Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Loving the things that God loves - Longing For Yerushalaiym

I was thinking of Yerushaliym the eternal city of God, our common destiny, our connected story. Oh how I love the city of God and as I began to dwell on it I was asking myself why do I love this city so much. The answer is simple you love all the things that God loves. Yeshua expresses His love for Yerushaliym when He says

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.

Though His own city has been unfaithful, He hasn't turned away, He has set His love and will return to take His possession and because of this eternal promise from our Lord so is our longing connected to His. In Psalm 122 we are urged to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, saying those who love the Lord will pray for its peace and its prosperity. Though it is a far fetched idea in terms of human strength and will, yet we are urged to pray for it as watchmen on its walls. We continue to see the longing in the scriptures in Psalm 137 of the Babylonian exiles for their homeland and Jewish thought today still includes this yearning:

"By the rivers of Babylon…we wept, when we remembered Zion…If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy." .

Those who love Yeshua love the things that He has set His heart upon. His heart is upon Yerushalaiym. Mysterious feelings grip the Judeo-Christian & Jewish hearts at the very mention of this city's name? Irrespective of the reasonings the hearer is a patriotic citizen of a country other than the state of Israel, and whether or not that Non-Jewish or Jewish person agrees with the actions and policies of current Israeli leadership, the name of Yerushalaiym triggers an immediate emotional response. Although some might deny it, the consciousness of one's Jewish identity seems to be tied somehow to Jerusalem and all that it symbolizes. Far more than a mere geographic site, Jerusalem is the "heartbeat" of God's ancient people, no matter where in the world they reside. Jewish history and Jewish destiny are irrevocably and forever interwoven with those of Jerusalem.

The ancients considered Jerusalem the center of the earth. The site of the Holy Temple is there upon Mount Moriah; and in the bedrock of that summit lies a large, flat rock called Even-hashetiyah, purportedly the base and center of the world. The ancient Jewish sages said of this rock: "And it was called the Foundation Stone because the world was founded on it, for Isaiah the prophet said, 'Thus saith the Lord God: Behold I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone…a costly cornerstone of sure foundation.' (Isaiah 28:16. We also know that this foundation stone is Yeshua Himself.

"From where did He [God) create it [the world]? From Zion, for the Psalmist sang, 'Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined forth.' (Psalm 50:2)

"And when the Holy One, blessed be He, shall renew the world, He shall renew it out of Zion. For Isaiah prophesied: 'And it shall come to pass in the end of days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established as the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills.'" (Isaiah 2:2)

In the third century, Jewish sages called Jerusalem the middle of the earth, saying, "…the land of Israel is the middle of the earth. Jerusalem is the middle of the land of Israel. The Temple is the middle of Jerusalem. The Holy of Holies is the middle of the Temple. The holy ark is the middle of the Holy of Holies. and the Stone of Foundation is in front of the Holy of Holies."

They also wrote, "The Almighty created the world in the same manner as a child is formed in its mother's womb. Just as a child begins to grow…so the world began from its central point and then developed in all directions. The 'navel' of the world is Jerusalem, and its core is the great altar in the Holy Temple.

"This world is like unto the human eye, for the white is the ocean which 'girds' the earth; the iris is the earth upon which we dwell; the pupil is Jerusalem, and the image therein is the Temple of the Lord. May it be built speedily in our day and in the days of all Israel. Amen!"

Medieval maps show Jerusalem as the center of the universe, calling it Umbilicus Mundi (Navel of the World). There is a world map with Jerusalem at its center attached to an ancient Latin manuscript of the Book of Psalms (c. 1250). The map illustrates Psalm 74:12, "For God is my King of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth [italics ours]."

Aside from geographical considerations, we see Jerusalem as the "center" of the world in that it is central in God's plan for the human race. When we pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6), we are praying for the place, for its people who live there and elsewhere, and for its prophetic destiny and its fulfillment in the grand story that God is revealing.

Ultimately then, to pray for the peace of Jerusalem is to pray for the kind of peace that only God can bring—the peace which, when it comes, will produce the end to wars and strife. This is the only lasting peace, the peace of Jesus the Messiah, a right relationship between God and all humanity. To pray for the peace of Jerusalem is to pray for that which God wants most of all to bestow upon it—Himself. Prayer for the peace of Jerusalem includes prayer for His coming and for His Kingdom.

To pray for the peace of Jerusalem is to weep over her with the Lord Jesus and to say with Him as recorded in Luke 19:42, "If thou hadst known…the things which belong unto thy peace!" It is also to know that although these things are hidden from Israel as a nation right now, they are being discovered and received by individual Jewish people; and it is our privileged duty to tell them—until the time when the prophecy of Zechariah 12:10 will be fulfilled. Then God will pour out His Spirit upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and they will recognize the Messiah, and as Paul wrote in Romans 11:26, "…all Israel shall be saved."

I want to end with strong emotions from the chorus of the song "Yerushaliym Shel Zahav" the song mentioned in one of my older post. with the english translation on the left.

Jerusalem of gold
And of bronze, and of light
Behold I am a harp for all your songs

"Yerushalayim shel zahav
Veshel nechoshet veshel or
Halo lechol shirayich ani kinor

Blessed are those who love the things that Yeshua has set His love upon. May those who pray for Yerushalaiym be blessed and prosper.

Blessings & Shalom,

Sam Kurien

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