“Pray for peace in Jerusalem.
May all who love this city prosper.
O Jerusalem, may there be peace within your walls
and prosperity in your palaces.
For the sake of my family and friends, I will say,
“May you have peace.”
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
I will seek what is best for you, O Jerusalem.”
Psalms 122:6-9 NLT
Why should I pray for peace in Jerusalem? After all, I don’t live there; in fact I live a long way from it. The city of Jerusalem appears in news reports every now and then, usually in a context of war, strife and civil unrest. The alternative name, Zion, is a name that invokes hatred in other parts of the world. Surely this is a place to avoid.
The Psalmist probably intended for his thoughts and prayers to apply to peace and prosperity in his society; Jerusalem was often the focus of strife even all those years ago, but when it enjoyed times of peace the people flourished. So he prayed for peace in Jerusalem, much as we would pray for peace in our lands, in our societies. A land at peace flourishes.
If we transpose the theme here into spiritual terms, we are very much a part “of the house of the Lord our God“. And there will come a new Jerusalem, that we read about in Revelation 21 and 22. In John 14, Jesus encouraged His disciples that He was going ahead to prepare a place for them. So as Christians we have a very strong connection to Jerusalem. One day, in its reincarnation, we will be part of it. And we pray for peace to be there, both now and in the future. For the sake of the family of God in all its facets, in all its peoples, whatever nation or ethnic groups they come from. As we pray, God’s peace permeates all levels of His family, all over the world. Persecuted Christians in North Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, wherever. And our prayers will lift the yoke of hardship from their shoulders, bringing to them “what is best“.
As a pilgrim through this life, we trudge on, come what may. But ever in our gaze is the New Jerusalem, the Heavenly home of our Lord and God. And somehow as we lift our eyes toward it, our steps are lifted. Our spirits are encouraged. Our journey becomes a concatenation of joy and hope, faith and trust, peace and prosperity. And as we meet fellow travellers we share the “peace of Jerusalem” with them. Enriching their lives as we have been enriched “seeking what is best for you, O Jerusalem“.