But the Jerusalem that is above is free ...
~ Galatians 4:26
Jerusalem – Spiritual truth
Believers in Jesus Christ are spiritual people. The born-again Christian is indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Those who belong to Jesus Christ should have a focus on eternity, much more than this life which, the Bible tells us, is temporary and fleeting. The Jerusalem that is seen now will pass away. The Jerusalem that is above is eternal.
God, our Father in heaven, delights to give His children good gifts [1 Timothy 6:17]. He tells us to enjoy them as if not engrossed in them [1 Corinthians 7:30-31]. We are told, in fact, to love not our lives [John 12:25; Luke 9:24]. Why? Because this life is temporary. This is not our home. We are passing through.
1 Timothy 6:17
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.
1 Corinthians 7:30-31
... those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.
“The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”
“For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will save it.”
2 Peter 3:7,10
By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men ...
... But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.
2 Corinthians 4:18
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.
For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. But God found fault with the people and said : “The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.”
The types and shadows of the Law have been fulfilled in Christ [Hebrews 10:1]. Through faith in Him we have the spiritual reality.
The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming – not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship.
Now, our focus is upon Him. We fix our eyes upon Jesus [Hebrews 12:2]. The Law said: “This is what you must do”. It was slavery. The grace of God says: “This is what Jesus has done”. It is freedom [Romans 8:1-2]. It is freedom to live for Him [Romans 6:19, 1 Peter 2:6].
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.
I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness.
1 Peter 2:6
Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.
Note: The Greek word translated “servants” here, and in many other places, is the word “doulos”. Vines Expository Dictionary says that it conveys the idea of bondage. It would be more accurately translated “slavery”. We are called out of slavery to sin and the Law, and in to slavery to righteousness and to Christ.
These things may be taken figuratively ... One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. Now Hagar ... corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother.
~ Galatians 4:24-26
As significant as Jerusalem undoubtedly is, Christians do not look there, as if it were a shrine, or a special place of worship. We look forward – to the New Jerusalem that will come down from heaven [Revelation 21:1-2].
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country – a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.
Now, for us, the Temple – the meeting place of God – is a living temple, made up of living stones, with Jesus as the Chief Cornerstone [1 Peter 2:4-6; Ephesians 2:19-21].
1 Peter 2:4-6
As you come to Him, the living Stone – rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to Him – you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.”
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone. In Him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.
Now, for us, the priesthood is made up of all Christians – ministering reconciliation with God to a lost and dying world [1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:6; 2 Corinthians 5:18-20]. Jesus is our great High Priest [Hebrews 4:14].
1 Peter 2:9
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.
... and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve His God and Father – to Him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.
2 Corinthians 5:18-20
All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us.
Therefore, since we have a great High Priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.
And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.
Now, the glory of God indwells us. Christ is in those who believe [Ephesians 2:22; Ephesians 1:13].
And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit.
And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit ...
Therefore, since this is the reality of our faith – since this is the fullness that was promised by God in His Messiah – why should we have any concern about a troubled city in the Middle East?
Does God even care any longer about a few old stones and a lot of dust in Jerusalem?