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The Lost Passion for Zion

The Lost Passion for Zion

The Centrality of Jerusalem in Redemptive History

"If the war was over tomorrow, Zion is where the party would be."
- The Wachowski brothers (from the 1999 film, "The Matrix")

"What does Athens have to do with Jerusalem?" - Tertullian

Undoubtedly we are living in that "dystopian" age that C.S Lewis (among others) foresaw -- a time when people, controlled by propaganda, social engineering ("political correctness"), postmodern relativism, etc., would be rendered virtually unable to hold to genuine conviction. The world system (κόσμος) makes parades for cultural diversity; it celebrates and applauds our differences; it preaches sensitivity and consensus for "alternative lifestyles"; and it always panders to the crowd: but God forbid that an individual should seriously stand up for objective truth in the public square and exercise sincere moral conviction... No, today's insidious propaganda machine regularly inculcates that the only "absolute truth" is that there is no absolute truth; that the only "true god" is the fictive god of relativism, plurality, and metanarrative diversity; and that the only real virtue is a promiscuous tolerance that lends itself to secular syncretism (producing gutless acquiescence and passivity). Violation of the world's code leads to collision and eventual persecution (i.e., "hate/thought crimes," etc.). The spirit of our age derives from the Hegelian dialectic, that is, the "triangulation" or "mediation" of historically conditioned ideas with the aim of "reinventing truth" as something to be (dynamically) shaped, controlled, managed, manipulated, and directed...  It's the foundation of social control theories of various kinds (see the Devil's Logic), and it's the prevailing creed of the "movers and shakers" of this world system....

Sadly, this all-pervading ethos has even infiltrated many "Bible-believing" churches of our time, so that many church leaders regard the ideal of "Zion" (צִיּוֹן) and its great hope as something quaint and perhaps even a little bit naive.  Many of today's Evangelical teachers, for example, seem to regard the ancient hope of Zion and the reestablishment of the modern State of Israel as an historical accident, without any theological significance. They do not regard the Jewish people's regathering to their ancient homeland as a miracle, nor do they regard it as a sign that we are beginning to see the prophesied period known as acharit hayamim - the End of Days. (As I've written about elsewhere, this indifference ultimately comes from an allegorical reading of the Scriptures that confuses the "Church" with the Israel and therefore regards the historical presence of the nation of Israel as something of an embarrassment.) 

The word "Zion" is mentioned over 160 times in the Scriptures. That's more than the words faith, hope, love, and countless others... And since Zion is a poetic form of the word Jerusalem, the number of occurrences swells to nearly 1,000! It is therefore not an overstatement to say that God Himself is a Zionist.... "Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth" (Psalm 50:2)Zion represents the rule and reign of God in the earth and is therefore synonymous with the Kingdom of God. The entire redemptive plan of God -- including the coming of the Messiah Himself and our very salvation -- is wrapped up in the concept of Zion. It is the "historiography" of God -- His philosophy of history, if you will. And this perhaps explains why the world system (and its agency, the devil) routinely mischaracterizes and condemns "Zionism" as a form of racism or injustice... (It is remarkable that the ideal of Zion was reintroduced to popular culture in the 1999 movie "The Matrix," where a member of the resistance said, "If the war was over tomorrow, Zion is where the party would be at." This is remarkable because this message should be regularly preached in our churches rather than given voice through a Hollywood movie).


 

Friends, how can we forget Zion, "the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem" (Heb. 12:22)? Is she not "our mother" (Gal. 4:26)? Are we not her citizens, indeed, her exiles in this age?  As the psalmist said, "If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill! Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy!" (Psalm 137:5-6). Of course we are instructed to "pray for the peace of Jerusalem" (Psalm 126:6), but we are further told to "badger" the LORD until he makes Zion "the praise of the earth" (Isa. 62:7).

God loves Zion since it symbolizes His redemptive program in human history. In a sense, Zion is the heart of the Gospel message and the focal point of God's salvation in this world.  Zion represents our eschatological future -- our home in olam haba (the world to come). Even the new heavens and earth will be called Jerusalem -- Zion in her perfection (Rev. 21). "This is what Adonai Tzeva'ot says: I am very jealous for Jerusalem and Zion, but I am very angry with the nations that feel secure" (Zech. 1:14-15). "For Zion's sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem's sake I will not remain quiet, till her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch" (Isa 62:1). "The builder of Jerusalem is God, the outcasts of Israel he will gather in... Praise God, O Jerusalem, laud your God, O Zion" (Psalm 147:2-12). "Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth" (Psalm 50:2).


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