Zion, Holy Mount

It becomes apparent on an ever-increasing scale that Jerusalem raises the blood pressure of people and nations without any difficulty. Why is it that this former stronghold of a long-forgotten Jebusite nation can make politicians and leaders vocal with indignation, with determination, with vehemence, with hostility – mainly against Israel?

It certainly isn't because of its location. No coveted river flows near its door. There is no strategic harbour to possess. The city does not straddle a vital road link, which if held by the enemy would strangle the life of another country. So why is it that the international stomach gets ulcers every time there is discussion about Jerusalem?

We may grasp the answer if we look beyond the earthly realm and gaze into the heavenlies. To do this we will need, not a giant telescope, but the open pages of the Bible. Within the pages of the Bible we learn of one who covets that which belongs to the Lord – the Adversary.

This Adversary knows the Almighty's intentions concerning the land of Israel and its city Jerusalem, and the relation they have to the Messiah, and so he seeks to foil God's Word. In particular, there is a spot within Jerusalem that the Enemy longs for most – the rocky outcrop which overlooks the city called Mount Zion.

This site belonged to a Jebusite man called Araunah, whose threshing site it was, and to which the Lord led King David so he could make an offering that would stay the plague that was afflicting the land. David could have appropriated the land for his purpose, and Araunah did indeed offer it as a gift to the king, but David purchased it, saying, "I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God with that which costs me nothing" (2 Samuel 24:24).

According to 2 Samuel 24:24 and 1 Chronicles 21:25 David paid the toal cost of six hundred and fifty shekels for the floor and surrounding land. So it was now part of the royal heritage, and this land was decreed to be the place where the Ark of the Covenant would be kept. Here the testimony of God's Divine Presence would hold the pre-eminent place.

It would be a constant reminder that the Lord would be watching over the affairs of the city, and that He was mindful of His people's needs. It would be here that Solomon would fulfil the desire of his father David by building the glorious Temple to the honour of the Lord.

C ontroversy Over Jerusalem

Many have been the battles that have raged for and over the walls of Jerusalem. One in particular was used by the Lord to impress upon His people a warfare with greater significance. Sennacherib the Assyrian king came to crush the forces caged behind Jerusalem's walls. With boasts and curses, promises and threats, he railed against Hezekiah the king, and the Lord of heaven and earth (2 Kings 18 and 19). Sennacherib failed, not because of Israel's prowess but because of Divine intervention.

Many have been the battles fought over Jerusalem since that time, yet the Psalmist portrays the Holy City as beautiful and serene. Psalm 48 is an insight into what will be God's final and complete victory over the forces of evil:

"Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in his holy mountain. Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion on the sides of the north, the city of the great King."

Isaiah also throws very interesting light on this holy mount: "For you (Satan) have said in your heart: 'I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north'" (14:13).

The enemy of God sought to envelop within himself all that belonged to the Almighty Creator, and all that He had promised to His Messiah. For to sit enthroned in Zion is the unchanging gift of God to His Messiah, His Son according to Psalm 2:6,7. "Yet I have set my King on my holy hill of Zion . . . you are my Son, today I have begotten you."

In God's sovereign grace He is able to make Lucifer's (Satan's) actions a backdrop for His own mercy. Zechariah 9:9 tells us: "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; he is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey."

We can imagine the hatred, the fear, that Satan would have experienced when he witnessed this event. Before his gaze it seemed as if the Messiah was going to make Zion the sacred mount His. So in a desperate gamble he stirred up the enmity, the jealousy, the fear and the pride of Gentile and Jewish leaders. Feeling threatened by the One who rode on the colt, this consortium sought to crush Him, and they staked Yeshua haMashiach to an open shame outside the Holy City.

W hat a Tragedy!

This was no tragedy. By His sovereign grace the Lord reversed the deeds of darkness and the depravity of man, for although at that time the Messiah did not claim Zion for His own, He achieved something that made the future more promising for us. For in His death He drained sin, Satan and death of their power and authority over mankind. And the resurrection is the sign of conquest. It is God's call to liberty, eternal and free.

This does not mean that the Messiah had failed to claim the sacred mount – it was not God's chosen time. But when He finally does take His place in the "city of the great King" He will not only sit enthroned, but He will rule over the whole earth and its peoples.

The delay in His coming is best understood in the light of His loving patience. God's appointed time has not yet come. And there is yet to be a final revolt by Satan, a final onslaught against the power of Almighty God in an attempt to thwart God's plans and purposes for His people Israel and His city Zion.

Puny man, even though energized by Satan and his demons will cause God to laugh in that day. "He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the LORD shall hold them in derision" (Psalm 2:4).

"The LORD will roar from Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; the heavens and earth will shake; but the LORD will be a shelter for his people, and the strength of the children of Israel.

"So you shall know that I am the LORD your God, dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain. Then Jerusalem shall be holy, and no aliens shall ever pass through her again" (Joel 3:16,17).

What a day of glory that will be! The words of the prophets will be realized; the cries of the people will be answered. For then the city of Jerusalem will no longer be a place which makes the world tremble. It will truly be "the joy of the whole earth." It will be pavilioned in splendour, not shrouded in shame. For it will be on that day that the Lord, the Messiah will be enthroned on the sacred hill Zion.

We need to heed the invitation and warning inherent in the words: "Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in him" (Psalm 2:11,12).