A symbol is important; when a symbol depicts reality, its importance amplifies.
Today marks an historic moment: the Embassy of the United States in Israel is moving from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Some argue that the location of the Embassy is simply symbolic, but it depicts a reality that is incredibly important.
For Christians, the Bible is the ultimate source of truth: when the Word of God makes a declaration – on any subject – that statement is far more than a citation of opinion, published in some distributed form. When God speaks, his pronouncement warrants profound consideration.
From Genesis to Revelation, Jerusalem is mentioned 811 times (Tel Aviv did not exist in antiquity). About 3000 years ago, Israel’s King David conquered Jerusalem – taking it from the Jebusites – and established the city as the capitol of the Kingdom that united Israel’s 12 tribes. The Jews’ claim for the city goes back to that historic marker.
How special is Jerusalem, to God? From Joel, 800 B.C.: “The Lord will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem; the earth and the heavens will tremble. But the Lord will be a refuge for his people, a stronghold for the people of Israel. Then you will know that I, the Lord your God, dwell in Zion, my holy hill. Jerusalem will be holy; never again will foreigners invade her.” (Joel 3:16-17).
Location matters. God created the heavens and the earth, and – since time began – the importance of places and placement has been woven into his story of mankind. God established the nations; he sanctioned the distribution of particular people to particular places, under his sovereign design and control.
Battles over boundaries between countries have forever been waged between people, but when God has declared particulars regarding people and places, wars and treaties do not take precedent over his divine prerogatives. Terms like “Promised Land” are not founded in fiction; the commitment God made to Abraham does not require a vote at the United Nations to certify its modern efficacy.
Next Sunday marks another significant day in history: it’s Pentecost. On that date – 50 days after Jesus’ resurrection on Easter – God established heaven’s embassy on planet Earth.
Peter quoted the prophet Joel in his first sermon, on Pentecost. Here’s what Joel wrote: “…I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth…” (Joel 2:28-30).
An embassy is an outpost of a foreign power, where the distant sovereign’s interests are represented and protected by someone empowered to serve in that prestigious role. The Embassy of the Kingdom of Heaven has been uniquely cited: people – men and women who are “his servants” now house the immortal Spirit of the King of Kings in their mortal beings. That’s not just Sunday School minutia: it’s even more provocative and game changing than the symbol of the opening the doors of the US Embassy today in the “Holy City”.
Politicians will be atwitter this week because of what’s happening today in Jerusalem. The spiritual powers continue to reverberate because of what happened nearly 2000 years ago next Sunday in Jerusalem. God established the center of his power on planet Earth within the men and women who have become citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven through faith in Jesus Christ.
We’re ambassadors today, awaiting the future arrival of the King of Kings. He’s not coming as a symbol on a diplomatic mission; he’s coming to take over – everyone, everyplace – and fulfill his promises…