Jerusalem: present and future

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Jerusalem remains a hotbed of religious and political contention as the exact future of the historic city remains unknown.

Jared Ludlow described Israel as “nitroglycerin on a bumpy road” to a full classroom of Campus Education Week attendees.

The source of this explosive potential, according to Ludlow, is because it is one land with two historically opposing communities, the Israelis and the Palestinians. At the heart of these two communities are two dominant religions, Islamism and Judaism, which also actively competes with Christianity.

Each of these religions and communities have a major stake in the history of Jerusalem.

Jews view Jerusalem as the city they originally built up, so the return to Jerusalem is a return to their history. Scriptures speak of the importance of Jerusalem to the Jews and prophesy of returning to Jerusalem. It is because of these historical views that Jews feel compelled to remember Jerusalem and return to “the glory days of the past,” Ludlow said. “That’s kind of the mentality of Jews toward Jerusalem—you cannot forget it.”

This view is the source of their strong ties to Jerusalem, and why the Jews look forward to a temple being rebuilt in the city.

“For The Jewish community, what really ties them to Jerusalem and the land of Israel in general is, of course, the temple,” Ludlow said. “To the Jews, there is only one place where there can be a temple. That place is Jerusalem.”

On the other hand, Muslims, especially Palestinians Muslims, view the city as most recently belonging to them. They have owned the city somewhat continuously since around 700 A.D.

According to Muslim tradition, the Jerusalem area is the site where the Prophet Mohammed had gone up to heaven to see and talk to Allah.

“In some ways, it would be like our Sacred Grove,” Ludlow said. “They see this as a place where he ascended to see God.”

This led to strong religious roots in Jerusalem for Muslims. “In fact when they first prayed, it was towards Jerusalem, not Mecca,” Ludlow said.

It is also said this religious experience in Jerusalem is where Mohammed learned that Muslims needed to pray five times each day.

At the same time, Christians also feel a strong religious connection to Jerusalem. The city is the historic location of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, including his crucifixion and resurrection.

This major connection has caused Christians to buy a great deal of the city even though they are not officially connected to the government. “One of the things I noticed for the first time last time I lived in Jerusalem is just how much property the Christians actually own,” Ludlow said. “The population is very small, but there are churches, monasteries, and schools all over the place there. It is amazing to see just how much Christian land is out there.”

On top of these competing views, these religions also have differing opinions of the future of Jerusalem. While Jews continue to look for the Messiah to first appear at Jerusalem and help rebuild their sacred temple, Christians look to Jerusalem as a major part of the Second Coming. Muslims also believe that major Apocalyptic events will involve the city of Jerusalem.

Despite a difference of opinions on the exact details of Jerusalem’s future, it is quite clear the city will be at the center of religious international attention for quite some times. All three religions want Jerusalem to be at the center of their specific future, as well as the site of major future religious events, such as the Second Coming and the Apocalypse.

“A lot of the events of the last days will happen in and around Jerusalem,” Ludlow said.

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