Monday, November 23, 2009

Hope for a Ghost Town

"How lonely sits the city that was full of people. She has become like a widow who was once great among the nations." This is how the first verse of Lamentations describes Jerusalem after the destruction resulting from Babylonian exile. The city that had once been the center of a great kingdom, a city that had been full of people, commerce, and life, a city that was the envy of neighboring nations was now desolate and lonely. I imagine that Jerusalem must have been something like the ghost towns that speckle the western portion of our own nation. They were towns that sprang up rapidly, often due to natural resources such as oil, gold, or silver that were found in the area. However, once those resources dried up the towns that had sprang up around them often did as well.

According to Jeremiah, Jerusalem's problem was not a drying up of natural resources but it's failure to tap into its spiritual resources. Judah had turned its back on the God who had delivered them despite the fact that He had been their most faithful resource. As a result, God used Babylon to destroy Judah and its capital city, Jerusalem. Much of the city was razed to the ground and many of the inhabitants had been taken into exile . Jerusalem had become a ghost town with little hope of recovery or chance for a future.

Into this desolate situation, God speaks the words of Jeremiah 33:14-16 through the prophet to this lonely, helpless city. God promises that Israel and Judah's days are not over. Jerusalem will not be a ghost town forever. God will raise up a king from the line of David who will reign with righteousness and justice. This king will restore Jerusalem's fortunes so that it dwells in safety and prosperity once again. In fact, God says that this king will bring such great restoration to Jerusalem that the city itself will be called the "the Lord is our righteousness"; that is, the city itself will become a symbol of God's great care and covenant faithfulness to Israel.

As we enter the season of Advent, we remember that we await the restoration of our world as well. All of creation exists as a sort of ghost town, left desolate by the sin, violence, and pain that has rendered our world less than the rightly ordered, peaceful, abundantly life-filled world that it was created to be. We too wait for the arrival of our king who will restore our world so that all of creation becomes a testament to the Lord who is our righteousness.

No comments: