Tuesday September 8, 2020
Judges 1:8 “He set the City on Fire”
The sons of Israel inquired of the Lord and asked who shall go up first and fight for us against the Canaanites, to fight against them. The Lord said Judah shall go up first…then the sons of Judah went out against Jerusalem and captured it and struck it with the edge of the sword and set the city on fire.”
Jerusalem is the city of Peace, not chaos and fire, not war and captivity. What a juxtaposition this verse presents. The city of peace set on fire? I suppose historically this is the way people took what they wanted. I think it quite fascinating that this place where God himself chose to place his name, where the very presence of God would dwell, where King David would usher in the ark of the covenant in unashamed dancing, the city where God’s very feet will stand and his spirit will inhabit; like a bride he refers to Jerusalem. But here she burns. She is set on fire by the sons of God. It strikes me as inductive truth.
My personal knowledge and opinion is not God’s holy and perfect knowledge, and what I think is best, is far removed from what the Almighty says is right. In my limited and mortal world I avoid pain and destruction and things like fire, believing that destruction is statically bad and fundamentally a punishment. But then I remember The aroma of Christ is both death and life, depending on where you stand. In God’s system fire destroys but it also purifies. Jesus said, “I do not come to bring peace but a sword…which is such a contradiction to ‘Jesus is the prince of peace’ and
Some will experience Christ’s sword of judgement while others his shalom. but then again will we not each one whether righteous or wicked experience his discipline, especially as sons. On the surface we may ask , “which is it peace or destruction? A sword or comfort?” However, a closer understanding reveals the key to Christ’s words here, as the world gives it . Our fallen nature wants desperately to believe that God’s love never hurts, but I bet it hurt his son a lot. Our minds and bodies move away from trouble, fear, pain and heat. But Christ gave us the example to move towards it, lean into your cross. The world placates us with promises of comfortable, agreeable and pleasant, but I hear God saying ” I will not permit them to live in their sin forever therefore they must leave paradise, and move toward the discomfort and toil of the dust from which they came, suffer the consequences of their sin. Its going to painful.” First the death. First the fire.
I do not give peace the way the world gives it to you, and don’t be troubled. Why does he say this, because trouble is exactly what it feels like when God begins to work in our lives. But the end result is peace. He says, you do not know the things which make for peace. The Peace Christ brings is proceeded by Fire. The world begins with peace and ends in fire, but the city of peace begins in fire and ends with God’s presence.
AS Jerusalem burned to the ground in flames and pieces of the city blew away in ashes and smoke I cannot imagine peace. I imagine a gruesome scene of screaming people, fear and unrest. Dead bodies strung about the streets, childrens crying and running legs in every direction. The Lord himself is a consuming Fire. He rips through hearts, communities and cities where he longs to tabernacle, where he has been invited to sit as king and Lord. He tears down to build up, he removes every impurity and as we stand in the distance watching our lives, our marriages, our relationships, our dreams go up in flames we don’t feel very “peaceful.”
In those moments we can remember God , the consuming fire agitates and wounds us in order to free us and heal us. We feel the heat and weep for all that is lost. While he stands beside us invisible and obscure at times rejoicing for what is to come, rejoicing for the sin that is being purged in us. He sees not what is, a city set on fire, he sees what will be, a city well loved, chosen, in habited by his presence, a spotless bride, a blameless people with walls and gates of splendor and filled with holy vessels and lifegiving words. He sees the fullness of what will be and he sets it on fire because it belongs to Him. All that can be burned, removed and shaken must be, so that what cannot be removed is cleansed and prepared for Holiness.
The earth will one day burn up with fire and melt with heat and men will stand and curse God, they will hurl insults and spew anger at him for destroying lives and permitting ruin , they will call him unjust and hateful names because they trust in what they can see, but those who know him will rejoice with him. The smoke and fire is not the end, it is the beginning. Not ruin but hope, not his absence but his presence. Those who know their Father know that darkness comes before light and death before life and fire before peace.
1And I saw new Heavens and a new Earth, for the former Heavens and the former Earth had departed, and the Sea was no more. 2And I saw The Holy City, New Jerusalem, descending from Heaven from beside God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband. 3And I heard a great voice from Heaven that said, “Behold, the Tabernacle of God is with the children of men, and he dwells with them and they shall be his people and the same God is with them and shall be their God*. 4And he* shall wipe away every tear from their eyes, and from now on there shall not be death, neither grieving, nor clamor, neither shall there be disease again, for His sake*.”
5And I walked and he who sat on the throne said to me, “Behold, I make all things new.” And he said to me, “Write: ‘These words are trustworthy and true.”
9And one of the seven Angels who had with them the seven vessels full of the seven last plagues, came and he spoke with me saying, “Come; I shall show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”
10And he carried me in The Spirit to a great and high mountain and he showed me The Holy City Jerusalem, coming down from Heaven from the presence of God, 11And it had the glory of God and its light was as the likeness of precious stones, like Jasper red quartz, as the appearance of crystal. 12And it had a wall, great and high, and it had twelve gates, and at the gates, twelve Angels, and names written which are the names of the twelve tribes of Israel;-The Holy Bible