Even with our best definitions of faith it is puzzling that CNN is rewriting the facts about Jerusalem’s significance as an example faith and prime real estate. When students are introduced to the religions of the world there are many similarities in practices and beliefs between a number of them that the students find impressive. On closer inspection the gaping holes appear leaving little question that there is no such thing as a world religion. The religions that have been practiced in Palestine recognize that a system of government needs to have a king and a royal residence. Mosaic doctrine features God’s choice of a place and a king, and the centuries of human supervision only go to show that the holy city and Zion its daughter, are royal leases, and therefore unmanageable by mere humans.
A set of beliefs and practices
If some people have a religious preference it is likely to be on public display in things like attending a place of worship, a choice of food, approved or recommended clothing. It is less likely to be the desirable virtues recognizable in every culture: mercy, generosity, justice, industriousness, and joviality. Jerusalem’s record is not a good choice for faith or faithfulness. Way back in Israel’s wilderness experience God evaluated that generation as void of faithfulness.
“Then He said, ‘I will hide My face from them, I will see what their end shall be; For they are a perverse generation, Sons in whom is no faithfulness.Deuteronomy 32:20
So where is CNN going with “Jerusalem: city of faith”? Naturally we can say that Judaism is a Jerusalem thing even though the Jewish faith emerged from (a) Mount Sinai (b) from the patriarchal age and (c) from the interpretations of the sages. The Jerusalem temple was the place where Israelite faith was centred.
We cannot say the same about Islam or Christianity. Neither has any genesis in Jerusalem. Christ eminently did not, for example, die in the city. He could not!
For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy place by the high priest as an offering for sin, are burned outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.Hebrews 13:11-14
It would be a considerable contribution to the contradictions of our times if someone handed us a narrative that gives Jerusalem her peace without her king. Real estate has to do with where we spend our money, on this world or on another. Jerusalem is not that kind of property, having bidders, conquerors and owners. Can that thought! The city of the great king is his to populate in cosmopolitan splendour, well outside the partisan and religious bickering about who gets to worship where.
When a Samaritan woman asserted her people’s pride of having a place where they go to worship the Messiah had a surprise for her.
Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you [plural = Jewish people] say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.”John 4:20
Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.John 4:21
The flare ups of violence and all the military campaigns by the regional powers are in conflict with the design of Jerusalem. They are Exhibit A in the case against the general ignorance about pilgrimages and zionist movements, against Islamic assertions of prophetic primacy, and against the marketing tendencies of western politics. Homicide will not justify getting Jerusalem her peace. Maybe it is time to admit that the king’s city will be unmanageble by mere humans.