The Covenant Promise Series 2001
...what a Favored Lot is Thine!
By Ed Corley
Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.
THE QUEST OF MY HEART REGARDING ZION that I hope to reveal in this article goes back to 1956. I remember a conversation I had back then with the elderly Mrs. Germany. She had more hunger for the things of the Lord than any other person I knew. It’s good to converse with people like this. One morning after the worship meeting where I had ministered, I confided with her, “I want to know more about Zion.”
I surprised myself. I had never discussed Zion with anyone. All I knew came from a couple of hymns we sometimes sang. I thought it meant heaven and its reward. But that day I believed it meant something more. Apparently the Holy Spirit was drawing me, but at that time I had no prior teaching on which to draw. This, in spite of the fact that there are over 160 references in the Bible to Zion, seven of them in the New Testament.
I think for many like me, Zion escaped attention. For some reason it was elusive and we never came to the point of wanting to know it, not thinking it had any bearing upon us as New Testament believers. Not being able to see it, we were not able to take in its meaning or its power. But that day, while talking with Mrs. Germany, desire, at least, was birthed in me to know Zion. She had no advice to give me, but she was open and hungry along with me. That was an encouragement.
It is shocking to think how long it has been since that conversation, yet the Holy Spirit has kept the call toward Zion alive in me. A great boon to this desire was the commission placed on me about 1970 with regard to Psalm 2. From verse 6 this Word entered my heart: Yet have I set My King upon My holy hill of Zion. This permeated my thinking and began to have bearing on how I was living and what I was teaching others. Zion was taking on a reality with me. I began knowing it as the Government of God, the realm out of which He rules in us and through us.I know, however, the understanding released in me has been incomplete. And, as the days of the end are coming on, their demands upon us are increasing. What Word we know must grow within us to meet the new demand. Thus the cry for Zion is increasing.
NO TRUTH IS COMPLETE WITH US till it has entered our beings and become a vital force out of which we live. If we know something for today, the demands of tomorrow may be more stern. Painful days that cut deep furrows in our lives call for the deeper working of the Word. Particularly this would be so with regard to the Rule of the Lord that we are coming to know from Zion.
We are learning to take advantage of the painful days that come upon us. In them the Word will work its way more deeply into us. The day may come—it has with others—when all we have left of the Word is what has worked its way into the deep parts of our living.
Regarding my continued draw toward Zion and the need to see the release of its Government, my own spirit has learned to wait for the time when God’s Spirit is ready to reveal what He wants us to know. There is, you know, a timing for truth that calls us to the current hearing of what He is saying.
Before addressing Zion more, let me say some things about receiving what God is saying and doing. We don’t try to force His hand, but listen for the sometimes gentle nudging of the Holy Spirit. Seven times in Rev 2 and 3, the Lord Jesus said, He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. This word saith is from the Present Active form of the Verb légo which means “to lay out” or “to give expression to something in speech.” It is the root word from which the word lógos came, the greatest expression of which was the Lord Jesus Himself. He was the Word (the lógos) made flesh Who dwelt among us—Jn 1:14.
Each time in the Revelation verses, légo occurs as a Verb in Present Tense form, defining an action that is going on presently, confined neither to the past nor the future. It is always a present speaking. These seven times the Lord enjoins us to give attention to whatever the Holy Spirit is currently bringing in Word for the attention of the churches. He is calling us not to settle into what He has said, but to remain open to all He is “saying.” Could we not thus draw closer to embracing the Logos, His living Word, into our own bosoms?
What a balance this calls for! While we are admonished to listen for what He is saying, we are warned to take care lest we move away from what He has caused to be written in the Scriptures. This, indeed, is the final injunction of all the Bible. And if any man shall take away from the words of the Book of this Prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the Book of Life, and out of the Holy City, and from the things which are written in this Book—Rev 22:19.
For this reason, we give attention in two directions: to what the Holy Spirit is saying and to what the Scriptures have said. Through years of handling the written Word, loving it and holding it close to my heart. I’ve come to the conviction that the Bible is verbally inspired. Its Word is alive. We do more than say it contains the Word of God; we say it is the Word of God.
Let me add this. There are some Words within the Bible we can call High Covenant Words. Ps 2:6 is one. The Psalms that follow it immediately, and then those through the Book speaking expressly of Zion, relate to this high Word and strengthen its hold in us.
AS WE LISTEN FOR THE CURRENT SPEAKING of the Holy Spirit—whether as a prophetic Word or as a quiet impression in our heart—we will find in what He says a wondrous draw to perceive what is written. Does this limit us? I think not. It didn’t limit the Lord Jesus. His life was the unfolding of what had been written. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the Book it is written of Me) to do Thy will, O God—Heb 10:7. As the age closes, shall not we who make up His body live out of the further unfolding of the same Word? We become expressions in the flesh of His Word.
In my own life, I’ve found the long drawing of the Holy Spirit has been to know Truth as it is recorded in Scripture, as much as possible in the original text. While open to the Word of Prophecy and the quiet promptings of the Holy Spirit, we regard these most clearly when we can see them in conjunction with Scripture. With this, we take the admonition of II Pet 3:16 not to wrest—that is, “twist” or “pervert”—the Scriptures. Peter branded those who do this as unlearned and unstable, and warned that they who do so do it unto their own destruction. Thus we learn not to listen to what someone prophesies when we must wrest some Scripture to comply with it.
We do not have a corner on truth, nor its interpretation, but we do seek to keep our hearts open to what Paul called the love of the truth (II Thes 2:10). This will keep us in line for the release of understanding as it flows from the heart of God to the churches.
Concerning the wooing of the Spirit that has been with me for the many years, I have learned not to rush Him, but to wait till He is ready to bring His Truth to life in me. I have also seen the necessity of my human spirit being made ready—as it were, plowed and tilled by life and made to wait for the season appointed of the Lord for the disclosure of His Word—as the farmer must wait for the season his seed will grow. We ask the Lord to make us faithful and wise, that is, “thoughtful and prudent,” as stewards in His household. Then we can give His people their portion of meat in due season (Lk 12:42). This carries a weight of responsibility that places us who handle the Word in need of much prayer.There are many faithful and wise stewards in the household of the Lord. Many speak differently. We must take care not to depreciate what others teach—nor the way in which they teach—unless it comes to the point that we must withstand some blatant falsehood or misdirection. We recognize that the view of each person is different, just as the pain that has plowed each life has its own distinct blade cutting its unique furrow. Yet, all the good seed for planting in the broken ground of each life can all produce good fruit for the Kingdom of God.
AS THE DESIRE TO KNOW ZION CAME UPON ME I soon saw Heb 12:22,23. This says, But ye are come unto Mount Zion... With my early learning of New Testament Greek, I discovered the word from which we get ye are come is a Perfect Tense form of the Verb prosérchomai which means “to draw nigh; to approach.” This Perfect form tells us its action has been brought to completion, with a lasting result. Thus, the statement means, “You have already come to Mount Zion...” It is with you. It is not far off.
But, for us New Testament believers, what is Zion? This prime passage, Heb 12:22-24, that speaks so positively of it begs for our attention and waits to tell us much. When we see all with which Zion has association, we find it is not so strange and mystical as we once thought. Most importantly, it connects us with the Covenant Promise of Ps 2:6. Oh, yes! Zion is where our King is enthroned! Knowing the rule of His Throne, we know Zion. As we look at this Hebrews passage, we take note of nine points that help us see Zion’s association with the New Covenant into which the Lord Jesus has brought us.
FOR ME, THE MOST STRIKING POINT of association ZION holds for us is that in it we come to know Jesus as the Mediator of the New Covenant. Oh, we already know Him! He is our Savior. But now we see He is our Negotiator with God to bring into full effect the New Covenant into which He has drawn us by the sacrifice of His blood. Although there had been blood sacrifices with the earlier Covenant, His was the blood of the everlasting Covenant. By it we are made perfect to do His will and we are made well pleasing in his sight (Heb 13:20, 21). The writer of Hebrews could see that the blood of bulls and of goats of the Old Covenant had part in a sanctification that purified the flesh. But, the Blood of Christ has an effect to purge our conscience from dead works to serve the living God (Heb 9:13,14). Our conscience is our inward, moral and spiritual frame. It is the knowing of our real selves. He cleanses this real part of us so we can know ourselves as clean and pure before Him, without condemnation. This is Zion.
And, we might add, according to Paul in I Tim 2:5, there is but one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. Compared with the Old Covenant and with Moses who stood before God for the people of Israel, it is Christ Who has the more excellent ministry.
Thus, He is the Mediator of a better Covenant, which was established upon better promises (Heb 8:5, 6). We might well say, we have a “better” Zion in the New Covenant than there was under the Old Covenant.
Please allow me to say this. In Zion we encounter the Covenant draw that has been upon us ever since God’s pronouncement in Eden to our earliest Parents: Subdue the earth and have dominion—Gen 1:28. Our Father Adam lost this, but through Jesus, the Mediator of the New Covenant, we are finding it. Yes, in Zion we are finding restoration to God’s primal purpose for us.
And—wonder of wonders! We have come unto the City of the living God. Don’t you suppose this is the City for which Abraham looked? It is a city which hath foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God—Heb 11:8-10. What is this? Is it not Zion, the Government of God, set in the earth with walls so secure no enemy can advance upon it or bring down its fortifications?
Knowing Zion, we know a heavenly Jerusalem whose government and defenses are stable and sure. Knowing Zion, we find a company of angels so great in number there is no lack in the protection and service they stand ready to minister unto us who are heirs of salvation (Heb 1:14). Knowing Zion, we discover the fellowship of a Church so great it must be called the general assembly, the “festive convocation” of all who have ever been born again and whose role must be kept in heaven, there being no place on earth that can contain so great a list of “members.”In Zion we have come to know God in Whose presence—though He is the Judge of all—we can stand with no condemnation. In Zion we find a communion with others who are brought to completion in Christ. And—we find the cleansing blood, better than all sacrifices ever offered since the first blood was spilled. That first blood cried out to condemn Cain who slew his brother Abel, but in Zion we know the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.
Now in Christ Jesus we who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ (Eph 2:13). That blood testifies for us; there is therefore now no condemnation (Rom 8:1). What a freedom is ours in Zion!
OUR APPROACH TO ZION MUST BE WITH CARE, helped by the Holy Spirit, and with hearts and minds open to what the Holy Spirit is saying. This is not a matter to be taken lightly. Zion’s rule is coming upon us to change us. It will make us strong for the day, already close upon us, when all the forces of darkness available from hell’s legions of hate will assault us who follow Christ.
Going back to Ps 2, we find what is God’s answer to the world leaders who pass their resolution against Him and against His Son Who reigns in Zion. The response is twofold. 1He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: 2the Lord shall have them in derision—2:4. Some significant words in this verse need attention. We could interpret He that sitteth in the heavens as “He Who dwells in the heavens,” or “He Who remains in the heavens,” or “He Who is enthroned in the heavens.” Sitteth is from the Hebrew yasab, meaning “to dwell” or “to remain.” It touches upon the eternalness of God. No matter what happens in the earth, God remains.
Isaiah also gave the above word association with the Kingdom when he said, I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne (Is 6:1). No matter what happens in the earth, or what actions the nations take against the Lord and His Anointed, nothing threatens the stability of God’s Throne in the heavens. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and His dominion endureth throughout all generations (Ps 145:13). What stability—Oh, what stability—this gives us who are submitted to the protection and authority and of this Throne! The decrees and armies of all the nations in the world can never make a successful move against God’s Kingdom. Challenge His Throne, and it comes off winning every time.
David knew this. In Ps 11:1, when pounced upon by discouragement from others, he said, In the LORD put I my trust: how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain? “Why are you telling me to run away from the calling and purpose that God has for me, and hide like a bird in a mountain cave?” And further, “Why are you telling me the wicked are bending their bows and making ready their arrows to shoot at me? Why are you telling me there is nothing I can do if the foundation of this kingdom is destroyed? I know the LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD’S Throne is in heaven where no enemy can touch it.” (paraphrase of Ps 11:2-4).David knew things that made him secure against enemy attacks. We can know the same. David knew where God dwelt: in His holy Temple. Oh, how he loved the dwelling place of God! Also, he knew the location of God’s Throne: in heaven. Thus, he knew where rested the security for his life and calling. It was in the heavens under the safety of God’s Throne. He knew Zion.
TAKE FURTHER NOTE IN PS 2:4 OF GOD’S REACTION to the resolution of the rulers. He laughed. The brash attempt from the nations to withstand the rule of God’s Kingdom brought this most wonderfully unusual response. How He responded helps us know what to do when the enemy comes upon us with his sinister threats. God, secure in His heavenly Kingdom, laughs at so absurd a movement in the earth and ridicules the leaders. His response is, Yet have I set my king... “Truly it is I that have established My King upon Zion...” The Pronoun I is stressed in the Original to mark the contrast between His Own decree and the rulers’ decree. “I have willed My Son to reign, so how dare you conspire to overthrow Him!”
This One Who has been set by God to reign in Zion we have come to know as our Mediator. His mediation reaches in two directions. He brings us to the heart of God to find its grace, provision and power. And, through Him we reach the dark heart of Satan to pierce it through with the triumph afforded us in the Resurrection.
Soak in Heb 12:22-24. Let it become written in your heart that we have come unto Mount Zion...and to Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant...
Were it not for these intriguing Hebrews verses about Zion, we might leave its rule to another dispensation. But here, it is inextricably linked to the New Covenant with a present reality we have no right to push away.
What is Zion? Where is it? Our hearts long to know. It is where we are discovering God’s Kingdom. It is where we are finding our Covenant relationship with Christ Jesus made strong. It is where the Government of His Kingdom finds its foundation in our lives and we live as children of the Kingdom. In Zion, with walls more strong than any earthly bulwark, we find safety from whatever winds of adversity may blow upon our frail humanity.What was being birthed in my heart that morning as I talked with Mrs. Germany has remained—only to find an increase in recent days. The painful plowing of my own heart has, I believe, made me more ready than ever to know Zion’s government and the grace it offers—and in dimensions nowhere else known. I invite you to know this with me. Together let us sing the words from that old hymn. If you want a copy, we can send it. Zion stands with hills surrounded—Zion, kept by power divine; All her foes shall be confounded, Though the world in arms combine: Happy Zion, what a favored lot is thine!
© Berean Publications
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