The Meditations of a Pilgrim

The meditations of a pilgrim anticipate the destination. The pilgrim’s mind is filled with ideas of what it will be like when he “gets there.” We do the same thing; on Image via Waiting for the Word on Flickrlong road trips to vacation sites, our thoughts are filled with anticipation and excitement. The goal of a Israelite pilgrim was Jerusalem. For there God’s presence manifested itself in a special way within the Holy of Holies, in the temple of God. The temple was known as God’s house. Oh, it did not contain Him, but the temple was the footstool of the Heavenly King whose throne was in heaven. At Jerusalem, man could approach the very throne of God.

Jerusalem was the place where all the tribes of Israel would go to offer praise to their king, the Lord.  It was the place where justice reigned (v.5).  It was a place of security.  Jerusalem was a place which was safe and peaceful. Read King David’s sentiments about the Holy City:

Psalm 122

A song of ascents. Of David.

1 I rejoiced with those who said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord.”
2 Our feet are standing
in your gates, Jerusalem.

3 Jerusalem is built like a city
that is closely compacted together.
4 That is where the tribes go up—
the tribes of the Lord
to praise the name of the Lord
according to the statute given to Israel.
5 There stand the thrones for judgment,
the thrones of the house of David.

6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May those who love you be secure.
7 May there be peace within your walls
and security within your citadels.”
8 For the sake of my family and friends,
I will say, “Peace be within you.”
9 For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
I will seek your prosperity.

The writer of Hebrews tells us that “here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come” (Hebrews 13:14 NIV).  Old Jerusalem in all its glory is a mere shadow of the great glory of the heavenly Jerusalem.  We are citizens of that heavenly city.  As pilgrims to that city, we should meditate on what it will be like when we “get there.”  In one sense, we are already there; for even now, the temple of God is the people of God.  We are at the footstool of His throne every time we assemble for worship.  Now we can offer Him praise at His feet and petition Him for peace and security.  Yet we are on a long road trip to the New Jerusalem.  There, we will see God’s face.  There, righteousness dwells and justice reigns.  The glory of God will be seen in its fullness.

Prayer:  Heavenly King, your Kingdom must be a glorious place filled with great joy and love.  Heaven will be great, Oh Lord, for you will be there.  I cannot wait to be with you and see you face to face.

The Rev. Charlie Holt
St. Peter’s Church
Lake Mary, FL

Originally posted here. For help studying the Bible, please find the Old Testament Study Guide and the New Testament Study Guide sections of the Bible Challenge website.

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One thought on “The Meditations of a Pilgrim

  1. Many Chistians are unaware that there are in fact four holy cities in the Israel, each with its own unique history. They are, in order of importance, Jerusalem, Hebron (Kiryat Arba), Tiberias, and Tzefat. Jerusalem is the holiest, as it was the site of the first removal of the Ark from the Tent of Meeting into Solomon’s Temple, of Ezra’s Temple rebuilt after the Jews were allowed to return from Babylon c., and the site of Herod’s Temple, which was where Christ frequently worshipped and taught. Jerusalem remains the very holiest city on earth to Jews and Christians to this day, as it was designated by God as the spot where He wished to reside in spiritual presence, and where Christ was tried, executed, and rose from the dead. Jerusalem is named in the earliest records of the Christian church as the place where the disciples received the Holy Spirit, although the exact building is long gone (perhaps destroyed by either the Romans in 70 AD or during the muslim invasion six centuries later) and a medieval building is now erroneously touted as containing “the Upper Room.”

    Hebron, also known as Kiryat Arba, is the place where the patriarch Abraham bought a grave for his wife Sarah, a cave on the plains of Mamre. Abraham is also buried there, as is Caleb, Joshua’s second-in-command. Caleb and Joshua were in Moses’ inner circle and they led the Hebrew people into the Promised Land. Hebron is an Arab city today and a hotbed of anti-Israel activity. The city dates from c. 2000 BC.

    Tiberias on the shore of the Sea of Galilee became a holy city immediately after the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, when the surviving priests and scribes received permission to settle and set up a school there, in order to continue the study of their religion and to preserve its priceless manuscripts, or at least those that had been saved from the almost total destruction of Jerusalem. The Jerusalem Talmud was written in Tiberias over the course of the next few centuries. The Jewish sage Maimonides, (Moshe ben Maimon, known to Jews as “the second Moses”) is buried in Tiberias.

    Tzefot (known as Safed today) is the most ancient of these four holy cities; legend has it that one of the sons of Noah founded it. It is located 900 meters (2700 feet) above sea level on top of a high hill where the signal fires built by the earliest children of Abraham could be seen far and wide– the fires were to announce the new moon and other important events that were important for worship; it also served as a communications center via the signal fires that were lit to warn of enemy attack. Its name apparently derives from the verb “litzfot” meaning “to view.” Today it is the Israeli center of Kabbalah study and a favorite tourist site for Jews visiting the Four Holy Cities.