Tuesday of 3 Lent

God’s People will Dwell in the Midst of Jerusalem – Psalm 126

“Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in the Negeb.”

Psalm 126:4

In the first part of this Psalm we were looking back, remembering how “the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion…”  Now the Psalmist turns his eyes toward the future, petitioning God to continue His work of restoration.  He appeals to God for the same power that was made manifest in bringing them to the Promised Land to be with them in rebuilding the city and the Temple.  Discouragement is threatening to replace the enthusiasm that all had felt in being allowed to return to their homeland.  It was taking longer than expected to rebuild the Temple and the walls of the city.  Life was hard.  

But God did not leave His people without hope.  He sent messengers, the prophets, to proclaim His Word to them.  In the darkest of days, when the obstacles against them seemed like unscalable mountains, Zechariah brings God’s word to Zerubbabel, the governor, saying, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.  Who are you, O great mountain?  Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain.” (Zech. 4:6-7).  And to the people, Zecharaiah brings this word of hope:

Thus says the Lord: I have returned to Zion and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem, and Jerusalem shall be called the faithful city, and the mountain of the Lord of hosts, the holy mountain. Thus says the Lord of hosts: Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with staff in hand because of great age. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets. Thus says the Lord of hosts…I will bring them to dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in faithfulness and in righteousness. (8:3-6,8) 

The experience of the returnees is not unlike the experience of many in our day.  It has taken much longer to get a handle on this pandemic than anyone expected.  The political turmoil, international tensions, and economic uncertainty are all potential catalysts for discouragement and despair.  Even within the Church there are divisions and infighting.  God is allowing the dismantling of His Church so that He may rebuild it in the Image of Christ.  That is a frightening prospect for many of the faithful.  But God has allowed these things to take place that the people of God will turn to Him, that we may be His people and He will be our God.  Looking at the magnitude of the task ahead with eyes of faith and righteousness we can the discern that only God can remake His Church.  God brought us here, He can establish us.  He can remake us in His Image.

Through this Song of Ascent we have God’s promise.  If we stand firm in Him, He will restore us.   “Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.”  Let us stand firm in Him.  Let us stand on His promise.  And we, too, shall dwell in the midst of the New Jerusalem.

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