August 14, 2007 Matthew

Taking the City

By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is overthrown.
Proverbs 11:11

When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices, and when the wicked perish there are shouts of gladness. Proverbs 11: 10

There have always been cities. Big, condensed, pliable containers of culture, pride, wealth, faith, and war.
They harbor, send, fortify, spread out, rise up, and fall. They splurge, protect, seek, isolate, and multiply. Cities are the people. And the people are the cities.
E Pluribus Unum as the American coin says, or “From many, one”. Cities are the indelible examples of how people unite, or don’t unite, and what happens thereafter.

They have been around since the beginning:
The remnants of many of the carcasses of old cities of the past remain to speak to and remind the future inhabitants that a city once existed here. That a force of many minds pooled together once drastically altered life and land long before they were even born. They were our fathers and mothers, and we came from them. We identify with them as people: we have culture because they had culture; we have customs because they had customs; we have intelligence and wisdom because they had it first; and sadly, we have war because they had war. We are not separate from them nor are we different from them, but we were brought forth by them—we are of them. Sons of Man. Daughters of Man.

In this vast “tree of life”, as it were, no one could measure it’s sheer overall size having grown from its roots of but one single family over the course of thousands of years. Yet it is relatively young: from the time of Noah there have only passed around 57 full 70-year generations. (Since 3-4 generations can be ‘overlapping’ at the same time, there have probably been at least a couple hundred generations total.) It is spectacular to realize the exponential growth from a couple parents to almost 7 billion children today in so few generations.
When the numbers grow, the cities grow, and they become powerful. The Tower of Babel story of our ancient fathers and mothers was an example of the capability of not only those people at that time, but of any people anywhere united in mass numbers together to do something ‘great’ for themselves.

Cities today are nothing new, and the ambition to grow, be great, powerful, and wealthy, is nothing new either.

In the wisdom of the Proverbs we are given some guidelines for the differences between a blessed city and a cursed city. They are lessons to teach us not only how physical cities can benefit, but also how we, as citizens of the set-apart “City on a Hill”, the Heavenly City of Jerusalem, can be blessed. Conversely, it shows us how we can end up as ‘ancient ruins’. But it all depends on that ‘blessing’ upon which Proverbs 11:11 hinges. Therefore we pray for and seek the welfare of the city.

From out of the city the dying groan, and the soul of the wounded cries for help;
Job 24:12

A wise man scales the city of the mighty and brings down the stronghold in which they trust.
Proverbs 21:22

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