Prophet Jeremiah declared to the insincere pilgrims at the temple in Jerusalem:
‘Unless you listen to the Lord, this city will fall into ruins like Shiloh, and throughout the world people will use the name of this city to curse each other.’
Two points to note.
1. Shiloh. The Ark of the Covenant had remained in the ancient city of Shiloh for 300 years+. The Hebrew people had gathered there for generations, singing and dancing on their feast-day pilgrimages. But then King David moved the Ark to Jerusalem. Shiloh wound up abandoned, a ruin, a ghost-town. Sic transit gloria mundi. So passes the glory of the world.
2. Curse and blessing. At a Passover Seder, Jews use the word ‘Jerusalem’ to bless each other in the most hopeful, cheerful way, “Next year in Jerusalem!”
As the New Testament was written, the Romans burned the city of Jerusalem, and its walls fell to the ground. But the books of the New Covenant invoke the name of the city to mean ‘heaven.’ ‘Jerusalem’ is heaven.
The contrasts could not be more stark, and, therefore, illuminating. In the cruel world, ravished by sin and its consequences, the name of the city can serve as a by-word for violence, discord, and suffering.
But, by faith, we see the city over the horizon, the goal of the the pilgrimage, which is life. Blessed Jerusalem, the city of music and dancing, will welcome us, the shining capital of the realm of eternal peace and harmony, the Kingdom of God.