Zion

“Let Mount Zion be glad,

Let the daughters of Judah rejoice

Because of Your judgment.

Walk about Zion and go around her,

Count her towers,

Consider her ramparts,

Go through her palaces,

That you may tell it to the next generation.”

Psalm 48:11-13

     I recently stumbled upon this verse and thought, “I better walk around Zion”, so I found my 2nd favorite book (the concordance) and began a study, and made a few noteworthy discoveries…

#1 Zion is the judgment seat of God.  I already knew that it was sometimes speaking of Jerusalem, and sometimes of heaven, but was unaware how connected it was with God’s judgment seat.

#2 It is where He judges the wicked and defends the righteous, with His judgments.  The saints will learn to love His judgments, and find comfort in them.  Psalm 97:2 says “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne.”  We, believers, understand that on the Cross both justice and mercy were bled together.  When Christ died, He had His justice against all our unrighteousness, but in His mercy, He poured the wrath due to us upon Himself.  In essence, He took our death penalty, in order that His justice would be upheld and yet, He could still make us sons and daughters.  This part of His judgments are easily accepted by us.  But His judgment seat is also the place where He condemns the wicked (which is possibly easy for some to accept, but not for someone like me, who recognizes that the only thing setting me apart from them is grace, and that I don’t deserve it just as much as the next guy).  One thing that has helped me to understand and embrace His judgments towards those who do not have the cross as their defense, is to realize that in His judgments towards the wicked He is actually defending the poor, oppressed and afflicted.  It is the same as someone going to jail for their crimes, not only because their crimes are wrong, but because of how they injure those affected by those crimes.

#3 The righteous are commended for and marked by their sacrifices, but as Psalm 50 aptly points out, God doesn’t need our bulls and goats (the Old Testament’s prescribed sacrifice), but He wants hearts of gratitude.  Reading through these passages, I am reminded time and time again that my obedience is born out of gratitude (and obedience is not found apart from a purified and thankful heart).  In the case of David’s Psalm of repentance, Psalm 51, it states that “the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise”.  Before thankfulness could be born in David’s heart, he had to be broken and contrite, repentant.

#4 Over and over again, we see praise erupting in Zion.  “There will be silence before You and praise in Zion, O God” (Psalm 65:1) is one of my favorite depictions, because it shows this, and also the awesomeness of the Presence of God that will stun us into silence.  If you were to do a word study of “Zion”, you would almost always find praise and thanksgiving mingled with the verses that speak of Zion.

#5 “How blessed is the man whose strength is in You, in whose heart are the highways to Zion” (Psalm 84:5).  Another translation says “Whose heart is set on pilgrimage”.  This is also a favorite verse of mine, because it shows the longing that ought to fill our hearts and minds, and if it does, it transforms us, and makes us capable of trudging through the woes of this world, knowing that our heart is on pilgrimage to the heavenly throne of God Most High, who is our hope and salvation and will reward us for all our perseverance down here.  It reminds us that “this world is not our home, we’re only passing through” and that the world we truly belong to is one where no sorrow dwells and God alone is exalted, and we are blessed beyond imagination to be in His everlasting Presence.

“For you have not come to a mountain that can be touched and to a blazing fire, and to darkness and gloom and whirlwind, and to the blast of a trumpet and the sounds of words which sound was such that those who heard begged that no further word be spoken to them,

For they could not bear the command, ‘If even a beast touches the mountain it will be stoned.’ And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, ‘I am full of fear and trembling.’

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.

See to it that you do not refuse him who is speaking.

For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven.  And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, ‘Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven.’  This expression, ‘Yet once more” denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.

Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.”    ~ Hebrews 12:18-28

Amen.

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