Read Psalm 87
Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm. A song.
1 He has founded his city on the holy mountain.
2 The Lord loves the gates of Zion
more than all the other dwellings of Jacob.
3 Glorious things are said of you,
city of God:
4 “I will record Rahab and Babylon
among those who acknowledge me—
Philistia too, and Tyre, along with Cush—
and will say, ‘This one was born in Zion.’”
5 Indeed, of Zion it will be said,
“This one and that one were born in her,
and the Most High himself will establish her.”
6 The Lord will write in the register of the peoples:
“This one was born in Zion.”
7 As they make music they will sing,
“All my fountains are in you.”
Issac Watts, an English minister, hymn writer and theologian penned a hymn years ago “We’re Marching to Zion.” It depicts the jubilation of children of the heavenly King victoriously “marching to the beautiful city of God.” The thread of Zion runs throughout the seven verses in this chapter. Zion is a term Hebrews used for Jerusalem (and sometimes the land of Israel as a whole). Jerusalem is the epicenter of Hebrew culture, a special place where God chose to display much of His past redemptive work, and where one day He will establish His ultimate kingdom on earth. God has a special love for Jerusalem. We should take notice. Jerusalem is where Jesus died for our sins, the church was born at Pentecost, and where the apostles served and sent out the gospel. Out of all places on earth, God chose Jerusalem (Zion) to usher in His kingdom on earth.
Zion is clearly sacred to the Israelites, but what does it mean to Gentiles? Hebrews 12:22-23 figuratively speaks of Zion this way: “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven.” Through Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, Gentiles (non-Jews) can be regarded as citizens of Jerusalem and be registered among God’s people. All are welcome! In Jesus, every believer can have the privilege of being a citizen in the heavenly city of God. Man does not determine who qualifies as God’s people (v. 4-6; e.g., “The Lord will write in the register of the peoples”). “All nations shall gather to [Jerusalem]” (Jeremiah 3:17).
The next time you come across Watts’ hymn or mentions of Jerusalem or Zion in the Bible, remember two things. First, Zion refers to God’s city. Not a physical city, though, as much as a reference to God’s people. Second, God sent Jesus to suffer a humiliating death on the cross to pay the price for the sins of the world—not just Jews or church-goers or any other group. Watts’ lyrics connect a few of these ideas: “Then let our songs abound, and every tear be dry; we’re marching through Immanuel’s ground, to fairer worlds on high.”
- Do you find supreme joy in knowing your name is recorded in heaven?
- Is your life marked by gratitude for every good and perfect gift the Father has lavished on you (James 1:17)?
- Do you anticipate the day of Christ’s return with joyful expectation or fear?
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