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  • Jim Fletcher

Villages Without Walls

Zechariah Chapter 2:

Then I looked up, and there before me was a man with a measuring line in his hand. I asked, “Where are you going?”

He answered me, “To measure Jerusalem, to find out how wide and how long it is.”

While the angel who was speaking to me was leaving, another angel came to meet him and said to him: “Run, tell that young man, ‘Jerusalem will be a city without walls because of the great number of people and animals in it. And I myself will be a wall of fire around it,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will be its glory within.’

Many Bible prophecies get a lot of interest. Who is the Antichrist? That kind of thing.

But I would argue there are many others that are more interesting, even more relevant for our lives.

Because they prove that God is alive and that in the Bible, He reveals His personality to us.

One of what I would call more obscure prophecies involves a modern neighborhood in Jerusalem. I experienced this firsthand several years ago during a trip to the Old City.

Walking through a museum, I came upon an open window in the stone wall; next to it was a plaque with the words of Zechariah 2:4. I then looked through the window and saw giant cranes in the western part of Jerusalem, a vast building area.

I quickly understood the point.

The prophecy itself, given by the prophet Zechariah about 500 years before Jesus’s time on Earth, tells us that someday, the fabled city of Jerusalem would exist outside the Old City walls.

In Zechariah’s time, this would have been unthinkable. City states in those days had their capital cities barricaded behind gigantic stone walls. This of course for protection from invading armies, but also outlaws and even wild animals that roamed the countryside.

No one would build dwellings and businesses outside those thick walls!

Yet Zechariah said it would happen. And in fact, it happened at a time far into the future, but also in a time when such an endeavor still caused wide-eyed surprise.

Sure enough, in 1860, a wealthy British businessman, Moses Montefiore, pledged money to help build new communities outside Jerusalem’s walls. He was aware of the densely-packed city, with its health problems. Poor water supplies and easily transmitted disease had wreaked havoc. Montefiore’s plan was implemented and a cluster of apartments were built just to the west. The area even included gardens so that residents could grow fresh fruits and vegetables.

My curiosity about this story deepened. I began to research if there were any remnants of Montefiore’s community, which had been named (in Hebrew) Mishkenot Sha’ananim (“Beautiful Dwelling”).

Sure enough…

If one looks just across the street from Jaffa Gate in the Old City, one can see a neighborhood on the slopes, with a gorgeous old windmill crowning the image.

The Beautiful Dwelling lives on! In fact, the site today is one of the priciest real estate communities in the world, with stunning stone homes amid lush gardens. It is now known as Yemen Moshe.

I walked through the neighborhood and came upon the very first buildings of Mishkenot Sha’ananim. Amazingly, the place has been restored and is an artists’ community, with guesthouses and a gallery and performing arts center.

As a writer, I was eligible to stay there.

So I did!

I spent an amazing few days, lying in bed at night reflecting on the fact that I was living and breathing fulfilled Bible prophecy.

In my upcoming book, The God That Answers, I tell the story of Mishkenot Sha’ananim in much more depth. Suffice to say, though, this fairly-unknown story is a magnificent testimony to the reality and sovereignty of the Living God.

Please do me a favor. Actually, this would be doing yourself a favor.

If you are troubled now about something, tell God about that. As you do, let the story of the Beautiful Dwellingsoak into your soul. It is proof that God called the future long, long before the events happened. The Bible is filled with such promises.

Do that, and I’m confident you will find rest for your soul.

Remember the former things, those of long ago;     I am God, and there is no other;     I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning,     from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand,     and I will do all that I please.’

(Isaiah 46:9,10)

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