Sermon for Saturday

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; they shall prosper that love thee. Psalm 122:7

The e-mail told the sad story of a little boy who was very sick. After describing the lad’s condition and the difficulty the doctors were having to correct the problems, the e-mail urged everyone who received the e-mail to pray for the boy. And it urged everyone to pass the e-mail along to everyone they knew. That last part made me suspicious, because I have never seen such a request turn out to be anything but a hoax. I checked into the story, and found there was only a tiny scrap of truth to it. There was a little boy who had been very sick, and a call went out for prayer for him. But the problem was quickly cleared up in a matter of hours, and more than six years had passed. The little boy was now a healthy and active teenager. But the e-mail with the prayer request kept circulating over and over through the months and years since, and through those months and years, many people kept responding to an old prayer request that had already been answered. Our text today also contains an old prayer request, but it is not outdated yet.

Occasionally, in an Assembly prayer meeting, someone will pray for the peace of Jerusalem. That’s good! Perhaps we should hear that prayer more often. But why is this particular ancient prayer still valid? It is, because the peace of Jerusalem has not yet arrived. Throughout the centuries since David penned this psalm, Jerusalem has known relatively little peace. Throughout the many struggles, wars, battles, turmoil, and terrorist attacks, Jerusalem has remained a troubled town. Her peace has not yet arrived, although the peace will come when the Prince of Peace arrives to set up His kingdom. This prayer for the peace of Jerusalem is the equivalent of the line in the so-called Lord’s Prayer: ‘Thy kingdom come’.

To pray for the peace of Jerusalem is to pray for a blessing on God’s earthly people. These dear folks, who as a nation have rejected their Messiah, need to return to their God, and they need salvation. It is our responsibility to at least pray for them. We should also witness to them when we can, and appreciate that God has great and precious promises to unfold to the children of Jacob. Ours is not to be a hollow interest either. Our text reminds us that our prosperity depends on whether we are deeply concerned for the Israelites, and are eagerly anticipating the return of the Lord and the fulfillment of His purposes.

We are not as isolated from the nation of Israel and God’s purposes for the future as we often think. Our heightened interest in those purposes can begin by praying for the peace of Jerusalem. – Jim MacIntosh

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