For some time now, there has been fierce debate on who are the rightful occupiers Jerusalem.
Jerusalem, from the Greek Hierousalem and the Hebrew Yerushalayim is from the base words yarah meaning 'he threw, cast', and shalom meaning 'peace'. Yet the city has hardly ever been peaceful.
Melchizedek is the first King of Jerusalem mentioned in the Bible's book of Genesis1 (the city is pretty old!) followed by Adonizedek2. After his death, the city was set ablaze by the people of Judah3 but they didn't expel the Jebusites completely. We then read the story of David and Goliath4, after which David pushed out the remaining Jebusites5, about 3,000 years ago.
(Time-out please! I'm getting confused. Who is the rightful owner of the city?)
Let's move on a few years now, and skip the bits of history when the city was taken over by the Egyptians, the Assyrians, and the kings of Israel6, until the time when the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar knocked the whole place down completely7 in 588 BC, forcing the Jews to retreat to Egypt8. By 582 BC the place was deserted, as prophecised9.
(Ah! So nobody owned it then?)
In 536 BC, the Jews began rebuilding the city10 and ruled until the Greeks arrived in 331 BC, followed by the Roman rule of Herod, until Jerusalem was again destroyed in 70 AD.
(Hmmm... that sounds like a lot of wasted effort.)
In 131 AD, the emperor Hadrian rebuilt the city, then it was occupied by the Jews, until once more they were evicted and the city was destroyed again (in 135 AD). The Romans rebuilt another city on the site, named Aelia Capitolina, which was taken over by the Mohammedans who renamed it as el-Khuds.
Our story so far has completely omitted mention of the life and death of Jesus (see Stations of the Cross) but this had not escaped the memory of Helena, the mother of emperor Constantine, who in 326 AD identified Calvary, dug up the remains of the True Cross and built a church on what was believed to be the birth place of Jesus. Constantine followed suit and built a church on the site of Jesus' Crucifixion (in 335 AD). Jews were permitted (just once a year) to visit the city to mourn and wail against the wall of their ancient home.
In 614 AD, the Persians took Jerusalem and stayed until 637, when it was taken by the Arabians. Then the Egyptians, and then the Turcomans, who kept the city Muslim.
(No, I'm lost again. Who is the rightful owner of the city?)
In the crusade beginning 1098, Godfrey of Bouillon took the city and one year later, his brother Baldwin was crowned the first ruler of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. (See the Jerusalem Cross)
In 1187, the sultan Saladin captured Jerusalem and since then, it has remained for most of the time in Muslim hands.
(Phew! Isn't it lucky this place was named the 'City of Peace'. Conquered and re-conquered 38 times. Imagine the history if it had been named the 'City of Troubles'.
The above potted history shows we cannot be trusted to build and maintain a peaceful Jerusalem, yet we can have faith that God has prepared a New Jerusalem for people to live in eternal peace.