Cities of Blood

INTRODUCTION

Whilst attending the usual mid week prayer meeting in the CBD I was struck by the scarcity of city-workers to intercede for the welfare of our city (Jer 29:7). The people of God will gather to hear a famous speaker, and in some places assemble in large groups to “worship” i.e. sing, but I don’t know of a single Spirit-inspired ongoing mass prayer gathering in Perth.

When Billy Graham visited Australia in 1959 preparations for a move of God were laid by hundreds of prayer meetings across involving over 40,000 prayer partners from all denominations and prayer meetings of up to 5,000.

This from a population of 10 million!

The spiritual need is much greater today, why then so little prayer? 

The immediate answer is the huge increase in wealth in our country over the last 60 years; but there are much deeper issues. Basically, the life of the godless city has invaded the Church; examining the origin of the first city will disclose how the Western Church has been taken captive by the City of Man.

The City built to satisfy the needs of fallen humanity always opposes the City built for the glory of God. The inability of believers to resist the seduction of the City of Man is the root cause of the prayerlessness engulfing the Church today.

BLOOD TAKEN

The City of Man is founded on the shedding of innocent blood. As punishment for murdering his brother Abel, Cain was sentenced to be “a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth(Gen 4:12). But leaving God’s presence he disobeyed the divine verdict by settling in the land of Nod, where he built the first city (Gen 4:16-17).

The secular city is an invention of man to relieve the pain of the loss of God’s glorious presence.  

Luther summed up the dark dynamic of city building by describing Cain’s city as “the first foundation stone of the kingdom of the world, in which the beast bears sway”. Cain’s city was a point of unity, security and protection for his family as a substitute for fellowship with God.

As rebellious humanity’s greatest achievement the city is the site of its supreme rebellion. All the great cities of the Bible, Nineveh, Babylon, Rome, bear the same blasphemous trade mark, “I am and there is no other” (Gen 11:4; Isa 47:8; Zeph 2:15; Rev 18:7).

Idolising their self image proud cities feel no need for God. In their ruthless lust to expand such cities always shed innocent blood (Nah 3:1). Australian cities grew through shedding of the blood of our Indigenous inhabitants.

Its wealth and power render the fallen city tremendously seductive (Rev 14:8), but because fear is in its foundation this city it is always restless. vs.20the wicked are like the tossing sea; for it cannot be quiet, and its waters toss up mire and dirt. vs.21 There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.”(Isa 57:20-21). In contrast to the City of Man the true rest of the City of God is the natural state of the Church.

BLOOD GIVEN

Since the blood of Christ brings universal peace (Col 1:20) Hebrews makes Christ’s blood central to the life of the City of God; “you have come…to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem….and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.(Heb 12:22, 24).

Taken by violence Abel’s blood cried out to God for vengeance leaving Cain the city builder with an ineradicable sense of guilt. Through price gouging, profiteering, back stabbing, ladder climbing and self-selling God’s wrath and guilt penetrate the life of all secular cities.

But Jesus’ blood freely shed cleanses from guilt, releases from fear of judgement and delivers peace in the face of death (John 10:17-18). With hearts sprinkled by this blood the Church partakes of an eternal peace the secular city, whatever its wealth, cannot enjoy (Heb 12:22; 1 Pet 1:1-2).

In Christ we know, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”

Julian of Norwich

In the End God’s uninterrupted presence will fill all things (Hab 2:14).The light of Christ which daily shines on our lives is nothing less than the radiance which shall forever illuminate the heavenly Jerusalem, “the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.(Rev 21:23). The restfulness of the Church reveals to a disturbed world that the only place of true refuge and security is the City of God.

CHURCH UNRESTED

When the contemporary Church seeks to harmonise the City of Man with the City of God, by political alliances, or using business principles and the practices of the social sciences, it necessarily loses its peace.

This exposes the heart of our contemporary prayerlessness.

For whilst the City of Man labours for a living (Gen 4:12) the City of God manifests itself through prayer for a coming kingdom (Matt 6:10). The Church is called to be a sign of a Kingdom which builds a lasting City (Heb 11:10).

Only the power of the cross can renew the people of God according to this divine vision.

On the cross Jesus was stripped of all earthly benefits so that he could only pray; his blood crucifies all personal desire. Consequently, the absence of prayer in the Church is a sign that it has fallen prey to desiring he pleasures and comforts of the City of Man (Rev 17:4). Dazzling as these enticements may be they can never impart rest.

God’s way for his people out of this bind is the paradoxical form of the cross.

THE PERSECUTED REST

Only a Body whose unity, security and protection are exclusively in Christ can enjoy true rest and unconditional peace.  

Such a Church is always an afflicted Church.

Revelation expounds this marvellous reality.

Imprisoned for Jesus, John is “in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day(Rev 1:10).  On the Day that is when God terminates this present world order (Joel 2:11, 31; Amos 5:18-20; Zeph 1:14; Mal 4:5; Acts 2:20; 1 Thess 5:2; 2 Pet 3:10).

Harassed and Spirit-filled, John is enjoying a foretaste of the end-time transformation of everything. He expects his hearers in the persecuted churches to experience something of the same prophetic presence of the soon returning Jesus (Rev 1:3; 22:7, 12, 20).

Jesus promises that on the Christian who conquers this world he will inscribe,

the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which descends from heaven”.

The power of this reality can be imparted in the Spirit now.

The triumphant Lord of the Sabbath rest has delivered us from the seductive powers of the cities of this world (Mark 2:28 cf. Deut 5:15; Ezek 20:10-12).

The peace which the people of God are called to enter is liberty from the pressures to conform to the City of fallen Man (Heb 3-4).  

The blood of the Lamb has conquered all these powers (Rev 5:5).  

CONCLUSION

  Stop shopping for satisfaction, including shopping for an ideal church

  Stop striving for success, influence or promotion.

  Stop trying to be someone for God.

ASK THE SPIRIT TO HELP YOU MAKE JESUS YOUR ONLY DESIRE and you will come to know, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.” Such insights are incomparably more wonderful than anything the secular city can give you, and they will move you to……pray.

May the Lord grant us this wisdom, which is a share in the wisdom of the work of the cross whose blood alone builds a City that can never fail our needs. Hallelujah, what a Saviour! 

MESSAGE DELIVERED: 22nd. April, 2018

Author: Dr. John Yates

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