Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in His holy mountain. Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion on the sides of the north, the city of the great King. God is in her palaces; He is known as her refuge. For behold, the kings assembled, they passed by together. They saw it, and so they marveled; they were troubled, they hastened away. Fear took hold of them there, and pain, as of a woman in birth pangs, as when You break the ships of Tarshish with an east wind. As we have heard, so we have seen in the city of the Lord of hosts, in the city of our God: God will establish it forever. We have thought, O God, on Your lovingkindness, in the midst of Your temple. According to Your name, O God, so is Your praise to the ends of the earth; Your right hand is full of righteousness. Let Mount Zion rejoice, let the daughters of Judah be glad, because of Your judgments. Walk about Zion, and go all around her. Count her towers; mark well her bulwarks; consider her palaces; that you may tell it to the generation following. For this is God, our God forever and ever; He will be our guide even to death. (Psalm 48; A Song. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah.)
The Glory Of The Church Outshines Zion
Jerusalem was a beautiful city to see. After Solomon built the Temple, the city took on a marvelous glory as the House of God shone in the brilliant Canaan sun. In the days of Solomon, Jerusalem was the splendor of the world as pilgrims made their way to Mount Zion. There was no city in the world like it. The glory of the city was not just the edifices that graced its view but the knowledge that God dwelt in this place. Zion was a holy mountain and the city of the great King Almighty who was Creator, Savior and Beneficent. Jerusalem was the city of the Israelite people that brought fear to the surrounding nations. The stories of their victories were legion. Harking back to the triumph over Egypt in the days of Moses, Jerusalem took on the presence of a mighty city guarded by a powerful God.
The people of God were not fearful of the city because they knew the lovingkindness God had shown to them. Jerusalem was the place of redemption, praise and glory. Zion was power for the children of the Lord who saw her towers and bulwarks as the strength of their protective Father. The lives of the Jewish people revolved around the worship at the Temple and the praise of the wonderful city of God – Jerusalem. Children learned early to praise the city for its grandeur. God ruled in this city and His word went forth declaring His might, power, and lovingkindness.
The glory of God in Zion was not to last. Sin destroyed the covenant of God with the Jewish people and in time, the Babylonian empire destroyed the city. After a short period of exile, the city was rebuilt but never to its former glory. Through the centuries, Jerusalem regained some of its beauty but the Roman Empire brought a final blow to the city in 70 A.D. Jesus told of the destruction of Jerusalem in His laments over the once great city. He knew there was a larger plan for those who worshipped the one true God. Talking to a woman at the well of Jacob, Jesus told of the day when men would worship His Father according to spirit and truth. It would not be on a mountain in Samaria nor the place of Zion. On the day of Pentecost following the death of Jesus, a new city rose from the ashes of man’s failures when the church of Christ was established. The era of the church began.
Jerusalem pales in comparison to the magnificence of the bride of Christ, the house of God. Nothing man has conceived is as glorious as the New Testament church. It is founded on the knowledge that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. The pillars of the church are grace, mercy, love, and hope. Contained within its walls is the complete will of God to redeem man from the power of sin. The Seed promise made in the Garden of Eden is the foundation of the church. Its simplicity is the glory of the church. Early disciples learned the beauty of the holy city of God was not a place on a map but the conviction of the heart. All nations flow to the spiritual Mount Zion finding the eternal words of the Father inscribed upon her stones.
The church of Christ is not an afterthought. Everything about it brings the glory of God to the forefront showing His eternal wisdom. It is easy to look at the church as something to do on Sunday. Worship can take on the form of ritual recurrence of things done in the past. There is nothing further from the truth. The sons of Korah marveled at the beauty of ancient Jerusalem. Viewing the city, they could only speak of praise to its magnificence and power. That city is gone. The city of God now is the church of Christ. Disciples of Jesus should show honor and praise to the church He gave His blood to purchase. He died a horrible death for His Bride. Nothing man has ever conceived matches the splendor of the church. Take a look at the body of Jesus Christ, the church. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in His holy mountain.
The early church did something because it believed something. We are trying to do what they did without believing what they believed. (Vance Havner; 1901-1986)