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Zion, City of Our God

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
January 12, 2022 7:00 am

Zion, City of Our God

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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January 12, 2022 7:00 am

A day is coming when the nations of the world will be brought together--not by force or human effort, but by the power of God--to worship Him, and to live in harmony with one another. Next time on The Bible Study Hour with Dr. James Boice, we’ll be studying Psalm 87. Join Dr. Boice as he paints a picture of the day when all nations will worship the Lord on Mt. Zion, the city of our great God.

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Much as been written in Scripture about Mount Zion. It's been called the city of our great king. The joy of the whole earth in the house of the Lord God loves his holy city, and one day all the nations will stream to it are welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act biblically earthly empires will pass away, and powerful kings will become a memory. But Zion, the city of God, inhabited by the people of God will last forever.

Let's listen as Dr. Boyd shows us that while Psalm 87 speaks of the physical city of Jerusalem.

It also points to God's eternal kingdom and the salvation of all who are called long ago when former Pres. Jimmy Carter got involved in the diploma say that was going on with the country of Haiti prior to the US invasion, I came across an article in the newspaper and editorial type of article is very critical of them said that he was seeking peace among nations at any cost and then elaborated that last phrase is if nothing else mattered to former Pres. Carter. I don't know whether that is just it seemed like an unjustified slander to me, but whether that's true or not this goal of peace among nations are a brotherhood among people is a worthy goal certainly is an ancient one. Socrates might have been one of the first to verbalize it, at least concerning himself because when people ask him what country he was a citizen. He called himself a citizen of the world you know that that's where that phrase came from a game from Socrates, the Stoics, which were another philosophical branch of the nation of Greece spoke often of a world brotherhood and harmony among people.

When Rome came along Rome established in Rome did it by force that is by the force of arms and generally speaking, that's the way it's been done since but would like things to all be together will to be cooperating, but that doesn't happen naturally because of the sin and dependence of the human heart is usually done by force of arms. Now that was true even in ancient Israel when you read some of the Psalms and talk about day of unity among nations. It's quite often described in language which is the language of military occupation or conquests. Nations are to be subdued by the force of Jewish arm yet at the same time time to time in the Psalms you get a grander and more glorious vision of Psalm 87 is one such vision. It's a prophecy it's anticipating a day of blessing when not by alarmists but by the power of God. The nations of the world will be brought together to acknowledge one true God worship him and live in harmony with one another. That's a great advance over Psalms a talk about the destruction of enemies, but we can't read it without also thinking of any of her and greater advance of the same idea that occurs in the New Testament because in the New Testament.

This Zion of Israel becomes Zion, the Church of God, the vision you have in the New Testament is for a day when all will acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Messiah and serve him. In other words, the vision of Psalm 87 ultimately is achieved in the church where as the apostle Paul wrote in Galatians, there is neither Jew or Greek, slave nor free mail or female, but rather all are one in Christ Jesus. Now the salt, which is probably not the most popular. Although the Psalms, at least with most of us was nevertheless the Psalm that inspired John Newton to write one of our most popular hymns him as glorious things of thee are spoken.

Zion city of our God. We sing a lot, you probably know most of it by heart. At any rate, the first verse goes like this glorious things of thee are spoken. Zion, the city of our God. He whose word cannot be broken formed the for his own the boat on the rock of ages founded what can shake by sure repose salvation's wall surrounded on latest smile of all life's that person than the other verses that follow in the him Newton picks up on the theme of this Allman by means of his poetry commends it and interprets it through the church of Jesus Christ that we should note before we go on the Psalm 87 follows very naturally on Psalm 86 on 86 prophesied that all the nations you have made will come and worship before you, they will bring glory to your name, you find that in verse nine. Now here in the 87 saw me find the same thing developed develop more fully, so the only place in the Old Testament that you find it is idea of Jews and Gentiles all coming together worship the true God is found in many places in Isaiah, Micah, Zechariah, Malachi and other places to other different ways of dividing up the song that is outlining it might do with the way the new international version deposits into separate stanzas some other commentators divided into other parts seems to me that the best way to treat it as simply by taking the sequence of ideas, and that's what I'd like to do.

If we do that, verses one and two stand together, they are essentially the theme versus of the solvent or point is that God has chosen an established Zion, Zion is a reference to the amount upon which Jerusalem is built so it's one of those words. It stands for Jerusalem and the city of daughter. The kingdom itself used in various ways and what these verses are saying is that the spiritual work of the world is done by God as God establishes Zion and God establishes church. It's that particular expression of the idea and the cause Newton to write on the rock of ages founded what can shake. I sure repose allowed rock is Mount Zion founded upon that course is thinking spiritually.

Nothing is going to shake us when we look at those words. His foundation said his foundation on the holy mountain is very hard not to think of Hebrews 1110, which is praising Abraham because he looked for a city that has foundations. I have to remember that Abraham was a battle and it was taken out of the Chaldees that is his home city and he wondered for the better part of his lifetime he was brought in the land that God promised to give him but he never actually possessed, and he certainly didn't possess Zion that is the city of Jerusalem, which became the capital under King David was being possessed by the Jews in the last time so that was it that Abraham was really looking for when he was looking for a city with foundations of the author of Hebrews makes very clear that it's a spiritual city that he was looking for words. If you go back in the Old Testament, even as far as Abraham you find that the spiritual focus of the people of God was not on things tangible things that you can hold and manipulate and possess. Given all of that is important as some of those things may be but rather on things that are intangible number how Paul and the second letter to the Corinthians, points out that the visible things are passed away, but it's the invisible things that is a spiritual things that remain, as always. Point is a very wise if you set your heart and your mind on that the earthly has value. It may be a foretaste of the heavenly solvent saying Zion is a foretaste here of the Zion Lavista, is the spiritual fellowship of the people of God but it's the invisible spiritual things really matter now. The next section next idea really is verse three, which is where Newton got first line of the him glorious things are said of you.

Oh, city of God, what is it that God is set in place of Zion. I love you think about the earthly city. First of all, you come across statements like this from the 48th Psalm you already studied it is beautiful in its loftiness. The joy of the whole earth like the utmost heights of the saffron is Mount Zion, the city of the great King again.

Psalm yet to come. Psalm 132 is thereabouts I am the Lord has chosen Zion has desired it for his dwelling second chapter of Isaiah's vision of the city of Jerusalem in the last days in the goes like this in the last days the mountain of the Lord's temple will be established as chief among the mountains.

It will be raised above the hills and all nations will stream to it. Many peoples will come and say, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord to the house of the God of Jacob teaches his ways so that we may walk in his plans.

Law will go out from Zion and the word award from Jerusalem.

There, Isaiah has a vision that corresponds very closely.we have in the song outside only John Newton but was inspired by the Psalm. St. Augustine was as well and all the great St. Augustine the greatest theologian of the church between the early days in the time of the Reformation and the reformers appended a large extent, Augustine wrote in an enormous amount of material we know investors confessions but perhaps the most influential work he did was call the city of God, Augustine was developing a Christian philosophy of history and he was trying to react to the fall of Rome.

It seemed like a unmitigated disaster to the people of his day and Augustine said no, it's just an example of all things human passing away matter how great the Empire may be eventually it's going to be gone is been true of the empires of the world that happened in the United States. United States is going to last forever all things human pass away. That's the way it is with the city of man. Augustine said it's sinful society flourishes for a time. Eventually it's judging the passes away over against you say that city of Madison city of God is at the city of God is composed of the people of God in this established by the work of God. It has different origins and is a different course of history and has a different goal. So from this Psalm oh city of God. Augustine got the title for that great work of the Middle Ages lockers the way the author of Hebrews makes the point. This is from chapter 12 he's talking about Christians using this imagery.

He says you've come to Mount Zion and explain the success that is to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God, the one for whom the earthly city was only a pipe, you have come to thousands upon thousands of angels and joyful assembly to the church of the firstborn's names are written in heaven.

You've come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, did Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than that of Abel, and I remember the author of the book of Hebrews was a Jew, is writing to Jews, and he saying that the fulfillment of all these things that you have in Judaism and they were great is in Jesus Christ and the heavenly kingdom that he is come to establish so don't keep harking after the earthly city even earthly Jerusalem is going to pass away become rather to the Jerusalem of God where you come to know God. Now the next section of this is verses four through six.

What this describes is the coming of the Gentiles to worship God together with the Jews in Jerusalem. The author mentions five representative nations here.

Rahab first of all, in verse four as indicated in the song what Rahab stands for, but other verses know that it actually stands for Egypt was used that way. It literally means pride or philosophy and is used for Egypt the same way we might use the bear to Stanford Rusher Eagle to stand for America or something like that was understood in its day. I was a great power to the south of Israel that you mentioned is Babylon. This was the great power to the East Bible and didn't emerge as a world power until relatively late in Old Testament history, presumably after the Psalms. Most of the Psalms of been written so the reference to Babylon here probably indicates that this is a late song mentions Felicity annexed this with a great power to the West was saved very close and formidable threat to Israel during much of its history the fourth of the cities is Tyre. It was a powerful city state to the north and south. By the time you get for mentioned that it's Rahab standing for Egypt and Babylon the Felicity of entirely about Northeast, South, and West, and the words it flipping out in all directions of saying always nations are going to, eventually worship God in Jerusalem and then as on one more. That is Kush that stands for Ethiopia and it appears in the Old Testament more or less as a representative of the far distant nation of the words in that day where they didn't travel as far or as easily as we do, Kush, Ethiopia, way down there in Africa was just about as far as you could go so it's a way of saying even the distant nations. The farthest reaches of the world going to come and worship God was hard to read that prophecy without thinking of Pentecost because you recall that on Pentecost there in Jerusalem after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ when Peter stood up to preach the first sermon of the Christian era people were there from all over the world to come up to Jerusalem for the feast.

The various nations went by different names in that day, but a lot of them are mentioned. Parthians needs Elamites, people from Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt. Egypt mentioned explicitly parts of Libya near Cyrene, visitors from Rome creations Arabs see all of them were there we heard the preaching of the gospel believed and responded to it. Now those nations also have certain characteristics and one writer picks up on that. Noting that Egypt was known for its pride Bible and for being worldly and Felicity for being a wrathful kind of place and here's what this writer says it's the glory of the church, then to her the fullness of all the nations enter the proud from Egypt for her haughtiness is called Rahab worldly from babbling city of confusion. The raffle from Celestia along among the enemies of Israel to come at us from Tyre rich city of the traders the slaves of ignorance from cushion from land of Ham's way. The church is constructed churches and constructed of saints, except in the sense that they are called to belong to God. It constructed people from every walk of life and one of the glories of the church when it functions as a short visit.

It's not a reflection of a certain class of society certain set of social values so that the church becomes a reflection of the mainline.

The longer particular outlook of the inner city alone, but it becomes broad collection of all kinds of people who are brought to God by the power of the gospel. One of the great strengths of this church, and my judgment is that it's just like that we are people literally from all over Delaware Valley from distances and make it possible for them to get here and some people come a long long way. So we have city people and mainline people.

People who think of a secular way and others to think in a conservative way that you see that the Church of God encompasses them all when they come to Jesus Christ and that's what were concerned to do to present him in such a way that this great work of evangelism is done as Jesus reaches out to the nations, even in our midst of many nations right here in Philadelphia begins to draw these people one by one to know and worship Jesus Christ unless what's said about them to think seriously.

All these people are coming and then it says I will record them as those who acknowledge the word that is translated. Acknowledge there is the Hebrew word Usually translated no come to know that, usually, but it's translated in all kinds of ways.

I was surprised, looking at this some time ago to find out that it's translated.

Believe it or not, no less than 190 different ways in the new international version.

Most of them have to do with knowing God, and that's what it means here to see it's not just saying that God is going to bring representatives of all these nations to Jerusalem or for that matter, that God is even going to bring representatives of all the nations into the church of Jesus Christ is saying God is going to bring representatives of all the nations to know him, which happens that within the Fellowship of the church of the important thing is knowing God is me to know God means we saved by God enter into a saving relationship with them before we come to him and Jesus Christ. God is unknown to us, others God we know anything about it. We don't have any relationship with him. That happens to Jesus Christ becomes possible, so much so that you can equate the idea of knowing God was salvation itself.

Jesus did. Jesus said in John 17 this is eternal life, that they may know you the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. So we say that's important thing that you might come to know God that's why we teach the Bible but is why we pray the people might come to know God, because that matters more than anything else. And so what we say to those who consider themselves wise or strong or rich very categories that are suggested by these nations that are brought to Zion, we say it with Jeremiah. Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom with a strong man boast of his strength of the rich man boast of his riches, let him who boasts boast about this, that he understands and knows me. I am the Lord who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth because it is in these that I like Claire's board to the greatest blessing I can come into the life of any individual is to know God, the greatest blessing I can come up on any community is when people in the community, to know God greatest blessing the can come up on any nation is when the people of the nation.

Large numbers come to know God is the second thing is mentioned here and that is that these people and coming to know God are also born again.

I must be the meaning. Certainly the spiritual meaning of the emphasis here upon this one being born inside is repeated three times says in verse four.

This one was born in Zion, and again in verse five. This one and that one were born in her and then verse six. This one was born in science less important. It's a short Psalm seven versus three times over, you find that phrase obviously is the core of what is being said, what does it mean well, even if you're thinking of literal earthly side, and it can't mean that all people of all the nations of the world literally are going to be born in the city of Jerusalem.

Nobody would be foolish enough to say that so it has to have a suggestive meaning out of the very least speaking of the earthly city. It must be envisioning a day when the peoples of the world will be counted as if they had been born in Zion, that is, they would have the fullness of citizenship or something of that nature. We think of it, spiritually. While it has to be concerned with being born again but is born into the family of God, so it will be said of this one who is an African-American he is born again is born in the family of God. In this when it was a wasp white Anglo-Saxon Protestant.

He was born in the family of God. And this would who comes from Europe and finds Jesus Christ born in the family of God from South America and so forth.

That's what it's talking about. There's an interesting bit of information on that night I just mention it, for the Bible scholars and that is that in the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, the Septuagint is the translation of the Old Testament from the Hebrew in this Psalm. In verse five where it says this one and that one were born in her Septuagint ads in the Greek language the word mother so Zion becomes the mother of these people reason that significant is that the apostle Paul apparently used the Septuagint that is the Greek version of the Old Testament, most often in his preaching because of people he preached.

Two were Greek speaking, and he seems to have referred to it spiritually because it's reflected in Galatians in the fourth chapter of Galatians verse 26 Paul says the Jerusalem that is above is our mother.

The only place he got that from was the 87th Psalm any speaking spiritually. So what the apostle Paul is saying is this, we understand the 87th Psalm.

It's about the heavenly Jerusalem about the work of God in bringing us by new birth into that new family where we come to the very end. Verse seven last of these ideas says as they make music label saying all my fountains are in you is natural for the people of God the same. If you been brought into the family of God know something with joy of salvation.

When you naturally sing about Christians sing hymns services are filled with natural expression of thanksgiving and worship and joy in this case, the essence of the songs that are fountains are and God doesn't mean well fountain is a thing of refreshment and blessing in that same all our blessings are in God. You know the image itself is found other places in the Bible is found in Psalm 46 where we read about a river whose streams make glad the city of God, you find it in Ezekiel Ezekiel describes a great fountain coming out from beneath the throne of God flowing out of the big river to bless all the nations.

Interestingly, John Milton picked it up in paradise lost in a paradise lost. You know the beginning of that, he appeals to the Holy Spirit is a Greek writer would appeal to the heavenly muse and in one place he says or if Zion's Hill delight, the more about this Psalm you see her silo is profit flowing fast by the oracle of God.

I fence invoked by an aide to my adventurous song. The point of it. You say is that the people of God know that there lessons are gone. That's where every good and perfect gift is to be found.

Anything you have is good comes from God because he is the source of everything good and that is true whether you know them or not may not be a Christian, but if you have a good mind it's from God, he gave you the mind, you may not be a Christian, but you may have a good job you have. That is because God has made it possible for you have lots of people who don't see a difference between a non-Christian, a Christian at that point is that Christians come to know God recognizes that God is the source so you want to thank him for it, but I want to ask because I want to speak to people who are Christians as well as those who were not.

Do you do that you actually acknowledge that all your fountains are in God, or do you take credit for these things for yourself. See if you acknowledge that everything good comes to you or is in you is from God. Therefore, the God is good. Then you grow strong in that knowledge in your spam firm not in yourself but in him because he is a good God. That's what Newton said in the him number the verse that goes see the streams of living water springing from eternal law well supply thy sons and daughters of all fear of one remove disease is developing that last verse poetically and then he concludes who Ken thinks while such a river flows their thirst to assuage grace, which, like the Lord, the giver never fails. From age to age. Grace is never failed, yet never will because it comes from the inexhaustible supply of eternal sovereign God.

We are blessed your blessed you and I actually come to know him and worship him. Father were thankful for the Psalm thankful that we have had time to study it together today acknowledge that the truths that are in it, go beyond our ability to receive and yet what we have understood is in itself a blessing.

We ask you to bless the teaching of your word in the hearts of many people and for those who don't know you ministry one thing that will help bring them to a knowledge of yourself and the joy that is to be found in the kind of salvation and for those who do know you may there be a strengthening of the trust which they already have in you and an increased willingness and desire to acknowledge that you are the source of all good gifts. So, may you be praise court. Thank you for listening to this message from the Bible study our listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance is a coalition of pastors, scholars and churchmen who hold to the historic creeds and confessions of the reformed faith and who proclaim biblical doctrine in order to foster a reformed awakening in today's church. To learn more about the alliance visit alliance and while you're there, visit our online store reformed resources. You can find messages and books from Dr. Boyce and other outstanding teachers and theologians, or ask for a free reformed resources catalog by calling 1-800-488-1888.

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