Wednesday, 31 May 2017


The Jerusalem of God

The thirst for liberty is strong amongst mankind.  Many have been the ways and attempts to secure it.  Most have failed.  "Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity" in France turned into the "freedom" of the guillotine and the embrace of the Emperor Napoleon.  Freedom in the United States is morphing ineluctably towards greater and greater government rules, regulations, laws, and controls.  The same is true in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.  Freedom in the EU means submitting to the laws, rules, and regulations of the unelected Eurocrats.

Yet the longing for human freedom remains unabated.

It is significant, therefore, that the Gospel makes clear that human liberty is intrinsic to its presence and power.  Consider how the Lord of all announced His coming:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed.  [Luke 4:18]
Now this when read is usually taken to refer to Christ liberating men from the guilt and slavery to sin.  This is a legitimate interpretation.  Charles Wesley captured this interpretation/application perfectly:

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
But sin is more than just a matter of one's own enslavement: it is a curse upon the entire world.  Consider, for example, how six of the ten commandments address human social relationships.  We are forbidden to lie to one another, kill each other, steal from another, and so forth.  The Spirit of Christ frees us from enslavement to these monsters as well.

Douglas Wilson puts it this way:
The incarnation [of Christ] meant that freedom came here, down to us, and it did not  mean that freedom was offered to us somewhere far off, beyond the clouds.  Because of the incarnation, Christian have been taught to pray for Christ's kingdom to come, not for his kingdom to go.  Jesus taught in that prayer that Christians are supposed to pray God's will would be done on earth as it is done in heaven.  [Douglas Wilson, Five Cities That Ruled the World (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2009), p.187.]
The yearning that mankind has for freedom, and to live in "the land of the free" is--whether men know it or not--a yearning for the Kingdom of God coming upon the earth.  All alternatives, all other initiatives, will disappoint as the tumbrels of Paris ended up mocking those yearning for deliverance and freedom in that city.

As the heavenly city, the city of God, comes upon earth, freedom follows in its train.  The heavenly city, the Jerusalem of God, is a "free woman".  "The Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother."  [Galatians 4:26.]

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