PROBABLY no other city on the planet is as well known
as Jerusalem. And probably no other city on earth has fallen so far short
in living up to its name. The name is a compound,
"occupy-peace." Some have also suggested that it means
"possession of peace." But in reading the pages of history one
is hard pressed to find a single city that has been the site of such
repeated bloodshed and destruction as experienced by Jerusalem. Many of
history's major events have focused on this place. Apart from faith, the
exhortation of Psalm 122 to "pray for the peace of Jerusalem"
seems little more than a wisp of despair rising over twice burned ashes.
Yet by faith and revelation we see that this city,
Jerusalem, the occupation of peace, is a symbol of God's grand scheme. The
Scriptures introduce us to Jerusalem first as Salem (Gen.14:18), and as
the residence of a king who represented the One true King and Priest of
the most high God. The name Melchizedek means "king of
righteousness," and king of Salem means "king of peace"
(Heb.7:1-3). Thus, even in the opening pages of Scripture, Jerusalem is
intimated as being the place where God will initiate righteousness, peace
and fellowship with Himself for the world.
We next see Jerusalem still unoccupied by the chosen
people, and still ruled by a "lord of righteousness" (Adonizedok)
in Joshua 10:1. A battle followed on a day that was like no other day
(Josh.10:12-14); the lord of righteousness was killed, hanged on a tree
till the going down of the sun and then sealed in a cave (Josh.10:23-27).
All of these things speak to us of the One Who is both our Righteousness
and our Peace.
The book of Judges opens with reference to Jerusalem.
This time it is the scene of restitution and death, and Judah, the kingly
tribe, possesses the outskirts of the city. But the city is not yet won.
Nor will it be until one is made king whose name means "beloved"
(David). Indeed, man's despairing struggle to obtain true peace, to
possess and occupy it, could hardly be more vividly portrayed than that
description of the impregnability of Mount Zion. "You shall not enter
here, for even the blind and the lame will make you withdraw..." (2
Sam.5:6). But the Beloved knows that the secret to the city of peace lies
in its perennial water supply (cf 2 Sam.5:8; Ezek.47:1-12; John 7:37-39;
Rev.22:1- 5), and the city of peace soon became "the city of the
beloved" (2 Sam.5:7). The Beloved knows what things belong to
Jerusalem's peace (Luke 19:42), and it was imperative that He be there
(Luke 13:33) to make the costly sacrifice that would stop the plague of
death (2 Sam.24:24,25).
The truths presented typically in these passages are
quite plain. The primary truth is that there can be no peace apart from
righteousness. This is why the king of righteousness and the lord of
righteousness ruled the city of peace. But mankind is a dying creature and
incapable of obtaining righteousness through any effort of his own. Yet
God is love, and He has sent His Beloved, "that we may be becoming
God's righteousness in Him" (2 Cor.5: 21). And being justified out of
His faith, "we may be having peace toward God, through our Lord,
Jesus Christ" (Rom.5:1).
But the story of peace does not end on the cross;
rather it begins there. Through the peace of the blood of the cross comes
reconciliation for all, both those of the heavens and those on earth
(Col.1:20). And heaven and earth rejoice together in it. The heavenly
messengers sing of peace on earth (Luke 2:14), and men acclaim peace in
heaven (Luke 19:28). And so it should be, for the celestial Jerusalem
"is mother of us all" (Gal.4:26), while the terrestrial
Jerusalem was the altar for the shedding of the blood which cleanses those
things of the heavens (Heb.9:23-26).
We are shown a view of the earthly climax, and
certainly the celestial one could be no less glorious. The new earth
receives a new Jerusalem, one that descends out of heaven from God
(Rev.21:12). This new city of Peace will be the source of rule for the
entire earth till rule is no longer needed, and tears and death are done
© J.Philip Scranton