Alma Mater

“But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.” Galatians 4:26

Personifying New Jerusalem as a woman is a common and yet intriguing metaphor.
Scripture sets the precedent for speaking of cities in this way. Earthly Jerusalem and Samaria are called Aholibah  and Aholah in Ezekiel 23:4. Sodom is called their “younger sister” by Ezekiel 16:46. More familiar to us is how we speak of the USA in God Bless America, “Stand beside her, and guide her thru the night with a Light from above.” The motherhood of Heaven is spoken of directly in this verse, but it is alluded to many other times.

The motherhood of New Jerusalem is an important doctrine to grasp. Dr. P. S. Ruckman points this out in Appendix 118 of the Ruckman’s Reference Bible, “Readings in Galatians” he says: “The blasphemous Popes have been telling you for centuries that “Mary” was you mother. They lied just like they have been lying for centuries about everything else. The Holy Spirit told you in the Scriptures that New Jerusalem was your mother.”

The church is the “us all” in the passage. Song of Solomon 6:9 brags on the choice daughter of Heavenly Jerusalem, saying, My dove, my undefiled is but one; she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her.” (Emphasis mine) Heaven is the pattern for the church, the encouragement of the church, she should hold the attention of the church, and finally she is the confidant and final solace of the church.

In today’s world, the title and position of ‘mother’ has been degraded and misused. Only in today’s culture would you have to question the GENDER of the mother in a family. The Bennington Banner reporting on the same-sex marriage vote in Ireland said, “A mother’s love is irreplaceable, vote NO,” advises one placard depicting a red-haired boy hugging his mom.” How very true, yet how sadly futile, for a nation that has rejected God’s Book and His Son.
Just as misguided, however, is the worship of education in America, where the high school, college, or university is dubbed the “Alma Mater” of its students. Alma mater means “a school, college, or university at which one has studied and, usually, from which one has graduated.” ( I submit to you today, that school only prepares you to MAKE MONEY in a society with NO MORALS. Education teaches you how to take advantage of current societal trends, but gives no judgment on whether that trend is RIGHT or WRONG. New Jerusalem, however, is not so weak or spineless in her guidance of her child, the church.

First, she imparts virtue to her children. The character of the child can be traced to its mother. In Revelation, Babylon is said to be the “mother of harlots and abominations.” (Revelation 17:5) All religions that trace their beginnings to this ungodly mother will undoubtedly have her wicked ways ingrained in them. The freedom of the believer in Jesus Christ (“My[Christ’s]church” Matthew 16:18) is inherited from Heaven. If Heaven were a stoic place of boring ritual and strictness, then our Christian walk would have just as much sorrow. 

Behold, every one that useth proverbs shall use this proverb against thee, saying, As is the mother, so is her daughter.” (Ezekiel 16:44) The pureness of the source will be the purity of the stream. Many a young person naively praises their school for the knowledge they gathered there. But “the world by wisdom knew not God.” (1 Corinthians 1:21) and it proceeds that the world can only educate you further from true wisdom. Heavenly wisdom draws a person closer to God, and in the end: “Her children arise up, and call her blessed;” (Proverbs 31:28)

Second, she encourages the success of her children. Mothers push us to be excellent. “When it goeth well with the righteous, the city rejoiceth:” (Proverb 11:10) Moms see grander things in us than we could ever see in ourselves. They stretch our capabilities and add to our responsibilities so that we will ‘grow up.’ Jerusalem is ABOVE, to keep us looking up. “The way of life is above to the wise, that he may depart from hell beneath.” (Proverb 15:24)

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,” (Hebrews 12:1) Heaven is watching. Many a young person has been compelled into greatness because ‘Mom is watching’. Many things they would never attempt if that approving eye were not turned their way. Nothing, from a high school speech to an inaugural address, is the same when Heaven is watching in anticipation of what will be done.

Heaven in “The Last Judgment” by Gustave Doré

Thirdly, a mother commands the attention of her children. There’s no way around hearing mom’s voice, no matter what distractions may be around. Mom’s voice can soothe the anxious child, order the unruly child, and comfort the weeping child. Paul exhorts, “Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth.”

Sometimes, in order to hold my attention, my mom would also have to grab ahold of my ear-literally! DeWitt Talmage said in a sermon that ‘Heaven is made sweeter by suffering. Suffering helps us remember that this is not heaven at all.’ Joni Eareckson Tada writes, “Suffering obliterates such preoccupation with earthly things. Suffering wakes us up from our spiritual slumber and turns our hearts toward the future, like a mother turning the face of her child, insisting, “Look this way!” Once heaven has our attention, earth’s pleasures begin to pale in comparison.”

Joab chased Sheba the son of Bichri to the city of Abel. Just before he battered down the gates to burn the city to the ground, a mother called out, “I am one of them that are peaceable and faithful in Israel: thou seekest to destroy a city and a mother in Israel: why wilt thou swallow up the inheritance of the LORD?” (2 Samuel 20:19) Joab spared the city because of a mother’s pleading. You never forget a mother’s voice.

Lastly, there can be only one ‘mom’. Some parents are by biology only, and have no sympathy or care for their children. Such are the earthly institutions of education that pump you full of information, yet never pray for you. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.” (Isaiah 49:15)

A true mother is the mother of sympathy. Solomon knew how to discern a mother, when he saw her compassion on her child. (See 1 Kings 3) Heaven holds her children dear to her heart. So can the Christian discern his maternal destination, for she has a place prepared: your place, the seat at the table that will never be filled, until YOU come home. For those who trust in Jesus Christ, when stress and sickness come upon you, and you cry out for pain, the Father will command the angels, to carry you home. “And he said unto his father, My head, my head. And he said to a lad, Carry him to his mother.” (2 Kings 4:19)

May we never mistake the earthly definition, or give ‘all hail’ to the earthly model of motherhood. Our mother is New Jerusalem. She is above. She is free. And she alone is the mother of us all.
They carried us today far from the Promised Land,
We had sinn’d our way into the captor’s hand.
Stripped and torn, full of sorrow
We hanged our harps upon the willow,
We sat down, yea, we wept,
When we remembered Zion.
And they said,
“Sing us one of the songs of Zion
Make mirth for us, glad tidings bring.”
O, Jerusalem, if I forget thee
Let my right hand lose her cunning.
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, my joy.
This was not our home, we were strangers in this place.
Some said God had give us up, and hid His face,
But His mercy is forever,
And our hearts do still remember
Though in captivity, the song,
Of Jerusalem, my joy!
And we will,
Sing one of the songs of Zion
Rejoice with us, share in our joy!
O, Jerusalem, if I forget thee
Let my right hand lose her cunning.
New Jerusalem, Jerusalem, my joy.

-Based on Psalm 137

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