Key to Zion

Key to Zion

16 August 2011

"Some Christians are very fond of the term 'Zion' as a name for the Church," wrote the Messianic "father" and scholar, David Baron of England, in the late 1800s. "They may be surprised to learn that 'Zion' in the Hebrew means a 'desert', 'barrenness', or, as it is translated in Isaiah 25.5 'a dry place'. " (1)

Today, in the Church, the term "Zion" continues to have a particular kind of currency...most usually it suggests some form or other of "triumphalism" or "gloriousness"? But David Baron's understanding leads us along an entirely different, salutary pathway...especially so far as prophecy and eschatology are concerned. In fact, it is a key to understanding life for Israel and the Church in the Last Days.

For example, in considering that text (Ro 11.26) which must be both seminal and central to any serious and bona fide study of final events, the picture painted for us indeed ends gloriously, but it is essentially grim.

"And so all Israel will be saved; as it is written, 'The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob'."

(Note: Paul here quotes Isaiah 59.20-21, which reads, "And he will come to Zion as Redeemer..."? The most complete picture of the Lord's Second Coming is portrayed in both passages read together. He first of all comes "to" Zion, to Israel...and thence "from" Zion, to the nations!)

But what of this place He comes to? It is Jerusalem...rendered a "scorched earth" having been fought over and "strangled" right up to the hour of uttermost extremity, when Israel's Messiah intervenes to save (spiritually and physically) His beloved Jewish People.

"And he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy...when the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of a spirit of judgement and by a spirit of burning. Then the Lord will create over the whole site of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, and smoke and a shining flaming fire by night." (Isa 4.3-5)

"And I will give portents in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls." (Joel 2.30-32)

"Therefore because of you (rulers who abhor justice, priests who teach for hire, prophets who divine for money) Zion shall be ploughed as a field; Jerusalem shall become a heap of ruins...It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains...and peoples shall flow to it...and the Lord will reign over them in Mount Zion from this time forth and for evermore." (Mic 3.12 - 4.7)

This is the consistent testimony of the Prophets in Scripture...the prophetic and eschatological template, if you will. That beloved Israel (accompanied by the Church) will pilgrim through a final, brief Passion before entering into her Resurrection (2), "raised from the dead" by returning Messiah, Himself "the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep"! (1 Co 15.20-23)

"Ho Ariel, Ariel, the city where David encamped...I will encamp against you round about, and will besiege you with towers...then deep from the earth you shall speak, from low in the dust your words shall come; your voice shall come from the ground like the voice of a ghost...and in an instant, suddenly, you will be visited by the Lord of hosts with thunder and with earthquake and great noise." (Isa 29.1-7)

"Behold, the Lord will lay waste the earth and make it desolate...The earth lies polluted under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed the laws...For thus it shall be in the midst of the earth among the nations, as when an olive tree is beaten...Then the moon will be confounded, and the sun ashamed; for the Lord of hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem and before his elders he will manifest his glory." (Isa 24)

"These are the words which the Lord spoke concerning Israel and Judah...'Why has every face turned pale? Alas! that day is so great there is none like it; it is a time of distress for Jacob; yet he shall be saved out of it.' " (Jer 30.4-7)

"And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time; but at that time your people (Daniel's) shall be delivered, every one whose name shall be found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake." (Da 12.1-3)

"For lo, I will command, and shake the house of Israel among all the nations as one shakes with a sieve, but no pebble shall fall upon the that day I will raise up the booth of David ('throne' - Isa 16.5) that is fallen and repair its breaches, and raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old." (Am 9.9-11)

"I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses plundered and the women ravished; half of the city shall go into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle...his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives which lies before Jerusalem." (Zec 14.1-4)

I suspect that the term "Zion" only has triumphalist connotations for most Western Christians today for two reasons:

(i) Because "success" is their supreme goal... (idol?).

(ii) Because of its association with contemporary "Zionism", and its connection with the current State of Israel's "success" story.

Both expectations are to end in disappointment and disillusionment. The Church is not going to be triumphantly "raptured" prior to the time of great tribulation; nor is it going to succeed and take "dominion" over the whole earth immediately before the 2nd Coming.

The Church, along with Israel (people, nation and State), is going to plunge into the depths of the profoundest turmoil, adversity and difficulty, to there be chastened, preserved and finally rescued by our Lord Jesus Christ. He will return to a Zion made barren by and in His absence...but transformed by His presence into the earth's most exalted and beautiful city.

Any eschatology which rests on any other hope is false (a deception), and therefore will prove to be worse than no hope at all.

Until The King returns, Zion will be "barren"; by the eve of The Day it will have become a "desert"...along with most of the Middle East! But when He is enthroned, Zion will again be "David's fortress"...a place of utmost triumph and glory.

Why is it that the Church arrogantly persists in its totally selfish belief and expectation, that it will enter into its glory before The King enters into His? Such a view beggars belief ,and betrays a modern "gospel" which is all about our reward, and not at all about His!

"His holy mountain, beautiful in elevation, is the joy of all the earth. Mount Zion, in the far north, the city of the great King." (Ps 48.2)

"It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised up above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it..." (Mic 4.1)

"On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: 'Do not fear, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak. The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing as on a day of festival.' " (Zep 3.16-18)

All hail, King Jesus! Come, Lord Jesus!

(1) "Israel's Present and Future" by David Baron (Morgan & Scott, London 1891)

(2) "And when they (my two witnesses) have finished their testimony, the beast that ascends from the bottomless pit will make war upon them and conquer them and kill them...But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood up (lit. 'resurrected') on their feet." (Rev 11.7&11)