Many Americans – including Christians – scoff at a spiritual imperative to recognize Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel and Israel as the capitol of God’s Kingdom on earth. They affirm a cuddly Jesus who loves children and awaits our arrival at the heavenly buffet table while denying Him as a warrior King who embodies His Father’s call to let justice roll like a mighty river and sets people free from bondage to embodied evil by shedding His own blood. This fiercely loving Christ is very present in our world while yet rooted in the much larger world of His Holy Spirit. This Spirit world – like the material world so many believe to be all there is – will be fully redeemed with His return in glory. In the meantime, it is populated by the goodness of God and the deprivation of good that is all evil can ever be. Ignoring it makes us as vulnerable to danger as it leaves us bereft of great opportunities to know and be known by our God in His own neighborhood.
When I was in Israel in 2012, I spent my last full day in the old Jerusalem. Visiting the Western Wall, I was literally struck dumb by the overwhelming presence of the Lord in His Spirit as I placed my hands and head on the ancient masonry. I was so overtaken I could not speak. While my forehead was placed against the wall, I could scarcely breathe. But that was not the only spiritual experience I was given that day.
While walking to the Western Wall, I become lost in the maze of Jerusalem alleys and byways leading to the Temple site. A Palestinian offered to guide me to my destination. I explained I was out of money and would be unable to pay him; he assured me he wanted only to serve. He led me to a rooftop overlooking Temple Square and asked me for money. When I reminded him he had agreed to no charge, he began to scream obscenities at me. But that was not all. “I know who you are,” he shrieked. “I know you! You are a priest! You are all alike, you priests!”
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I am an Anglican priest. That day, I was dressed in an Aloha shirt and jeans – as I so often am. There was not the slightest indication of my calling in my appearance or speech. Yet the spirit in this man recognized the Spirit in me. A collision was inevitable.
This is not – by the way – the whole story of the spiritual world as it reflects Arab and Palestinian people. During my time in Israel, I met a young man named Omar who helped me that day and the restaurant owner named Abba in whose establishment I dined. God hangs out in the worlds He has made. He is not the sole inhabitant of the spirit world, but He is the owner. One day, His Word will be the only word spoken; and it is already the only one we need to hear and heed.
That said, the United States Supreme Court – in June 2015 – declared Jerusalem to be not the capitol of Israel. In my lifetime, I have never before encountered such colossal arrogance as instructing a sovereign nation on locating its capitol. The Supreme Court has backed the administration, saying the Congress is not constitutionally authorized to conduct foreign affairs, striking down the 2002 federal law. The Court conveniently forgets it has no problem with statutes like the War Powers Act – a clear limitation by Congress of the President’s ability to unilaterally conduct foreign affairs.
The Constitution explicitly authorizes Congress to advise, consent, and limit the President in the conduct of foreign affairs. The Supreme Court again trashes its responsibility to interpret – not re-fashion – law and constitution. There is more at stake.
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The Lord our God is on His throne, in the material and spiritual worlds He created. There are other entities who are doomed by the sacrifice of His life undertaken by Yeshua, a sacrifice continuing to unfold in our world and the other. These doomed entities remain capable of manifestation. They recognize the spirit in each of us. They get along with some; they shriek at those bearing the Spirit of Christ. We Americans have an opportunity to bear with a little shrieking for the surpassing glory of knowing and being known by our returning King. The arrogance of the Supreme Court will be replaced by humiliation when we finally grasp Whom we have insulted.
Jerusalem is the capitol of Israel. Israel is the capitol of God’s Kingdom on earth.