Imagine if King David of ancient Israel miraculously came back to life today after some 3,000 years and you were given the job of helping him to comprehend the existing situation in his homeland. How would you explain the current state of his beloved Jerusalem, the "City of Peace"?
How would you report that although a song he wrote has survived for millennia, the line in it appealing worshippers to "pray for the peace of Jerusalem" (Psalm 122:6) is yet a prayer unanswered?
How much time would it take to prepare him for what he would see in the religious arena today, a spiritual landscape that would be virtually unrecognizable to him? And even worse, to explain the sad irony that Jerusalem's hopes for peace have been dashed by, more than anything else, these rival religions, all bitterly competing in the name of his God!
But wait a minute. The story of Jerusalem is truly "a tale of two cities," and you could, instead, opt to begin with the good news!
Wouldn't you love to tell him how God fulfilled His promise that from David's lineage would come the Messiah? How that, right here in Jerusalem, Jesus Christ gave His life to save all humanity? And that He has promised to one day return right here to Jerusalem to establish His everlasting Kingdom of peace!
What a poignant opportunity to show David that after his death God gave many prophets magnificent visions of Israel and Jerusalem ultimately uniting all peoples of the earth!
God has always confirmed that He has never taken His eye off the little capital David established—and that, for all the glory it once knew, its greatest days lie still ahead, when it will become the center for the government of God on earth!
This is, of course, a hypothetical exercise to help us see past facts and figures and personalize the reality of the situation you will read about in this issue. Considering the heartbreaking history and frustrating present in Israel, you will logically ask, "Can Israel survive?"
Read further, though, and you will see that the answer defies human logic. Despite the present darkness, peace lies in its future—not through man's efforts, but through the coming rule of Jesus Christ who said, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you" (John 14:27).
King David, a prolific songwriter, would probably appreciate David Shipler's song metaphor in his 1987 Pulitzer Prize-winning book Arab and Jew: Wounded Spirits in a Promised Land. Shipler portrays Jerusalem as both "a festival and a lamentation. Its song is a sigh across the ages, a delicate, robust, mournful psalm at the great junction of spiritual cultures."
That sorrowful song will someday change. "The ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads," Isaiah prophesied. "They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away" (Isaiah 35:10).
No mere hypothetical scenarios for David then—for, as God promised, he will actually be resurrected, reigning over Israel, rejoicing with its people!
But were he to see his beloved land today, David would surely tell us to not only pray for peace in Jerusalem, but to fervently seek the only means by which it will happen, praying to God, "Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." GN