that my people and I (Papuans) were the last ones to receive the good news of Jesus (presuming everyone else already had and we were the last ones). This book, I was told, narrates how that happened; it tells a story of how ordinary men and women, despite their weaknesses, problems and tribulations, took the message of Jesus across the world, starting from Jerusalem and across the Mediterranean, Europe, America, Africa, Asia, Pacific, and finally to the ends of Jerusalem – Irian Jaya (now West Papua).
We were given a lens through which to view the world and ourselves, and that lens is “Jerusalem”. The name of Jesus, God, the Bible, and Jerusalem are held dearly in the heart of every Christian and Muslim in West Papua. The Impact of these religions have been so deep that millennia of history have been forgotten in favour of this new-world history.
Papuan Christians use their religion in the fight against majority Indonesian Muslims. It is uncertain what will happen in a hundred years’ time from now as Indonesian Muslims continue to turn Christian Papuans to Islam.
As I was growing up in the Papuan’s highland village, I thought that Jerusalem was a city in heaven, not on this planet. Many of my people still hold this view to this day. In West Papua, many churches, congregations, and places have been renamed after Jerusalem. It remains the most sacred place in the heart of Papuan Christians and Muslims.
The banner held by Papuan Christian leaders below reads “The ends of the earth (Papua) bless Jerusalem/Israel.” Papuans’ religious leaders believe that the first mission Jesus entrusted to his disciples when he said “go to the end of the world” had been completed. The missionaries carried that mission to the ends of the world and in the minds of Papuans, the end of the world is West Papua.
With this conviction, Papuan Christians view their conversion into Jerusalem prophetic stories as part of the Grand Narrative of God which has been proclaimed by Christian missionaries. These stories motivate Papuan Christians to spend every penny they have to visit Jerusalem.
A large group of Christian pastors from West Papua have been visiting Jerusalem. The leaders of the Evangelical Church of Indonesia or Gereja Injili di Indonesia (GIDI) often go to Jerusalem to make an MoU with Jewish Christians in the holy land. Every time these pastors go there, they feel important, special, and part of God’s greater plan. They even have their trip banner printed with writing – “Special Mission to Israel.” We really don’t know what that special mission is and how that benefits or supposed to save dying Papuans at the hands of the tyrant Indonesian government every day.
I asked one of the Australian missionaries who joined the group about how much money was needed to take such large group of people to Jerusalem. He told me that one trip can cost about $500,000 Australian dollars.
Just think of how much money is spent on such journeys from one of the most neglected, tortured, and illiterate regions of the world. In West Papua, we don’t use such large sums of money to build our own schools for our illiterate children, or health clinics for our malnourished children. Instead, we use it for special missions to Jerusalem. I wonder how Jesus would respond to this.
Unfortunately, West Papua is not only the last place on Earth to receive the “good news” that began in Jerusalem. West Papua is also one of the last untouched natural ecosystems on the planet, full of colorful biodiversity and green forest – a world similar to what John described in the book of Revelation (22).
The island of New Guinea (PNG and West Papua) is known as Bird of Paradise Island. Indonesia refer West Papua as Bumi Cenderwasih (Planet Bird of Paradise). West Papua is also referred to as “Surga kecil Yang Jatuh ke Bumi” (little heaven fall down to earth).
This little heaven and the Bird of Paradise planet has been under attack by the same people who brought the good news of Jesus and Muhammad, the last Jerusalem where the first story of Jerusalem ends has been tortured and exploited. But the world is not interested in talking about it.
Indonesia, the world’s largest Islamic country, and the West, preacher of Judeo-Christian values, have betrayed the Papuans. Both Indonesia and the West have been carrying out heinous atrocities against Papuans under the pretext of civilization and development.
All these have nothing to do with valuing and respecting the Papuans as equal human beings. Their aim is to destroy original Papuans and turn them into their own manufactured image. Perpetrators of these crimes brainwash already fragile and tortured humans to keep praying while they have been gunned down and robbed.
Why can’t the Abrahamic children stand united and say NO to atrocities in Palestine, Yemen, Rohingya, Kashmir, West Papua and many more other hidden places? Do we have to tag human beings before deciding to either save or kill them?
Ironically, President Jokowi pretends to be an advocate of human rights in Palestine while spontaneously giving orders to his troops (nicknamed “Satan troops”) to drop bombs in the highland of West Papua. The bombing in the highland of West Papua is still taking place now but the Indonesian government has shut down the internet and foreign media are not allowed to film these atrocities. Israel and HAMAS bombings, however, continue to make headline news involving world leaders.
Turkey’s President Erdogan and Indonesian President Jokowi strongly condemned Israel for attacking Palestinians, but they are not condemning the bombing in West Papua. In the eyes of these presidents and the world, West Papua might be unmatched to the significance of Jerusalem and the plight of Palestinian people, but West Papua and its people are just as sacred as Jerusalem and her people.
West Papua is sacred to us Papuans because it is our home. It is also important because her resources feed Indonesia and the world.
Does Jerusalem feed the world in the same way as West Papua? The survival of all living beings on the planet doesn’t depend on those walls in Jerusalem. But deforestation in West Papua will have major consequences to all of us, regardless of if you are Jewish, Christian, or Muslim.
Jerusalem itself doesn’t pose a great threat to all life on the planet – we humans do, because of our pathological views on Jerusalem. West Papua’s deforestation, on the other hand, is a serious issue because the earth’s equilibrium of the living system depends on it and there are no signs that disforestation will stop any time soon.
From West Papua to Jerusalem
If we are sincere about the future of Green Earth for our children and all other sentient beings, then we need to treat the earth as a new Jerusalem – our holy planet, where all kinds of creatures express their own poetry, music, and dance in their own their languages.
The future generation of the human race needs to be re-educated to view our planet as a sacred and mystical new Jerusalem, where all her children are sacred regardless of the man-made tags attached to them. This cosmology has guided Earth’s Indigenous people for millennia. If you were to ask an elder from Aboriginal tribes in Australia, they would tell you that Earth and celestial bodies in heaven are New Jerusalem. Every creation is sacred – all have a unique story to share with mankind.
The stockpiling of more bombs and weapons and building more iron domes will not save us in the long run. We need a complete reprogramming of the way we view reality. The new Jerusalem can only be possible when we become new humans because the problem is in us, not Jerusalem.
President Baiden, Jokowi, Erdogan, and many world leaders who take sides in the war between Israel and Palestinian need a new worldview to address the killings in Jerusalem.
No government or UN agencies have the power to restore that blessed yet cursed and tormented city of Jerusalem. Even Jesus threatened to destroy the walls of Jerusalem because people had a completely misconstrued idea of Jerusalem. He once called the underbelly of Jewish hierarchy at that time as the “den of thieves.” If Jesus walks on the street of Jerusalem today, what would he say about the current situation? Jesus was giving them a new sight to view a new Jerusalem, but they were too blind to see it. The new Jerusalem in Jesus’ mind was anywhere and everywhere – it was like the wind, and it must be embraced in Spirit and Truth.