A stronghold overtaken - Seventh and final in a series
Throughout history we see man's desire to conceive of Jerusalem and Zion in a romantic light. The beautiful hymn, Jerusalem epitomizes that tendency:
Bring me my bow of burning gold! Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold! Bring me my chariot of fire!
I will not cease from mental fight, Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem In England’s green and pleasant land.
The lyrics, by the poet William Blake, well express the heart's desire to realize God's kingdom on earth. This is right, yet the superhuman opposition we confront casts us upon the mercies of God. He alone gives us strength to capture and build Zion, surrounding us with chariots of fire in our deepest distress. (2Ki 6:17)
Though at first David had some romantic notions about bringing the ark to Zion, he learned it could only be so if he fully obeyed the Word.
Once the ark was at rest in Zion, David sought to build a house for God, but this desire was not granted. The reason was given:
Thou hast shed blood abundantly, and hast made great wars: thou shalt not build an house unto my name, because thou hast shed much blood upon the earth in my sight. Behold, a son shall be born to thee, who shall be a man of rest; and I will give him rest from all his enemies round about: for his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quietness unto Israel in his days. (1Ch 22:8-9)
God accomplishes his work over many generations. First the man, Abraham, then the family, then the nation, then the Exodus, then establishing proper worship, then taking the land, then building Zion and bringing in the ark, then building the temple, then its reconstruction, then the birth of Christ, and always the ups and downs, the trials and failures on the way to the heavenly Jerusalem.
In this final post of the Zion series, I would like to mention the importance of church attendance. Today in America, though 73% identify as Christians, only 55% have attended a church service in the last six months, and only 31% attend once a month or more. (BARNA)
Christians have good reasons to attend church:
- Obedience to Scripture. (Heb 10:25)
- Corporate worship in heaven is described in the Revelation; we learn and prepare here to take our place there. (Rev 5:8-14)
- Angels are appointed to watch over the churches; this proves the local churches are a network critical to God’s plan and work. (Rev 1:20)
- God’s message for us as Christians may be heard in church. (Mat 18:20)
- Society needs our witness. (Mat 5:14-15)
- The church is a place for marriage and for funeral services, confirming God’s ownership of our lives.
- Weekly worship helps us to keep the commandment to rest on Sunday and to maintain a focus on the Lord. (Ex 20:8; Isa 58:13-14)
And there are many other good reasons.
I was glad when they said unto me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’ Our feet have been standing within your gates, O Jerusalem! …For my brothers and companions’ sake I will say, ‘Peace be within you!’ For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek your good. (Ps 122:1-9)
As we worship with fellow Christians on Sundays, we are taking our place in Zion until the heavenly kingdom comes.
Below is a video that relates the character of the local church in its singers. We will find friends at church, learn to love difficult ones, and find help in time of need.