Hello Church Devotion Aug.31, 2013

“Z” is for “Zion

Zion is a Hebrew word describing a specific mountain near Jerusalem. In the Old Testament days before David, there was a Jubusite fortress that was conquered by David and was then named the City of David. The term Zion, then was to designate an area of Jerusalem and generally came to be a synonym for Jerusalem itself. (1 Chronicles 11:5; 2 Chronicles 5:2; 1 Kings 8:1)

When Solomon, King David’s son came to power and was building the temple, the Zion area become part of Jerusalem proper, as well as the Temple Mount, Judea and Israel as well. Zion become synonymous with God’s people living in God’s City. All of this is described in the Bible in Psalms 2:6; 48:2, 11-12; 132:13; Isaiah 40:9; Jeremiah 31:12; Zechariah 9:13.

Psalm 87:2-3 says, “The LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob. Glorious things are said of you, O city of God.” The word is used over 150 times throughout the Bible and essential means “Fortification”.

The area of Mount Zion was first populated in the first temple period, but the city of David and Solomon was centered in the "lower city", east and down from Mount Zion. Only During the second temple period this higher hill was incorporated into the newly expanded "upper city".

The walls from that time (2nd C BC) are gone today, but excavations held in 1894 (F.G. Bliss) and 2008 (Y. Zelinger) revealed the foundations of the walls, gates, paved streets, and foundations from the Greek and Roman period.

According to Christian tradition, Mount Zion was the site of the palace of high priest Caiaphas, and the location of the house where Jesus held the last supper. It was also the place where his mother Mary is buried (in the Dormition). Therefore, the area has been a prime site for Christian churches, institutes, and cemeteries.

According to Jewish, Christian and Muslim traditions, this is also the site of the tomb of King David. The area of mount Zion was excluded from the Roman city planned by Hadrian (Aelia Capitolina, 2nd C AD) and the Ottoman walled city that followed its plan (built in 1540AD). The area was purchased by Christians who built cemeteries, churches and a school.

You find in the prophetic book of Isaiah many references to Zion. Here is just a sampling:

And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. Isaiah 35:10 ESV

Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news; lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, "Behold your God!"Isaiah 40:9 ESV

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, "Your God reigns." Isaiah 52:7 ESV

Zion is promised a Savior. One that God Himself will send to redeem Zion and to drive away her enemies. Zion will finally be complete when Jesus comes again at the end of all things. God will preserve Zion and will make her shine forth with righteousness and justice.

The Old Testament prophets point us to the Gospel news of Jesus. The entrance of Jesus into the city of Jerusalem on PalmSunday is broadcast in some of the other Gospel accounts as well.

[The Coming King of Zion] Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.Zechariah 9:9 ESV

"Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey's colt!" John 12:15 ESV

But what God does in His Son, Jesus, not all understand and believe. For some, Jesus is an offensive person who is a stumbling block for their lives. He doesn’t fit the self described ideas of a Savior and Lord. For what Savior and Lord would stoop so low as to be ridiculed, tortured and crucified on a cross?

For some, this humbling of God in the person of Jesus doesn’t fit their idea of a majestic god who only involves himself in pleasing himself.

Rather, our God is one who shows His divine love and mercy by the incarnation of His Son, Jesus Christ into the flesh of mankind. But God was not done with just providing the birth of His Son. Rather, He grew up and ministered to the creation revealing the rightness of the kingdom of God that the world had forgotten. Eventually, Jesus buys creation back for God by His innocent suffering and death on the cross.

as it is written, "Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame." Romans 9:33 ESV

And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, "The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob"; Romans 11:26 ESV

For it stands in Scripture: "Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame." 1 Peter 2:6 ESV

And at the end times, Jesus will come again. He will gather His chosen people made perfect, no matter whether dead or alive at that time. He will make all things new! He will bring us to the New Jerusalem and the dwelling place of God. The angels will gather in celebration and all will be good as the faithful are rewarded and the evil ones are no longer a concern, as God has thrown them into the pit of brimstone for eternal torment. But we will see Jesus. We will be in God’s house forever and ever. Amen.

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, Hebrews 12:22 ESV

[The Lamb and the 144,000] Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads.Revelation 14:1 ESV

In our Lutheran Service Book Hymnal, you will find Hymn 648 “Glorious things of You are Spoken."

Glorious things of you are spoken, Zion, city of our God;

He whose word cannot be broken formed you for His own abode.

On the Rock of Ages founded, What can shake your sure repose?

With salvation’s walls surrounded, You may smile at all your foes.

See, the streams of living waters, Springing from eternal love,

Well supply your sons and daughters And all fear of want remove.

Who can faint while such a river Ever will their thirst assuage?

Grace, which like the Lord, the giver, Never fails from age to age.

Round each habitation hov’ring, See the cloud and fire appear

For a glory and a cov’ring, Showing that the Lord is near.

Thus deriving from their banner Light by night and shade by day,

Safe they feed upon the manna Which God gives them on their way.

Savior, since of Zion’s city I through grace a member am,

Let the world deride or pity, I will glory in Your name.

Fading are the world’s vain pleasures, All the boasted pomp & show

Solid joys and lasting treasures None but Zion’s children know.

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Prayer: Lord, by Your grace, you have made me a citizen of holy Zion. Your city of holiness and purity. I do not deserve a place there, but by Your great action on the Cross, You have made me righteous and granted me faith by Your Spirit. It is truly all Your action. You have done it all and made me a part of Your royal people. Thank you. Two small words, but my lifetime is too short a time to show the gratitude I have for Your grace and Your love. Keep me in the straight and narrow. Help me to stand strong against the evil of this present world, and focus me on the joys of salvation that are found only in Jesus. In His royal and holy name I pray. Amen.

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