I. The Historical Background of the Development of Cities
II. One of the reasons God judges cities is because it is He who gives man the ability to even establish and live in a city, and yet man often ignores Him. Psalm 69:35 Psalm 107:35,36 Psalm 127:1 Deut. 3:19 Deut. 8:10-20 Isa. 22:11 Jer. 5:17 Hosea 8:14, 13:10 Acts 17:24-31
III. God sees cities as whole units and often judges and punishes them as a unit. A. God’s judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 18, 19). (cf. Ezek. 16:49,50; II Peter 2:6; Jude 7).
B. In Numbers, Deuteronomy, and Joshua you see God judging cities by directing His people to annihilate various cities for several reasons. 1. 2.
C. The City of Ashdod, the ark of God, & tumors. I Sam. 5:9
D. Jerusalem was judged by God a number of times throughout its long history, because of its disobedience and rebellion (Jer. 5:1-6). Nehemiah’s ministry (Neh. 1:3, 2:5, 13:18)
E. Isaiah prophesied of coming judgment on a number of cities: Philistia (14:31), Damascus (17:1), Tyre (23:7) Jerusalem (1:25, 29:1-4). Jeremiah also prophesied of God’s judgment on Jerusalem (6:6, 8:16, 19:15, etc.), a city in Egypt (46:8), Philistine cities such as Tyre, Sidon, and Caphtor (47:4), every city of Moab (48:8,24), the city of Damascus (49:23-25), and the city of the King of Babylon (51:31). The arrogance of these cities: (Jer. 48:26, 29; 50:32)
F. Both Nahum and Zephaniah prophesied against the soon total desolation of Nineveh for all her wickedness and violence (Nahum & Zeph. 2:13-3:4).
G. Jesus said to His 12 disciples as He was sending them out that if cities reject them “it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city.” (Matt. 10:14,15)
H. Jesus “reproached the cities in which most of His miracles were done, Because they did not repent.” He went on to contrast their response to the response of other cities (Matt. 11:20-24).
I. Jesus spoke a parable to the Chief priests and Pharisees that spoke of God’s coming judgment of the city of Jerusalem because of her rejection of God’s Son (Matt. 22:1-14).
IV. General Observations Re: God’s Judgment of Cities: A. Whole cities can be damaged by scorners – “Scorners set a city aflame.” (Prov. 29:8; cf. Prov. 11:11)
B. Cities will be judged when the earth is destroyed because their inhabitants “transgressed laws, violated statutes, broke the everlasting covenant.” (Isa. 24:1-13; cf. Jer. 4:27-29)
C. Isaiah worshipped God because He “worked wonders, plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness.” One of those wonders is how God judges a city – Isa. 25:1,2; Psalm 9:6
D. When God judges a city the effects are often horrible and devastating. And the godly reaction to that is mourning. (Lamentations 2:11,12, 20; 3:51; 5:11)
E. When God is going to judge a city He first reveals His intentions to “His servants the prophets.” (Amos 3:5,6; cf. Isa. 6:9-11)
F. God’s intention in judging is to turn people to or back to Himself. He is often amazed that we are so slow to return to Him. Israel’s example in Amos 4:6-11
G. If God speaks to cities as a whole, it stands to reason that He would judge them as a whole. Prov. 1:21; 8:3; 9:3;
H. God has often in the past used pagan kings and armies to destroy/judge cities. Jer. 1:13-16. (II Kings 19:25; Isa. 37:26; cf. Isa. 14:4-20; note also that God puts the limits on such activity in vs. 21). (Hab. 1:12-17).
I. Somehow God’s judgment of cities is necessary for them to be able “to know that He is the Lord.” Ezek. 6:13, 7:4, 15:6,7, 24:15-24, 35:1-4,9
V. While a city may deserve judgment, and God may intend to judge it, He will withdraw His hand of judgment, or deliver people from that judgment if certain conditions are met. A. Abraham re: judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah. Gen. 18,19
B. The people of Benjamin and Judah in Ezra 10 & foreign wives.
C. God told the people of Jerusalem that even though Babylon would soon conquer them, if they would go out and surrender, they would retain their lives. (Jer. 21:9b)
D. God told Jeremiah to speak to the cities of Judah His every word with the expectation that they would listen and repent,.Jer. 26:1-3
E. Ezekiel tells of a vision wherein people “who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in Jerusalem” will be delivered. (Ezek. 9:4,5)
F. God extended mercy to Nineveh because they repented of their sins.(Jonah 3:5-10)
VI. God has so ordained it that righteous people within a city can have greatly redemptive effects upon that city. A. God appears to always deal with His church first before the city. Acts 5:1-11; I Peter 4:17
B. Righteous kings or rulers can bring great peace and blessing to the cities they rule. King Asa in II Chron. 14:1-14; 15:1-8; King Jehosophat in II Chron. 17:1-19; Prov.
VII. The prophets did not just prophesy gloom and doom for the cities of the world. They also prophesied great moves of God in pagan cities. Isa. 19:18-25; 25:1-3
VIII. God is faithful to speak through His prophets that a new day is coming – that cities that have been ravaged, will be restored. Isa. 44:24-28 Hearing these words are crucial for hope to be restored and faith and expectation to be built up. Isa. 54:1-3; 61:4; Jer. 31:23-25; Ezek. 36:8-15; Amos 9:13-15; Zech. 1:17;
IX. Jesus definitely had cities in His mind as He strategically planned His ministry Matt. 9:35, 11:1; Luke 4:43, 8:1
X. Jesus was compassionate over cities even though they were rebellious and on the most part were rejecting Him. We need to feel about cities like He did, not like Jonah did. Matt. 9:35.36, 23:37; Jonah 4:1-3
XI. No evangelistic program can match a radically saved, healed, delivered convert to impact cities. Luke 8:39, John 4:5-3
XII. One time a whole city gathered at the house where Jesus was healing the sick and casting out demons. Mark 1:32,33
XIII. God used persecution often to get the apostles to distant cities (Acts 8:1,4,5-13; 13:51-14:6; 14:6-18; cf. Matt. 10:23)
XIV. If we are serious about reaching our cities we need to prepare our hearts and minds for the persecution that at least with Stephen, Peter, Paul and Barnabus almost always followed inroads into a given city. Acts 4:3; 5:26; 7:54,57-60; 8:1,2; 9:23; 12:1-5; 13:45,50; 14:5,6,19; 16:19-24; 17:5-8; 19:29; 21:30;
XV. On that note, our response to threats should only come from God’s feelings on the matter. He often sees cities in a light we can’t. Acts 18:5-11
XVI. Phillip, like Jesus, seemed to always be ready to go to yet another city with the gospel. Acts 8:5-25 = Samaria; 8:40 “kept preaching the gospel to all the cities..”