Audio here: .
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Among the pilgrims going up to Jerusalem, you sing these psalms together, reminding each other of what God has done: He brought you out of Egypt and into the land of promise, even after your fathers rebelled against Him and His promises. He remained your God even through the years after Moses and Joshua; He preserved Israel even by means of weak, selfish, greedy, stupid judges, and even as the people returned again and again to their idols and their evil. He brought the tribes of Yahweh into Jerusalem and set up a throne for David. And when the throne of David’s reign became a throne of judgment against Israel and her kings for their evil, His works still bore witness.
Shalom is the word that David sings for the sake of Jerusalem, for the sake of the house of Yahweh our God. Shalom for Jerusalem, shalom within her walls, shalom within for the sake of her inhabitants. That is a word for wholeness, a hope for things to be completed and finished and everything put right. Jerusalem was built as a firm city with a solid foundation and square corners, a city for the residence of the temple where God had promised to dwell in their midst. Because He was there with His mercy and forgiveness and promises of a time when there would be no more threat to her, no more idols, no more evil, no more sin. To be secure within her was to be at ease, quiet, at rest because there was no other God but Yahweh, and He was their God.
Jerusalem was nothing in herself. It was because the House of God was there, and within the House, the Ark with its mercy seat, where God chose to dwell in their midst. Because God was there, there was shalom. Because God was there, there was security and rest and ease. So the people went up to Jerusalem for the festivals, always ascending to Jerusalem and descending from her, as the high and holy place of Yahweh.
But then, one year, ascending to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover, focused in toward the House of God, that God came in with the pilgrims. One greater than the Temple was here, to which the Temple had pointed all along. He was glad when they said, “Let us go up to the house of Yahweh!” And He went up and stood in her gates. Then He rode into the city on a donkey. Look! The King, humble and having salvation, riding on a donkey, as the Prophet had long promised. Blessed is He who comes! Save us, O God! You, who have worked salvation for your people, who delivered us from slavery, who remembered Your promises even when we forgot. You, who established that city and that House, exactly for this moment.
And then the King went out, and He wept as He looked over the City. “If you knew on this day—even you—the things that are toward peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes” (Luke 19:41). If only you, O Jerusalem, had recognized the Peace of God who was present within you, within your walls, who seeks only Your good. But Peace is hidden in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to all the ends of the earth—hidden in a Man who was born to die; hidden in a crucified Man; hidden in water poured over a sinner’s head; hidden in the bread that the pilgrims eat and the wine that they drink. Hidden within the walls of all the houses where His people gather.
In the eternal will of Yahweh, the Peace of God is not in a house, or a city, or in walls, or in land, but in the Man who is the eternal Son of God. He is the Son of the Promise given to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David. His Kingdom is not confined to one place. It is over all the earth, over all kings, over all authorities, and over all governments. He is the House of God’s mercy; He is the Ark of God’s Presence; He is the location of God’s Peace, who is the Good of all people. He has built a House in the cold, dark wilderness of this world, and into it He is gathering all those descended from Abraham, and all those descended from Adam outside the line of the Promise.
In Christ Jesus, you who once were far off have been brought near in the blood of Christ. He Himself is our peace [our Shalom; (Judges 6:24)]…He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through Him we both have access in the one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and outside the house, but you are fellow city-dwellers with the holy ones and dwellers in the house of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In Him you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God by the Spirit (Ephesians 2:13-22).
Pray for the shalom of the House of God, that He would keep her on the firm and solid and well-built foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Himself the Stone that holds the entire House together. Pray that He will bring the House of God in this world to the full revelation of her glory in the City which is descending from heaven. Now she looks so weak, with broken doors, shattered windows, cracks in the siding, shingles missing. But then, then, she will be prepared as a bride adorned for her husband, pure, holy, without blemish. Look! A voice from the Throne says, the tabernacle of God is with people. He tabernacles with them and they will be His people and He will be their God. For your sake and for the sake of the House of God, Jesus, the Shalom of God, is in our midst. He will wipe away every tear from our eyes, and death will be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.
Then shalom. Then security and rest and peace at the last. No more threat, no more sin, no more death. Everything whole and complete and finished and put right. Hope fulfilled at the Advent of our King.
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7, ESV). Amen.
–Pr. Timothy Winterstein, 12/4/19