The city of “truth”
This is the only place in the Bible where Jerusalem is called the “city of truth.” The Hebrew word for “truth” is emet. This word does not only mean “truth” as in the opposite of falsehood. The word emet also means “faithfulness” or “reliability.” This is similar to the English usage, for example, when we say that someone is “true” to their word. In other words, they are faithful to their promises and commitments. This is especially true when the Bible refers to God as being “true”. The intent is not to say that God does not lie. That is a simplistic absurdity. Of course, God tells the truth. Rather, the point is to praise God for the fulfillment of His promises and for being reliable to those who serve Him.
Here are a few examples of the use of the word emet in reference to God in the Bible:
Draw me out of the net they laid for me; You are my stronghold. Into Your hand I commit my spirit. You have redeemed me, Lord, God of truth. – Psalm 31:5-6 (4-5)
Truth will spring up from the earth as righteousness looks down from heaven; indeed, the Lord will bestow what is good and our land will yield its produce. – Psalm 85:12-13
The Lord has sworn truth to David and will not recant. From the fruit of your loins, I will establish a throne for you. – Psalm 132:11
In all these examples, the word “truth” means that God can be relied on and trusted; that He keeps His promises. Zechariah was prophesying to the Jewish people who were headed into exile that God will keep His promises to the nation of Israel. Zechariah’s words in this chapter were intended to reassure the exiles that the covenantal promise of the return to Zion is a certainty; that God will be true to His word.
The litmus test of truth
I’d like to suggest another message of this reference to Jerusalem as the “city of truth.” It is worth noting that the only time that Jerusalem is referred to in this way is in the context of a prophecy of the end times. Specifically, the opening verses of this prophecy are about the repopulation of Jerusalem with the ingathered exiles of the Jewish people in the future, the ingathering we are experiencing today.
One of the main tools of the enemies of the Jewish people and the State of Israel is that they lie. More specifically, they lie about Jerusalem. There is no question that there is no city about which more lies are told than Jerusalem.
For example, on December 1, 2021, the United Nations passed a resolution that denied that there ever was a Temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The resolution called the site only by its Muslim name. This was not the first UN resolution denying the Jewish connection to Jerusalem. In fact, the official position of the Palestinian Authority, officially Israel’s “peace partner,” is that there never was a Jewish Temple on the site. The absurdity of this lie need not be explored here. But this lie is only part of the larger lie that is told about Jerusalem, that it is not the historic capital of the Jewish people.
It’s actually quite amazing how, with all the abundant archaeological evidence of the Jewish people and their Temple in Jerusalem, these lies are somehow voted on and passed with overwhelming majorities in the United Nations. Is there another city in the world that has more lies about its history declared on the world stage? With this in mind, we might look at Zechariah’s depiction of Jerusalem as “the city of truth” ironically. But that’s exactly the point.
I believe that this is what Zechariah meant when he said that in the future, when Jerusalem is once again populated by multitudes of Jews, Jerusalem will be called “the city of truth.” The return of the Jewish people to sovereignty in Jerusalem is a statement about history. Those who deny Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish nation-state deny the truth of history. Those who recognize that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish people assert the truth. Jerusalem has become the litmus test of truth in the world. Jerusalem truly is “the city of truth.”
Jerusalem declares God’s truth
This was the point of Zechariah’s encouraging words to the exiles who had just experienced the destruction of their temple and homeland. Zechariah declared that despite the natural rules of history, God’s word would be fulfilled. The evidence of this would be on display for all to see in the rebuilding of Jerusalem in the future.
Jerusalem will become the living expression of God’s “truth”, His faithfulness to His promises and His power over history.
The rebuilt city of Jerusalem is the greatest testimony to the truth of God’s Biblical promises. We must step back from our own narrow view of the world and contemplate the full scope of history. From this broad perspective, we see more clearly that Jerusalem has become, once again, the city of truth.
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