"I returned to Jerusalem, and it is by Jerusalem that I have written all that God has put into my heart and into my pen" -Shmuel Yosef Agnon 

"The leaders of the people were living in Jerusalem, the holy city... And the people commended everyone who volunteered to resettle in Jerusalem." (Nehemiah 11:1-2) 

To date, the status of Jerusalem remains one of the core issues of the Israelites and Palestinian war. That aside, Jerusalem remains one of the oldest cities in the world and is uniquely considered holy to the three major Abrahamic religions; Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.  

Jerusalem means the "city of peace." It is mentioned in the book of revelation as the heavenly city to be established at the end of time! 

The ancient old city of Jerusalem also forms a center of pilgrimage for Jews, Christians, and Muslims. 

The holiness of Jerusalem, in Christianity, from the old testament, was reinforced by the New Testament account of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection there. In Sunni Islam, Jerusalem is the 3rd holiest city, after Mecca and Medina. The city was the first qibla, the standard direction for Muslim prayers (Salah), and in Islamic tradition, Muhammed made his night journey there in 621, ascending to the Quran. 

A simple reminiscence of the genealogy of the return of the Jews to Jerusalem after Babylon, just a small population returned compared to the population in the days of the Kings. This made the city seem sparsely populated.  

The returned exiles did not want to live in the city and just a few volunteered to move inside the city walls to keep large areas of the city from being vacant, after the call of Nehemiah. 

Digging into the politics of the time, many people may not have wanted to come near the city for different reasons: non-Jews attached a stigma to Jerusalem residents, often obstructing them from trade for their religious beliefs; moving into the city meant rebuilding their homes and reestablishing their businesses, as a source of their livelihood and security; living in Jerusalem required stricter obedience to God's Word because of the greater social pressure and proximity to the Temple. 

Just like the returned exiles found it difficult to come near the Temple that would require them to follow God in strict terms, many believers today when they come to Church or even Mosque, they prefer sitting behind! This is dangerous for it keeps them away from the cream of the holiness. Sitting in front allows being near the altar but also near the service or mass leader-clergy.  

When we come near Jerusalem, we can tap into the holiness, peace, and attentiveness that is required at the time of being before our God. 

Prayer Today: Creator, the Lion of Judah,  I thank you for revealing the center of holiness and peace to be in Jerusalem. My walls may have been destroyed but I shall not rest until you make Jerusalem the praise again. Grant me the grace to rebuild my city walls at the original foundational standards of your plan. Even today as I move out of my dwelling place grant me peace and holiness in all my ways. Grant me the grace to look beyond my limits and abilities. Grant me the grace to walk through the wilderness without my feet swelling and clothes getting old or torn. In the mighty name of Jesus, I pray, Amen.  

Albert Collins Kyeyune