Track 1: Jerusalem, the Eternal City
Jerusalem is a very important piece of real estate. So many forces have attempted to claim Jerusalem as their own, forgetting the God Almighty has claimed Jerusalem for his own. As the anointed of God, David reigned in Jerusalem over Israel and Judah. From 2 Samuel we read:
All the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron, and said, “Look, we are your bone and flesh. For some time, while Saul was king over us, it was you who led out Israel and brought it in. The Lord said to you: It is you who shall be shepherd of my people Israel, you who shall be ruler over Israel.” So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron; and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel. David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years. At Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months; and at Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years.
David occupied the stronghold, and named it the city of David. David built the city all around from the Millo inwards. And David became greater and greater, for the Lord, the God of hosts, was with him. (2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10)
A Messiah would come from the lineage of David and he would rule over not just Israel and Judah, but all the earth. The psalmist wrote:
As we have heard, so have we seen,
in the city of the Lord of hosts, in the city of our God;
God has established her for ever.
We have waited in silence on your loving-kindness, O God,
in the midst of your temple.
Your praise, like your Name, O God, reaches to the world’s end;
your right hand is full of justice.
Let Mount Zion be glad
and the cities of Judah rejoice,
because of your judgments.
Make the circuit of Zion;
walk round about her;
count the number of her towers.
Consider well her bulwarks;
examine her strongholds;
that you may tell those who come after.
This God is our God for ever and ever;
he shall be our guide for evermore. (Psalm 48:7-13)
From this passage we see that God’s claim on Jerusalem is an eternal claim. Again, the psalmist writes:
Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion,
which cannot be moved, but abides forever.
As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
so the Lord surrounds his people,
from this time on and forevermore. (Psalm 125:1-2 )
The throne of David will extend forever. Jesus, the Messiah, will rule from Jerusalem when he returns to the earth. When that occurs there will be a new heaven and a new earth. All that we see now will have passed away. Thus, all plans to divide Jerusalem will come to naught. All peace plans will fail. Only the Prince of Peace will rule in Jerusalem safely.
What does all this mean to us today. It means that we need to abandon the plans of men and embrace the plans of God. How we fret over the things that are passing away. Surely we must do our part to be good citizens today. But our ultimate citizenship is with God. Are we tuned to the things of God?
The Apostle Paul learned to put aside the cares of this life for the plans and purposes of God:
Therefore, to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
Jesus disciples were called to do ministry in his name, but first they must be willing to disregard the trivial concerns of this world:
Then he went about among the villages teaching. He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them (Mark 6:6-13)
Our world have become too complicated. How do we sort it out? Perhaps we must begin by asking, what is passing away and what will remain. Jerusalem will not pass away. God’s promises will not pass away. Jesus, our savior, will never leave us of forsake us. Lastly, from the Apostle Peter:
The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed.
Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire? But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home. (2 Peter 39-13)
Do we think eternally or temporally? The old Jerusalem will be no more. The new Jerusalem is eternal.
Track 2: Unbelief
Faith is a key element in our interaction with God. In Hebrews we read that God requires us to approach him with faith:
And without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would approach him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)
The Apostle Paul tells us that “God has dealt to each one a measure of faith” (Romans 12:3). But we must exercise our faith in order for it to be productive. We must choose to use our faith. This proved to be difficult for the people of Nazareth when Jesus returned to his hometown. From Mark we read:
Jesus came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief. (Mark 6:1-6)
Despite all that the towns people had heard Jesus, they were skeptic.Perhaps they liked Nazareth just the way it was and were not willing to do what they heard he did elsewhere.Unbelief is our resistance to change. God is a change agent and we are desperately trying to keep the status quo. Today we may believe we can almost manage, but if things change we may lose control. Jesus told Nicodemus that we must be willing to lose control:
“Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:5-8)
Faith is not dependent on our strength but on the strength of God. The Apostle Paul this be direct experience. Paul wrote:
Therefore, to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
Unbelief is the reverse. It is based on the assumption that we may know more than God. God is not practical. He does not understand the situation we are facing. This was the arrogance of Nazareth. Is it ours also?
We may thwart the plans of God to some degree, but we will not be able to stop them as hard as we well might try. Why would we want to stop them when we realize that God has good plans for us? The more we choose to flow with God the more we are able to receive his blessings. The greatest blessings are our salvation and companionship with God.