During the month of September 1996, Israel celebrates the 3,000th anniversary of Jerusalem from the time of its occupation by King David who made it the capital of his Kingdom. The city was captured from the Jebusites (2 Samuel 5:6-7), who had taken their name from the name of the city at that time, Jebus. Jebus means “trodden down” and indeed this has been the consistent history of this city for all but brief periods of its existence.

Jerusalem means “vision of peace” and the very meaning of this name is in itself a prophecy of the final occupation of the City of David by his greater Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. In the meantime, it has been but a “vision” of peacefulness, right up to its gory end under the iron heel of Rome. Daniel had foretold this destruction of AD 70 when he wrote concerning the role of the little horn of the goat under whose heel Jerusalem and its sanctuary would be “trodden under foot” (Dan 8:13). Since that time all efforts to establish a permanent peace within its precincts have been frustrated, for Israel’s political schemes will never bring peace to the city.

The day is swiftly coming, however, when the city will fulfil the meaning of its name and will become the centre of world order and the bastion of peace (Isa 4:1-4). Our Lord foresaw this day and warned also that “until” that set time has arrived Jerusalem will continue to be “… trodden down of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24). There can be “no peace to the wicked” and peace will elude the city and indeed the whole world “until he comes whose right it is” to establish it in the top of the mountains.

Indeed it cannot be otherwise if we understand the import of the heading to this article, “Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem”. How do we read this Scripture? Its power lies in the words “of Jerusalem”.

The Psalmist is not beseeching heaven for a mere cessation of hostilities; the Hebrew “shalom” has a wider meaning than this. It signifies “happy, safe, complete, to be at one”. So the “peace” in question is a special kind of peace. It is Jerusalem’s peace. What is that? First it will necessitate that it emanates from Jerusalem in this place will I give peace, saith Yahweh of Armies” (Hag 2:9). Secondly, the reason is that it is a peace that has its origins there! “If thou hadst known the things which belong unto thy peace(Luke 19:42). Therefore to discover the nature of this “peace” we need to trace it to its source.

We find that the first mention of Jerusalem is made in Abraham’s lifetime, when he met Melchizedec, King of Salem (Gen 14:17–20). This “Salem” is related to “Shalom” and its application to the city of Jerusalem is put beyond doubt by the fact that it is so used in Psalm 76:2 to describe the city. From this historic meeting between the father of the faithful and the King of Salem, the Apostle Paul sees a Divine principle established in the order of the titles given to this “priest of the most high God”, “first king of righteousness (sedec), and after that also king of peace (salem)” (Heb 7:2). So the character of Jerusalem’s peace is “first pure, then peaceable” (James 3:17). Is it any wonder then that peace has been so elusive to this city in particular and indeed to the whole world?

Now it is of great significance that the meeting between Abraham and Melchizedec took place at the valley of Shaveh (Gen 14:17). This place too has its connections to the principle of “first righteousness, then peace”. It comes from a root meaning “to resemble, to be equal” (so rendered in Isa 40:25; 46:5). It is also rendered “be like” (Prov 26:4). True to its meaning Paul could see from the brief record of that significant meeting that took place there, that by the very record Melchizedec was “made like unto the Son of God, who abideth a priest continually” (Heb 7:3).

Without “such a high priest” as this, there is no way we could find peace with God, but now “being justified (constituted righteous) by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 5:1). As with the “peace of Jerusalem”, so that personal peace of God, which passeth all understanding” can only come as a result of our being constituted righteous by faith in God’s work through His Son. Our prayers for Jerusalem’s kind of peace to be established in the earth are made all the more fervent when we have received that kind of peace promised by our Lord Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you” (John 14:27).