Why Did God Design the City?
According to Redeemer Magazine, God designed the city to be first of all “a place of refuge and shelter for the weak. . . . The earliest cities provided refuge from wild animals and marauding tribes and criminals. . . . In Israel, God designated certain cities to be ‘cities of refuge’. . . . Today the city is a place where minorities can cluster for support in an alien land, where new immigrants can work together for a foothold in a new world, where refugees can find shelter, and where the homeless and poor can better eke out an existence.”1 The weak and powerless need the city because they cannot survive in the suburbs and small towns.
Secondly, God designed the city “as a cultural and human development center. The city stimulates and forces the gifts, capacities, and talents of people, the deep potentialities in the human heart.” To summarize the Redeemer Magazine article: The city brings you into contact with so many people with different abilities and skills, producing greater works of art, science, technology, and culture. Even the description of the new Babylon shows the power of the city to develop culture. In Revelation 18 we see the city is a place of music and the arts (v. 22a), of crafts and manufacturing (v. 22b), of technological advance (v. 23a), and of trade and retailing (v. 23c).2
Thirdly, God designed the city “as a place of spiritual searching and temple building.” Ancient cities were built around a “ziggurat”—the original skyscrapers—temples where a particular god was thought to “come down.” Cities were the royal residences of the god, and the city was dedicated to him or her. When God creates a new city in the desert, he does so by dwelling among his people in the tabernacle, for the city of God will be his dwelling place. Later, in the earthly city of Jerusalem, the city stands as the central integrating point of the city’s architecture and as apex of its art and science and technology. Thus any city has a spiritual vacuum within it. The turmoil and climate of cities make people religious seekers. Protestant Christians abandoning the city inevitably make it easier for the city to turn to false gods.3
1. Redeemer: The Importance of the City, Manhattan, NY: Redeemer Presbyterian Church, p. 2.
(This article comes from Chapter 1, Urban Impact)