Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem

Done! Time to finish the job. It had already been over tens years since the city was captured and the people carted off into captivity (2Kings 24:10-17). Over ten years since all the treasures and all the vessels of gold in the house of the LORD had been removed and taken to Babylon. But now the vassal king of Judah, Zedekiah, flexed what little muscle he thought he still possessed against Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and rebelled. Enough’s enough! Time to clean house. Literally.

And so they laid siege to Jerusalem. Eventually they breached the city. They wiped out the resistance (25:1-7). And then they finished the job they had started (25:8-21).

They razed the king’s house and every other house of prominence within Jerusalem’s walls. Then they went after Jerusalem itself breaking down its walls, emasculating the city of David as they removed its defenses. What’s more, they set fire to the house of the LORD. And they broke down the great pillars Solomon had built for the place where the glory of God should dwell. And they tore apart, cut up, and hauled off everything that had been built to facilitate worship to the God of Jacob. And they murdered the high priest and his successor, putting an end to any thought of God’s people ever again standing on holy ground in God’s presence.

And what’s so remarkable is that “surely this came upon Judah at the command of the LORD” (24:3).

Then, after reading this, I moved on in my reading plan and read in Psalms:

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! “May they be secure who love you! Peace be within your walls and security within your towers!”
For my brothers and companions sake I will say, “Peace be within you!” 
For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek your good.

(Psalm 122:6-9 ESV)

Jerusalem. To be standing within it’s gates would be to stand on the threshold of the house of the LORD. The tribes would set their faces and their feet to go up to Jerusalem that they might give thanks to the name of the LORD. It’s where the cloud of God’s glory descended. It’s where the smoke of atoning sacrifices ascended. The place where the people of God could enter into the presence of God. And so, says the songwriter, pray for it. Seek its peace. Seek its good. For the sake of each other. For the sake of our God.

How tragic then to read of Jerusalem’s dismantling this morning. The hope of security apparently lost. How awful to imagine the house of the LORD leveled–the glory having departed, the offerings long since ceased. The destruction of sin having apparently won. How depressing to consider the people of God absorbed by the nations around them. The benefits of sanctification apparently forfeited because of unfaithfulness.

Heavy sigh as I come to the end of 2Kings. A warning about spiritual infidelity. A yellow flag about turning one’s heart from God in pursuit of the world. A reminder that while God is patient and slow to anger, He will not be mocked, “for whatever one sows, that will he also reap” (Gal. 6:7).

And yet, I know the story is not over. That even in the exile God has determined a way of redemption, reconciliation, and return. That even the destruction of Jerusalem and the decimation of the temple will work together for good as He again calls a people to Himself from a foreign land to pursue again their heavenly home. The temple will be rebuilt. The walls will be reestablished. And Jerusalem will stand again, if only to offer it’s greatest sacrifice for man’s transgression, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29).

The leveled mount a reminder that God is not done. That His promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is being fulfilled and yet to be fulfilled. That His word is sure and that He is faithful and that Jerusalem, and it’s people, will again be His glory.

And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God.

(Revelation 21:2-3 ESV)

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

By His grace. For His glory.

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