James Fallows, a national correspondent for The Atlantic, and his wife, Deb, traveled 54,000 miles across America in a single-engine plane. Fallows wrote about the commonalities he noticed in healthy American cities. For one, there were local heroes in these cities, big and small. They also had downtowns, community colleges, innovative schools, and “big plans.” Fallows would think, “I’d like to come back.”
After having been besieged, invaded, and burned by the Babylonian army, Jerusalem was devastated in 586 B.C. But this wasn’t the end of the story. As we read today, God promises that Jerusalem would flourish once again, becoming a healthy city into which the nations would stream, seeking her God (8:7–8). The temple would be rebuilt, and justice would be reestablished.
To illustrate Jerusalem’s renewed prosperity, God promises that old men and women would sit in her streets, leaning on their staffs, presumably dispensing the wisdom of their advanced age (8:4). Children would also play in her streets—surely a vision of the safety Jerusalem would once again provide to her inhabitants (v. 5). God had brought about Jerusalem’s disaster, scattering His people into foreign lands because of their sin; but now He would purpose to bring about the city’s good.
Importantly, God didn’t bring prosperity to Jerusalem so that her inhabitants might simply be happy again. Rather, He would cause the city to flourish so that she could be a blessing to surrounding cities and nations. And this was to fulfill the promise God had given many centuries before to Abraham (Gen. 12:2). He had chosen Abraham and promised to make him a great nation and to bless him—so that he might be a blessing!
The call of Abraham, the renewal of Jerusalem, and the good news of Jesus Christ: these all remind us of the nature of the gospel. By God’s grace, we are brought, through no merit of our own, into the blessing of relationship with Him. But this blessing isn’t the end of our story—we are to be a blessing in the lives of others.