The Significant Biblical History of Jerusalem

There is no city on earth that can compare in value to Jerusalem. While believers revere Jerusalem’s significance as the city where Jesus walked, was crucified and rose from the dead, it was valuable to the Lord long before the time of Jesus.

With over 800 references to Jerusalem in the Bible, one can easily learn a lot about it from the Word of God. But also from history books! The records kept over centuries have been very thorough, and they continue to be fascinating. 

There is only reason that this city has seen such spiritual and physical conflict since the beginning of time. That is, God Himself has chosen this earthly city to dwell in and to establish His name among men.

First Mention of Jerusalem in the Bible

This choosing began long before Jerusalem was a city.

It is easy to find Jerusalem in the Bible, starting at the beginning. In Genesis, God spoke to Abraham to take Isaac to a particular place within Canaan. He said,

“Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.” (Genesis 22:2)

In Hebrew, Moriah means “seen by Yahweh”. So, quite literally, God said to Abraham “go to the land that ‘I am looking at‘ and there I will show you a specific mountain.” And we all know what happened when they got there.

Moriah is the same mountain that is later visited by many prophets, as well as a courageous man David who would become Israel’s king. There, he raised up a Tent of Praise (later also called a Tabernacle of David), and started preparations for the building of God’s Temple. 

But more on that later. 

Reconstructed model of the Temple in Jerusalem

Jerusalem’s Significance to Abraham

500 years after Abraham, all of Israel knew of – and dreamed of – this land promised to their forefather. When God delivered Israel from Egypt, they were on their way to live in this land of promise.

Soon Moses began speaking about this specific and unique location that God had promised to bring them to:

“You will bring them and plant them in the mountain of Your inheritance, The place, O Lord, which You have made for Your dwelling, The sanctuary, O Lord, which Your hands have established. Exodus 15:17

This was their first clue. God was bringing them to the “mountain” of His inheritance and the place where He dwells.

Throughout the time in the desert, Moses kept speaking of this unique location, what it would be like and what God wanted them to do there. It became known simply as “the place” where God was taking them.

Jerusalem’s Significance to King David

Another 400 years later, in the time of David, Israel still viewed their many battles as fulfilling what Moses and Joshua had told them to do. It was David who finally conquered Jerusalem, and established it as the seat of power in Israel.

He became widely loved as king. David made Jerusalem his capital city. Even then, they still had not found this “place” that Moses spoke of — or maybe they had?

In 1 Chronicles 21, David had sinned by numbering the people, and a devastating plague was released on Israel. At the word of the Lord, David went to Ornan’s threshing floor to build an altar and to call on the Lord.

After David prepared the sacrifice, for the first time in Israelite history, fire descended from Heaven and devoured the sacrifice. David declared “This is the house of the LORD God, and this is the altar of burnt offering for Israel” (1 Chronicles 22:1).

This was the home they had been looking for and David’s heart began dreaming of building a house for God.

Praying at the Western Wall, Jerusalem

Jerusalem in the Bible: King Solomon, and the Temple

After David’s death, and as Solomon begins building the Temple, the Bible begins connecting the dots.

Then Solomon began to build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the Lord had appeared to his father David, at the place that David had prepared on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.” (2 Chronicles 3:1) 

Mt Moriah; Jerusalem; the place that Moses spoke of; fire descending from Heaven; the Temple — it was all at the same location.

Jerusalem’s Significance to Jesus the Messiah

By the time Jesus is born in Bethlehem, the centrality of Jerusalem in God’s plan had not decayed. All Israel pilgrimaged to Jerusalem at the time of the moedim – the appointed times, as commanded by God. Jesus also taught and ministered in Jerusalem frequently.

As time came for His own sacrifice on Mount Moriah, Luke 9:51 says that Jesus “was determined to go to Jerusalem.” By His death and resurrection, He fulfilled the Law in Jerusalem.

According to the prophets, He will return and rule from Jerusalem as well. Nations will worship, disputes will be settled, and judgments and verdicts will be declared by Him in Jerusalem. There is no other place on earth that has such a destiny.

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Jerusalem, “God’s Home”

God led Abraham to this same mountain. God led David to it. Here was the same mountain that God would lead all of Israel to at the Temple. Plus, it is the same mountain that the world will come to in God’s redemptive plan.

This literally was Mount Moriah, the mountain of the Lord, the mountain that is “seen by Yahweh.” This is God’s home; Jerusalem is the place.

For the Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His habitation. This is My resting place forever; Here I will dwell, for I have desired it – Psalm 132:13-14

View to Jerusalem old city at sunset. Israel

Visiting Jerusalem Today

Today, you can hear praise songs in the original language of worship and the emphatic conversation in Hebrew’s modern version on the streets of Jerusalem. But also, hear the buzz and murmur of the traditional Jewish prayers recited at least three times a day.

Taste the bread and wine of Jesus’ sacrifice here where the last supper happened. But also eat of the traditional local food with its vibrant flavors and middle-eastern spices. Consider experiencing Israel and visiting Jerusalem with FIRM:

And register for Jerusalem Encounter today!


God’s Perfect Plan – From Israel to You: Free PDF Download

The Bible is full of God’s promises that can encourage our faith. Together, these promises make up one master plan of God.

You’re about to discover God’s perfect plan through the lens of 25+ references throughout Scripture.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Doug Hershey
Doug Hershey shares from a perspective of historian and storyteller. He is the author of the best-selling book ISRAEL RISING. His new online video course, "10 Prophecies Fulfilled in Our Lifetime" connects bible prophecy with its fulfillments in Israel today. Doug is the founder of Ezra Adventures, a travel and education company, specializing in exclusive customized small group travel throughout Israel and the Middle East. For more info, go to DougHershey.co or keep up with Doug Hershey, Author on FB, IG and Youtube.
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