Saturday, February 17, 2018

Zion dwellers

Jerusalem at night
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Numbers 25-27; Psalm 48

TO CHEW ON: "Walk about Zion,
And go all around her.
Count her towers; ....
For this is God,
Our God forever and ever;
He will be our guide
Even to death. Psalm 48:12, 14

Zion is the city of Jerusalem. This Bible dictionary description helps us see it in its natural setting:

"The city is set high in the hills of Judah, over 30 miles from the Mediterranean, and over 20 west of the north end of the Dead Sea. It rests on a none-too-level plateau, which slopes noticeably toward the southeast. To the east lies the ridge of Olivet. Access to the city on all sides except the north is hampered by three deep ravines" - New Bible Dictionary, p. 614.

The Sons of Korah here praise Zion for its beauty, its qualities as a refuge, the way its appearance instills fear in Israel's enemies, and its stability.

But it is more than a mere city. For in the Jewish mind of that day its grandeur and solidity seem to be equated in some way with God Himself. Jerusalem was the center of their worship and so its qualities become a reflection of Elohim, the God they worship:

"For this is God (Elohim)
Our God forever and ever
He will be our guide
Even to death" (vs. 14).

Metaphors for God abound in the Bible. He is compared to
  • a bird covering us with its feathers (Psalm 91:4).
  • a mother caring for her child (Isaiah 66:12,13)
  • a father (Psalm 68:5; Matthew 6:9).
  • a shepherd (Psalm 23:1-6).
  • a fire (Hebrews 12:29).

... and many more.

I love this picture of God as the city of Jerusalem. The city's elements of beauty, safety, and solidity remind us of the security we have in Him.

The last line talks about God as a guide. It fits so well with the Numbers passage we read today where Moses asked God who would lead the people after he died, and God told him to anoint Joshua. Joshua, with Aaron's son Eleazar the priest, would guide the Israelites into the promised land (Numbers 27:11). For us too, God has people (parents, friends, pastors, teachers, authors) to act as His representative to guide us.

PRAYER: Dear God, this picture of You as Zion reminds me of the safety and hope I have in You. May my life as a Zion-dweller be a credit to You. Amen. 

 PSALM TO PRAY: Psalm 48

MORE: A city on a hill

I wonder if Jesus was thinking of Jerusalem when He mentioned a city on a hill during the Sermon on the Mount. Reading the physical description of Jerusalem, above, made me think of this verse—something we can take into the day.

"You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. ... Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:14, 16. 
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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