“And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God. Having the glory of God and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal… and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass… and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.” Revelation 21:10-11, 18, 21
Scant weeks before the Six Day War in 1967, all of Israel found itself captivated by a song. An overnight sensation, “Jerusalem of Gold” as it was entitled became the anthem of a nation. Soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces sang it, and radio stations played the tune continuously. Yerushalayim Shel Zahav, as it was called in Hebrew, had ignited and united the Jewish people.
Composed by song writer Naomi Shemer for a spring Music Festival, it was an instant hit. She had touched a cord in the hearts of all Israelis with her lyrics and haunting melody. It was as if, in singing this anthem, thousands of years of pent up emotions and yearning to embrace the Holy City of Jerusalem were released. Yet, this love for a place, a home, and center for the soul of a people was so near and yet was so far away. The hearts of nation in singing “Jerusalem of Gold” were crying out for the soul of their identity: Jerusalem!
Mountain air as clear as wine and the scent of pine.
Carried on the evening wind with the sound of bells
And in the slumber of trees and stones.
Captured in her dream is the city which dwells alone.
A wall within her heart.
Jerusalem of gold, and of copper, and of light.
Behold I am a harp for all your songs.
Your name burns my lips like a seraphim’s kiss
Let me not forget thee, O Jerusalem of gold.
The nation of Jordan, though, had control over the Old City of Jerusalem. Entry for Israelis and all Jews was impossible. The nearest an onlooker could approach and view the ancient city was from rooftops on Mt. Zion. Even that was taking a risk, for Royal Jordanian soldiers patrolled the Old City’s walls, and would shoot on sight.
Three weeks after the debut of the song on June 7th, IDF paratroopers liberated the Old City of Jerusalem. They were the first Jews to approach the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest place of worship, in nineteen years. The soldiers prayed, then they cried for joy and sang Yerushalayim Shel Zahav. Naomi Shemer heard this rejoicing on the radio and quickly penned an addition verse. Her words highlighted the victorious blasts of the shofar from the Temple Mount. Jerusalem was free and the Golden City was no longer a memory but home to the Jewish people.
Back to the wells and to the fountains
Within the ancient walls
The sound of the horn from Temple’s mountain
Again so loudly calls,
From rocky caves, this very morning
A thousand suns will glow
As we shall go down to the Jordan
By way of Jericho.
Gold, silver, and platinum are identified as being precious metals. They are rare and therefore precious and valued. Gold is also called a “noble” metal, as it does not react to air or moisture. As a precious metal, gold does not rust, pit, or corrode. Its deep yellow color stands out. Gold though needs to be refined. Each “firing” removes a greater amount of dross, purifying the metal to a higher degree. The most valuable gold is said to be 99.99% pure. To achieve 100% is impossible.
Goldsmiths have found that in increasing the percentage of purity, they are challenged also by ever increasing difficulties in removing the impurities which remain, Gold is graded by karats. Thus 10 karat gold consists of 41.7% gold, plus an alloy of either nickel, copper, silver, or platinum. Gold that is rated 14 karat has a purity of 58.5%. 18 karat contains 75% gold. The highest value sold is 24 karat gold, which contains 99.99% of the metal.
The New Jerusalem seen by John has streets made of gold so clear they are transparent (Rev. 21:18). Until recently there was no way to achieve this in the natural. Gold is a dense, dull metal which when pure is extremely malleable. A fingernail can scratch it. Yet chemistry has discovered that gold in its purest form is clear! NASA was able to coat the visors of its astronauts with an extremely thin layer of gold. This coating protected their vision from the sun’s radiation, yet remained transparent.
Even so, God is a master craftsman and “His ways are beyond our ways.” The LORD could have easily spoken transparent golden streets into being, and they were. But beyond that is the knowledge that the Golden City reflects the glory of God. The LORD God Almighty and the Lamb enlighten Jerusalem far beyond the natural luster of gold.
The Holy City
Jerusalem is eternal. When the earth passes and all is but dust, Jerusalem will remain. It is a city unlike any other, for God will dwell in it as days of old. John saw a city that was shining with a heavenly golden glory, transparent and having no darkness within. He saw the purity of this city and all of its magnificence. John could only say – it was as a bride prepared for her husband.
Caught away in the Spirit, and standing with an angel along on a high peak, the Apostle saw a vision of Jerusalem’s future end. A new beginning where “the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honor into it” (Rev. 21:24). A city so transformed that the light of the sun and the moon will not be needed. Jerusalem the golden will receive its light from the glory of God and the Lamb. Those who dwell in this city “shall see his face and his name shall be in their foreheads” (Rev. 22:3). Jerusalem, the city of peace, is where God will give His light eternally and where His servants “shall reign forever and ever.”
A Word of the LORD
As I sought the LORD, this scripture flashed into my mind like lighting:
“I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent” (Rev. 3:18-19).
Then the Father’s still soft voice spoke:
You are my sons and daughters of gold. I see you as you can become. Allow me to refine you, try you and cleanse you, so no darkness remains. I desire that you become one in my image: Pure, holy vessels of my light. Be like my transparent gold. Allow my glory to shine forth in you.
Do not listen to the tempter or to others who speak and say “you are worthless, useless and no good.” You have immense worth in my Kingdom. The world may reject you, but I do not. Gold is precious, but you are far more of value to me. Gold will pass away, but I have created you to be with me in eternity.
Buying Gold from God
Gold that is tried in the fire is processed, the impurities and other metals in it rise to the top and are skimmed off. Further refinings increase the purity. Gold which has been “smelted” is of a higher quality, and has immense more value than what is found in nature.
The Lord requires His followers to buy gold. A gold not found in nature but in our faith. God desires to test the genuineness of our belief. He allows many trials to come before us, to prove our sincerity. Will we continue to follow after him, despite the hardships, the persecutions, and disappointments. Job declares that “when he has tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10). Peter writes: “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (I Pet. 1:7). This is the gold that God wants.
White linen garments speak of salvation. All our sins are like filthy rags, but God graciously removes our rags and forgives and cleanses us and clothes us in his salvation. But this is the beginning of a journey, a walk of faith. We must then seek after His gold, His treasures, His Presence. God is looking for our devotion, our obedience, and faithfulness. The Lord is looking and counseling us to invest in actions that have eternal consequences, not worldly, foolish things. Jesus counsels us to:
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt and where thieves do not break through nor steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Mt. 6:19-21).
Our life in Christ as believers begins with receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. This is our foundation as Paul writes:
“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire” (I Cor. 3:11-15).
Infections, wounds and other eye problems were/are treated with ointments. The eye being “bathed” in such preparations can recover and one’s vision becomes restored. The LORD in Revelation is counseling His followers to seek His face. He is asking us to have spiritual vision. The Church in Laodicea was lukewarm, without needs, and blind. Repentance to God brings restoration. This is God’s message to us: Look not to the ways of the world, but keep our eyes focused on Jesus. If we do this, we shall see, we shall be clothed, and we shall be rich.
LORD, help us not to look at the gold of Ophir, or of Jerusalem or any other worldly temptation that would cause us to take our eyes off of you. Jesus, help me always to seek your face. Clothe us in your raiment, bestow on us your riches, and help us be an overcomer.
“The king’s daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold” (Ps. 45:13).
“For this Agar is Mount Zion in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all” (Gal. 4:25-26).
“But you are now come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels” (Heb. 12:22).
Jerusalem, Lest I Forget Thee by Gene Little
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