For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,
and for Jerusalem’s sake, I will not rest,
until her vindication shines out like the dawn,
and her salvation like a burning torch. Is. 62:1
Early in December, President Trump announced the United States would begin the process of moving its Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The decision was a significant step towards identifying Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The President called the move both the fulfilling of a campaign promise and nothing more “than a recognition of reality.”
The announcement was celebrated by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and condemned by Palestinian authorities and people. Despite the President’s assurance that this move would not interrupt the peace process, immediate reactions suggested otherwise. Violent demonstrations broke out in Palestinian controlled areas, and Palestinian leaders have declined to meet with Vice President Pence.
President Trump was not the first to suggest the move. In 1995, U.S. lawmakers passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act. This legislation was to initiate and fund the exact same move. Bill Clinton signed it into law with one stipulation; the president could sign a waiver delaying the decision if they felt it jeopardized security. Every president since, including Trump in June 2017, has signed the waiver.
The control of Jerusalem is critical to the peace process. Both Israeli and Palestinian leaders have determined their authority over it is a mandatory requirement for negotiations. The spiritual hold the city has over Muslims, Jews, and Christians only complicates the matter. Technically speaking, these religions fight for control in response to words from the same God. No wonder God will never rest when it comes to this holy city. The problems never seem to go away.
The reading today lifts up a problem for people of faith. How do we find meaning and hope when the words of scripture and the meaning clergy glean from it conflict with reality?
While preparing this reflection, I read a commentary written by a friend. He wrote the intent of the text is, “That the world may know and take delight in God’s loving, nurturing movement toward creation.” I like it and see it in scripture but in the world? I don’t think so.
Perhaps Jerusalem magnifies a conflict which threatens every human heart. Where God intends peace and prosperity, humans find reasons to hate. Reasons based on race, creed, religion. Our hope is a God who never rests in times of conflict. I pray in the coming year, we all might embrace the peace we are called to proclaim. And let it shine forth in our lives like a torch burning in the night.
Click to read: Isaiah 61:10 – 62:3
- What conflicts seem unsolvable?
- How do we proclaim peace in the midst of conflict?
- Where do you see God desiring peace?
- How useful do you find praying for peace to be?