Journey In Hope

Dani Beth Crosby, Family & Communications Minister
I rejoiced with those who said to me,
“Let’s go to the house of the LORD.”
Our feet were standing within your gates, Jerusalem—
Jerusalem, built as a city should be, solidly united,
where the tribes, the LORD’s tribes, go up to give thanks to the name of the LORD.
(This is an ordinance for Israel.)
There, thrones for judgment are placed, thrones of the house of David.
Pray for the well-being of Jerusalem:
“May those who love you be secure;
may there be peace within your walls,
security within your fortresses.”
Because of my brothers and friends,
I will say, “May peace be in you.”
Because of the house of the LORD our God,
I will pursue your prosperity.
Put yourself in the shoes, or sandals, of a first century Jewish pilgrim, making your way from your hometown to Jerusalem to worship at the temple during a special holiday. It has been many months, or maybe a year, since you were in Jerusalem last. After a long, hard trip you have arrived. Your household makes their way up the steps of ascent. This past March, our Israel group stood on some of the excavated steps of ascent to the temple. Unlike our uniform staircases today, these stone steps vary in depth, some short like normal steps and others longer like mini platforms. Many scholars believe this design was intentional, so one would not hurry up to the temple to worship but would instead slowly ascend, step by step, preparing their heart for worship. As they climbed, it is likely they sung the words of today’s text.
The temple sat on Mount Moriah, a symbol of God’s desire to dwell with His people. To the Israelites, it was the meeting place of heaven and earth as they waited for the fulfillment of God’s promise of eternal redemption and restoration. It was a symbol of hope for the day when everyone, not just the select priests, could be in God’s presence.
Then, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14) Jesus, God With Us, arrived and everything changed. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, God’s promised redemption and restoration was made available to those who believe in Him. God now dwells in us, through the Holy Spirit. We are still making a pilgrimage, but it is no longer to a building in Jerusalem. We journey to the completion of God’s Kingdom, where “the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” (Revelation 21:22)
What will our lives sing as we take the long, hard trip to God’s completed Kingdom? How do we daily, step by step, prepare ourselves for eternal worship in the full presence of God? What preparation work is to be done in us as we ready ourselves for the celebration of Christmas?
As you go through this new day and prepare yourself for Christmas, take with you journey tips from the book of Jude, “as you build yourselves up in your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting expectantly for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life. Have mercy on those who waver, save others by snatching them from the fire; have mercy on others but with fear, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh. Now to him who is able to protect you from stumbling and to make you stand in the presence of his glory, without blemish and with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority before all time, now and forever. Amen” (Jude 20-25)
1 Peter 2:5