Awake, awake, O Zion, clothe yourself with strength. Put on your garments of splendor, O Jerusalem, the holy city.
As we near the end of the Church Year, we focus this week on the Saints Triumphant. Properly we think first of heaven, where believers live in triumph! But believers are triumphant now too!
That being said, this verse may puzzle us. Jerusalem, described as a holy city? That seems crazy. Throughout the years, Jerusalem certainly had some high points. But there are oh-so-many low points. Let’s just consider a couple of points from the ministry of Jeremiah:
- that Jehoiakim, one of the kings of Judah, burned the scroll of Jeremiah’s book, trying to destroy the very Word of God. (Thankfully, God had him rewrite it.—Jeremiah 36.) That happened in Jerusalem.
- that king Zedekiah tried to kill Jeremiah by throwing him into a cistern, where he sank into the mud. (Thankfully, God led Ebed-Melech to pull him out.—Jeremiah 38.) That happened in Jerusalem too.
Jesus said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you…” (Matthew. 23:37) And of course it’s in Jerusalem where Jesus himself was crucified after a horrid miscarriage of justice. The list could go on, so we look at Jerusalem and say, “Ugh!”
As we look at ourselves, we have plenty of reasons to say, “Ugh.” Oh, how often we’ve failed! Oh, how often we’ve not lived as saints, much less as the saints triumphant. We’ve been selfish and weak, angry and doubt-filled and so many other sinful things! Our “garments” are a mess, just like the “garments” of Jerusalem were a mess! Yet God urges the people of Jerusalem to clothe themselves in “your garments of splendor,” and calls them the “holy city.” Wait, Jerusalem? A “holy city, with garments of splendor?!?” That can’t be!
Ah, but it is! Because God was clothing Jerusalem as he clothed you. In Revelation 19:8, God talks about his people, and he makes the point, “Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” What we don’t have, God loves to give. Jerusalem was a mess on its own, but God’s forgiving love covered her. You and I are a mess, but God’s forgiving love covers us! Jesus took our stains, our torn “clothes,” our mess and he put it on himself! In exchange he gave us his perfectly pure “garments!”
So, you are a saint triumphant! Just like people of Jerusalem could be “saints triumphant” because the forgiving love of God covered them. So, you are a “saint triumphant,” because the forgiving love of Jesus covers you too. Clothed in those garments of perfection, you are a saint triumphant!
Lord, assure me that I am—and then lead me to live—as a saint triumphant. Amen.