“I will make you great and beautiful, a place of joy for ever and ever”.
Isa 60:15 GNB
A place where you live should be a place of joy. That is why people boast about their town or city. They wear t-shirts with the name of the place, or its sports team on it. The place where you work should also be a place of joy – since there you earn your living, employ your skills and make money. And the place where you worship should be a cause of joy since there God provides you with the meaning for your life.
There was no doubt much joy when the captives returned to Jerusalem from Babylon. There would be joy at the sight of the old familiar places – those that were still standing. There would be joy at the reunion with old friends and family members for some. There would be joy at the prospect that it would all one day become a happy, thriving place again.
There would be joy at the prospect of the worship in the temple being restored – but the previous temple (Solomon’s magnificent place) was no more. Then there would be the prospect of the great festivals gathering millions of Jews together before God to celebrate his acts in centuries gone by. They could be themselves once again. But the city became a centre of war, contestation, and conflict. Down the intervening centuries much strife, bloodshed, and power struggles have ensued. Today it is a divided city always with controversy raging. This is because in addition to God working his purposes humans are fighting, sinning, and killing.
Christians should not only pray for peace in Jerusalem but that it – and the whole world – should become a place of worship and peace.
Lord, grant ever-increasing peace in the Holy Land.