“I saw you struggling in your own blood.” So begins the narrative of Jerusalem’s origins, told by the Lord through the prophet Ezekiel.[1] She was born an orphan, neglected the moment she left the womb; abandoned, unwashed, exposed to the cold, all but dead. “I saw you struggling, and I said, ‘Live!’” And she lived.

She survived, thrived; her name would change, her evolving throne would shift hands.[2] She would host prophets, judges and a crowned man named David long after Melchizedek passed away.[3] The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob would lead His sojourning children to her hills, soon to be filled with their tents and His.[4] Songs would erupt from this burgeoning city on a hill, this one set to serve as a light to the world.[5]

She’d been destitute in poverty, and He exalted her. She had been exposed and cold, and He covered her. She had been overlooked, and He adorned her. She was plain, and He beatified her.

It went to her head.

Conceited and dissatisfied, she “played the harlot” with anyone who would look her way.[6] She gave herself away, pawned off the gold He gave her, and brought kings to their knees. Sons and daughters were given over to maintain her delicate dance with the devil, “and in all her abominations and acts of harlotry, she did not remember the days of her youth, when she was naked and bare, struggling in her own blood.”[7]

Sons who’d survived sacrifice were set apart by a holy word, forged to carry a message and mercifully delivered to her gates. Unwilling to hear their indictments and uninterested in remorse and repentance, Jerusalem became known as the siren with murdered prophets littering her shores.[8] Their blood soaking her soil would not be the last; she would soon scourge the breathing Word while quoting Moses and crucify the Son of David while singing His father’s psalms.[9] Nineveh would respond to the mercy of God better than she did.[10]

David’s patriarch found her with a dream in his heart; Jacob’s grandfather spent his life searching for a different kind of city, built by an Architect with eternal hands.[11] Isaiah wrote tirelessly about her destiny, this eternal city with crystal gates and sapphire foundations, established in righteousness, giving birth to children who will never want and never see war.[12] David sang about her future, the “consummation of beauty” and perfection shining from Zion; John himself would see “something like jasper,” remarkably similar to the One on the throne.[13]

She is central to the covenantal narrative, yet her walls are scarred with bullet holes. Her borders are contested. Her citizens are divided. The last time Jesus saw her before being nailed to Roman crossbeams in the Place of the Skull, He wept.[14]

 

She has always been complicated.

 

 

 

________________________

 

[1]  Ezekiel 16:1-63
[2]  See Judges; I-II Samuel; I-II Chronicles; I-II Kings
[3]  Genesis 14:18; Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 5:6, 10; 6:20; 7:1-11, 15
[4]  See I Samuel 16; II Samuel 5
[5]  See I Chronicles 15
[6]  Ezekiel 16:16; Hosea 1:1-2
[7]  Ezekiel 16:6
[8]  Matthew 23:37
[9]  John 19:6
[10] Jonah 3:1-10
[11] Hebrews 11:10
[12] Isaiah 54:11-17
[13] Psalm 50:2; Revelation 4:3; 21:11
[14] Matthew 23:37-39

Comment