||119 cities are
mentioned throughout Scripture
mentioned are those of Cain (Enoch) and Lamech. Enoch is a expression of
protection, meaning and God’s grace despite Cain’s sin
||Babel: Gen. 11
- God sees the behavior of cities
- Cities have corporate personalities
- Cities tend to concentrate
God-equivalent power and fame
- Babel’s arrogance results in the
breakdown of communication, social stratification and diffusion.
This is reversed on the Day of Pentecost in Jerusalem through the
agency of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
18, 19; Ez. 16:48ff
- Abraham gives us an example of
intercession for the city
- God can distinguish between the
presence of righteous and unrighteous people in the city.
- The presence of godly people in the
city is linked to its preservation. Lot’s family, if they had been
righteous, constituted enough family members to have saved the city.
- The primary evil of Sodom was both
personal (sexual) and systemic arrogance and failure to care for the
urban poor (Ez. 16:48-50).
- Cities can be disarmed by obedience
strategies and individuals.
- Warfare against evil is not
necessarily fought with military weaponry, but often with God’s
strange interventions based on human obedience.
- God provides special protection even
for the family of the prostitute Rahab based on her unusual
confidence in God even in the midst of the collapse of the city
Refuge: Num. 35:6-33; Josh. 20
- Six cities scattered throughout
Israel, available as sanctuaries of grace, to protect those who
unwittingly had shed blood.
- These cities not only show the cost
of shed blood, which splits families and requires separation, but
also provides for new starts and forgiveness (when the priest die).
- These cities foreshadow “Christ as
our heavenly priest” where the priests die to free the accused from
- These cities were to be a haven not
just for Jews, but for aliens.
cf. Jonah and Nahum (present day Iraq)
- God cares for pagan cities and works
even through unwilling servants to save them.
- The city is a collective entity
apart from specific individuals. No Ninevites are named specifically
in the story.
- God cares for Israel’s enemies and
oppressors, even the worst, just as much as he cares for “our”
- God accepts Ninevah’s repentance
even in the shallowness of the message, and Jonah’s own perverse
- Jonah’s “in and out” evangelism
deprived the Ninevites of ongoing discipleship or incarnational
ministry. Perhaps this deficiency contributed to Ninevah’s demise
150 years later (Nahum)
Jeremiah and Daniel (modern-day Iran)
- God uses even pagan cities for
judgment on His own wayward
- Exiles are to seek first the shalom
of the city because personal prosperity is a direct byproduct of
community prosperity (Jer. 29:7)
- Great testimony comes out of the
life of pagan cities when God’s own people express integrity at the
smallest and highest levels, i.e. Daniel and the three Hebrew young
- Out of cultural distress, come new
forms of improvisation, For example, diasporic Judaism created new,
written and institutional forms, (the prophetic literature and the
synagogue) of their faith that facilitated the rapid spread of
Christianity many years later.
- An eleven hundred year record of
God’s love and grace towards this city, even in the midst of
religious abuse and social failure.
- This record is accompanied by the
history of faithful individuals and ministries found in both
- Jeremiah is willing to invest, by
buying property in Jerusalem, in its worst days as a public
statement of hope and redemption. (Jer. 32)
- Jesus weeps with compassion and
tenderness over the city even while knowing the immanence of its
- The advent of the Holy Spirit on the
Day of Pentecost in Jerusalem reverses the Babel breakdown in
- The city of Jerusalem was intended
to be a prototype of the Kingdom of God, the “Holy City”, a city set
on a hill, to be a witness of God’s governance, to all nations. Its
character and failure serve as a vivid, detailed case study for
informing modern Christian communities.
texts; Epistle to the Romans
- Rome represents the personification
of evil, described as the “beast” of Revelation.
- Yet, Rome offers its own “grace” by
providing citizenship to Paul to facilitate his missionary endeavor,
and to appeal his conviction.
- Rome becomes the focal point for the
spread of Christianity to the world.
- The Church in Roman is a wonderful
example of varieties of people all woven into the fabric of the
Syria: Acts 11:19 cf.; 13:1-3; 15:21-28
- This was the city were the
worshippers were first known as “Christians”.
- The Church at Antioch serves as a
prototype of a truly healthy New Testament Church, implying the
following characteristics: a society of the caring, molded together
a classless society; was race inclusive; tolerated strong people
with differing opinions; was redemptive; trained its leaders;
translated opposition into victory; listened to God, etc. (See E.
Stanley Jones, The Reconstruction of the Church----On What Pattern?)
the Epistles and Acts 18
- Was the center of licentiousness and
- Illustrates Paul’s contextual
ministry among expatriate Jews, for Example, Priscilla and Aquila.
- Shows how a city’s moral and ethical
issues spill over into a local Church.
- Shows practically how Paul offered
pastoral responses to these many problems.
Rev. 3; 21
- A vision of what the City ought to
- It reminds us that this City is a
gift from God, not the results of our own efforts, an
“eschatological city” prepared for the saints.
- It is not human-made, but “comes
down from heaven.”
- It is large enough for all, and
provides gates from all directions.
- It combines rural, pastoral, urban
themes in a kaleidoscope of images
- The gates are made of “pearl”, the
image of irritant and suffering.
- History may begin in a garden but
inevitably culminates in a City.
- Joseph, economist for the Egyptians,
who creates two 7-year plans for deficits, one for surpluses;
managed and relocated populations. saving both his adopted nation,
those around and even his own family. (Gen. 37-50)
- Esther, exiled beauty who, under
duress, was conscripted into enemy Xerxes harem. However, she uses
her subtle political leverage to save her people. Recognized her
divine sense of purpose, even though “God” language was not used.
- Nehemiah, Persian layman who
received government grant and leave of absence to recreate the
planned city of Jerusalem Community developer. Called for a tithe of
the people to repopulate Jerusalem (Neh. 11:1). He was the ultimate
pragmatist (“semi-saint” according to Yancey), who entered into
unholy coalitions to accomplish necessary goals (in contrast to
- Daniel, the Babylonian politician
who outlasted several heads of state, through divine intervention
and personal integrity, thereby bringing just order to oppressive
- Jonah, called to witness God’s
judgment on Ninevah. Despite his disobedience, he is miraculously
preserved to convey the Word of God to a receptive people. Is more a
story of God’s missionary heart than Jonah’s.
- Jeremiah, city saint, acts out
prophetic message in violent and strange metaphoric (story) forms,
suggesting that defeat and exile are immanent, but there is even
hope in the context of alien cities.
- Jesus weeps over the city and
ministers principally in the city, dying just outside of the City
- Barnabbas was a major strategist at
the Church at Antioch and from there, he and Paul initiated their
missionary ventures. Here, he modeled what a “Christian” was.
- Paul, great urban missionary, moves
around the urban world, planting and encouraging churches through a
wide variety of practical urban missiological techniques.