It can seem like there is a wide gulf between these simple pilgrims and ourselves, after all what need can there be to care about Jerusalem when Christ now dwells inside us? It’s questions like this which drive me back to the Bible and my trust that God keeps his promises. What does the Bible say about this?
Genesis 12:3 reads, “I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and pin you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Romans 15 affirms, “They (gentile christians) were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings.”
Isaiah 62 states “For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, till her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch.”
Just what is Peace?
“Peace” in the newspapers is something cheap, often little more than a brief respite from violence and war, but in the Bible, God uses a much more complete definition. Shalom means peace, but also wholeness, physically and spiritually. Peace is an absence of violence yes, but more importantly it is serenity, fellowship and oneness with God. By praying for the Peace of Jerusalem one is praying to find their own prosperity, the prosperity of their Nation, and to ascend to a place where God’s divinity can be experienced.
In Psalm 122
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May those who love you be secure.
May there be peace within your walls
and security within your citadels.”
For the sake of my family and friends,
I will say, “Peace be within you.”
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
I will seek your prosperity.
Songs for Pilgrims
Psalms 120-134 are known as the “Songs of Ascent”. These were song during the three great pilgrimages to Jerusalem in ancient Judah. Each Pesach (Passover), Shavuot (Pentacost) and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) were marked by massive lines of Jews making their way to Jerusalem. The Temple had yet to be built during David’s lifetime but the site would have been a bustling hub of merchants, priests, and farmers from across the land. For many this would be the only time they could escape the labor and sweat of the iron age and ascend to a spiritual union with each other and with God. These Psalms were meant to set the people on the correct spiritual path as they traveled the desert roads to pray for the Peace of Jerusalem.
To me it is clear, as Christians we must also pray for the Peace of Jerusalem. For the security of Israel, for the wholeness of its people and in so doing we can also ascend to a greater understanding of God’s work in our world today.