When you Think of Zion
by John Clevely
Let’s go up to Zion Jeremiah 31:6
When you think of Zion, what comes to mind? Matrix? Heaven? Church? Israel? Jeremiah urges his readers that the exiled people of God will return to Zion. Where is Zion? What does it signify? What does it mean for us today? In the Bible the word Zion appears 169 times, 41 of them in Psalms and only 7 of them in the NT
Zion is a stronghold where God promises that we will encounter his presence
A Prophetic Promise: Psalm 132:13ff God loves Zion. He has chosen Mount Zion.
He prefers the gates of Zion to all other dwellings of his people (Psa 87:2). So how do we understand this?
The earliest reference to Zion is to David’s capture of the ancient Jebusite fortress. “Nevertheless, David took the stronghold of Zion, that is, the city of David. 2 Samuel 5:7
The next mention comes when the Ark of the Covenant was brought into the Temple by Solomon.
“Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the leaders of the fathers’ houses of the people of Israel, before King Solomon in Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of the city of David, which is Zion.” 1 Kings 8:1
The Temple dominated the extended city and Zion became associated with the temple and the whole city itself.
Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised in the city of our God! His holy mountain, beautiful in elevation, is the joy of all the earth, Mount Zion, in the far north, the city of the great King. Psa 48:1-2
The prophets also make this association:
Awake, awake, put on your strength, O Zion; put on your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city; Isa 52:1
Jeremiah loved what God loved, yet as Zion did not respond that God’s love, he knew Zion would be destroyed.
“Micah of Moresheth prophesied in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah, and said to all the people of Judah: ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts,
“‘Zion shall be ploughed as a field; Jerusalem shall become a heap of ruins,and the mountain of the house a wooded height.’
Yet that would not be the end of the story. The promise is not voided by Israel’s cold heart. God had not given up on his people.
So what does the promise mean?
Restoration of the Jews to the land of promise. (Jer 31:10)
‘He who scattered Israel will regather him, and will keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock.’ This is how Zionists understand the regathering of the Jews to the Land today.
Spiritual move of God:
Rom 11:26, 1 Pet 2:6
A Place of Permanent protection
Zion was first and foremost a stronghold. That was why David captured it from the Jebusites. It was a safe place and the promise of safety remained. Deliverance would come.
When the name Zion moved up the hill and attached itself to the Temple there was a sense of spiritual security. God was dwelling in the midst. This brought security but not in an unqualified sense. God is for us but not against his own values. He will discipline rather than disown. He exiled his people but restored them and in Zion, the temple was the place of sacrifice.
So when Jeremiah, says: It is Zion, for whom no one cares!’ (Jer 30:17) There are times when people look on the people of God and consider the story is all over. It is not. God loves the outcast, the underdog, the failure. He sends a doctor for the sick. He comes not for the righteous but for sinners. God is unpredictable and offers a stronghold for the weak.
There was grace for sinners, and there still is. Zion means a place of refuge irrespective of our history and track record.
Eternal security is found in the sacrifice, eternal life
A place of Personal presence Psa 132:13f
Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for behold, I come and I will dwell in your midst, declares the Lord. Zechariah 2:10
Thus says the Lord: I have returned to Zion and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem, and Jerusalem shall be called the faithful city, and the mountain of the Lord of hosts, the holy mountain. Zechariah 8:3
Surely the hymn writers were correct to refer heaven and zion as the same place.
Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. (Rev 21:3) Let’s go up to Zion!
Place of promise, protection and presence. Much is going to happen before the end. Much will happen in Beulah, much in our lives. But with promises as we have been given, we have so much to celebrate and to look forward. Rise up, O people. Rise up. There is a place.
For there shall be a day when watchmen will call
in the hill country of Ephraim:
‘Arise, and let us go up to Zion,
to the Lord our God.’”