September 29: A City of Truth

“Thus saith the LORD; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem; and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the LORD of hosts the holy mountain.” Zechariah 8:3

The great cities of this world are often identified by other alternative names. Some of these names define unique features of that metropolis or identify the people who live there. Chicago is called “the windy city” while Denver is identified as “the mile high city.” Las Vegas has marketed itself as “Sin City” while Los Angeles is fondly referred by its citizens as the “City of angels.” Rome has for ages been known as the city of seven hills, while Parisians see their place as being the “city of light.” Yet all these unofficial names are man-made.

Jerusalem though is unique. God declares that in the millennial age, it will be known as “the city of truth.” Jerusalem will be the habitation of sincerity, honesty and trust. No lies nor darkness will be found within its walls. The Messiah will dwell here, dispensing justice and righteousness from his throne.

Truth is readily identified with light. Jerusalem’s presence in eternity will be like a towering lighthouse whose beacon guides mariners to safety. Seeing its light, those who dwell in the uttermost parts shall say: “Come let us go up to the mountain of the LORD and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his paths for the law shall go forth of Zion and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem” (Is.2:3, Mic. 4:2).

I Am the Truth
Jesus, during his ministry on earth, challenged his followers to continue in his word. If they would choose to do this they would know the truth and the truth would make them free (Jn. 8:32). His words angered these disciples, for they sought then to kill him (vv. 37, 40). These Jews who followed Jesus felt he was criticizing them for being in bondage to the religious law.

Jesus though confronted these half-hearted believers and said: “if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?” Hearing this, they “took up stones to cast at him”, but Jesus escaped (vv. 46, 59). Shortly after this event, Jesus declared to his disciples: “I am the way, the truth and the life; no man cometh to the Father but by me” (Jn. 14:6).

What is Truth?
Jesus’ enemies soon brought him before the Roman procurator to be judged (Jn. 18:28). Here as “the truth,” he stood trial. Asked to declare if he was a king, Jesus affirmed that he was, but of a kingdom not of this world. The Lord then spoke to his accuser and said: “Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice” (v. 37). Pontius Pilate then in judging Jesus asked this telling question, “What is truth?” Whether Pilate spoke this in jest or cynicism, is not known. Defining truth though without the knowledge of God presents a dilemma for humanity.

The Hebrew word for “truth” is emet. It consists of three Hebrew letters; an aleph, a mem and a tav. These are the first, the middle, and last letter of the Hebrew alphabet. You could say that truth encompasses all things and endures from the beginning to the end. Yet, if you erase the first letter of emet, then another word is formed: met or “dead”, the opposite of chayim or “life.” Ignore God as the source of all truth and you end up with death, whether it be spiritual or physical.

The LORD God is called throughout scripture as El-Emet, the God of all Truth (Ps. 31:5, Jer. 10). Jesus also speaks of the Comforter or Holy Spirit as being “the Spirit of truth” (Jn. 14:7, 15:26, 16:13).

Absolute and Relative Truth
Modern society has broken “truth” in to two basic categories: absolute, and relative. Truth that is absolute is certain. Water will freeze at 32 degrees Fahrenheit or 0 degrees Celsius. Gravity keeps us on this earth. If you jump from a ten story building, you will fall to the ground. These are absolute empirical truths.

Absolute truth also declares that whatever is true at one time and at one place is true for all times and at all places. George Washington was the first president of the United States. This fact cannot be changed, unless one chooses to alter history. Absolute truth decrees that what is true for one person is true for all persons. Truth is truth  whether we believe it or not. The promises of God are yes and amen. The Bible is the true word of God. Truth is discovered or it is revealed, it is not invented by a culture or by religious men.

Relative truth declares that there are no absolutes. Advocates of this doctrine mainly focus on religion, morals, culture and language. Thus truth is only true at one time or in one place. Such truth is true to some people and not to others. Perhaps, what is presently considered true now, whether it is a fact, or moral standard or religious belief may not have been true in the past and may not be true again in the future. Thus relative truth is always subject to change. It avoids God’s perspective and chooses to focus on man’s viewpoint.

Today, humanism seeks to replace God in all of man’s affairs. Thus man determines what is right, without God’s presence. Humanism states that the heart of man is basically good. Man can be trusted to make his own standards, which can/may change on a whim. God’s decree is that the heart of man is deceitfully wicked (Jer. 17:9). The LORD’s standards are everlasting and perfect.

Humanism has no remedy for sin or evil. Relativism believes that man can be reformed from the outside. The LORD changes sinful man from the inside out. Humanism and relativism serves the god of this world. It is blinded to the God of all truth.

To Tell the Truth
Witnesses in legal courts are sworn before a judge. They must affirm to “tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”* Lying to a judge or jury is called perjury and if discovered in a witness, can bring severe penalties including fines and lengthy prison terms. Proverbs declares that the LORD hates “a false witness that speaketh lies” (Pr. 6:19a).

The ninth commandment specifically states: “Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” (Ex. 20:1-17). Liars are consigned unto the fires of hell (Rev. 21:8). The devil is called “the father of lies” by Jesus, “for there was no truth found in him” (Jn. 8:44). Paul counsels believers to “to take on the whole armor of God”…and to “stand therefore having your loins gird about with truth” (Eph. 6:14).

Walking in Truth
John wrote that he had “no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (III Jn. 1:4). To “walk in truth” is an awesome responsibility. It means to stay in fellowship with God and your brother. The duty of every believer in Christ is to “walk in truth.” Selfishness, delusion and gossip will destroy your walk, and cause you to stumble (vs. 9-10). The Pharisees were blinded to the truths that Jesus taught, rejected his ways, thus seeking to kill him. Jesus said that they were as the blind leading the blind (Mt. 15:15).

Truth can be like a bucket of ice water poured over your head. It can shock, provoke to anger and drive men to riot. Stephen was martyred for speaking the truth. Truth penetrates darkness and pierces the heart (Heb. 4:12).

Scripture defines truth as being the Word of God (Ps. 119:105). For it is “quick and more powerful and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of the soul and spirit and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).

The Heavenly Jerusalem
Greater revelations of truth await in the heavenly Jerusalem “for now we see through a glass darkly,” and “know in part.” (I Cor. 13:12). John writes that “when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (I Jn. 3:2). He also saw the heavens opened, and beheld a rider sitting upon a white horse, who was called “Faithful and True” (Rev. 19:11). This horseman was identified as the “King of Kings, and LORD of LORDs” (v. 16). The one who is the Alpha and Omega of all, Jesus Christ, our Savior.

He is “the light of the world.” The nations will know the truth. Jerusalem shall be a city where “the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it, and the kings of the earth (will) bring their glory and honor into it” The city of truth shall shine eternally (Rev. 21:24-25).

A Word of the LORD
I am a God of Truth. My very name is Truth. I am not a God that should lie. My Spirit of Truth is on the earth and lives within you (Jn. 14:17). You are my vessels of truth. As you seek me, as you pray to me, I will impart my Spirit of Truth into you. My truth defeats the father of lies. When you speak my word, he will have no power over you.

Know my truth, walk in my truth and speak my truth, for I am sending you forth, even to the ends of the earth to proclaim it.

Devotional Prayer
Spirit of Truth, guide us into all truth. Show us what is good, what is genuine, what is honest, what is lovely. Reveal to us, the knowledge needed about “things to come.” May we behold our Savior, as he is. Let the light of Christ always shine in us (Jn. 16:13-15). Holy Spirit, grant us discernment in these days to recognize truth from error, and good from evil (Heb. 5:14). Help us to walk in wisdom and in faith.

Jesus, you asked the Father God to sanctify your disciples through the truth, for “thy word is truth” (Jn. 17:17, 19). Sanctify us, consecrate us, and separate us for your service. Cleanse us from our sins. May we “be one” as the Father God is in you and you are in Him, so that the world may believe that you were sent by the Father God (Jn. 17:21).

Scriptural Reflections
“Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name” (Ps. 86:11).

“His truth shall be thy shield and buckler” (Ps. 91:4b).

“For his merciful kindness is great towards us, and the truth of the LORD endureth forever. Praise ye the LORD” (Ps. 117:2).

“The law of truth was in his mouth” (Mal. 2:6).

 

*Saying the traditional “so help me God”: at the end of the witness’ oath is now optional in many U.S. courtrooms or excluded.

 

 

Jerusalem, Lest I Forget Thee by Gene Little
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