Talking to my daughter last night, and I had to laugh when I asked her how her day was and she said she’d put another check mark on her wall to help her keep track that another day had passed. I could relate. When every day kind of feels like yesterday with no real expectation that tomorrow’s gonna be much different, the days just kind of all flow together.
For most of us, I’m guessing, our world’s have become pretty small and predictable. I find myself talking increasingly about managing “my bubble” — as in, who’s in my face-to-face (that’s not a good social distancing term) circle of contacts. And I think it might be easy, when you’re housebound, to become somewhat earthbound, as well. So used to looking at the walls in my house that I forget to look up . . . to look waaaaay up! But something I read this morning is helping with that.
But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother.
(Galatians 4:26 ESV)
Context? Paul’s telling a group of Galatians who “desire to be under the law” (4:21) a story. Actually, he’s blowing up a story that law-abiding Jews had known for centuries. The story of Hagar and Sarah — two woman who bore sons to Abraham. The first, a slave in the house who conceived by the will of man, and an act of the flesh, in an attempt to do the work of God. The second, a betrothed bride with a barren womb, who bore a son when she shouldn’t have only because God had intervened in order to fulfill His promise. And what blows the story up is that while every law-abiding Jew thought they were children of Sarah, Paul says that to depend on the law is actually exhibiting they were children of Hagar. Ouch!
Furthermore, he links Hagar, the slave woman, with Mount Sinai, the place where the law was given. Ouch, again! And then, he goes over the top . . .
. . . she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children.
(Galatians 4:25b ESV)
To hope in keeping the law as one’s means of being declared righteous before God is bondage. To rely on the flesh to participate in the divine, is onerous drudgery that gets you nowhere. To be under “the present Jerusalem”, thinking it can lead to a glorious future, is to be a child of a slave woman.
Instead, for those of us “who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (Jn. 1:13), Paul says our mother is Jerusalem above. So, look up, dear saint. Look waaaaay up!
Our nationality isn’t really found on this orb, “but our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Php. 3:20).
Our pilgrimage isn’t focused on any place or holy hill on this earth, instead, we “come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” (Heb. 12:22).
The heavenly Jerusalem. She’s our mother. The holy city that will one day descend from heaven “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Rev. 21:2, 10). Having the glory of God as its light, and the presence of the Almighty and the Lamb as its temple (21:22-23).
What a reminder that, though our days may be somewhat predictable and, though looking at our four walls has gotten way beyond monotonous, we are not earthbound at all. We are, in fact, heaven bound!
Children of promise. Children born again into freedom. Children birthed by our mother, the Jerusalem above.
So look up. Look waaaaay up!
Because of grace. For His glory.