Friday, April 29, 2016

What Does It Mean to be Born in Jerusalem?

One of the wonderful things about the Bible is that there are so many layers of meaning to the things it says. Take Psalm 87 as an example. This psalm was written as a song for worship in the Jerusalem Temple. Its purpose was to describe the blessing of being born in Jerusalem, which meant to belong to God in a special sense. This was because Jerusalem was the spiritual and political capital of God’s earthly nation Israel. However, it is possible to apply it to the life of Christians today.

In a sense, every Christian is “born” in Jerusalem. It was in Jerusalem that Jesus Christ suffered and died for our sins, and in Jerusalem that He rose back to life. The city is the physical place where the source of our new life occurred. When we place our trust in Christ, we are born a second time (John 3:3, 5-8). And we are born in, or out of, Jerusalem.

That is why the city is a source of pride for us, as much if not more so than it was for the sons of Korah for whom Psalm 87 was written. We belong to it, and it to us, secured in the new life given by Christ Jesus.

Also, it is not only our past, but our future. In Revelation 21, the Apostle John describes his vision of the new creation in which all sin, despair, and suffering will be done away with. Instead, we will experience a holy city where we will all find joyous, unending, and perfect communion with God. And the name of that city is the New Jerusalem.

It is possible that Psalm 87 even prophesies this very same vision of the future. Verse 6 describes the Lord keeping a record of all those born in Jerusalem. Meanwhile,  Revelation 20:11-15 speaks of the Book of Life, in which are written the names of all those who will be saved by Jesus. It is both the register of all the spiritual rebirths that came out of Christ’s work in Jerusalem, and the roll of citizenship for all who will enter the New Jerusalem.

Scripture is inexhaustible this way. We can always find its truths speaking to our hearts in new and unique ways, yet never with contradiction. It was a blessing to be born in Jerusalem when it meant taking part in the Temple worship. It is still a blessing to be born in Jerusalem, and to know that the new birth in Christ means the promise of eternal joy in God’s presence. I can sing with the psalmist, “This one was born there” (verse 4). I hope you can, too.

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