Every morning I read a Psalm as part of my morning devotion. Yesterday I read Psalm 84, for the 24th of November. This Psalm was written by the sons of Korah, the Levites (Numbers 26:58), about the dwelling place of God – Zion. In my reflection, I was absolutely captivated by the gates of this heavenly city that shall be manifest upon the earth, when the Son of God shall shine forth from Jerusalem unto the ends of the earth.
“How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty! My soul years, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young – a place near your altar, O Lord Almighty, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you.”
My heart intuits the magnificence of these first verses. It causes my heart to soar. The beauty of the courts of my Lord are not beautiful because of the cedar wood, gold, gates of pearl, or any of the other precious stones mentioned in Revelations 21. Beauty is found in this city because God is there. It is the beauty of holiness – that very essence that causes the angels to stagger. Holiness is otherness. It is being set apart. Sanctification is about being less like the world we grew up in, and more like the God who has made us.
Zion is the place of absolute lordship of Jesus Christ, God’s anointed King. Zion is the perfection of beauty – ascending the holy hill of God (Psalm 24) to usher in the King of Glory. It is the complete separation from oneself into the perfect and beautiful union with God. Entering His courts and coming to His altar is language of glory. Those that dwell in His house are blessed, because they are ever praising Him.
“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with blessings. They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.”
Blessed are those who strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. We are not of this world, even though we’re in this world. We’re ambassadors of heaven, searching for a city whose builder and maker is God. Of that city that Abraham sought, we’re told in the next chapter in Hebrews, “Ye have come unto Zion.” We’re pilgrims, but we’re not without home. Jerusalem is our happy home, dwelling above in freedom and beauty. It is at the right hand of the Father that Christ Jesus ascended to, putting out His hand to those saints that would by faith enter into His presence once and for all by His blood. We are seated with Christ in heavenly places, even while still being upon this earth.
Our strength is in God, and we move from strength to strength covering the world in showers of holy and spiritual blessings. Rivers of living water, which the Greek word can mean both living and flowing, flow out from our bellies to the ends of the earth – saturating the sons of men with the fragrance of heaven until each appears before God in Zion.
“Hear my prayer, O Lord God Almighty; listen to my, O God of Jacob. Look upon your shield, O God; look with favor on your anointed one. Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. O Lord Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you.”
In the midst of Zion, God and the Lamb sit upon their glorious throne to give light to all men. Better is one day in the midst of that light than 1000 anywhere else. Those who are blameless dwell there, for blamelessness marks those that are truly His. To be the people of this city, we remain in His love. And how do we remain in His love? We obey His commandments. And what are His commandments? We love one another. We lay our lives down, submitting one to another in love, and we support our brothers and sisters. We have kinship, which is the glory of unity.
How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore. Here in this holy city, God has established His priests forever. They rule and reign with Him, in unity to one another because they are in absolute unity with Christ Jesus.
This is the mystery of God worked out: Christ in you, the hope of glory. That precious mystery manifest in the very human beings that He has chosen and anointed with priestly anointing – not any longer an Aaronic priest draft, but instead all who call upon the name of the Lord – is the mystery of God that the holy prophets of old eagerly awaited. Now it is manifest in us, not only to us. For they that are of this city, their hearts are set on pilgrimage. They long and hunger after a perfect beauty. This unquenchable thirst and hunger cannot be satisfied by anything less than the coming of their Redeemer and the establishment of His Kingdom upon the face of the earth, where righteousness will be seen unto the ends of the earth.
Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, the darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to our light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. This Bride of the Lamb lives in the light. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. Her lamp goes not out at night. She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. Give this Bride the reward she has earned! Let her works bring her praise at the city gates!
Let our hearts thud with joy at this Bride who God is preparing for His Son. This Bride is His Church united with Israel. Regarding Israel and the Jews, “He found him in a desert land, and in the howling waste of a wilderness; he encircled him, he cared for him, he guarded him as the pupil of his eye,” Deuteronomy 32:10. Regarding the Gentile Church, “Now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations… Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household.”
The love and adoration of Christ to His church are manifest in the words, “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” May Christ shine upon all of our hearts and bring us into this city. May he prepare us all for being that beautiful Bride that has no spot or wrinkle. Stir us afresh, O God, that our hearts might also pant for the living God.