28th October 2019

The Celestial City

“By faith he (Abraham) went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.”
Hebrews 11:9-10 (ESV)

I live in the country and my front garden looks out across a lane to fields and trees. I enjoy visiting our capital city of London and all that it has to offer, but I always give a sigh of relief when I leave behind the pollution and noise and bustle of its streets. The Bible starts in a garden and ends with a vision of the great city, the New Jerusalem. Now I know that many people love living in cities and hate the idea of living in the country, so they must be happy to see that God leads us to a city. But what does a country-dweller make of this?

After all, the Biblical record begins with a city built by a murderer. After killing his brother, and receiving God’s sentence, Cain journeyed east and built a city, naming it after his son Enoch. The tower of Babel was built as a challenge to God. The city of Sodom was destroyed because it was not possible to find even ten righteous people in it. Solomon built cities which he named after pagan gods; and even Jerusalem, the centre of God’s worship, became corrupted. And Babylon is the greatest image of a rebellion against God. Cities don’t seem to get good press in the scriptures.

Psalm 127 opens by stating that unless the Lord builds the city, the labours work in vain. Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, picked up on that thought. You’ll find ‘Nisi Dominus Frusta’ (without the Lord frustration) on its crest and on the city documents. And we’ve tried our best, but our cities are mixtures of good, and not so bad, and shockingly bad.

What Abraham was looking forward to is a city designed by God – the architect and builder. Now that is what makes all the difference—who’s the designer. And it’s coming. At the end of Revelation John describes a city of gold, free from all evil and ugliness, with God and the Lamb at its centre, coming to unite heaven and earth. Then we’ll see how to build a city – city of joy.

Father, whilst we endeavour to deal with the problems we have created in our cities, we can be encouraged as we look ahead, as Abraham did, to the time when we see your city, a place of joy and devoid of all evil.

Study by Hilary Buck

About the Author:
Hilary Buck pastors Grace Communion in Lewes.
Like us on www.facebook.com/GCLewes

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion in Lewes
The House of Friendship
208 High Street

Meeting Time:
Sunday 11:00am

Local Congregational Contact:
Hilary Buck
Email: lewes@gracecom.church

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