June 18, 2017

A Prayer For Peace

From Heart Talk by Jack Branch


By: Jack M. Branch #R17203
Taylor Annex C.I

" A prayer for Peace= Paslm 122" June 11, 2017 4.

All cities across the world would welcome the verse of safety and hopeful optimism that comes with peace. The City of Jerusalem continues to be a most crucial city needing peace. Modern visitors to the Old City of Jerusalem find it divided into Jewish , Christian, Muslim and American quarters. The Old City is only small part of Jerusalem, however. The more significant divide is between West Jerusalem controlled by the Israel government and East Jerusalem,
historically populated by Palestinian's. Since 1949, Israel's have occupied East Jerusalem, ignoring earlier peace agreements while building Jewish settlements on Palestinian land, erecting "separation barriers" and forcefully annexing portions of East Jerusalem. This had contributed greatly to ongoing strife, and not only in Israel and the best bank, but though out the word anger over perceived wrongs against Palestinians fuels much of the rage behind jihadists who bring terror to other cities. If we should pray for peace of any city in the hopeful Advent season, we should pray for
the peace of Jerusalem.

A Happy Pilgrim

Psalm 122 is one of the 15 " Songs of Ascents", generally associated with pilgrims from the surrounding countryside who would travel to Jerusalem for one of the annual festivals. People living at some distance would visit Jerusalem only rarely, and each pilgrimage was a special occasion to be martyred by singing and celebration. The first verse of Psalm 122 has long been a favorite memory verse used in Sunday school or children's sermons: I was glade when they said to me " Let us to the house of the LORD". Modern readers typically associate the verse with church attendance, but the orginal context pictures a time when town or village leaders would have organized periodic trips to Jerusalem, recuting pilgrims like a modern minister organizing a trip to the Holy Land. Making a pilgrimage to Jerusalem involved long journeys by foot or donkey, camping out against bandits who prayed on lane travelers. In this day, prigrims to Israel and the West Bank often weep at their first sight of Jerusalem. It is hard for a believer to visit Jerusalem and emerge unmoved.

A Mighty City

The Psalm, standing inside of the city's impressive gates, gives voice to unadulterated joy, reciting three reasons for his love of Jerusalem. First it is structurally impressive; " built as a city that is bound firmly together"(vs.3). The Psalm likely dates to period in the seventh or eight century, when Jerusalem's strong walls had been expanded and fortified by defensive towers at crucial points. The city had become prosperous as the center of government and faith, culture and commerce, the economic engine of the surrounding area. The Psalm may have visited from a village or small town, unaccustomed to urban life. If so, the city would have even seemed more splendid to him, a breathtaking amalgam of broad avenues, monumental buildings, and crowed markets. Sensing a connection between the majestic city and it's powerful God, the author would have resonated with the people behind Psalm 48:12-14." Walk about Zion, and go all around her, count her towers; Mark well her bulwarks; considerer places; That you may tell it to the generation following". For this is God, our God forever and ever; he will be our guide even to death. This elevated the status of Jerusalem even more, making it a pilgrim site that all faithful Hebrews should visit as often as possible, especially during one more of the three annual festivals. Within its walls, Solomon's temple was an impressive sight, built of skillfully cut stones and columns, gilded with gold at strategic points and gleaming in the sun from atop and temple mount. Public worship took place in the large courtyards surrounding the temple for only priest could enter the sanctuary itself. Jerusalem was not only an architectural marvel and host to the scared temple, but it was also the seat of justice for the Hebrews: " For thrones are set there for judgment, The thrones of the house of David"(vs.5). David was known for administering justice in 11Samwel 8:15, including a case related to his son Absalom in 11 Samuel 14. Absalom in turn, planted a coup and campaigned against his father, falsely accusing him of failing to render justice in 11 Samuel 15:1-6. Solomon was framed for his wisdom pronounced in judgment in 1 king 3:16-28. Prophets such as Isaiah grew livid when they perceived that justice was not done, in Isaiah 1:21-26, and 10:1-2, among others. Isaiah spoke hopefully for a future ruler who would "not judge by what His eyes, Nor decided by the hearing of his ears; but with righteousness, he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth",( Isaiah 11:3-4). Those who love a righteous God, by definition, also love justice. It is no surprise that the psalm celebrated Jerusalem as the center of both spiritual worship and the place where justice could be dispensed.

A Prayer For Peace

Upon entering a home or city, middle easterners typically offered greetings of peace. Before David became King, while appealing to a landowner named Nabul for aid, he insisted the messengers to greet him by saying " Peace be to you,

peace be in your house and peace to all that you have" (1 Samuel 25:6). Many years later as Jesus sent His disciples on a mission, He instructed them to find lodging with locally worthy folk: " As you enter a household, He said "greet it". If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return you"(Matt.10:12-13). Filled with love for Jerusalem, the psalm calls his companions to pray for the peace of Jersalem in verses 6-7. The plea, in essence, is a prayer for the city to live out the meaning of it's name in Hebrew " foundation of Peace." The Psalm understood that when Jerusalem experience peace, the entire country was likely to enjoy security and rest. When the rules practiced justice and the people sought righteousness, peace would not only prevail in Jerusalem, but pervade the towns and villages of the nation. Though much has changed since these words were written mote than 10,000 years ago, the central truth has not changed: indeed it is broadened. To pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and to work for it, is not justa wish for the welfare of Israel, but a prayer for the entire world.

By: Jack M. Branch #R17203
Taylor Annex C.I
8501 Hampton Springs Road
Perry, Florida. 32348


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