Urbanization | The nations are coming to the cities. According to the UN, about half of the world’s population lives in cities and, by 2050, that number will rise to 70 percent . Kofi Annan has said, “We have entered the urban millennium. At their best, cities are engines of growth and incubators of civilization. They are crossroads of ideas, places of great intellectual ferment and innovation” . Yet he also warns, “The very same cities can also be places of exploitation, disease, violent crime, unemployment, underemployment and extreme poverty.”
Judgment | Isaiah began his prophecy by bringing charges against cities, warning them of the Lord’s pending punishment. For example, he said, “Behold, Damascus will cease to be a city and will become a heap of ruins” . Concerning Tyre, he prophesied, “They will be in anguish over the report about Tyre … Is this your exultant city … ?” . What did they do that was so wrong? They didn’t trust God; instead, they trusted other kings, other gods, themselves and ungodly leaders . Ultimately, Isaiah said, “The earth shall be utterly empty and utterly plundered” .
Mercy | Yet God loves cities because, as Tim Keller has said, “in cities, you have more Image of God per square inch than anywhere else in the world” . Therefore, the Lord longs to pour out His great mercy and love on cities . As Isaiah continued, “The Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine … and he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all nations. He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth” .
Prayer | Lord, We don’t love your infinite grace because it gives us license to sin. No! We love your grace because, when we fear your reproach, we are not afraid to come to you for salvation. For you have “blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places … to the praise of your glorious grace, with which you have blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us” . Amen.
 See United Nations. “World Urbanization Prospects: The 2011 Revision.” Economic & Social Affairs. Highlights. March 2012; Martin Roemers. “Living in the New Metropolis.” The New York Times. 4 May 2012. (Also note: The UN predicts that, by 2025, there will be 37 megacities – that is, cities with populations that exceed 10 million.) |  United Nations. Press Release for Kofi Annan’s inaugural address to Urban 21: “Secretary-General Calls for Practical, Achievable Programme to Make Globalization a Positive Force for All World’s People.” SG/SM/7479. 5 July 2000. Berlin. |  Isaiah 17:1 ESV |  Isaiah 23:5, 7 ESV |  See Dever, Mark (2006-04-10). The Message of The Old Testament (p. 571-574). Good News Publishers/Crossway Books. Kindle Edition. |  Isaiah 24:3 ESV |  See Redeemer City to City (rotating image). |  Exodus 34:6-7 ESV |  Isaiah 25:6-8 ESV |  Ephesians 1:3, 6-8 ESV (changed “he” to “you” to accommodate the prayer).