Sha’alu Shalom Yerushalayim (“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem”) is a Hebrew exhortation and blessing from Psalm 122 of the Holy Bible. In this Psalm, God both exhorts us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and promises us a blessing, saying, “May they prosper who love you.”
Right now, however, in this era of world wars and rumors of new world wars, it is difficult to see the point of praying for the peace of Jerusalem, or Israel, or France, or Nigeria, or Tanzania, or the USA, or any other nation we might think of these days. Yet, we are called to pray for and seek peace. While there is a clear God-given and honorable role for our duly appointed governing authorities and armed forces as peacekeepers in the world (Romans 13:1-7), the Lord Jesus highlights the role of the “peacemakers,” calling them “children of God” (Matthew 5:9). And, of course, God desires that we have a special place in our meditations and prayers for the Holy City of the biblical Promised Land, stating in the Holy Scriptures the following declaration:
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May they prosper who love you. Peace be within your walls, and security within your towers.”
On the surface level of this Psalm text, we see that praying for peace and good to come to God’s Holy City benefits those who pray. In Genesis 12:3, God promised blessings on those who bless Israel and curses on those who curse her, and in Psalm 122 it follows that those who pray for the peace of Jerusalem will be blessed as well. In addition, on the surface level of this text, praying for the peace of Jerusalem is most appropriate for a city whose name literally means “peaceful.” Moreover, the phrase “peace be upon Israel” is found also at the end of the verses of Psalms 125:5 and 128:6, indicating that it was a traditional farewell blessing in biblical times.
However, above and beyond these things, we are to pray for the peace of Jerusalem because it will be the scene of Christ’s return (Zechariah 14:4, Acts 1:11). At that future time, our Lord and Savior Yeshua (Jesus) will establish permanent universal peace. So, all Christians eagerly await his great Second Advent to come, praying for the time when the Prince of Peace and King of Kings will reign from the renewed Jerusalem. And until that time, we are commanded to do our best to “live peaceably with all” (Romans 12:18).
Thankfully, we are heading into the time of year when we commemorate the birth of the One Messiah who is our peace, and who inspires and empowers our peacefulness in the world. It is the commemoration of the First Advent of Yeshua Ha-Mashiach (Jesus the Christ) over two thousand years ago, the One who is Yeshua Ben-David (Jesus Son of David), Yeshua Ben-Miriam (Jesus Son of Mary), and Yeshua Ben-Elohim (Jesus Son of God):
LUKE 2: 10-14
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see — I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David [Bethlehem] a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly hosts, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
This is GOOD NEWS indeed! It fuels our inner joy and peace, just like Simeon of Jerusalem, who was devout and looked forward to the consolation and restoration of Israel. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that “he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.” So, guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple, and when Joseph and Mary brought in the child Jesus to do for him what was customary under the Torah law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying the following:
“Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”
Like Simeon, may we also be filled with this inner peace as we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus, through whom we have forgiveness of sins and life everlasting. He is our salvation, the Light of the World (John 8:12), so let us pray and work for a more peaceable world in the name of our Lord Yeshua…
Christmas blessings be with all of you!