From Tent to Temple - Chapter 2 (Continued)

From Tent to Temple
- George H. Warnock


Once we understand God's intended purpose in the original Zion, then we may understand more fully what He means when He speaks of the restoration of Zion and the rebuilding of the Tabernacle of David. Zion was intended to be that place of priestly ministry and kingly authority from which God's Word and His Glory might shine forth into the uttermost parts of the earth. And so when Zion--the people of God--had forsaken the true God of Israel and became encumbered with their own ways, God was greatly grieved and He lamented through the prophet:

"For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, And for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, Until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, And the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth" (Isa. 62:1).

For let us not forget, when Isaiah or Jeremiah or the other prophets lamented over God's people, it was really the lamentation of the Spirit of God, and it was His burden that He placed upon them. It was really "the burden of the LORD" that He was sharing with His servants; and sometimes it was a burden that they found to be very grievous. But as God's plan has always been to join Himself to Man, God must find willing men who will share His burden as well as His glory and power. And so we hear the prophet Isaiah declaring:

"I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem,
Which shall never hold their peace, day nor night:
Ye that make mention of the LORD,
Keep not silence, and give him no rest,
Till he establish, and till he make
Jerusalem a praise in the earth"
(Isa. 62:6-7).

The prophet Ezekiel was set as a "watchman" over the house of Israel, to warn the people of impending judgment. But in the above passage Isaiah speaks of "watchmen" who are appointed by God to arouse the Almighty Himself from His rest; and to cry unto Him day and night that He might establish Jerusalem, and make her to be a praise in the earth.

Beloved, let us not imagine that God is displeased with our much crying out unto Him to arise in the earth and to show forth His glory. For God Himself has "set watchmen" on the walls of Jerusalem for this very purpose!

But it was not until Christ came, and died, and rose again, and ascended, that the glory of Zion was to have any real impact upon the nations of the world. And when this began to happen, especially under the ministry of the apostle Paul, a new problem began to arise in the minds of the Jewish teachers as to what they were to do with the multitudes of Gentiles that were coming into the Church. A division had arisen, because some of these teachers were saying that the new converts had to become Jews according to the covenant of circumcision, as taught by Moses. Paul and Barnabas were greatly concerned about this, because they knew that God was doing a new thing in the earth. Not that it was unrelated to Old Testament prophecy, but it was entirely unrelated to Levitical and Judaistic ritual and forms of worship. All these were but types and shadows. What God was bringing forth now was the real substance. Therefore Paul and Barnabas went up to Jerusalem to discuss the matter with the apostles there. They had no thought of compromising their stand, but they did fear that their efforts might well have been in vain if the foundational apostles of the Church should oppose them. And so we have the first Council of Jerusalem, which we must consider in some detail.

The Jerusalem Controversy

Now there was no question in the minds of any of the apostles or of the Jewish teachers, as to whether or not the Gentiles could be saved... and this was not the issue. Early Judaism clearly recognized what so many Christian teachers have failed to recognize: that a heathen Gentile who came into Israel and submitted to the covenant ordinances became from that day forward a bona fide, valid Israelite. Moses distinctly taught that there was to be one law for Israel, and for the foreigner who dwelt in their midst. (See Ex. 12:48; Lev. 24:22.) Intermarriage between the Israelites and other nations was often forbidden, or if allowed there were certain rituals required of the incoming foreigner; but it was not because God was erecting certain racial barriers. It was because of the heathen gods they worshipped, and the effect this could have on the people who knew and worshipped the one true God. At this Council, they all must have been aware that on many occasions in their history some very prominent Israelites were either outright Gentile heathens by birth, or had Gentile blood in their veins. Rahab the harlot of Jericho was received into Israel, and become one of them. And in fact we find her name in the ancestral line of the Lord Jesus! Ruth the Gentile from Moab not only came into Israel, but she became the great-grandmother of king David, from whose line Jesus was born. And Ruth's husband, Boaz, was descended from Rahab the Gentile harlot, and Boaz became David's great-grandfather. Again, when Mordecai became a governor under the Persian king, in the time of Esther, such fear gripped the Gentiles of the 127 provinces of Persia, that "many of the people of the land became Jews" (Esth. 8:17). No Jew who was familiar with the Old Testament could argue that Gentiles could not become Israelites by embracing the covenants and submitting to the ordinances of the law. I think this alone should settle the argument that has come forth in recent generations concerning the racial preeminence of certain nations and peoples of the earth. Even a bona fide Israelite, born of the stock of Israel, was cut off if he did not submit to the covenant of circumcision. (See Gen. 17:14.) And as we have pointed out, a Gentile who came in and submitted to the God of Israel--and their laws and rituals--was received as a bona fide Israelite.

This, then, became the real issue of the Council of Jerusalem. And this was the question: "Are we to continue to receive Gentiles into the commonwealth of Israel on the basis of circumcision and the law, as we have in the past? Or shall we receive them as brethren because of their faith in Christ, without subjecting them to these ordinances?" And this was what Paul and Barnabas were so insistent upon; for they knew that God had broken down this "wall of partition" between them because of the Cross.

The argument went on and on. Peter showed how God had opened a door to the Gentiles, quite apart from any Jewish rituals, giving them the Holy Ghost even as He did to the believers in Jerusalem, and making "no difference" between Jew and Gentile. Then Paul and Barnabas testified as to how God had opened an effectual door to the Gentiles in their ministry, quite apart from any legal rituals and ordinances. But it remained for James, respected highly by the Jewish Christians, to bring forth an argument from the scriptures that would settle the whole issue. James told the Council that they ought not try to make Jews out of Gentiles according to the old law, because God promised even in the scriptures that the Tabernacle of David would be rebuilt, and in that new order God would receive the Gentiles as His very own, and place His Name upon them. Some Christian teachers quote from James to confirm that at the end of the Church age God would rebuild the Tabernacle of David. But James was clearly saying that God was now rebuilding the Tabernacle of David, as Amos had prophesied. James was not prophesying anything. He was rather quoting from the prophet Amos so as to clearly show the Council that this age-old prophecy of Amos was now in the process of fulfillment: "After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: that the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things" (Acts 15:16-17).

James was not prophesying this. He was telling the Council that Amos had prophesied this, and that now it was happening! The prophecy was there and then being fulfilled! God had promised that when the Tabernacle of David was rebuilt, many Gentiles would seek after the Lord, and come to know the God of Israel. Therefore on the basis of this long unfulfilled prophecy James advised the Council to accept the fact that "the residue of men [or, the rest of mankind]" were in God's plan from the beginning, and were now to be received as brethren in this hour of the rebuilding of the Tabernacle of David.

Of course, James could have quoted many scriptures from the prophets that spoke of the salvation of the Gentiles, but as we have pointed out, this was no problem with the Jewish teachers. The problem was much deeper than that: "Can we receive Gentiles into the commonwealth of Israel apart from the Law and the ritual of circumcision?" Therefore God in His wisdom did not emphasize these other prophecies on this occasion, but chose rather to relate the salvation of the Gentiles to the Tabernacle of David... and in so doing there could be no mistaking what God had in mind. For here in the Tabernacle of David we have an institution that had no relation to temple, and temple ritual, and nothing to do with brazen altars and lavers and altars of incense. And most important, after the dedication of Mount Zion with the sacrifices of animals, never again do we hear of sacrifices of blood being offered on Mount Zion. From the day of the dedication of the Tabernacle of David and on, the sacrifices on this mount were to be sacrifices of praise and worship unto God. The prophecy of Amos could therefore in no way be construed to refer to a little flimsy goats' hair tent such as David might have had there at the first. To the apostle James it was quite evident that the reference of Amos to the Tabernacle of David related to the spiritual restoration of the glory of David's kingdom. Have you ever heard of any Jewish teacher, ancient or modern, or any Christian teacher, proclaiming that glorious day when a literal Tent of David would once again rise up on the top of old Mount Zion in Jerusalem? This would be unthinkable. But we do hear a lot about a beautiful temple something like Solomon's, that is supposed to be built there in Jerusalem some day. And yet the only promise in the New Testament that refers to the rebuilding of the house of David is the one concerning the "Tent of David"--which every one recognizes as a spiritual "Tent," and not a flimsy piece of cloth like the one that David erected there in the beginning.

So ended the first Council at Jerusalem. But we cannot believe that all the teachers in the Church at Jerusalem wholeheartedly embraced the decision of the Council. For a long time afterward Paul had to contend with the "leaven" of Judaism in the churches where he had ministered the pure Gospel of Christ. Today vast multitudes in the Church are once again taking sides with those who opposed Paul and Peter and Stephen, and other Christian teachers of the early Church. Peter tells us that God made "no difference" between men. Stephen declared, "the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands" (Acts 7:48), and was stoned for declaring it. Paul said, "There is no difference..." It is about time that Christians everywhere begin to take sides with the great apostles and teachers of the early Church... rather than with modern-day theologians. Why do we find it difficult to believe that the apostles and prophets of the New Testament knew how to interpret Old Testament prophecy? If we can accept this premise, then we must embrace the fact that God's promises were made to Abraham's Seed (singular), and not to Abraham's many seeds (plural), according to the flesh. And that this Seed is Christ along with those who have come into Christ through the faith of Abraham. (See Rom. 4:9-13; Gal. 3:16; 4:28.) Once we find grace to accept the apostolic interpretation of the Old Testament as the revelation of the Spirit of God, then we can safely lay aside the dispensational barriers that men have erected, and recognize Old Testament prophecy, as interpreted by the apostles, as the one and only valid interpretation concerning the true Israel. And the Old Testament becomes more meaningful to us because both Peter and Paul declared that what the prophets wrote, concerned those people who received the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. (See Rom. 16:26; 1 Pet. 1:10-12.)

The Good Olive Tree

There is much that could be said about God's true Israel, but let us just look briefly at the good Olive Tree as portrayed so beautifully by the apostle Paul. The prophet Jeremiah had said: "The LORD called thy name, A green olive tree, fair, and of goodly fruit: with the noise of a great tumult he hath kindled fire upon it, and the branches of it are broken" (Jer. 11:16). Now the apostle Paul goes into great detail to describe the fall, and the rising again of Israel; and if we can accept what he has to say about it, the relationship between the Church and Israel becomes very clear. Here in Romans 11 he answers a question that he himself raised: "Hath God cast away his people?"... and his immediate response is "God forbid" (Rom. 11:1). To say that God had rejected Israel he would have to say that he himself was rejected, "For I also am an Israelite" (vs. 1). Then he goes on to explain. God always retained for himself a true Israel, even in times of great apostasy. When Christ came as the total Sum and Substance of Israel's hope He was rejected, and God cast away the unfaithful branches of the Olive Tree. But He did not cut the tree down, He just stripped off the dead branches. Of course this left the Tree almost bare. But Paul explains: the "root" was holy, and therefore the Tree would survive. And wonder of wonders, it would not only survive, it would take on greater beauty and enlargement! How? God would reach forth and take branches from a "wild olive tree" and graft them into the Good Tree. What Tree? Clearly Paul is talking only of two trees: the wild olive tree and the Good Olive Tree; and he tells us that God took branches out of the wild tree and grafted them into the Good one. He took a people in their wild, Gentile condition, and grafted them into the Good Tree of Israel. The Good Tree was almost stripped of its branches, but God caused it to be replenished with "wild" branches from the Gentiles, and the Good Tree flourished once again. It not only flourished, it took on even greater beauty and enlargement; for God had brought about, through the fall of Israel, "the reconciling of the world" (vs. 15). Since then the Gospel of reconciliation has gone forth to the ends of the earth.

But the "root" was holy, and the "branches" were beloved "for the fathers' sakes" (vs. 28). And as the natural, rejected branches of Israel go through their time of desolation and judgment, and God brings them to repentance, and salvation flows forth from Zion, God performs a miracle in these dead branches that is even greater than He performed when He brought "wild" Gentiles into the Good Olive Tree of Israel. He literally gives life to these dead branches, and grafts them back again into the same Good Olive Tree. And once again the Tree takes on beauty and still greater enlargement. "For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead" (vs. 15). Was the true Israel, then, ever rejected by God? Never was! And never will be! "And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written" (vs. 26). It couldn't be more clear. Only the unbelieving branches of Israel were rejected; only the believing branches from the wild olive tree were grafted into Israel. Then the dead branches "if they abide not still in unbelief" (vs. 23) will be grafted back into their own Tree; and the branches of the Gentiles will remain there with them in the same Tree, if they "continue in God's goodness," otherwise they "also shall be cut off" (vs. 22). Paul's conclusion is: "And so all Israel shall be saved" (vs. 26). And in all that he has spoken about in chapters 9, 10, and 11 he has made it very clear what God means by all Israel. "They are not all Israel, which are of Israel: neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called" (9:6-7). And what does he mean by "in Isaac"? He explains this also, very clearly: "That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed" (9:8). But God, in His love and faithfulness to the fathers, even though the broken branches are dead in sin, because of "election" he brings them back into the Good Tree... and the tree takes on still greater enlargement and beauty in that great and mighty work of restoration for Israel that Paul simply describes as "life from the dead." "And so all Israel shall be saved," whether they be the wild branches that were grafted in or the dead branches restored to the Tree. Paul very clearly speaks of one true Israel. There is but "one hope," not two; not one for the Church, and another for Israel. "There is no difference," for at the price of His Cross our Lord tore down "the middle wall of partition between us". For what purpose? To make "one new man, so making peace". (See Eph. 2:14-15; 4:4-6.) A restoration to temples, and altars, and candlesticks, and the blood of bulls and goats, and the ashes of a red heifer? No--this would be the greatest of abominations! But this restoration must be something greater, something grander, something far and beyond what we have yet known in the Church and it will come about by the resurrection life of the Lord Jesus, moving in this "one new man" that God made of Jew and Gentile when He tore down the wall of partition. It is this wonderworking wisdom of God that causes the apostle to cry out:

"O the depth of the riches Both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, And his ways past finding out!" (Rom. 11:33).

The Kingdom of Heaven

If this, then, is the day of the rebuilding of the Tabernacle of David, as prophesied by Amos and as confirmed by the apostle James, then it is the day of the Royal Priesthood, when Christ Who is both King and Priest, is joined unto those in His Body who, by virtue of this joining, become "kings and priests unto God." When Jesus was here He taught the mysteries of the Kingdom in the form of parables, because the hearts of the people had become dull and blinded. The best He could do was to implant as it were a seed of truth in the form of a parable, knowing that as the seed was given a chance to germinate in the earth, eventually it would spring forth in Kingdom-life. "The kingdom of heaven," He said, "is like a seed that is planted in the earth." He warned us that the Kingdom of God "cometh not with observation." He reminded us that it was not something that would suddenly burst forth upon the earth in a blaze of glory, but something that would grow, and grow, and grow... "first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear" (Mk. 4:28). John the Baptist preached a message of repentance to prepare the hearts of the people for this Kingdom. Wherever He went, Jesus preached the Gospel of the Kingdom. Little by little the truth began to dawn upon the hearts of the disciples: Jesus must die... He must rise again from the dead... He must ascend into the heavenly Zion. God's Kingdom was not to be confined to one nation, but was to become universalized throughout the whole earth by the preaching of the gospel. Israel, the true Israel, was to take on enlargement in "one new man," the Church. Henceforth the true Israel would be a heavenly people. They would be called "The City of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem." Christ was to reign at God's right hand in Zion, this heavenly Zion, till all His enemies "were subdued under His feet." We have seen the sprouting of the seed and the blade of the Kingdom in the early Church. We have seen the ear coming forth in the centuries that followed. We are about to witness the "full corn in the ear," as God brings the Kingdom to fullness of fruition. Notice: the full corn... the fruit of the Kingdom for which the Husbandman has been waiting... the full corn must be formed in the ear. Not far off some where in the heavens, but right here in the earth where the seed was planted and grew--and there it comes to maturity. Jesus Himself was the good kernel of wheat that fell into the ground and died. Therefore we can be sure that the "full corn in the ear" can be nothing less than Jesus Himself enthroned and embodied in the lives of a people who have come into being because Jesus was faithful to the Father's will... and fell into the ground and died.

Let us not forget the Law of the Seed, which God established in both the Old Creation and in the New: It is the inherent life in the seed that determines the ultimate form, and expression, and character of the fruit! It cannot be inferior to the good seed, or God is dishonored. It must be good fruit, perfect fruit, from good Seed, Perfect Seed--the Seed that was planted in the earth. He must bear fruit after His kind. It is the Law of the Seed. (See Gen. 1:12.)

From Genesis To Revelation

Genesis is the book of beginnings. Revelation is the book of the consummation. And in between we have God's dealings with His people whereby He leads them forward toward this great fulfillment. He is the Alpha and He is the Omega. He changes not. But in His character as Alpha and as Omega, His desire is to change His people from what they were in the beginning, to what He has planned they shall become in the end.

We are always slow to adjust, slow to respond to what He is doing, and are inclined to wander away from the pathway. He is always at hand to bring us back and restore us to the original pathway, but never to leave us there to crystallize or to stagnate. We are a people of the Way, as we are called in the book of Acts. It is back to the pathway, but onward to the Celestial City. If we understand this fundamental principle of Restoration, and are prepared to submit to change, we could apply ourselves more readily to the constant and sometimes very distressing changes that He brings about in the structure and administration of His Kingdom. There is therefore a very definite relationship between the former and the latter, but it is a relationship such as exists between the egg and the bird, the seed and the fruit, the worm and the butterfly. In other words, the Divine intent is to be found in the former, but the finished product is always vastly different than the original. The seed of the tomato is like a tomato... but not until there has come about the dissolution and decay of the seed will we discover the growing of the plant and the expression of the fruit. But the potential is there, and God's original intention is there, which is this: that the seed must bear fruit "after its kind." The egg is like the bird--not actually, but potentially. And if the egg does not come forth as a bird, God's intention in the egg has not been realized. So we are like Christ. "As he is, so are we..." And John elaborates, lest we should mistake his meaning, "So are we in this world" (1 Jn. 4:17). We may be far from it now in actual likeness. But this is God's intention, and the potential is now within us! And as we submit to the law of the seed, and the law of the egg, and the law of the cocoon, we shall see--and those about us shall see--the living Christ walking once again in the midst of men, in the corporate Body of Christ in the earth.

We must keep these principles in mind. For if we fail to see what God has in mind in the various temples, and structures, and institutions that we find in the scriptures, His Book will continue to be just that--a history book. And we will never leave the shell of the egg, or emerge from the cocoon, but will remain like Israel of old, "in bondage," with the veil remaining, untaken away, in the reading of the scriptures.

In concluding this chapter on the Tent of David we want to mention just a few characteristics of the City of David, the City of God, with a brief comment on same.

1. Zion, The City Of God

"There is a river, The streams whereof shall make glad The city of God..." (Psa. 46:4; See Psa. 87:2-3).

Cain is the first man mentioned as having built a "city." God's men were not builders of cities, but continued to look for "a better country." The cities of fallen men invariably lead to visions of greatness, to merchandising and profit-making, and eventually to corruption and chaos. God's men, like Abraham, continue to look "for a City which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God" (Heb. 11:10). Therefore the true Israel, having caught the true vision, are quite prepared to forget the whole land of their former heritage, that they might possess the City that God has prepared. (See Heb. 11:15-16.) The true Israel understands what God meant when He said, "I... will do better unto you than at your beginnings" (Ezek. 36:11). Let us use an illustration.

As my sons grow older I promise them a piece of land on the old homestead. Through disobedience they leave home, and the promise remains unfulfilled, and seems to come to nought. They are scattered far and wide and the homestead goes into ruin. But in the meantime I acquire a vast inheritance... too great to even measure... a land filled with rivers and lakes and fruitful plains and meadows and forests and treasures unspeakable. When my estranged sons return home I show them the new land, and tell them it is all theirs to own and possess. But in dullness of heart they reply: "I can't believe that fable... I just want the two acres you promised me when I was a boy..." Will I give them what they want? I suppose I would, but I would be grieved that they would doubt my word and generosity, and settle for the two acres. Will God give natural Israel the little parcel of land they are striving to hold on to? Well, it's part of the world--and the whole world is Abraham's inheritance (Rom. 4:13). But once they catch a glimpse of the New Jerusalem, such as Abraham did, they like their father will consider themselves to be but foreigners in a strange land (Heb. 11:9-10), After the Captivity, they might have returned to their land, and occupied it in peace and safety, had they walked in obedience. But now, with hearts turned to God, they are no longer excited about a few acres of real estate... for they have caught a vision of something better, much better: "Now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city" (Heb. 11:16). Now they have come to the true Zion, "the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem" (Heb. 12:22). Their Lord and Master is "heir of all things" (Heb. 1:2), and as they suffer with Him and bear His reproach, they too become "heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ" (Rom. 8:17). This is no small inheritance, for all things have been given to the Son, and they as "kings and priests unto God" are joint-heirs with Him!

2. Zion, The Throne Of God

"The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, Until I make thine enemies thy footstool" (Psa. 110:1).

This passage is referred to by the writers of the New Testament possibly more than any other Old Testament Messianic prophecy. It is quoted or referred to at least 17 times as relating to the throne of the Messiah, from which He now rules and reigns over the earth. And it is stated that He will remain there until all His enemies are subdued under His feet. We find it difficult to realize that Christ is truly King over all the earth now, with the fullness of power and authority, because we look about and see so many "enemies" of God at loose in the earth. But the mandate He has from the heavenly Father is to rule and reign "in the midst" of them, restraining or subduing them as the Father sees fit and according to God's own time schedule. Christ will never have any more kingly authority and power than He has right now; because He has it all "now" (Matt. 28:18). And while He reigns in the midst of His enemies, He is preparing His many brethren for a place of authority and power also; but it must be in His throne. They must not think that they will ever be able to rule and govern apart from Him. For even Christ Himself does not have, and never will have, a throne that is independent of the Father's throne. He tells us that He overcame and sat down "with my Father in his throne"... and the same throne is reserved for the overcomers who come into union with Him (Rev. 3:21).

3. Zion, God's Habitation

"Arise, O LORD, into thy rest;
Thou, and the ark of thy strength.
Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness;
And let thy saints shout for joy..."
(See Psa. 132:8-14.)

Zion is not only the place of God's throne, it is the place of His temple, and therefore the habitation of His priesthood. For when men come into fellowship with Christ and into union with Him, there is an effectual priesthood. Many of the psalms of David therefore speak of the throne of God and the priesthood in the same breath. (See Psa. 110:2, 4.) The Son who now reigns in Zion is a King-Priest on a throne which knows nothing of heredity, racial distinctions, temple rituals, and sacrifices. And those who anticipate sharing a place on the throne with Him in the Melchizedek order had better forget about their racial heritage. The Melchizedek order knows nothing about that. (See Heb. 7:3.)

4. Zion, The Place Of Power

"The LORD hear thee in the day of trouble; The name of the God of Jacob defend thee; Send thee help from the sanctuary, And strengthen thee out of Zion" (Psa. 20:1-2).

The fortress of Zion which was once occupied by the Jebusites became the fortress of David--the place of his kingdom, and the place where he set up the Tent of David. But first David and his men had to scale the craggy heights of Zion and drive out the enemy. So it was that our Lord Jesus Christ wrestled with principalities and powers, and "made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them" in His Cross (Col. 2:15). Notice this beautiful characteristic of Zion: the place of weakness, the place of our battle, the place of our struggle... God intends that this shall become the place of our strength. Let us take courage in this, for as we come into the victory of the Cross, those very areas of our weakness and humiliation become a place where we can rejoice:

"Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor. 15:57).

"When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: but when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils" (Lk. 11:21-22).

God would teach us that Zion, that formidable obstacle that once scoffed us and put us to shame, can become our fortress and our strong tower as we walk in the victory of the Cross. We are enabled to rob Satan of "all his armour" (Gr. panoplia), as we put on "the whole armour of God" (Eph. 6:11, Gr. panoplia). We must discover that these weapons are not "carnal," but totally a spiritual battle-dress, and effectual to the casting down of the strongholds of the enemy.

5. Zion, The Joy Of The Whole Earth

"Beautiful for situation, The joy of the whole earth, Is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, The city of the great King" (Psa. 48:2).

The joy of the whole earth! Not now, but it is going to be. At present we have to bear the reproach of Jeremiah, as he beheld the heathen conquerors of Zion wagging their heads and saying, "Is this the city that men call The perfection of beauty, The joy of the whole earth?" (Lam. 2:15). Zion soon lost her reputation as the joy of the whole earth as her citizens became alienated from God and walked in disobedience. But David foresaw the day when all creation would rejoice in Mount Zion:

"Let the heavens be glad, And let the earth rejoice: And let men say among the nations, The LORD reigneth" (1 Chron. 16:31-33).

6. Zion, The Mountain Of Holiness

"Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised
In the city of our God,
In the mountain of His holiness"
(Psa. 48:1).

"But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, And there shall be holiness" (Obad. 17).

The holiness doctrine has been around for a long time. Once it was a living, cleansing, purging Word that went forth to God's people. Now it remains as a doctrine of the Church with very little life in it, a legal document of do's and don'ts. But God will yet cleanse and purge His people from all defilement. May He hasten the day when "holiness" will no longer be just a doctrine of the Church, but a "highway" on which His people will travel to the City of God.

7. Zion, The Perfection Of Beauty

"Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined" (Psa. 50:2).

The Perfection of Beauty! This is God's work, beloved! Let us not excuse ourselves from appropriating God's desire by saying, "Of course if you are talking about perfection, just leave me out... I can't be perfect..." We are not talking about any kind of perfection that you and I can bring forth. We are talking about the New Covenant that Christ is mediating for His people... by which He shall bring us into His own perfection. We are talking about the creative masterpiece that God is bringing forth out of the clay fields of fallen humanity. He the great Master Workman knows how to bring forth vessels unto honor and glory. And He bids His watchmen on the walls to continue in their intercessions, day and night, until this happens:

"Keep not silence, and give Him no rest, Till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth." (See Isa. 62:1-7.)

8. Zion, The Mountain Of Praise

"Sing praises to the LORD, Which dwelleth in Zion: Declare among the people his doings" (Psa. 9:11).

Throughout the history of Israel there had been the occasional song of victory in the camp; but here in the Tent of David the song of praise is introduced into temple worship for the first time. Not only was the ark placed in the Tent in the midst of great rejoicing and praise, but Asaph and his brethren were appointed to minister before the ark. But something else very noteworthy happened. David even appointed singers to minister in the old Tabernacle that Moses built, which was now on the hill of Gibeon. No doubt it was very beautiful, and blessed the hearts of the people who ministered in that old structure. But the ark of God's presence was not there, nor would it ever return to that old structure. In vain will any of God's ministers ever restore the ark of God's glory and presence to the old structures that have had their day, and which God lays aside when He brings forth the new. But God will always be faithful to minister to those whose hearts are open, wherever they are. And He was faithful to send Levites to Gibeon, with songs of praise, that they might hear through music and song the wonderful thing that God was doing in Zion.

And yet it is important that God's people who have caught the vision of Zion do not look down upon those who seemingly do not have that vision. There are people all over the earth singing about the glory of Zion, and many of them do not have the slightest understanding of what they are singing about. But God often works that way! Who knows? Perhaps many of these will be more ready for the next phase of God's temple, than some of those who have come out of the old order, and into the new. God just will not allow His people to glory over the knowledge they have, the understanding they have, or in the fact that they have come out of Babylon. As one minister said, "I used to tell people to come out of Babylon... but one day He told me that He wanted to get Babylon out of me!"

There is a solemn lesson for us all in what happened on Mount Gibeon and on Mount Zion. Abiathar the priest who clung to David in his rejection, and ministered on Zion, failed to qualify for ministry in Solomon's Temple. And Zadok the priest, who was sent by David to minister in the old Tabernacle on Gibeon, became the high priest of that new and glorious temple that Solomon would build. Selah! Let us meditate on these things.

After the dedicatory burnt offerings and peace offerings that were offered on Mount Zion there is no record that blood-sacrifices were ever again offered here in this place. The old rituals would continue in the Tabernacle of Moses on Gibeon; but Zion was to become an institution that was new and distinct... and was based on a completed and finished Sacrifice, the Sacrifice that was perfect, and could never be repeated. Zion would therefore take on eternal significance; and when we come to Zion, "the city of the living God," we also come to the "blood of sprinkling," which is the once-for-all Sacrifice of Christ (Heb. 12:24). David recognized this new order, as he sang:

"I will praise the name of God with a song,
And will magnify him with thanksgiving.
This also shall please the LORD better
Than an ox or bullock that hath horns and hoofs.
The humble shall see this, and be glad"
(Psa. 69:30-32).

Before we leave this subject, let us be sure we understand what true praise really is. It is not just a big noise that we make to try to make an impression on God. Yes, there is the shout of victory in the camp of the saints, but true praise involves much more than that. Read the book of Psalms carefully and you will discover that in every line, in every sentence, in every praise that is uttered: there is wisdom, there is knowledge, there is exaltation, there is teaching, there is instruction, there is exhortation, there is repentance, there is a yearning after holiness and purity, there is a longing after God, there is a desire toward God's people, there is lamentation for the desolation of Zion, there is prayer for the rebuilding of Jerusalem, there is perplexity in trial, there is rejoicing in triumph, there is condemnation of sin, there is a pressing forward unto righteousness, there is expectation of His glory, there is proclamation of His Kingdom. The soul of the psalmist is made bare before the LORD as he searches his heart--as God searches his heart--as he shows forth the praises of the LORD and extols His excellencies, in all of His doings toward the children of men.

Lord, teach us to praise You as we ought... lest it be said of us as was said of a disobedient people of old:

"This people... honoureth me with their lips; But their heart is far from me" (Matt. 15:8).

But may our sacrifices of praise be tempered with the oil of a broken and a contrite heart, as David prayed:

"O LORD, open thou my lips;
And my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.
For thou desirest not sacrifice;
Else would I give it:
Thou delightest not in burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit:
A broken and a contrite heart, O God,
Thou wilt not despise.
Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion:
Build thou the walls of Jerusalem"
(Psa. 51:15-18)

Chapter 3 - The Temple of Solomon
Table of Contents