This blog post will deal with the topic of Jerusalem: temple, hope, and messiah. During the time of David, he captures Jerusalem and from then on it becomes the capital of Israel. Solomon builds the temple during his reign. The temple was symbolically the place that God could dwell. However, through the disobedience of the people of Israel, its enemies come and destroy Jerusalem and the temple. Symbolically, this had a devastating effect on the psyche of the people. This becomes a source of shame and loss of identity. They do have an opportunity to return and rebuild the temple through Ezra. However, the temple was never as great as it was in the time of Solomon.
However, even in the midst of their exile, the people of Israel find hope in a messiah. Their hope came in a future king or high priest who would save them from their enemies and restore Israel. This messiah would come and free them from their subjugation to foreign kings and powers. This was the hope they had in the midst of their despair. Isaiah 11 describes a future messiah coming from the “branch of Jesse”. He will be the one who brings about justice on the earth. He will bring enemies together as “the wolf will live with the lamb”. In Jeremiah 31, God promises hope for their descendants. All may seem lost now. However, there will be a time when the people of Israel will rise up and praise the Lord for all his great deeds.
Of course as we know from the New Testament, Jesus comes as the messiah. However, he does not bring a political solution to the plight of the Jews. The Jews are expecting someone who will save them from their colonization from the Romans. Jesus brings a solution that is radically different. The hope of Israel comes through the body and life of Jesus. The locus of worship goes from the temple to Jesus. Isaiah predicted that the suffering servant would be rejected and killed through his “servant songs”. So the fate of the messiah was foretold.
What are the places we need the hope of a messiah? Where does our hope come from in times of deep despair? How do my expectations of restoration and rescue differ from what God has in store for me? There have been times in my life when I thought restoration would come in a specific way and I would be disappointed when it didn’t happen that way. God why can’t you just change my father? God why didn’t you heal the thorn on my side instantaneously? God why am I still anxious? God why am I still lonely? In these times, it’s good for me to come back to God and submit all my hopes to him. I must be OK with God working in his mysterious way and not having him resolve my pain and my problems in the way that is the easiest for me. I must put my hope in the Lord who is the only one I can turn to and who I know has in the past and is in the present and will be in the future bringing restoration to my life. That sort of hope is truly good news.