As I sit I my hotel room in Jerusalem, I can’t help but think of how this city has been a city of controversy for endless centuries. And the controversy shows no signs of going away. In fact, barely two months ago, the Democratic National Convention waffled over recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s (undivided) capital. Why the constant controversy about this city?

Twenty-five hundred years ago, when the returning Jewish exiles were attempting to rebuild the city, their opponents sent a letter of warning to the king of Persia. (At that time, Judah was a province of Persia). “Be it known to the king,” the letter stated, “that the Jews who came up from you to us have gone to Jerusalem. They are rebuilding that rebellious and wicked city. They are finishing the walls and repairing the foundations. Now be it known to the king that if this city is rebuilt and the walls finished, they will not pay tribute, custom, or toll, and the royal revenue will be impaired” (Ezra 4:12-13)

Five hundred years later, Jesus himself referred to Jerusalem as “the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it!” (see Matt. 23:37) And the ancient prophet Zechariah predicted that at the end of the age, “all the nations of the earth will gather against it” (see Zech. 12:3)

But as fascinating as these texts are, given the current controversy about the status of Jerusalem, there’s another question almost no one seems to be talking about: If Jerusalem is really Israel’s capital, as both our political parties still affirm (even if the Democrats do it with reserve), why haven’t we moved our embassy there? From a political perspective (as opposed to a biblical perspective), if we truly recognize it as the undivided capital of Israel, why haven’t we relocated our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem?

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