What’s your highest joy? An argument for Zion

What’s your highest joy?

This week at Tabernacle of David during the young teen/older children study, we read Nehemiah and how he wept upon hearing of Jerusalem being in shambles.

It was in the month of Kislev, in the 20th year, as I was in Shushan the capital, that Hanani, one of my kinsmen, came out of Y’hudah with some men; and I asked them about the remnant of Judeans who had escaped the exile, and about Yerushalayim. They answered me, “The remnant of the exile left there in the province are in great distress and are held in contempt, the wall of Yerushalayim is in ruins, and its gates have been completely burned up.”

On hearing this answer, I sat down and wept; I mourned for several days, fasting and praying before the God of heaven.

Why did Nehemiah cry over Jerusalem?

The kids suggested some answers: it was his home. It was his mom & dad’s home. His friends were there.

We thought back to the psalmist — who also was in exile — how he wrote in Psalm 137 that if he didn’t put Jerusalem above his highest joy, then his right hand would fail and his tongue cling to the roof of his mouth. Why did the psalmist and Nehemiah share this zeal for Jerusalem?

Because, above all, it was the place God set his name. For this reason Nehemiah wept over Jerusalem and sought (successfully!) its rebuilding.

This is a step towards the restoration God is working in the Messianic & Hebrew Roots movements: Israel, Jerusalem – the centrality of Zion in God’s plans. Let it be for Yeshua’s disciples that we place Jerusalem above all our earthly joys – it’s the city where God has chosen to place his name, and where he’ll return in glory.

Sha’alu shalom Yerushalayim!