Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Psalms, The Prosperity of Zion, and the Glory of God

"You, O Lord, are enthroned forever; You are remembered throughout all generations. You will arise and have pity on Zion; it is time to favor her; the appointed time has come. For Your servants hold her stones dear and have pity on her dust. Nations will fear the name of the Lord, and all the kings of the earth will fear Your glory. For the Lord builds up Zion; He appears in His glory; He regards the prayer of the destitute and does not despise their prayer.

"Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord: that He looked down from His holy height; from heaven the Lord looked at the earth, to hear the groans of the prisoners, to set free those who were doomed to die, that they may declare in Zion the name of the Lord, and in Jerusalem His praise, when peoples gather together, and kingdoms, to worship the Lord."
- Psalm 102:12-22

To interpret these verses as applying exclusively, or even primarily, to the physical Jerusalem in Israel is to turn this passage against itself. While it refers to nations fearing the name of the Lord, a future people praising the Lord, and the liberated declaring His name and praise, and gathering to worship Him - all of which are spiritual activities - it would then be a nonsensical shift to be talking of a geographical location. Surely this is that spiritual Zion mentioned explicitly in Hebrews 12:22, "But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering..." This is the Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, that is a reference to the Church, by the name of her Old Testament type.

This same gathering of the nations to the Church is mentioned by the Prophet Isaiah. For example, see Is. 60:3, "And nations shall come to Your light, and kings to the brightness of Your rising." He uses almost identical wording, reinforcing the application of these prophecies to the Gospel Church.

The Westminster Larger Catechism, question 191, interprets the second petition of the Lord's Prayer ("thy kingdom come"), in part, as praying for "the Gospel [to be] propagated throughout the world, the Jews called, [and] the fullness of the Gentiles brought in." The Westminster Directory for Public Worship enjoins that prayer be raised "for the propagation of the Gospel and kingdom of Christ to all nations, for the conversion of the Jews, [and] the fulnesse of the Gentiles."

The belief in the prosperity of Zion through the power of God in the Gospel is taught in Scripture and has been the historical desire and love of God's people. The negativism and malaise that now dominate the Church have come in through the infection of dispensationalism, in all its factions. May God restore the Church to the power that her oldtime faith gave her!

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