By Jim Taylor
The Bible teaches that God raises up cities and nations to fulfill his purposes on the earth. For instance,
- Eden was created by God as a garden of paradise for the man and woman so they could live, work, enjoy his presence, and have dominion over the land (Genesis 1:28; 2:8-15; 3:8-9).
- Shechem and Hebron were among the cities dedicated by God as “cities of refuge,” places of sanctuary for someone who accidentally killed another person and who needed protection from avenging family members (Numbers 35:10-15; Josh 20:1-9).
- Jerusalem was known as the “city of God” (Psalm 46:4). It was the home of the temple and served as the center for the worship of Israel’s God. God himself said about this city, “I have chosen Jerusalem for my name to be there” (Deuteronomy 12:5; 2 Chronicles 6:6; 1 Kings 14:21).
- Bethel, mentioned in scripture second only to Jerusalem, was called “the house of God” and “a holy place.” Jacob said it was “the gate of heaven” after God spoke to him in a dream there (Genesis 28:17). It was always—before and after Israel’s occupation—a center for worship.
- Bethlehem was always connected to the Messiah. Ruth lived there and is named in Jesus’ genealogy (Ruth 1:1-2; Matthew 1:5). It is where David—from whose line Jesus would come—shepherded his flock, wrote psalms, and was appointed king (1 Samuel 17:15; 16:13). Micah prophesied that out of this little town would come “a ruler over Israel,” and it became the birthplace of the Savior (Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:1).
- Israel was elected by God for a special historical and religious purpose. He intended to bless all nations through this one nation (Genesis 12:3); Israel was to be a light to call all nations to himself (Isaiah 60:3; Jeremiah 3:17).
Notice that each one of these places had its own personality, a unique set of strengths, and a divine purpose.
This leads us to ask, “Why did God create our town? What part in his plan did God intend our community to play? What is the redemptive purpose for our city?” We believe he had something specific in mind when he planted the place where we live.
Next time: Is there anything we can do if what we see around us does not live up to what God intended?