"Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it." (Zechariah 12:2-3)
One day some twenty summers ago, I was hailed by anxious cabbies looking for a fare. One swarthy fellow caught my attention, and after squaring away my bags in his trunk, we left Ben Gurion Airport and I began my adventure in Tel Aviv.
He rolled down his window and called out to a friend in a language I almost understood. He was a Sephardic Jew, and he was speaking Ladino, an admixture of Spanish, Italian, and Hebrew, a language inherited from his ancestors who had managed to survive five generations in the Holy Land.
Then as now, and as it seems perpetually, the Land of Israel was in turmoil. Just a week before my arrival artillery shells were raining on Israeli cities in the north. Children would duck into bomb shelters conveniently located on every corner as they went about their daily business.
"I just spent two weeks in Lebanon," he said in broken but adequate English. "The PLO has twelve year old boys fighting. I take away his gun and I tell him, 'I no shoot you. You only a boy. Go home to your mother.' The boy say to me, 'but I shoot YOU if I can.'"
"I shoot them and it is like shooting my own son. Twelve year old boys. Twelve year old boys," he said again and again. "Like shooting my own son."
In the twenty years since, that land has graduated from twelve-year old boys with assault rifles to hate-filled, hopeless teenagers strapped with a one way ticket to smithereens. And all who have tried to burden themselves with the city have indeed found it a cup of trembling. As Jesus stood on the Mount of Olives and overlooked the magnificence of Herod's Temple, he wept with sore weeping. "If you had known," he cried, "even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes." (Luke 19:41-42) The peace for which we long alludes Jerusalem even still and all the world with it.
"The way of peace they know not," wrote Isaiah. We know not the way of peace because our "iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you." Our hands are defiled with blood, he wrote, and our lips have spoken lies. None calls for justice. We have war because the human race ignores the royal law that would bring peace to Jerusalem and the world (See Isaiah 59).
Imagine if you will how the world would be if everyone, everywhere kept just one of the Ten Commandments. Pick one, any one, and make it universal.
Imagine a world with no killing and war. Imagine a world where no lies are told to children about free entry to paradise through self-emulation and murder. Or a world where all have a right to their own land that another could never steal. Imagine a world where the Ten Commandments are written not on courthouse walls, but in the hearts of men and women.
Indeed that time will come when all shall go up and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, … and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths, for out of Zion shall go forth the law." Then it will be that we shall beat our swords into plowshares, and children shall learn war no more (Isaiah 2:3,4)
And what of Jerusalem, which was once a cup of trembling for all nations? "There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for very age. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof." (Zechariah 8:4-5 KJV)
For those children and all children we should pray for the peace of Jerusalem.