I wonder if you have a favourite place where you would rather live. Maybe a quiet rural city like Sale, Victoria (population 15,000). That’s were my wife and I am at the time of writing this Blog Post. We are visiting my wife’s brother here. Or, maybe it is a medium size city like Perth, Western Australia (population 2 million), the place we call home. But, just maybe, you like BIG cities, like Karachi, Pakistan (population 15 million), the one we spent 3 years in during the 1980s.
Well, when we read Psalm 87, we discover that the writer suggests that God had a favourite city and it is none of the above!
The title of the Psalm suggests it was written by “the Sons of Korah” and that it is “A psalm. A song.” These guys were the worship leaders in Israel 3000 years ago.
The psalmist begins:
1 He [God] has founded his city on the holy mountain.
2 The Lord loves the gates of Zion
more than all the other dwellings of Jacob. 3 Glorious things are said of you,
city of God:
The obvious thing here is that when he uses the name “Zion”, the psalmist was referring to Jerusalem, the city of David. But why was it so special? Sure, in the psalmist’s day, it may have been an impressive structure, providing shelter, security, safety and comfortable accommodation for all who came to live or visit. It was a complete city – socially, economically, politically. But it was much more! This was the city that pilgrims from all over the land came to visit at least once a year. It was the place where the Jewish temple was. It was the centre of worship to Yahweh, the God of Israel. So, what made Jerusalem special? One word – God! It was His idea for David to establish it as the capital of Israel. God founded it, loved it and He did great things in people’s lives as they worshiped him in that place. That was why Glorious things [were] said [concerning this] city of God.
The two things that made Jerusalem so great were God and the people of God who worshiped and served him there.
“The point of verse 1 is that God is its founder. It existed already in the time of Abraham and exists still today. But when God appointed it as David’s capital, that was in effect a new foundation. For the next thousand years, from the time of David to the time of Christ, it was in a very special sense God’s city… verse 2 indicates what is so special about it… this is the place … where He calls his people together, for praise and prayer and the hearing of his word, centred on the one altar of sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins.” (# 5)
But there is even greater meaning to all this, way beyond just for the Jewish nation.
In his devotional book, “A Musician Looks at the Psalms”, Don Wyrtzen writes:
“Zion, which encompasses Jerusalem and surrounding hills, was the earthly dwelling of God – the chosen object of his love (Ps. 78:68). With its towers, gates, bulwarks, and palaces, it stood as proof of eternal reconciliation with God… The “city of God” mentioned in these verses… is both a geographical location… and a symbolic one – in heaven… In the New Jerusalem, that heavenly city, the population will be composed of peoples from all nations…” (# 47)
Wyrtzen here is referring to the teaching concerning heaven found in Revelation referring to the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. 11 It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. (Revelation 21:10-11)
The description continues:
22 I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. 25 On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. 26 The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. 27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (Revelation 21:22-27)
Today, in the 21st Century you and I can visit the geographical city of Jerusalem in Israel. All you need is a visa. But the same is not true when it comes to entering the heavenly city as described in Revelation.
According to this last verse no one will be able to enter this heavenly city of God if that person’s name is not written in the Lamb’s book of life? The “Lamb”, of course, is referring to Jesus (see John 1:29 – The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!)
So, let me finish with the question, is your name written in the Lamb’s book of life?