Today’s Reading: Joshua 15:20-17:18
Today I start with a confession – I apparently cannot count to ten. On Thursday I wrote a post entitled “The Secret Things of God II” I mentioned that it was my ninth post in a row. I was mistaken; it was #10!
But, lacking clear insights into yesterday’s reading I took a well deserved day off. So now; back to post #1.
Today, again is a rather dry section of reading, while they define the borders of the Promised Land for each tribe. Tomorrow is also a dry section about the land divisions. Nevertheless, tomorrow is also Palm Sunday, and since I am preaching at my church tomorrow, I suppose I could share some of the sermon as a post. Monday, I am going to borrow liberally from my friend and fellow elder Elmer Arentsen as I write that day’s post.
Today’s post comes from the reading of just one verse, a verse written over 3000 years ago:
63 But the tribe of Judah could not drive out the Jebusites, who lived in the city of Jerusalem, so the Jebusites live there among the people of Judah to this day.
As a reminder, before the Israelites were told to go receive the Promised Land that God was giving them they were repeated told that the must remove all the peoples of the land. The land was to be a holy land, set apart for God and His people. The Israelites were not permitted to allow anyone to stay behind. God was going to drive fear into the peoples and have them flee, or Israel and its armies were to wipe them out (admittedly, a hard to understand Old Testament way of doing things).
Nevertheless, as we read Joshua, we will keep seeing these little hints that Israel did not completely obey the command of God. They simply overlooked this clear direction. In the above verse, we see that Judah did not completely remove the Jebusites from Jerusalem. This is the beginning of a long history for Jerusalem. Jerusalem has had 13 different political powers rule over it in the last 3000 years.
Here is a general list of the political occupiers of Jerusalem over the last 3000+ years (copied extensively from Wikipedia):
- 1 Antiquity (prehistory – 1000 BC)
- 2 Kingdom of Israel and Kingdom of Judah (1000 BC – 580 BC)
- 3 Restoration and autonomy in the Persian era (- 312 BC)
- 4 Autonomy in the Greek era (312 BC – 164 BC)
- 5 The Hasmonean Kingdom and era (164 BCE – 35 BC)
- 6 The Herodian Dynasty (35 BC – 96 AD)
- 7 Roman and Byzantine rule (6 AD – 638 AD)
- 8 Arab Caliphates (638 – 1300s)
- 9 Mamluks and early Ottoman rule (1300s – 1800s)
- 10 Late Ottoman period (1800s – 1917)
- 11 British Mandate period (1917 – 1948)
11.1 The 1948 War
- 12 Division between Jordan and Israel (1948 – 1967)
- 13 Jerusalem as Part of Modern Day Israel (since 1967)
Politically and geographically, the city does not have much to offer. Sure, it is on the trading routes of a few Middle Eastern countries. However, it does not hold the importance of a city like Istanbul (watching over the Bosporus Straits) or Singapore (watching over key shipping route around Malaysia), or New York (as a deep harbor port to the Eastern US seaboard). The land is dry and dusty; there are no real natural resources nearby. So why fight over it? Why send thousands to capture it? Why die for it?
It is currently the spiritual capital of two religions (Christianity and Judaism) and is the 3rd most holy city for a third (Islam). It has been fought over for thousands of years. Whole armies have been sent just to capture this one city.
Even this week it is in the news as the controversy over Israeli settlements rage.
However, one day there will be peace in Jerusalem. One day the fighting and dying will come to an end.
Revelation 21 tells us about the new Jerusalem:
1Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
Where God will dwell with man:
3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.
Where there will be no more pain:
4He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Where everything will be made new:
5He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
It will be a beautiful place, where even the streets are paved in gold:
18The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. 19The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, 20the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. 21The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass.
It will be a light filled place:
22I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. 25On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. 26The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it.
Unfortunately, not everybody will get into this city:
27Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
Will I see you in the new Jerusalem one day? Are you in the Lamb’s book of life? I hope so.