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Should we pray for the peace of Jerusalem? Of course, we should pray for the peace of Jerusalem! What kind of a question is that? We should also pray for the peace of Washington, Moscow, Ottawa, Beijing and more. The Bible is clear.
First of all, then, I urge that requests, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made in behalf of all people, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. 1 Tim. 2:1-2, NASB
We are to pray for people in authority so that we may have peace to spread the gospel and live God-honouring lives.
The problem comes when Christians think that praying for Jerusalem and Israel is especially commanded by God and generates special blessings. Often Psalm 122:6-7 is quoted:
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May they prosper who love you.
May peace be within your walls, And prosperity within your palaces.” NASB
This was originally written by King David to be sung as people came to Jerusalem to celebrate the great Feasts of the Lord. In the Old Testament period, from King David onward, Jerusalem was Israel’s capital city. More than that, it was where the Temple of God stood, representing God’s presence among His people.
The question is whether it is Biblical to take this passage, and others like it, and apply it to the Jerusalem and Israel of today. We know that Jerusalem and the Temple have been totally destroyed twice since David’s time and once since Christ’s time.
Dispensationalists, in their sensational interpretation of Scripture, assume that David’s encouragement for Old Testament saints to pray for Jerusalem applies to modern Jerusalem. Then, they assume that those who pray for the literal Jerusalem will be blessed.
Instead of making assumptions and giving Scripture private interpretations, we should examine how the New Testament handles these terms. Read through the following passage carefully.
Tell me, you who want to be under law, do you not listen to the Law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and one by the free woman. But the son by the slave woman was born according to the flesh, and the son by the free woman through the promise. This is speaking allegorically, for these women are two covenants: one coming from Mount Sinai giving birth to children who are to be slaves; she is Hagar. Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is enslaved with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother. For it is written:
“Rejoice, infertile one, you who do not give birth;
Break forth and shout, you who are not in labor;
For the children of the desolate one are more numerous
Than those of the one who has a husband.”
And you, brothers and sisters, like Isaac, are children of promise. But as at that time the son who was born according to the flesh persecuted the one who was born according to the Spirit, so it is even now. But what does the Scripture say?
“Drive out the slave woman and her son,
For the son of the slave woman shall not be an heir with the son of the free woman.”
So then, brothers and sisters, we are not children of a slave woman, but of the free woman. Gal. 4:21-31, NASB
What is Paul’s point in all of this? Abraham’s two primary children represent New Testament spiritual realities. The descendants of Hagar through Ishmael represent the natural, physical Jerusalem and Israelites. The descendants of Sarah through Isaac represent the spiritual true believers and are the true Jerusalem and Israelites. Paul wrote that the natural Jews were not the true heirs of Abraham, but the spiritual Jews [i.e. all true believers in Jesus Christ regardless of ethnic origin] were his heirs. Paul harshly criticizes the Gentile believers in Galatia for wanting to become natural Jews!
Paul is even more straightforward in Romans 2:28-29:
For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from people, but from God. NASB
The point of many of Paul’s writings is that the blood of Christ has broken down the wall between Jews and Gentiles. There is now no difference between Jews and Gentiles. The essential division is between believers and non-believers. Dispensationalists want to rebuild the wall that Jesus tore down.
If there are two ways of salvation - being a Jew or being a Christian - then the cross of Christ was unnecessary. Such views are an insult to the promises of God. They are a mockery of the anguish and agony of Christ and the sacrifice He paid for our sins.
Should we pray for Jerusalem and Israel? Of course, although just as we pray for other nations. The Israel of today is a nation among nations, not a special nation for the purposes of God. Their purpose, to be the womb for the Messiah, has been completed.
If we want to take Psalm 122 into our New Testament era, then we need to pray for the peace of the true Jerusalem - the Church. As goes the Church, so goes the world. We need peace and unity in the body of Christ. When we have that, there is prosperity in the world, and even non-believers reap physical benefits.
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