Earlier this month the state of Israel celebrated its 63rd Independence Day with widespread festivities. The Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, along with President Shimon Peres and other dignitaries, participated in the singing of traditional Hebrew songs and sharing of stories from Israel’s short but tumultuous history. Peres, reminiscing about the 1948 war that started the day after Israel declared its independence, said, “I remember the first day of the war we didn’t have anything. Today Israel is a small but exemplary and wonderful stronghold.”* Many Israelis enjoyed the day off with barbeques and trips to the beach. Young Jewish scholars from all over the world competed in the annual Bible Quiz. But any celebration in Israel always happens under a cloud, as its official capital is not recognized internationally as such. Jerusalem, according to the United Nation’s ruling, cannot be the capital. It is a very complicated and emotional issue for everyone involved, especially since Jerusalem has great significance for three of the world’s great religions.
While we cannot be sure exactly how things will play out in Israel, we do know that God has some amazing plans for Jerusalem. Revelation 21 tells us that God will replace the broken, divided city of Jerusalem with a brand new one, formed in heaven by God. It will be a perfect place of peace and harmony. No more hatred, no more violence. The United Nations will have no say over its role. God has declared that it will be God’s dwelling place. No matter how you understand the images in Revelation, we know that the message can be summed up in two words: God wins. Trust in God. Find the peace that has evaded humanity for too long. Make your reservations to live eternally in the New Jerusalem now.
- Have you ever traveled to Israel? What were your impressions?
- How does your understanding of how God has worked through history affect how you live in the present?
- How do you understand the new heaven, new earth, and new Jerusalem the writer of Revelation describes?
Reverend Lou Hornberger is the pastor of Salem United Methodist Church in Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania.