A Tale of Two Cities

Reading Time: 7 Minutes

This article is not a recount of the 1859 historical fiction novel by Charles Dickens.

Rather, it is a story of two cities, one we know quite well and the other that is coming.

John Oswalt calls the city we best know “the city of Man.” A few thoughts will put this city in perspective.

Wealth Inequality – According to the latest data, the top 1% of Americans have 30.4% of all household wealth in the U.S., while the bottom 50% of the population holds just 1.9% of all wealth.

Slavery in 2021 – Global estimates indicate that as many as 40 million people are living in various forms of exploitation known as modern slavery. This includes victims of forced labor, debt bondage, domestic servitude, human trafficking, child labor, forced marriage, and descent-based slavery.

Homicide in KCMO – Last year, Kansas City recorded a record number of homicides at 182. As of April 29, 2021, the number is 50.

Isaiah frequently highlights the reason for this dismal report on human behavior. When pride and self-sufficiency is the predominant attitude of humans, all manner of problems will prevail.

The horrific treatment of people in the city of Man is not a new thing. Isaiah prophesied about the destruction of Tyre in chapter 23. When Tyre was finally destroyed by Alexander the Great, 2,000 people were crucified and a million were sold into slavery.

The City of God

Isaiah and John (Revelation 21) had a vision of the city of God. Just as the horrors of daily existence plague humans today, the glory of God’s city will be experienced by his people.

On that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah:
We have a strong city;
he sets up victory
like walls and bulwarks.

Open the gates,
so that the righteous nation that keeps faith
may enter in.
(Isaiah 26.1-2)

While researching slavery in 2021, I read a story of a woman who was enslaved in the African nation, Mali. She gave birth to three children, all conceived in a forced relationship with her master.

One day, she was not allowed to take her baby into the field to work, because the master believed the baby slowed down her work. When she returned from the field, the baby had been left neglected in the sun and had died.

A religious organization that fights global slavery secured this woman’s freedom. One day, in the city of God she will experience God’s total protection against the kind of injustice that she endured.

Who enters God’s city? Righteous people. Dallas Willard describes righteousness as “living a Jesus-kind-of-life.”

God conquers our rebellious self-will through his grace. In that relationship, he transforms us into people who desire to live like his Son Jesus.

Paul described this process, “Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own” (Philippians 3.12).

Present Day Trust

We currently live “between the times.” The kingdom of God has arrived, but the city of God has not been fully realized.

How do we live in a world where the sad issues I have noted are part of our daily existence?

God’s counsel through the prophet is this:

Those of steadfast mind you keep in peace—
in peace because they trust in you.
(Isaiah 26.3)

God’s peace is available to those of a steadfast mind. James pictured the kind of trust that is exemplified by a steadfast mind.

He wrote, “But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind;

“For the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord” (James 1.6-8).

The double-minded person trusts God but also has a “plan B” if they don’t get the results they want from God.

Jesus described steadfast trust in this manner. He said, “No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other” (Matthew 6.24).

“To trust our ability partly and God partly is the surest prescription for insecurity and anxiety. That person will never know God’s peace and well-being” (John Oswalt).

Why do we place our complete trust in God? Isaiah answers,

Trust in the Lord forever,
for in the Lord God
you have an everlasting rock.
(Isaiah 26.4)

Job was a man, who knew the hardships of life like few others said, “Human beings are born to trouble just as sparks fly upward” (Job 5.7).

Job discovered the truth of Isaiah’s statement. He trusted God even when he lost family, property, and his health.

Trust in God will not eliminate trouble from us, because we live in a broken world.

However, those who trust in God will experience “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, [that] will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4.7).

About This Blog

Rudy Ross is an excellent student of Isaiah. Rudy and I have a video you can see on the Bob Spradling YouTube Chanel.

Rudy will bring a different dimension to Isaiah than what is in my blog. I hope you will check out and enjoy my interviews with him.

I am indebted to a book by Dr. John Oswalt on Isaiah for his insights into this powerful book.

If you have a prayer request, please email me at bsprad49@gmail.com or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood Baptist prayer team will pray for you.

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