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Vayikra/Leviticus 25:29 And if a man will sell a dwelling house of a walled city
The Talmud records some debate (b. Arachin 36b) over the exact status of the house and the walled city: the legal status of the house for redemption of a sale depends on the city - was it originally enclosed or surrounded later, and when was the city built. The consensus opinion is that the phrase "walled city" refers only to those cities which were enclosed in walls at the time of the conquest and were taken by Y'hoshua and the men of Israel when they took possession of the Land after the Exodus from Egypt. Then, a house in the city is easily defined as one that is built within the city walls, rather than being built first outside and later enclosed by the walls of a city that grew around the houses.
Throughout history, but particularly in modern times when there is so much housing development, there has been the phenomenon of urban sprawl, or perhaps more correctly, urban creep. Areas that were originally outside a city gradually become enclosed as the pressure for housing (and the desire to 'escape' the confines of city life) leads to the building of new homes on agricultural land and not only the physical city expands, but the influence and control of the city spreads through the economic need to provide food and other resources for the consumers in the (growing) city. It is odd to look back and think that in the 15th century, Fleet Street - now in the heart of London - was simply farmland beside the Fleet River, and that Moorfields - as the name suggests - was a set of fields immediately outside the city wall on the north used for grazing cattle, that often flooded in winter, and was used by the apprentices from the city of London for playing ball games on the afternoons of the church holy days.
Creep or spread of influence from a city or stronghold into the surrounding area is not limited to physical towns and cities. The same phenomenon can be seen at work in the spiritual world, where the powers of darkness and evil seek to control and dominate by a gradual process of extension from their power-bases of wickedness. The gradual but inexorable erosion of the freedom to preach the Gospel and witness openly for G-d in the face of tolerance, pluralism and political correctness is only the prelude to lifestyles that are sinking into immorality, breakdown of marriage, hopelessness, insanity and organised crime.
But that isn't the way G-d sees it. Just as a house outside a city could always be redeemed (cf. verse 31), so G-d can always redeem those who turn to Him. Yeshua said, "I will build My community and the gates of Sh'ol will not overcome it" (Matthew 16:18, CJB). The kingdom of G-d will not be affected by urban sprawl from the strongholds of the enemy; on the contrary, "for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses" (2 Corinthians 10:4, NASB). G-d's perspective is that we are the ones who are taking ground!
Further Study: Ephesians 6:10-18; Isaiah 12:17
Application: Are you embittered or embattled, hunkered down and waiting for the cavalry to come over the hill? Take a fresh look at things from G-d's perspective; don't believe the propaganda coming from the world. The time has come to take the offensive!
© Jonathan Allen, 2006
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