I sat in on a conversation with His Royal Highness King Hussein of Jordan the other day.
I sat in on a conversation with His Royal Highness King Hussein of Jordan the other day. It wasn't in person, of course—audiences with a king aren't even a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. But I listened as the king and David Gregory, of NBC's Meet the Press, discussed the precarious challenges of a new Middle East peace. Jordon on one side of the river that bears the same name, and Israel on the other side. And in between and throughout both kingdoms the Palestinian people. And I try to imagine how deeply the God of the universe desires a lasting peace accord.
There is a city that all the region's peoples hold sacredly to their hearts—Jerusalem, or Zion, as the Old Testament often called her. Early this morning I came across a dusty line from long ago that spoke such a profound promise for Zion, that it's become the grist for my brooding all day. For in these words I hear a pleading prayer to the God of all the earth to deliver spiritual Zion, composed of peoples not only of the Middle East, but of all the earth: "You will arise and have mercy on Zion; for the time to favor her, yes, the set time, has come" (Psalm 102:13).
Hasn't the time come for God to have mercy on his community of faith—this spiritual city of the faithful the world over? I'm not thinking Jews or Muslims or Christians or even pagans right now. I'm wondering if this isn't a prayer whose time has come for all of the earth children who long for God to step in and save this planet one more time. As I travel the world and this nation, I meet them again and again—men and women, often professionals and business people the next seat over on that flight, whose minds are open to a radical spiritual paradigm shift, the very shift predicted in the Apocalypse: "Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people . . ." (Revelation 14:6).
How is God going to pull off such a radical apocalyptic mission to the entire civilization without pouring out his favor and mercy upon spiritual Zion? For unless the church of Christ is dramatically revived, all the royal highnesses in the world won't be able to usher in the long-promised peace. God has chosen to commit his strategic endtime mission into the hands of a very frail and often failing community of faith. I repeat, unless the "set time" for his favor and mercy comes, Zion will muddle through the years, unable to arise to any apocalyptic closure. Could it be God awaits our pleading?
Would you be willing to join me in praying the psalmist's prayer? Hasn't the time for God's favor come? Isn't it high time for the church to cast off her hankerings for this fallen culture and offer herself unabashedly to Christ? For if we aren't passionate for him, how will we ever become passionate for his mission? Our board of elders meets today in a special focus on prayer. Next week we begin a new mini-series, "The Issachar Factor," that will call us to such passion. But in the mean time, you and I can lift up this very prayer to God again and again and again. After all, it's the only audience with a King that can answer this prayer.