The importance of the city (from a Biblical perspective)

I am preparing to teach at the youth group tonight and since today is the day of the city (Chisinau‘s 575th B-day) I have decided to give some history on the city of Chisinau as well as what the Bible says about “cities” in general. The city of Chisinau was founded in 1436 as a village attached to a monastery. Chisinau proper is 46.6 sq miles with a population of 664,700 residents.  The etymology of the word “Chisinau” is very interesting. There are 2 variations of where it is derived from. One is that it comes from 2 Romanian words “Chishla” which means water source and “noua” which means new. The city literally means, new water source. Another derivative is from a Hungarian word, “Kisjenő” which comes from 2 words “kis” which means small and “Jeno” which means tribe. So the word Chisinau could also mean “little tribe”.  Heading into the 20th Century, Chisinau was on the rise, growing and prospering because of the industrial revolution. The Jewish population of the city was about 43%. This reminds me of the verse that God shares with Abraham saying, “I will bless those who bless you”. At the beginning of the 20th Century, persecution of the Jews began in Chisinau and many were forced to flee the country. The Jewish population of Chisinau today is about 0.37%. The prosperity of the city has had its ups and downs since the turn of the 20th Century but it is not prospering like it could have and I believe that there is a direct connection between the lack of prosperity and the persecution of the Jewish population. Two famous Jewish people who were born in Chisinau but fled to America during the height of antisemitism were William Frederick Friedman, who helped decipher the Japanese codes during WWII and Lewis Milestone, a director who directed Two Arabian Knights (1927) and All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), winning Academy Awards. They could have served the city of Chisinau had their families not had to flee during the Jewish persecutions at the turn of the 20th Century. This some of the history of the city of Chisinau. There is so much more to study and learn about. Now I would like to shift gears and look at what the Bible teaches about the city.

I. The idea of city building and living in a city is found in the very beginning of mankind’s history, in the book of beginnings, Genesis.

17 Cainhad relations with his wife and she conceived, and gave birth to Enoch ; and he built a city, and called the name of the city Enoch, after the name of his son. (Genesis 4)

Cain left his mother and father, married, and set out to build a community to live in. He started building a city or in other words, a society. Mankind is drawn to others. We want to live in communities and a city is the best example of a community, a society.

II. The Bible closes with a city, the new Jerusalem coming out of heaven upon the earth. God closes the book on human history by bringing in His own city in which the faithful will dwell. See Revelation 21. The city is important to God just as it is important to mankind.

III. The city can be built for good with pure motives or it can be built for evil with bad intentions.

3 They said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly.” And they used brick for stone, and they used tar for mortar. 4 They said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” 5 The LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. (Genesis 11)

The people were working together, which was a good thing, to build the city, yet they were doing it with impure motives and being disobedient to God in their actions. He had told them to spread out over the face of the earth and build many cities yet they were using the new technology of the day, bricks, to disobey God and work for their own glory and not the glory of God. The city is to be a place for good and not evil.

IV. The name of the city, whether good or bad, depends on the character of the residents of the city. In Genesis 18, we encounter Abraham’s discussion with God about whether or not He should destroy the city(ies) or not. God could not find 10 righteous people, in order to spare the city on their behalf. Evil had spread to all corners of the city and the righteous people of the city were not having a positive impact. In fact, they were being influenced by the negative things going on in the city. The bad character of the residents sent out a bad name for the city. God wants our cities to have a good name and be cities worthy of imitating. That is why Christ said,

13 “You are the salt of the earth ; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden ; 15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5)

Are you contributing to the good name of your city? Are you walking in obedience before God? Are you helping others do the same? Serving God through your good works will contribute to the good name of your city.

V. We need to share the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the people of our city because judgment is coming. Jesus sent out His disciples to share the message of the good news of the Gospel with the people of the cities. Faith in the Gospel saves us from the judgment to come. For those who do not accept the Gospel, they will be judged severely by God.

11 “And whatever city or village you enter, inquire who is worthy in it, and stay at his house until you leave that city. 12 “As you enter the house, give it your greeting. 13 “If the house is worthy, give it your blessing of peace. But if it is not worthy, take back your blessing of peace. 14 “Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet. 15 “Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city. (Matthew 11)

Do you realize that the people of your city are going to be judged by God? Do you care enough about them to share the Gospel with them so that they can have the chance of being saved from the terrible judgment to come? God has sent us out to the cities of the world, especially the ones in which we live, to share the good news and make disciples, so that people can be saved from the judgment to come.

19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always , even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28)

This is a command to all Christians. Are you carrying out your marching orders? Are you reaching the people of your city for Christ? Are you making disciples by teaching people to obey the Word of God? May the Lord help us obey Him.

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One comment on “The importance of the city (from a Biblical perspective)

  1. Pingback: The importance of the city (from a Biblical perspective) « Erik and … | Gospel Feeds

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