Isaiah 66:10-13 - (The Lord said) "Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice with her in joy, all you who mourn over her; that you may nurse and be satisfied from her consoling breast; that you may drink deeply with delight from her glorious abundance." For thus says the LORD: "Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you shall nurse, you shall be carried upon her hip, and bounced upon her knees. As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem."
Jerusalem meant many things to the people of Isaiah's day. Besides being the national capital and the seat of their king, Jerusalem was the place where God had placed His temple—the place where all Israel was required to come for worship yearly. That gave Jerusalem a special place in the minds and hearts of the people. It stood for the kingdom of God: that place where God came close to His people and met with them in peace.
Unfortunately, that wasn't all Jerusalem meant, as most of the Old Testament makes clear. It was also a place notorious for sin—a place where idolatry went on, sometimes in the very temple of God itself. It was a place where people oppressed the poor and took bribes to pervert justice. It was a place where horrors like cannibalism happened during the days when it was under siege. Jesus Himself referred to her as "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it!" (Luke 13:34a).
Small wonder that the prophets of God seem to have a love/hate relationship with Jerusalem! She was a symbol of the very best; she could also be the very worst.
Does this sound familiar? It does to me. Jerusalem in many ways resembles the Christian church as she exists on earth—a place that is both good and bad, simultaneously the best and the worst. There we meet with God in worship and in Communion; there we serve God's people together; there we show concern and love for one another. But there, also, we find power struggles and coldness of heart and even historical evils like the Crusades and the Inquisition. As James writes, "My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water?" (James 3:10b-11)
Those of us who love the church can fall into despair. We see the glory that God has called us to as members of the body of Christ, Jesus' own ambassadors in this world. And then we see ... what? our sin, bringing shame to the Name we bear. Who can help us?
Only God can truly cleanse and make right the earthly manifestation of His kingdom. Only Jesus can purify us, God's people, and make us "blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the Word of life" (Philippians 2:15-16a). He can do this, and He will do it. How can He not? He has already given His life for us, to make us His own.
THE PRAYER: Dear Father, cleanse Your church and help the world to see Your Son Jesus through us. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
1. Have you ever been swept up in a big victory like a sports championship or a political election? What was that experience like?
2. How is it that Jerusalem was the place of godly honor and the city that killed the prophets of God?
3. What part do you play in making your church stand out as a place of hospitality and service in your community?
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