Monday, October 24, 2016

God's Much-Loved Hills

                                                                                                             Friday, October 21, 2016
On the holy mountain stands the city founded by the Lord.  He loves the city of Jerusalem more than any other city in Israel.  O city of God, what glorious things are said of you! 
I will count Egypt and Babylon among those who know me—also Philistia and Tyre, and even distant Ethiopia.  They have all become citizens of Jerusalem!  Regarding Jerusalem it will be said, “Everyone enjoys the rights of citizenship there.”  And the Most High will personally bless this city.  When the Lord registers the nations, he will say, “They have all become citizens of Jerusalem.” 
The people will play flutes and sing, “The source of my life springs from Jerusalem!”   Psalm 87:1-7(NLT)
There are so many pictures that spring from reading this Psalm.  Jerusalem is the city of God, built to exalt the LORD, and draw all people to worship Him.  It is a city of hills, Zion, Moriah, Acra, and Bezethah.  The two churches I currently serve are Mount Zion and Pleasant Hill; extended hill-places of Jerusalem, meant to honor JHWH.
But the geography extends past the hills and into the depths.  Egypt, Philistia, and Tyre, places of hostility against God’s reign are drawn in as citizens of Jerusalem.  Even Ethiopia, distant land of the stranger to the holy hills, is welcomed as a daughter.  They have all become citizens of Jerusalem, says the Psalmist.
The last verse gives the understanding of this strange Psalm which includes God’s children and her enemies, pictured as friends, even siblings together:
The people will play flutes and sing, “The source of my life springs from Jerusalem!”   Psalm 87:7(NLT)
This is the language of final things, of God’s new order for creation when the lion sits down with the lamb[ii], swords are melted down and reformed into plowshares[iii], and eternity is characterized by worship, unhindered by sin, at Jehovah’s throne. 
It is a new song! 
And they sang a new song….  Revelation 5:9(NLT)
I have served a number of churches as pastor (9 in all), and not a single one was perfect.  (That’s ok, because they didn’t have a perfect pastor either!)  And in each of those churches over the years I would pray that God would help us to become what He wanted us to be…to move away from our imperfection, and move-on towards God’s perfection. 
Psalm 87, for me, is the promise for that prayer – the church standing, holy and unblemished, singing the new song of praise to the source of life, JHWH!
We may now be living in a strange time, with confusing and fearful events occurring almost daily, but one thing is certain:  as the hills of Jerusalem are much-loved by God, the promised gathering of all God’s creation to offer the praise and adoration of a new song to creation’s Sovereign Ruler is a lock; some day, at the trumpeting call of an arch angel, every knee shall bow, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is LORD.
And it will be a glorious new song composed just for the occasion!  God Himself is the composer, and He will place it in our hearts and mouths.

For You Today

You may be like me, unable to carry a tune in a bucket.  But when you lift your voice on that day you will add to the chorus of praise, sweet and clear in the ears of Christ Jesus.  Wouldn’t be a bad thing to warm up those vocal cords and lift a song of doxology today!  Part of earth’s journey for us Pilgrims is practice for living tomorrow in glory.
You chew on that as you hit the Rocky Road…have a blessed day!



[i] Title Images: User: Bgabel at wikivoyage shared, via Wikimedia Commons
[ii] Isaiah 65:25
[iii] Isaiah 2:4, Joel 3:10, Micah 4:3

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