Violence shall no more be heard in your land, devastation or destruction within your borders;
you shall call your walls Salvation,
and your gates Praise.
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
“The old order changeth yielding place to new”
Walls and gates of the old city of Pisa
These words, in the imagination of Alfred Lord Tennyson, were uttered by the dying King Arthur as he departed on his final barge journey. This speech is also the source of the memorable line: "More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of."
In the prophetically-inspired imagination of Isaiah, this is the old order changing not just to Jesus of Nazareth proclaiming the kingdom, but to Jesus the Messiah reappearing in all His glory to rule and reign – the full realisation of the kingdom of God.
We are one stop on the line short of that place. Behind us and around us we have our stories and experiences of violence. The soldier in Afghanistan planning a water supply to a village, helmet off and approachable, who was axed in the head by a less-than-grateful local. Way down the scale, but commonplace, the sheer aggression of the urban weekend drinking culture, or the football crowd that carry the fight off the pitch. Then there's the latent anger we experience in people who have grown up where parental care and love was broken.
SCENERY SHIFT`– FROM VIOLENCE TO SALVATION
The line carries on, ahead into the change we are beginning to see, from what is still with us, but now getting more behind than ahead. The picture is changing.
The place called Salvation is Yesu'ah. You probably know that the name Jesus is a kind of Greek form of Yeshu'ah, "God saves".
As we look to Him as Lord and invite Him more and more into our lives, Yeshu'ah creates a place of salvation, yesu'ah.
So when we "enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise (Psalm 100:4) "that we may declare your praises in the gates of the Daughter Zion, and there rejoice in your salvation" (Psalm 9:14), this is the same language as the heading verse, language that spells a reversal of the order. The play is taking place around the opposite goalmouth.
So what does that mean, in your shoes? As somebody closely identified with Jesus – someone in whom Jesus can be seen – your expression of praise creates this salvation environment. Just one life that truly exalts Jesus, that praises the Father – and the enemy with his market-stall of fears, anxieties, sicknesses, deception, confusion and lies of every shape, size and colour is getting set to pack up the van for lack of trade. However, the concentration of all of us, together in Jesus, loving each other in our diversity, sticking with each other no matter what because we are His – that is creating an environment of the kind we are glimpsing further down the track, reinforced ramparts and gates, where not everyone can come in – only those with passports to say they belong to Jesus.
Importantly, this unity creates a 'thin heaven' over that place of salvation. This is a place where the enemy cannot enter and where spiritual salvation, freedom and healing routinely take place.