“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces. For my brethren and companions’ sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee.”
In times of war how irrepressibly are our thoughts at times drawn to the contemplation of peace. When in the bitterness of his soul the psalmist cried unto the Lord, saying, “Woe is me that I sojourn in Mesech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar! My soul hath long dwelt with him that hateth peace. I am for peace: but when I speak, they are for war.” (Psalms 120:5-7) He said the Lord heard him, and this affords great encouragement to the saints of God to call on the name of the Lord in all their tribulations. The church of God is in a state of conflict, God has chosen her in the furnace of affliction, and he has ordained that in the world she shall have tribulation; but as Christ has overcome the world, in him the saints shall have peace. Therefore David was glad when they said unto him, “Let us go into the house of the Lord. Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem. Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together: whither the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, unto the testimony of Israel, to give thanks unto the name of the Lord. For there are set thrones of judgment, the thrones of the house of David.”
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” This admonition to pray for her peace clearly implies, first, that her peace is liable to be interrupted, and second, that God alone can prostrate her enemies, allay her fears and hush to silence every jarring element of strife and disorder, and cause her peace to flow unto her as a river and her tranquillity as the waves of the sea. We may also infer that no treaty that we can make with the enemy, or bulwark we can set up for ourselves, are reliable; that God alone can heal all her maladies, settle all her conflicts and afford her deliverance; and furthermore, we may joyfully infer that the saints in all their conflicts, whether with foes without or foes within, have access unto God, and may come boldly to his throne with their prayers and complaints with a cheerful assurance that he will not send them empty away. We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. There is encouragement to pray for the peace and prosperity of Jerusalem again, from the consideration that our prayers are in accordance with the will of God; for he has spoken good concerning her, yea, for glorious things are spoken of the city of our God.
Jerusalem, in the type, was the capital of Israel, her throne of power, her palace of government was there established, there stood her temple, and thither went up her chosen tribes to worship. There stood the altar of the Lord on which all her offerings were made; the ark of God was there, and all their interests centered there. So Jerusalem, which is above, which is free, which is the mother of all who are as Isaac was, the children of the promise, is the city of the great King, and her name is called, “The Lord is there.” God has invested her with thrones of power and palaces of joy. He has there set the King upon his holy hill of Zion; there the King shall reign in righteousness, and his princes shall rule in judgment; there shall Christ our King sit upon the throne of his glory, and with his apostles on the twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. To the thrones, palaces and powers invested in this Jerusalem every heaven-born soul owes his allegiance, and it is high treason against the King eternal for them to acknowledge any other ecclesiastical power, or submit to any other religious dominion, for there the tribes of the Lord go up. They are not permitted to worship at any other shrine or serve at any other altar. The constancy and chastity of the faithful wedded bride to her Husband is unchangeably binding on her with all her citizens. “This people,” saith God, “have I formed for myself; they shall show forth my praise.” John, in vision, saw her descending from God out of heaven, adorned as a bride prepared for her husband.
To pray earnestly for the peace of Jerusalem, implies an appreciation of her exposure to invasions and assaults from without, and from dissensions, disorders and divisions within. The gates of hell assault her invincible walls, and the powers of darkness vainly attempt to sap her solid foundation. The kings of the earth set themselves, and rulers take counsel against her, the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things, but God has assured her that no weapon formed against her shall prosper, and every tongue that ariseth against her she shall condemn. In the awfully solemn time described by the prophet, when the sinners in Zion are afraid, and fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites, when the heart shall mediate terror, even then the Lord says, “Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities: thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken. But there the glorious Lord will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams; wherein shall go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby. For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; he will save us.” (Isaiah 33:20-22) Impelled by our fears, alarmed by our foes, and encouraged by the gracious promises presented in the word to our faith, we are constrained to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and we offer our prayers to Him in whose power and wisdom, goodness and truth we fully confide, to do for her what we feel conscious we cannot do, and with a firm conviction that these aspirations arise from hearts into which God has poured the spirit of grace and supplication. Nor shall we pray in vain, for, “They shall prosper that love thee.” How many trembling lambs who bleat around the fold of Christ, how many guilt-stricken, conscious sinners cast their longing eyes towards her precious gates and mentally exclaim, “How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.” “Blessed are they that dwell in thy house,” etc., (Psalms 84:1,2,4) while they feel themselves to be but aliens and foreigners, and dare not indulge the hope that they will ever be permitted to enter her peaceful gates or taste a crumb of her provision which her God has abundantly blessed, every pulsation of their fearful heart responds to the words in the same Psalm: “A day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness,” but still feel so utterly unworthy to mingle with the citizens of the new Jerusalem that they despairingly conclude there is no hope for them. But is it possible that any can be thus exercised who do not love Jerusalem? From what other source can such desires arise? Certainly they who do not love Jerusalem can behold no loveliness in her, nor can they feel any other attraction drawing them towards her gates but that of love. If there can be any other attraction than that of love, what is it? It is, it must be, love. Cherish then, fearful, doubting, trembling soul, the hope that God has shed abroad the Saviour’s love in thee, and he has promised to prosper thee. Whatever bitter things thou art writing against thyself, this city God has graciously prepared for thee. To all such souls who are ready to take their cross and follow the Lamb, the word of the Lord says unto you, “Come in, thou blessed of the Lord; wherefore standest thou without?” “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” They shall prosper that love Jerusalem. Not a single cup of cold water shall be given to one of the least of Christ’s disciples that shall not be rewarded. Prosperity shall not be perhaps, as Job’s friends erroneously supposed, in temporal things, as heaping up gold as the stones of the brook, or silver as the mire of the streets, but it shall be a spiritual prosperity, overruling all things for their good and God’s glory. This pledge embraces all who love Jerusalem, for all who love her love God who founded her, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
“Peace be within thy walls.” The walls of Jerusalem not only separate between the citizens and those who are without, but they are intended as a protection to the city which they include. Much is said in the Scriptures of the walls of the city of our God. One prophet proclaims that, “Salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks,” and another informs us that God himself is a wall of fire round about Jerusalem, and the glory in her midst, thus at once showing us that God is our salvation. Hence he is called our Refuge, and our Shield. The safety of a city depends upon the strength and invincibility of her fortifications, and so we are taught that nothing can endanger the church so long as God himself retains his power to defend her. Within these impregnable walls a certain class, which are described in the divine record, have a right of citizenship. In Isaiah 26:2, the Maker and Builder of this strong city has given orders, saying, “Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in.” While the prophet denominates the citizens of Zion “the righteous nation which keepeth the truth,” and Peter calls them a holy nation, John designates them a blessed people, who “do his [Christ’s] commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolators, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.” From all of which we learn that those who belong to this city are the chosen, redeemed, regenerated and obedient people of God; and all who love this city have a brithright inheritance within her walls, and heartily pray for her peace and prosperity, and say continually, Peace be within thy walls. They not only pray and desire that God may deliver this city from all foreign invasion without, but also preserve peace within her precincts; that her citizens may love and be at peace with each other, love as brethren, and keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace; that they may be at peace with God, with one another, and as much as in them lies, live in peace with all men. They desire and pray that they may be enabled to follow after the things that make for peace, and things whereby one may edify another. These peace-loving citizens of Zion are characterized as walking righteously and speaking uprightly, despising the gain of oppression, shaking their hands from holding of bribes, stopping their ears from hearing of blood and shutting their eyes from seeing evil. Such shall dwell on high, their place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks; bread shall be given them, and their waters shall be sure, and their eyes shall see the King in his beauty; they shall behold the land that is very far off. (Isaiah 33:15-18)
“And prosperity within thy palaces.” A palace is the place of the royal family, the home of kings and princes, the place of thrones of power and glory; the church of God, the residence of kings and priests, and the home of those whom our God has taken from the dunghill to set them among princes. “A glorious high throne from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary.” Here Jesus reigns, his mediatorial throne is here, and with him, occupying the twelve apostolic thrones, his princes rule in judgment. All the saints desire that the government of Christ may prosper, that upon his own head his crown may flourish, that his horn may be exalted, that as King, Christ may be higher than Agag, and his kingdom higher than the kingdoms of men. Also, they desire that the decisions of the apostles in the judgments which they have recorded on all the laws and ordinances of his church may be duly observed and faithfully obeyed by all the saints, not only for the benefits which each shall derive from the prosperity of the government of the church of God, but for the general benefit of all, collectively.
“For my brethren.” The children of my Father, and of Jerusalem, my mother, these are my kindred and brethren, and for their sakes, as well as my own personally, will I now say, “Peace be within thee.” We expect this peace will be enjoyed in heaven uninterruptedly, by and by, but even now, for my companions sakes, will I pour out my prayer to God that peace may be within the church and kingdom of our divine Lord and Master. Even now, while Zion is compassed about with enemies, while her citizens are here in the flesh, and subject to a militant state. While earth and hell oppose, and she is in conflict with the world, the flesh and Satan, while noise and discord, strife and carnage spread far and wide around her, and while some of our companions have suffered the loss of all things, and some have been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus, whose souls are seen under the altar, waiting to be avenged, and waiting for the filling up of the sufferings of those who remain, and are also to be persecuted and slain, even now, for their sakes, will I say, “Peace be within thee.”
“Peace be within this sacred place,
And joy a constant guest,
With holy gifts and heavenly grace,
Be her attendants blest.
My soul shall pray for Zion still,
While life and breath remains;
There my best friends, my kindred dwell,
There God, my Saviour, reigns.”
July 15, 1863.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 5
Pages 380 – 386