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29th October, 2007

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The Holy City

A couple of evenings ago I attended a concert put on by the Meander Valley Choral Group, of which Martha is one of the conductors. Although one could not describe the troupe as professional their rendition of the famous hymn, “The Holy City", affected me more than any previous performances I had heard. Maybe I'm just getting more emotional as I get older. I don't know. I fell into such a reverie of rapture contemplating the prospect of one day dwelling in Jerusalem that one of the choristers thought I had fallen asleep. You undoubtedly know the hymn well; most people do. The question is, do we treat its sentiments seriously? Most people don't. Who in his right mind truly believes that Jerusalem will ever become the most fabulous, beautiful, dynamic city on earth? Yet the Word of God plainly tells us that God loves the place:

For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that My name may be there forever; and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually (2 Chron. 7:16).

The Lord loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob (Ps. 87:2).

Did God mean what He said, or was He merely indulging His poetic muse? Believers ought to tingle all over at the merest mention of the name Jerusalem. Melchizedek probably dwelt there. God chose it as the place where He would dwell, and decreed that it would be His “throne” and that all nations would one day gather to seek Him there (Jer. 3:17). The most magnificent building of all history graced Jerusalem's skyline with its silhouette. When the time came for God Himself to visit mankind in the form of Jesus Christ, His feet did not tread Rome's streets but Jerusalem's. The “lonely hill” upon which Jesus bled and

died to make atonement for the sins of mankind lies in Jerusalem.

Those who enter the kingdom of God will spend a goodly portion of the first part of eternity in Jerusalem. No kidding. Abraham, the pacesetter for all who seek the gift of eternal life, was instructed to leave the territory known today as Iraq and to go to the land known now as Israel, earlier as Palestine; this land is to be his eternal inheritance, and Jerusalem is its capital. All those who follow in Abraham's footsteps — the meek — shall inherit the same land of promise and make their home there (Matt. 5:5). They shall be given a “mansion” (room) in the new temple to be built there (John 14:1-3) and shall walk its paving stones in the company of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and enjoy the “power and fame” promised to those who treat God's promises and covenant seriously (Is. 56:5). It's all summed up in the spine-tingling words of Isaiah 57:13:

… he who puts his trust in Me shall possess the land, and shall inherit My holy mountain."

What more could one ask for? Of course, such glorious salvation doesn't come cheaply. Jesus shed His blood to make it possible, and those who wish to dwell in the holy hill must show their boundless gratitude for His salvation by walking uprightly and working righteousness (Ps. 15:2). We can be truly glad that entry into the Father's House will be denied to those who refuse to walk in the upright, righteous footsteps of their Savior and Lord. After all, who wants their “mansion” to adjoin that of a cheating, conniving, narcissistic, ill-tempered reprobate? But what joy to go into the house of prayer with Jesus Christ and untold numbers of perfected saints. For those who truly believe, it's only as far away as their last breath. May we keep our eyes firmly fixed on the joy set before us.


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