by Ray Harmer
After working in the ghettos of Philadelphia, I feel qualified to recommend what areas to avoid at all cost. Folk talk about going to the zoo and having a good time. It’s safer inside the zoo than out. The various museums people enjoy are not in the worst of neighborhoods, but as night falls it becomes dangerous territory. The sports complexes have their problems. Whilst people enjoy the games, the element is active pilfering cars and if one should stray a few blocks the wrong way you may find yourself being fleeced by ruffians; at a minimum. Philadelphia was not always like this.
With this said, while reading our texts, Jerusalem was mentioned several times. It hit me like a breeze off a manured field. Jerusalem and Philadelphia are much alike. They have suffered many of the same maladies and share some of the same issues. I am not sure I would want to go to Jerusalem with its problems. The Bible tells us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Ps.122:6). There will never be perfect peace there, or in Philly, until the Prince of Peace returns and sets up His Kingdom.
Jerusalem has known wars and conquests, it has been burned, under siege and has changed ownership many times (some familiarity to Philly). Modern day Jerusalem is no better off. Almost constant fear of terror attacks and the slightest wrong (or right) move could start a war or usher in the beginning of the end. It too may be a good place to stay away from.
Look how the “City of Salem” treats dignitaries. Paul was heading in that direction with the Gospel of Jesus Christ when Agabus warned him not to go. “And when he was come unto us, he took Paul’s girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles” (Ac. 21:11). Shortly afterward in Acts 21:36, “For the multitude of the people followed after, crying, Away with him.” Paul would have been beaten to death had he not been rescued by the Romans! As the Lord prepared His entry to Jerusalem we read, “And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest” (Mat. 21:8-9). This is known as the triumphant entry, but we know what took place shortly thereafter.
Jesus and Paul, among others, have had their fill of Jerusalem hospitality. They both were given the key to the city and shown the door out. So much for brotherly love!