October 27, 2011

The Shadow of our Homeland

In researching for a paper on the explorations of Tel Burna for next month's ASOR conference - I came across this quote from 19th cent. French explorer Victor Guerin. I find it to be quite insightful (although I doubt that I share the following with my audience).
“When you first set eyes on the Holy Land, it is immediately engraved in your soul with the same power as the land in which you were born and spent your childhood.  It is indeed one of the first lands we heard of; from an early age we all learned the eternal words of memory connected with it, and thus it became like a mysterious common homeland of our childhood.” (Guerin 1865)
Several interesting points could be made about this quote, but I will limit it to one. 

The reason why the Holy Land provides its visitors with a "mysterious engraving" upon their souls is that it beckons its viewers to glimpse the shadow of the past that we both identify with and belong to. However, it does not stop there - the shadow of the past is merely another shadow cast by the real thing.  You might ask, what is the real thing?  
By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.” (Hebrews 11:9–10 ESV) 
The real thing is the CITY - Abraham and Isaac lived in tents waiting for the day that the might glimpse the CITY. A thousand years later a shadow of the city was built by a son of Abraham - David, but this was not the CITY as the following verses make clear.
These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return.” (Hebrews 11:13–15 ESV)
Long-casted are the shadows of the CITY - reaching our shores with their glimpses of pleasures and hope surrounded by a dreadful present. So why do we cling to the pleasures that lace the dread?

Because the CITY is so overwhelmingly satisfying that its shadow towns' sweetness are oft able to overcome the bitterness of this world's cup. So we drink deeply with hopes of tasting the delightful amidst the acrid. But when the bitterness leads sway our hope in the semi-sweet is shaken.
Why does this cup not quench?
Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”” (John 4:13–14 ESV)
King Jesus offers citizenship into the CITY, not a shadow town (the Holy Land), not a shadow of a shadow town (our homeland), but the real, genuine shadow-casting CITY. 

Do we drink deep of its all-satisfying cup? Give ourselves over to the will of the CITY KING? 
Are we content with our shadowy, twice-brewed, lukewarm mug of insufficiency - so that we might be the overlord of our shadow shanties? 
And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed— on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations (Hebrews 11:10), and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb...
And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there.” (Revelation 21:10–25 ESV)

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