5.12.06

For the Lord dwells in Zion

"For the Lord dwells in Zion." These are the closing words of the prophet Joel (after whom my second son gets his middle name). And what a profound statement it is! The writer of Hebrews says:

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, and to the assembly 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 that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

Zion represents the covenant community of God's people, and as such finds its ultimate fulfilment in the church. It is in the church, to the church, and through the church that God chooses to make manifest his glory.

When we come together as the people of God we are coming to Zion, and the awesome manifest presence and glory of God himself. This is what gives the church its true identity, nothing less. It is the assembled community of God's people where God himself is made manifest.

Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth. (Psalm 50:2)

It is a tragedy most profound when God's people trade this identify for mere meetings, activities, programmes, schedules, form-filling, number-crunching, seat-filling irrelevance. If we cease to make known the awesome wonder of a genuine encounter with the living God in our midst, we have lost what it means to be the church of Jesus Christ.

In Exodus 33 the Lord offers Moses such an exchange:

"Depart; go up from here, you and the people whom you have brought up out of the land of Egypt, to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, 'To your offspring I will give it.’ I will send an angel before you, and I will drive out the Canaanites, the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I will not go up among you, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people."

The Lord offered them everything they wanted: their inheritance, victory over their enemies, abundant provision, even angelic visitation... but at the cost of the very thing that defined them as God's people - the presence of God himself.

When the people heard this disastrous word, they mourned, and no one put on his ornaments. (Exodus 33:4)

This was one of the rare times when the people caught the heart of God straight away. It didn't matter how much "blessing" they had, if God was not present with them it was "a disaster!"

Imagine a meeting where people press into that which has eluded them for years, where the abundant provision of God is poured out in finance, heath, peace, and where there is even an angelic visitation! I wonder how many of us would describe such a meeting a "disaster" because we realise that what is most important is - "Did we encounter God himself?" If God didn't show up, would he even be missed, or have we been so caught up in the activities of church that we have forgotten what it's really all about.

I thank God that I attend a congregation where the presence of God is regularly manifest and highly valued... but loosing focus can be a real and present danger for us all, no matter what our church background.

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
As they go through the Valley of Baca
they make it a place of springs;
the early rain also covers it with pools.
They go from strength to strength;
each one appears before God in Zion.
(Psalm 84:5-7)


It is not just on the last day that we shall stand before God in glory. For those who are joined to a genuine expression of Zion, the church of God, it should happen every time we come together!

"For the Lord dwells in Zion." Nothing less than the manifest presence of God in every meeting. Anything less is a disaster!

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very nicely put, and the statement you are making is much more profound than people realize. For one, God promised an inheritance in the old covenant, the covenant bound by the blood of bulls and rams. So, how much greater is the inheritance in the new covenant, bound by the blood of Jesus. It boggles the mind of many that we can communicate directly with the almighty God, and to me, this is the most precious portion of our new covenant inheritance, not the material wealth available, but the spiritual wealth, and I feel that you really brought that out without actually stating it in your peice. Also, the idea of corporately worshipping God to bring his presence and annointing is something many people do not understand. For one thing, as members of the body of Christ, we are all needed. How can one think without a brain, or breathe without a lung, it is the same in the body of Christ, we are all vital. It troubles me when I hear people say that they can get all they need by praying alone and watching a preacher on the television, but that is not what the Bible says, and the Bible is our authority. I enjoyed your post, and I wish more people would grasp the concepts you seem to have mastered.

Chris HH said...

Thanks, Moody. You are so right that the corporate nature of our calling is absolutely vital. I'm glad that I have managed to communicate something of its significance.

Abraham is a great example in all matters of living by faith. It was the individual call that he responded to, but it was his corporate vision of the city that kept him going all the years of his pilgrimage.

I don't claim to have mastered these things; I'm just sharing the highway to Zion that is in my own heart.

Anonymous said...

Chris.
back blogging I see. Your post ties in very well with mine today (sorry not got to grips with links yet) and the importance getting lost in wonder of God rather lost in legalisum. I've had some thoughts towards Zion.
• Zion is the favorite place of God, the fountain of His healing, help, support, and blessing
• Zion is the dwelling and resting place of God.
• Zion is the location of His roaring Voice. (Amos 1:2)
• Zion is the place of cleansing, beauty and holiness where God's smoke and fire are His protection in darkness and His glory a canopy.
• Zion is where God exalts His Son-King in a permanent place of reign. . . forever!
• Zion is the place from which His dominion goes forth into the world for victory against His enemies.
• Zion is where God appears in His glory.
• Zion is the place where God hears our cry and answers our prayers, (I’m planning to do a post on prayer soon)
• Salvation is found pouring from Zion. . . Deliverance, forgiveness flow from the Throne that stands - even now - on Zion.
• Zion is the future throne of the Lamb and with Him there on Zion, singing a secret song, will be those who followed Him through any dying pathway.
• Zion is the present dwelling place for those who have no opposition to God, who surrender in utter abandon.
• Zion is where God rules and whenever one will let Him rule as King, the ambassador in earth of His Throne in heaven.

There is a whole load more when I get time

Richard

Chris HH said...

Fantastic, Richard. I love it!
I think it's so important, as you have highlighted, that we not only remember whom God has made us to be individually, but who he has made us to be corporately: the body, the city, the bride, his delight, his glorious inheritance, the manifestation of his manifold wisdom to all the heavenlies.

I'm getting excited all over again!

Anonymous said...

Chris

I'll add some more comments hopefully towards the end of this week - [doing myself out of a post here :-)] as I have said there is more about God dwelling in Zion than first thought about.

Richard

Chris HH said...

Richard, you could always do a post on your own blog and then add a Trackback to this post. That's the accepted wisdom in the blogosphere when you have a lot to write in response to someone else's post.

Trackbacks can be understood as comments on this post hosted elsewhere

For the non-typepadders you can send a trackback using a form like this one

Alternatively just write the post, as long as it has a link to this one, I'll spot it and can add the trackback myself.

Anonymous said...

Chris

Have decided to do a post for Wednesday on Zion. All the track back and that lark is a bit beyond me (still getting to grips with this HTML business) anyway please add, track, or whatever you need to do to link to my post.
Every blessing and thanks for the inspiration to looking into ZION

Its great having you back

Richard