5/18/11

Why I Pray for Jerusalem

The psalmist advised the people of God, "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! 'May they be secure who love you! Peace be within your walls and security within your towers.'" (Psalm 122:6-7, ESV)

As I gazed on the walls of Jerusalem shortly after Christmas, I imagined our Savior weeping over the city (Luke 19:41) ~ Jerusalem, the city God chose to bear His name (2 Chronicles 6:6).

Psalm 137:5-6 expresses the longing of the Babylonian exiles for their beautiful homeland. They never wanted to forget Jerusalem. It's a city that grips the heart and stirs deep emotions. And Jerusalem is in danger.

The recent union between the Palestinian Authority's Fatah and the rival terrorist group Hamas is being lauded as one more step toward a return of a non-Israeli "Palestine" to the Palestinians, and the PA's appeal to the UN has already set off a flurry of pro-Palestinian endorsements, including support from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. Maps of "Palestine" are increasingly surfacing in official buildings and schools that show no sign of Israel. Israel is now entirely within rocket range from Katyusha missiles.

Israel has a right to be horrified and afraid. Clearly, Israel is threatened with annihilation not only by Iran but others who are aligning to "destroy" Israel's identity in the Holy Land; and the United States no longer appears to be a strong ally under the Obama Administration. The prospects for Israel are indeed frightening, and it's not even clear that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's best political compromises will save God's people.

Israel longs for peace, and someday, Jerusalem will experience total harmony among its inhabitants ~ a scenario that is so different from the chaos and tension of today.

While in Jerusalem, I bought a small olive wood communion cup (pictured above) to remind me to pray. When I pray for Jerusalem's peace, I am praying for her people in that city and throughout the world. As a Christian, I ask God to restore the land of Israel to God's people, to redeem the Jews for Himself, and to return as Israel's Messiah, the Prince of Peace, so that the Jews may finally find their rest.

I pray God's people in other countries, scattered and persecuted. I pray for their safety and their safe return to their homeland. I pray for the countries where they now live, that the Gospel can go out freely. As Jesus said, as He wept over Jerusalem, "...'If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace ~ but now it is hidden from your eyes'" (Luke 19:42).

Jerusalem is special because God says it's special. But also, ancient peoples considered Jerusalem the center of the earth, and Mount Moriah ~ the bedrock of the summit ~ was a holy place (Psalm 50:2; Isaiah 2:2). Medieval maps showed Jerusalem as the center of the universe. Some maps called Jerusalem the Umbilicus Mundi, the "navel" of the world.

Whether Jerusalem truly is the "center" of the world or not, it certainly has been the center of God's agenda for the ages. He has set a "stone in Zion... a precious cornerstone" (Isaiah 28:16). So when we pray for the peace of Jerusalem, we are actually playing for its destiny in God's plan. The Bible says that He (the Lord) will have "no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth" (Isaiah 62:7).

Only God can bring the kind of peace that will make Jerusalem a place of praise. Only the Prince of Peace can work the miracle in the hearts of His people that will cause the prophecy of Zechariah 12:10 and the prayer of Romans 10:1 to come to pass, when "all Israel shall be saved."

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