NOTE: I wrote the following post after visiting the city of Jerusalem in the fall of 2015.
Jesus is coming back. Did you know that? He has promised that one day He will return to the earth as a reigning and conquering King. Some today believe this is merely a superstition. I don’t. I think this is a real event approaching on the horizon. You know who else believed that Jesus would return one day? Muslims in the 1500’s.
Proof of my claim that Muslims of the sixteenth century believed Jesus would return is based on rock solid evidence — the 15 foot thick stones that cover the Golden Gate (or Beautiful Gate as it was termed in the New Testament times). When the Turks took the city of Jerusalem around 1519 under the direction of the leader Suleiman, they wanted to make it hard for the Messiah to enter the city of Jerusalem. They were aware of Zechariah’s prophecy which says, “On that day His feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives that lies before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley, so that one half of the Mount shall move northward, and the other half southward. (Zechariah 14:4)” The Muslims believed that when Messiah comes, He will approach Jerusalem from the East, and enter the city via the Beautiful Gate. Knowing this, Suleiman enacted two security measures to protect the Turks from the promised Jewish/Christian Messiah:
- He closed off the Beautiful Gate with stones to prevent Jesus from entering the City as He promised.
- He created a graveyard right next to the closed off Beautiful Gate, believing that Jesus (as a priest) would not defile Himself by walking through a graveyard.
Seeing this “defense system” was comical to me. When Messiah comes, He will SPLIT THE MOUNT OF OLIVES IN TWO . . . I don’t think a few stones (regardless of size) will slow Him down. Also, Jesus RAISED THE DEAD. His relationship with cemeteries is absolutely unique in all creation. At His return people are either raised to eternal life or raised to eternal judgment. A few tombstones prove no match for someone with His authority and power!
Standing on the Mount of Olives and looking back at the Beautiful gate, however, also reminded me that when Jesus first came to the earth and presented Himself to the people on Palm Sunday, He indeed approached the city from the East. He rode down the Mount of Olives, across the Kidron Valley, and up to the city of Jerusalem, passing through the Beautiful Gate. He came in the first century as the suffering servant to bleed and die for us on the cross. The next time Jesus approaches Jerusalem from the East, He will come as a Conquering King, riding a Stallion (not a donkey), and ushering in the new reality His death on the cross opened up years earlier.
This Sunday at Wildwood Community Church, join us in our 8:15, 9:30, or 11:00 worship service as we remember Jesus first entry through the Beautiful Gate and look forward to His next. Along the way, we will sing “Hosanna” together and have the kids join us to wave palm branches . . . it should be a great Sunday!