Then I looked up — and there before me was a man with a measuring line in his hand! I asked, “Where are you going?” He answered me, “To measure Jerusalem, to find out how wide and how long it is.” Then the angel who was speaking to me left, and another angel came to meet him and said to him: “Run, tell that young man, ‘Jerusalem will be a city without walls because of the great number of men and livestock in it. And I myself will be a wall of fire around it,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will be its glory within.’ Zechariah 2:1-5.
For those of us who live in Western Europe, it is easy to become discouraged as we watch the church decline. Like the Jerusalem of Zechariah’s day, it lies in ruins. And it is tempting for us to be like the young man in Zechariah’s vision and to take a measuring line to it: Can we find any evidence of growth here or there that, in the face of all the bleak statistical evidence to the contrary, can encourage us? But God says: “You can put away your tape measure and your pocket calculator. Jerusalem — the New Jerusalem of Revelation 21:2, the church as it will be at the end of this age and at the dawn of the age to come — will be a city without walls because of the unimaginable vastness of its population.”
I have a special reason for finding that idea thrilling. Once, for a year or two in my early teens, I belonged to the Closed (Plymouth) Brethren and the teaching there was that the coming kingdom would in fact be very small. It would belong to a “little flock” consisting of (guess who!) the Closed Brethren. But how different is the truth of Zechariah 2 and Revelation 21 … and of Revelation 7:9: “After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.”
Perhaps I need to hold that vision in my head and heart more consistently than I do. Perhaps I need to hold it there most of all on a Sunday when I glance round a half-empty church. For the truth is that I am not a member of a church in decline, I am a citizen of the New Jerusalem — an unseen city with real, eternal foundations — the City designed and built by God” (Hebrews 11:10, The Message). I am, in truth, part of that multitude that no-one can count — the very people of God.
Help me, Father, to live this day as a citizen of the New Jerusalem, through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.