Question of the Day: Why does man have a passion to live in cities?

Many of the cities of the world are crowded, somewhat dirty, filled with people bustling here and there and a place where one can’t seem to get alone and away from all that city life brings.  So why would anyone want to live in a city?  Why are there such huge cities in this world—some of them over 20 million people?  Why do people seem to flock to a city and want to live there so bad?  Part of the answer is that we are social creatures and desire to be around others; but then others can be cantankerous and even dangerous to be around, so why do we want to live in a city?  Let’s look at some of what the Scriptures teach us about the passion to live in a city.

Here is today’s text: “Some of us have wandered in desert places looking for a city to live in.”  “Then He led them in a straight path toward that city that they longed to live in.”  “It is in these places that He lets those who are hungry live, a place where they build a city, plant fields and vineyards and reap a bountiful harvest.”  The psalmist is recounting how some had wandered in desert places hungry and thirsty and looking for a city, and when they cried out to the LORD He led them in a straight path to a city to dwell in.  These verses tell us about  those who had lived before the writer of the psalm wanted to live in a city and end their hunger and thirst and have a secure place to live.  The cities in those days were for the most part walled cities that offered some protection from invading armies, but they were eventually penetrated and broken down; but people still look forward to living in the protection of a city.

Here are a few verses from Hebrews that tell us a little more about the passion to live in a city:

Hebrews 11:8-10, “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.” (ESV)  Abraham, the man of faith, was content to live in tents because his faith told him that he was looking for a city to come, a heavenly city.  Our treasures are neither in this life nor what this life can offer us; faith that is worth anything is firmly planted in eternity. The city we all long for is neither in this life nor on this earth; it is a heavenly city, and it is in that city like that where our deep passions are fulfilled.

Hebrews 12:22-24, “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.” (ESV)  The heavenly city that is mentioned here is an eternal city; a city that is not here on earth.  This is the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, or as the book of Revelation tells us, the New Jerusalem.

Hebrews 13:13-14, “Therefore let us go to Him outside the camp and bear the reproach He endured. 14 For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.”  (ESV)   There is no city on earth that can satisfy our deep longing to live in a city.  Our passion is to seek a city to live in, the city which is to come.

This discussion would not be complete without a reference to the New Jerusalem mentioned in Revelation 21:1-4:  “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and  the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”  (ESV)  Now that is a city that we all want to live in!  It is in that city that we will find total contentment and satisfaction—and it is because it is the city that God has prepared for us.

Prayer: O God, You have put a passion in our hearts for a city, a place where we can live where we will be totally protected forever, where our needs will always be fully met, and a place where all the pain and suffering of this life will finally be over, and this will be the pinnacle of our existence.  We love being part of Your eternal city where Your Son will light the city and where we will all be able to worship You unhindered.  Amen!



David B. Virts has written a book called “Knowing, Seeking Worshiping — a study of the character of God.”  It is available by calling 615-945-0611.