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Posts Tagged ‘Jerusalem’

New JerusalemI have read (Bible Study Tools on Jerusalem) that there was a time that Jerusalem was invincible. I can certainly understand how that could happen, just thinking of the miraculous creation of the temple and the tangible presence of God there, how could any enemy prevail?

Jerusalem is built like a city joined together in unity . . . It is the law for Israel to give thanks there . . . Pray that Jerusalem has peace: “Let those who love you have rest. Let there be peace on your walls; let there be rest on your fortifications.” [Psalm 122:3, 4b, 6-7, CEB]

But not unlike the confidence in the Titanic, the unsinkable ship of wonder and power, people abused the vessel itself. The Temple was the core of Jerusalem, it’s lifeblood issued from its center, but the leaders and kings continued to misunderstand its role, the basic requirements of worship and faithfulness. As a result, they began to undercut its effectiveness. So it was with the great ship whose design was flawed and never fully tested, whose strength was challenged by boasting and unnecessary risk. Both Jerusalem and the Titanic suffered due to the pride of its caretakers.

And I wonder, are we doing the same thing with our religion? Are we borrowing from the texts the parts we want to use as a hammer against others and setting aside the words that condemn our own actions? Are we elevating our own understanding above the understanding of others? Are we so sure in the details?

And what about the Church itself? Have denominations and preferences become silos from which we are no longer able to see clearly? Now we have a myriad of “Jerusalems” into which we are endowing superiority and funds for the sake of our structures and mindsets.

God promises the earth, the peoples of this earth, a “New Jerusalem.” I do not believe that this is necessarily a humongous cube that will drop down out of space (the heavens) and we’ll all take a ride. Instead, I see it as a unified peoples, living for the sake of others, honoring humanity and the God who made us. The New Jerusalem comes at a cost, the paradox of letting go and surrendering to a different way of living and thinking.

Jesus was on a mission to bring us closer to the New Jerusalem. We’re not there yet. We may have to sink the ship a few more times before we are able to build a structure that can be inhabited by Truth.

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For many believers, the “holy city” or “New Jerusalem” represent either some aspect of heaven or a literal reconstruction of the earthly Jerusalem. In any case, this “City-State” is entwined with the “promise” of Godly reconciliation. But do I care?

Hebrews 11:13c, 16
And they [people of faith] admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. . . . they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

There are several references in the New Testament about the City of God and interestingly enough, they begin here, in Hebrews. I believe it’s importance comes from the crucial parts that Jerusalem and the Temple played in the history of Israel and the worship of YHWH, the one true God. For the Israelite, the City was always holy and revered, so much so that even Jesus is recorded as weeping over the city [Luke 19:41-42].

Many cities seem to have personalities and more often than not, they are usually referenced as female: New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta, New Orleans. They have their individuality and their lovers for many, many people love the cities in which they live and they truly grieve at her injuries or misfortunes. But are any of them holy? Do any, particularly here in the U.S., have a mystical history or aura? Would we ever envision a heavenly version of any of our cities?

The derivation of the word city seems to come from the Latin, civitas or civitatem, which could be loosely translated as community of citizens. It would make more sense then, to imagine the “Holy City” — that long awaited one, that New Jerusalem — not so much as a place, but a gathering . . . of people, of souls, of energy, of life. In Bible times and even long after that, most cities or castles also had a tower of safety, or keep deep within for its people, or its royalty, to seek asylum. In the first Jerusalem, this place of safety was the Temple (and deeper still, behind the veil, in the Holy of Holies) because of the presence of God. The New Jerusalem, then, this aggregate faithful could also have God in its midst.

This might be what I really care about then: not some enormous “city” coming down out of the sky like an alien ship, blinking with lights and gold, but the ultimate union of my spirit with the Holy Spirit and then, joining with all the other “faithful.”

When we are walking, talking, living in tandem with the Holy Spirit, “light” radiates and others are drawn to it like moths to a living flame. We are the Holy City, the church, the civitatem of Christ.

“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” [Philippians 3:20-21]

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Mark 15:41
In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there.

If you look at the four gospels, it’s easy to compile a short list of women by name who were accompanied by “many other women.” Jesus’ mother, Mary, along with Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and Joses, Salome, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons are noted specifically. Scripture indicates these women followed him and cared for him all the way from Galilee. The beginning of this journey is recorded (not long after the story of the Transfiguration), in Luke 9:51 (As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.).

It’s 120 miles from Galilee to Jerusalem and all along the way, Jesus was teaching, preaching, and healing. The women were an integral part of this trek. I think people sometimes assign them all to the role of Martha (not Stewart, but almost) but forget about the devotion of her sister, Mary, who sat at Jesus’ feet. I am sure many of these women did the same. They were devoted to the Master.

And these are the women who stayed with Him to the very end. They did not flee. They were steadfast. This is the heritage that we as women believers must remember. This is our mantle.

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Luke 19:44b
“…They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”

“If it was a snake, it would have bit me.” That’s an old Southern saying about missing something in plain sight. Will I miss God today? So often, when we talk about being in awe of God (“fearing God”), we remember an amazing nature scene or something cataclysmic that shows God’s power or, perhaps it’s something man-made, but of such beauty, that we are sure it is inspired by God. But, what about the ordinary? What about the rocks in the road that would have cried out when Jesus entered Jerusalem that fateful week of his sacrifice. They recognized God in Christ.

Jerusalem was a city of sophistication. There was culture, knowledge, money, power, and much, much more. And yet, the people did not recognize God coming. They had stopped looking. They accepted the normal flow of things and people and commerce, but didn’t really see.

Open my eyes today, Lord, that I might see You. Open my ears… Open my heart. Let me see You in the ordinary.

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