God and the City
Hamas continues to swear that they want to take over Jerusalem and the rest of Palestine, but 8.3 million Israelis and the most powerful army in the Middle East stand in their way. All this passion over physical Jerusalem continues to fuel the bloodshed of war.
From the Roman destruction of the Temple in AD 70 to the reestablishment of the Jews in the land in 1948, the war for the right to rule over Jerusalem and its land continues. Is there any hope for reconciliation and peace?
In the first century Paul challenged the Galatian believers to not be bewitched by false teachers trying to get them all excited about Jerusalem with its Temple and traditions. In AD 70 Titus destroyed the Temple with its Sadducean priests and scattered the population to the four winds. So, where should we lift our eyes when earthly cities and temples burn and collapse?
“But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother. For it stands written:’ Be glad, O barren woman, who bears no children; burst out with loud shouts, you who have no labor pains; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband.” Galatians 4:26-27
Paul quotes Isaiah 54:1 that tells of a time when Jerusalem, pictured as a devastated, childless mother, will experience a thrilling new day when the “city” will become the capital of a mighty kingdom with thousands upon thousands under her care. This Isaiah quote comes right after his presentation of the suffering servant who died as a sacrifice for our sins and then came back to life again. The prophet stresses that this resurrected suffering servant would see his offspring, and Paul is telling us that those who believe in Jesus are these children of God.
The physical Jerusalem and its Temple were destroyed by the Romans in AD 70, only 21 years after Paul wrote this letter, but those who listened to him and kept their eyes on the Jerusalem above by their faith in the resurrected, ascended Jesus and his grace became part of God’s family—thousands and thousands from every nation, tribe, and language.
Those of us who say we believe in Jesus need to get our eyes off of the earthly Jerusalem, and focused on the heavenly one. In the end it’s not going to be Hamas rockets and guerilla warfare or Israeli firepower that wins the day, but God’s city coming down from heaven as Jesus returns from above to set up his kingdom.
LORD, thanks that our dreams and hopes aren’t centered in some earthly temple or church whether it’s in Jerusalem, Rome, or Paris. So, help me to keep my eyes focused on you and your city that will last forever.
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