Monday, October 22, 2007

roj vo' Jerusalem

tlhob vaD the roj vo' Jerusalem. chaH 'Iv muSHa' SoH DichDaq chep.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Those who love you will prosper. Psalms 122:6

From our point of view - thousands of years distant from the author of Psalm 122 - we can well imagine the reaction of a Klingon light years away from Jerusalem - "the peace of Jerusalem? nuq jatlh? What are you talking about, and why should I care?"

Well, we care because Jerusalem, that place, that ancient city on the planet Earth is considered sacred to believers. Three different faiths consider it holy - and few would challenge its need for peace. The Bible commands us to "pray without ceasing" - how can we neglect to pray for peace coming to Jerusalem?

But there's more, of course. Over centuries the faithful have adopted Jerusalem as their spiritual home; not just the city itself - as the author of Hebrews proclaims:

But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed of them, to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. (Hebrews 11:16)

And it's in that sense I think that believers look not only to the earthly Jerusalem, but to that "heavenly home town" when they call out:

tlhob vaD the roj vo' Jerusalem. chaH 'Iv muSHa' SoH DichDaq chep.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Those who love you will prosper. Psalms 122:6

It's interesting to note that the words here Jerusalem, Peace, and prosper - while they don't sound too similar in English (or Klingon: Jerusalm, roj, chep), in Hebrew are Yerusalem, Shalom, and Shalah. Jerusalem - "City (or Vision) of Peace" is the place for which we pray for Peace (shalom), and those who do so are promised prosperity, shalah. Be clear about this - Shalom is far more than absence of hostility - rather it comes from root meaning to be safe, and carries the idea of completion and fulfillment. And that sounds close to the promised prosperity. Not a simple abundance of material goods, rather the Hebrew Shalah means to be tranquil, i.e. secure or successful:--be happy, prosper, be in safety.

Spurgeon notes: perhaps we may read it as a prayer, "May they have peace that love thee." (Treasury of David)

Such peace, and such prosperity, is the fruit of prayer for all believers. And I don't think it is confined to the geographic boundary of Jerusalem. Absolutely, this prayer - for the peace of the city Jerusalem ought to be on our lips and in our hearts. But it must extend to all who have their roots of - their home town as it were - in that city.

Paul wrote to believers to be "eager to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." (Eph 4:3) and in closing a letter prayed Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in all ways. 2 Thessalonians 3:16

And remember his advice to the Philippians:

6 In nothing be anxious, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:6,7 WEB)

Again, as Spurgeon notes:

God has connected giving and receiving, scattering and increasing, sowing and reaping, praying and prospering. What we must do if we would prosper -- "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem." Comprehensively: "Peace" -- spiritual, social, ecclesiastical, national. Supremely: "Prefer Jerusalem above," etc. Practically [this means, in the Scriptures words]: "Let peace rule in your hearts." "Seek peace and pursue it." (Treasury of David)

tlhob vaD the roj vo' Jerusalem. chaH 'Iv muSHa' SoH DichDaq chep.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Those who love you will prosper. Psalms 122:6

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Jerusalem juHwIj Quch

maj qamDu' 'oH standing within lIj lojmItmey, Jerusalem; Jerusalem, vetlh ghaH chenta' as a veng vetlh ghaH compact tay'; nuqDaq the tuqpu' jaH Dung, 'ach Yah's tuqpu', according Daq an ordinance vaD Israel, Daq nob tlho' Daq the pong vo' joH'a'. vaD pa' 'oH cher thrones vaD yoj, the thrones vo' David's tuq.
Our feet are standing within your gates, Jerusalem; Jerusalem, that is built as a city that is compact together; Where the tribes go up, even Yah's tribes, According to an ordinance for Israel, To give thanks to the name of the LORD. For there are set thrones for judgment, The thrones of David's house. Psalms 122:2-5

(click for podcast)

Here's a word that comes to mind as I considered these verses: anagogical. No, that's not Klingon - it's a very old school term for one dimension of Biblical interpretation. It's one of the "senses" of Scripture put forward centuries ago by Biblical scholars who saw the Biblical text as having four dimensions - literal, allegorical, moral and ... anagogical.

A mystical interpretation of a word, passage, or text, especially scriptural exegesis that detects allusions to heaven or the afterlife.

According to the FreeDictionary, it comes from late Latin anagg, from Late Greek, spiritual uplift, from anagein, to lift up. mu' pepwI' (a word which raises up ) might be a way to say that in Klingon.

I'd be remiss if I didn't note that those fourfold "meanings" were loudly rejected by many of the Reformers - and not without reason. For many interpreters had spun complicated and farfetched interpretation - stretching the scriptures out of all recognition - there was definitely a need to draw believers back to an anchorage in the literal, historical meaning of the texts.

Yet, how are believers to hear this call to Jerusalem?

First, we can regard the literal, historical meaning - Jerusalem as a place on Earth that stands in latitude 31 degrees 46' 35" north and longitude 35 degrees 18' 30" east of Greenwich. The Psalmist really looked to, and loved the city of Jerusalem. Home of the temple, it was a destination that devout believers longed to reach. Even today, many travel to see Jerusalem to experience the land of the Bible and see first hand the sites important to their faith.

But over time (even within the Bible) believers looked beyond the earthly Jerusalem, and saw it with an anagogical eye - as the writer of Hebrews looked forward to a "heavenly Jerusalem," and in Revelation we hear of a "new" (or renewed) Jerusalem. In this way (whether or not we can afford the plane fare to the earthly Jerusalem) we can sing out with the joy of the Psalmist as we look forward to be able to say, in that future day maj qamDu' 'oH standing within lIj lojmItmey, Jerusalem - Our feet are standing within your gates, Jerusalem.

The Klingon who was caught up in this hope might speak of Jerusalem juHwIj Quch - Jerusalem, my happy home, and indeed that is the name of an ancient Christian hymn:
        Jerusalem, my happy home,
Name ever dear to me,
When shall my labors have an end?
Thy joys when shall I see?

For the believer - it's not unusual to feel out of place. That is, our Biblical faith has to acknowledge that this world is not all it should be - it isn't all the Almighty intended. We can find ourselves feeling nostalgic, homesick as we move through life - as it is said of Abraham, "he was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God." (Hebrews 11:10 NLT)

This is our hope too - and trusting in God's help, we move forward, to the day when at last we'll joyfully cry out:

maj qamDu' 'oH standing within lIj lojmItmey, Jerusalem - Our feet are standing within your gates, Jerusalem.