“Thus says the Lord:
Behold, I will restore the fortunes of the tents of Jacob
and have compassion on his dwellings;
the city shall be rebuilt on its mound,
and the palace shall stand where it used to be.
Out of them shall come songs of thanksgiving,
and the voices of those who celebrate.
I will multiply them, and they shall not be few;
I will make them honored, and they shall not be small.
Their children shall be as they were of old,
and their congregation shall be established before me,
and I will punish all who oppress them.
Their prince shall be one of themselves;
their ruler shall come out from their midst;
I will make him draw near, and he shall approach me,
for who would dare of himself to approach me?
declares the Lord.
And you shall be my people,
and I will be your God.” Jeremiah 30:18-22 ESV
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:1-4 ESV
In October of 1871 there was a terrible fire in the city of Chicago. Within minutes of getting started the blaze roared out of control, and before it was over about 300 people were dead, and three and a half square miles of city, which included over 17,000 buildings, had been destroyed. But Chicago soon recovered from this terrible fire. They rebuilt their city and did some amazing things. They reversed the flow of the Chicago River so that it flowed out to Lake Michigan instead of in from the lake, and this improved the health of the people of the city. Huge skyscrapers were built in the downtown area of Chicago, full of offices and department stores. Train lines running into and out of the city were improved, and more and more people came to live in Chicago and the surrounding area. By 1890 the city’s population had passed one million, and Chicago became the host of a World’s Fair. The tragedy of fire and destruction was followed by rebuilding and new life.
God spoke through the prophet Jeremiah to promise the same thing. Nebuchadnezzar was threatening what was left of the southern kingdom and the city of Jerusalem, and they were soon to see their capital city fall and be destroyed. But the Lord promised that the day would come when the city would be rebuilt and the fortunes of the people would be restored. There would be singing and celebration, and more and more people living in the land. There would be a prince ruling the city who would be one of the people, and this prince would be able to approach the Lord himself on their behalf. They would once more be God’s people, and he would be their God.
When Jesus, the promised Savior came, he was a prince who came from heaven but also was born as one of his people. Jesus approaches the throne of God on behalf of the people he rules, turning his Heavenly Father’s heart toward us in mercy and forgiveness. Jesus won forgiveness for all the people in the world by dying on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins, and he draws people from all over the world to be part of his kingdom. Because of Jesus, someday we will see the new Jerusalem, a city of perfect glory and joy. We will live there forever in a city where God himself will be with us as our God, wiping away all our tears, and giving us the joy of being with him for always.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus, our Savior, to make us part of your kingdom and give us the hope of being with you forever. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.