Behind the Ranges: Mount Zion
This is the last of our series on the theme of looking for the treasures of God ‘behind the ranges’.
Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness. Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King. God is known in her palaces for a refuge … Let mount Zion rejoice, let the daughters of Judah be glad, because of thy judgments. Walk about Zion, and go round about her: tell the towers thereof. Mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces; that ye may tell it to the generation following. For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death. (Psalm 48:1–3, 11–14)
When the theme of the series opened up to me, immediately there flashed into my mind nearly all the mountains of which I have spoken, including this as the last one, and it came as a surprise. I wouldn’t have naturally included it. But the more we think about it, the more wonderful Mount Zion appears to us.
Zion was one of the mountains on which the city of Jerusalem is built, but it became synonymous with the name Jerusalem for the geographical city. Far more than that, it also became the name to describe the New Jerusalem and heaven itself, the City of God. And so the term Zion can refer to both, in both the Old and especially the New Testament. And that is when we begin to identify very much with the thought of Mount Zion. When I was a child we often sang the hymn that includes these words:
The hill of Zion yields
A thousand sacred sweets
Before we reach the heavenly fields,
Or walk the golden streets.
So you can understand the kind of connotations that had for me as a child, where happiness was definitely associated with Zion. When we look at some of the sweets that Mount Zion yields, they are very, very wonderful, far too wonderful to go into all in a short meditation.
But Mount Zion is referred to again and again in the Old Testament, and this verse, found in both Obadiah and Joel, has lived very strongly for me:
Upon Mount Zion shall be deliverance. (Obadiah 1:17; cf. Joel 2:32)
The city of Zion, or Jerusalem, was Israel’s fortress and ultimately their capital, built on the hill and associated with strength and power. We think of God coming down on Mount Sinai, one of our early mountains, imparting the sense of His power, His fire, His might. That is nothing compared with the power and the strength that are there in Mount Zion, the city of God, the fortress of God. God is known in her palaces for a refuge: He is greatly to be praised in the mountain of His holiness; and on Mount Zion there shall be deliverance. It came to me with a tremendous sense of the authority of God: there shall be deliverance.
For those reading now in need of deliverance of various kinds, let this strike a chord and awaken the note of faith inside your being. It may be that you know you need deliverance because of sins in your past or even in your present. Along with your inability to overcome and your awareness that you really do need deliverance from the power of the enemy, because of the lockdown you’ve been a bit more cut off from ministry that could have been available to you. But our God is the Deliverer: from Mount Zion there comes the Deliverer. He is there to deliver you and me from the power of the enemy in whatever way that enemy tries to assert himself. Take courage into your soul today: upon Mount Zion there shall be deliverance. Believe it, and claim it, not just at a mind level, but so that deep into your spirit there comes victory, there comes power to overcome sin, weakness, lack of faith, and fear. Is fear not something that is stalking so many people at this time? Some are left very untouched by fear of Covid, whereas the lives of others are almost being dominated by it. For a child of God He is our refuge, our strength and our future, and there is deliverance from fear and anxiety and the burdens of this life. He is our Deliverer: from Mount Zion He shines. As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the LORD is round about His people. (Psalm 125:2) They shall stand secure as Mount Zion (v.1 NLT).
With that awareness of the strength and power associated with the God of Mount Zion, there comes to us a tremendous sense of security, where (to cite an illustration that I have just read) we find that our feet are not just standing on the rock, but they are embedded in the rock. If we’re standing on the rock, we can slip, as we maybe know on a rocky hillside. But if our feet are embedded in the rock, then we don’t slip. That is the security that Mount Zion brings us: that deep treasure, to be found and explored all our life.
And then there is another aspect of it. She is beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth.
From Mount Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines in glorious radiance. (Psalm 50:2)
And so that describes the city there, the New Jerusalem, heaven itself. Of that mount we read:
I saw the Lamb standing upon Mount Zion (Revelation 14:1)
and we read of the beauty of the New Jerusalem:
I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband… God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away… And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. (Revelation 21:2, 4, 23)
Let us meditate upon that Mount Zion, the New Jerusalem, our destiny. We can’t explore all its treasure yet: that lies in the future. But some of its treasure comes spilling down to us now, and we can begin to explore it. The perfection of beauty, the radiance of God Himself shining out, is a beacon to us; it’s the light that is guiding us on our journey.
It is Christ Himself who said: ‘I go to prepare a place for you.’
In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. (John 14:2)
In other words: ‘If there wasn’t one for you, if there weren’t enough for you, I would have told you.’ He has gone to prepare a place, and the light of that dwelling place comes to us, the exquisite sweetness of it, the beauty, the place where there is no sorrow, no more tears, no more thirst. The Lamb Himself will be our guide to lead us to the fountains of water. In the midst of your thirst today – and have we not got thirsty spirits? – draw near to Him. In the words of the hymn we sing at Christmas time: Travelling home, heavy laden … The hills are parting, we see the lights of Bethlehem. And it’s not Bethlehem we’re going to; it is heaven, it is Zion, the New Jerusalem. We see the lights – the hills of this life with all its difficulties and its joys begin to part, and we see the lights of home. Let the joy of it begin to spill over us. They who trust in Him shall be as Mount Zion: citizens of a new country, in the world but not of it.
O the blessed joy of meeting,
All the desert past;
O the wondrous words of greeting
He will speak at last.
He and I together ent’ring
Those fair courts above,
He and I together sharing
All the Father’s love.
(Tersteegen, tr. Frances Bevan)
O the blessed joy of meeting, all the desert past – entering His home, which is ours, to be greeted by the Father.
Is there not deep treasure here? I don’t think we meditate enough on all that lies ahead, so as to prepare ourselves now for that heavenly home.
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