He has set his foundation on the holy mountain; the LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob. Glorious things are said of you, O city of God: Selah
“Where ya from?” That’s a common question when we come to a new place and new people.
We might name our most recent duty station, or we might give the name of our hometown. When asked about the hometown, we might say we’re glad to be out of there, or we might go on to talk about how wonderful it is. It seems some people can’t keep from telling us about the climate, the places to eat, and the amazing views of their hometown. It appears they cannot wait to get back there.
The writer of this psalm was clearly enthused about the place where he called home. The strange thing is that it is not where he came from but where he is going to.
After thinking about that, we realize that as strange as it may seem at first, we are looking to go to the same place. His hometown is our hometown.
We need to look at this more closely.
Zion was the ancient name for one of the hills Jerusalem was built upon. Then, it was selected as the site of the temple that the Lord God commanded to be built. It was on Zion that the blood of all those animal sacrifices was spilled. It was on Zion that the Lord made his presence known in the temple’s Holy of Holies. Zion is where God dwelt.
Sometimes, in the Bible, the Holy Spirit refers to Zion as the place where the people of God dwell. We read, “I who set the heavens in place, who laid the foundations of the earth, and who say to Zion, ‘You are my people’” (Isaiah 51:16).
So sometimes, Zion stands for the Church of God on earth.
And sometimes, Zion refers to the Church of God in heaven.
Note these words: “But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly” (Hebrews 12:22).
What are we to make of this? What does this mean for us living in America in the 21st century?
It tells us that the Christian hymn-writer was on target when he wrote, “I’m but a stranger here; heaven is my home.”
It makes us ponder the words of another hymn that echoes this psalm. “Glorious things of thee are spoken; Zion, city of our God.”
We spend our days on planet earth. We see what is happening around us. We hear what is happening in faraway places. We often are not happy about those things.
Danger lurks in the corners of this life. Disappointment easily sprouts up. When we lift our eyes to try to see what lies on the road far beyond, we observe through the lives of others that no one escapes old age with its frailty and futility.
Honestly, what is there to look forward to? Even the best of times will pass quickly, and the worst of times will be waiting.
Then will come the end, won’t it?
Not for the people of God. Not for those who have Zion as their hometown. Each day that passes for them brings them one day closer to home.
“Glorious things of thee are spoken; Zion, city of our God.”
What will it be like to live without fear, without sin, without regret, without sorrow? What will it be like to know perfect joy, perfect peace, perfect love? What will it be like to be reunited with our loved ones who, like us, loved the Savior? What will it be like to live with the holy God who loves us and has rescued us?
It will be glorious.
Our hometown is glorious.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, you shared our lives on this sin-draped planet. You saw the misery that sometimes enters our lives. You felt the pain. Never could we thank you enough for rescuing us from this deathtrap. Never can we yet imagine what it will be like to live in glory. But you have told us you are preparing a place for us there. We pray, when the time is right, bring us home! Amen.
Points to ponder:
- Why is it so easy to forget that we are only strangers here on earth?
- Why do we easily see storm clouds on the near horizon but miss the rainbow at the end?
- How can we begin to imagine just how glorious it will be to finally be home?
Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.