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Pray for the peace of Jerusalem

QUESTION: What does it mean to "pray for the peace of Jerusalem"? Wouldn't it be supporting a political Zionism?

ANSWER: The Psalmist encouraged his listeners to "pray for the peace of Jerusalem" (Psa 122:6). Therefore, Bible-believing Christians should pray for the welfare of that city. Moreover, the apostle Paul gave this instruction to believers:
"I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way" (1Ti 2:1,2).
This means that disciples of Christ could pray for the wellbeing of any people or government, especially those in turmoil.

Jerusalem means "city of peace". It is the capital city of Israel, the land that is described as being "at the center of the earth" (Eze 38:12; cp 5:5). Jerusalem is also a representative city: holy site of three major world religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), on the land bridge of three continents (Asia, Europe, and Africa), and quite cosmopolitan (as the intersection of Eastern and Western cultures). What happens in Jerusalem, therefore, sets the tone for the rest of the nation, and probably for the whole Middle East. And today, Jerusalem is a city of conflict, not a city of peace. It needs the prayers of believers.

But "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem" is not asking for the mere ending of hostility or war. The prayer is not wishing for some kind of political treaty between Jew and Arab, perhaps sponsored by the US and sanctioned by the United Nations. And the words would have to be taken out of their context to support the secular Zionist movement. Rather, the verse looks forward to the time when thrones of divine judgment are set (Psa 122:5), and security resulting from God's presence occurs (v 7). In other words, praying for the peace of Jerusalem is a request that God would send Jesus the Christ back to sit on the throne of David and begin his rule of peace on earth (cp Isa 9:6,7; Luke 1:32,33). It is tantamount to praying "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven" (Mat 6:10).

Psa 122 is prophetic of a time when people say, "Let us go to the house of the LORD", ie, the time of the Kingdom (v 1; cp Isa 2:3,4; 60:3-12; Zec 8:20-23; 14:9,16). This is confirmed by the idea of verses 3 and 4, which pictures a united twelve tribes going up together to worship the LORD in a unified Jerusalem. A reunited twelve tribes is the prediction of Ezekiel 37:15-22, demonstrably a prophecy of the Kingdom Age under Christ, which promises:
"I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; and I will bless them and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My dwelling place shall be with them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Then the nations will know that I the LORD sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary is in the midst of them for evermore" (Eze 37:26-28).
Jerusalem has never known such peace. Israel is not yet sanctified, and the nations have not yet acknowledged the dwelling of God on earth. But believers are to be urgent that such events take place. They are to pray, "Peace be within your walls, and security within your towers!" (Psa 122:7). For the sake of their brethren and companions, they should pray, "Peace be within you!" (v 8). And "for the sake of the house of the LORD our God", they should seek the good of Jerusalem (v 9).

Readers of the Bible will also be interested in seeing the connection between the exhortation of Psa 122 and Isa 62, another prophecy which endorses the need to pray for Jerusalem's salvation with urgency and passion:

"For Zion's sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until her vindication goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a burning torch. The nations shall see your vindication, and all the kings your glory; and you shall be called by a new name which the mouth of the LORD will give [cp Eze 48:35; Jer 33:16]. Upon your walls, O Jerusalem, I have set watchmen; all the day and all the night they shall never be silent. You who put the LORD in remembrance, take no rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes it a praise in the earth" (Isa 62:1,2,6).

One day, hopefully in the near future, Jerusalem will begin to live up to her name.

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