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WHO AND WHAT IS ZION?
There is a lot of misunderstanding regarding who and what represents Zion. Since there are many biblical references of Zion being connected with the God of heaven, Jerusalem and the Temple, some believe that Zion is a spiritual representation of all churches, or of just one particular denomination; still others believe that Zion only represents those who are connected to literal Jerusalem, or only those who embrace the Israeli faith.
This lack of understanding is leading many of God’s honest followers into bondage and captivity to error, and possible loss of their eternal life. Thus it is important to have a clear understanding of this subject: and there is no better place to gain this than by going to God’s word and starting with the basics.
Zion or Sion was literally a mountain or hill of Jerus (see Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, Hebrew word #6726 & Greek word #4622). The actual meaning of the word “Zion” is derived from the Hebrew words #6725 & #5329, and signifies a conspicuous eminent monument, or guiding pillar, or permanent capital, that glitters from afar. This meaning is appropriate because the peak of Mount Zion is 772 meters or 2,533 feet and thus stands out.
The first Biblical reference to Zion occurs during the time of King David, when he searched for a new capital city for the united kingdom of Israel. After searching for a while, David found a suitable city and then captured it from the Jebusites. This city was named Jebus, and was actually a castle or strong hold which was built upon the north side of this mountain or hill of Zion. After David captured this fortress upon Zion, he then renamed it Jerusalem–the city of David (see 2 Samuel 5:6-9; 1 Chronicles 11:4-7).
Now it is extremely important to understand that Jerusalem was not Zion, and Zion was not Jerusalem. Since both Zion and Jerusalem are mentioned so often together, the distinction between these two tends to become blurred, and they are seen as being one in the same. But when you understand the truth that Jerusalem was a fortress city that was not Zion itself, but was only built upon the mountain of Zion, it helps to clear things up.
King David was not satisfied that God should dwell in a humble Sanctuary, and so he, along with Solomon his son, looked for a more suitable place to erect a magnificent temple to the God of heaven. Just east of Mount Zion, through a once deep valley called Tyropean, was a distinctly separate mountain called Moriah. This was the same mountain that had figured so prominently in the past leadings of God’s people. This was the place where Abraham had offered up Isaac (Genesis 22:1-18); where Jacob had his vision of the ladder reaching to heaven (Genesis 28:10-22; Great Controversy, p 18-19); and where the flames of the altar that David built had turned aside the sword of the destroying angel (1 Chronicles 21:14-28). It was upon this mountain that king Solomon, after the death of his father David, built the great stone Temple and Sanctuary to God (2 Chronicles 3:1).
The actual meaning of the word “Moriah” is derived from the Hebrew words #4179, 7200 & 3050, and signifies that this hill or mountain will be looked upon and seen of the eternal Lord God. The elevation of the bedrock outcropping where the Temple was built upon Mount Moriah was 741 meters or 2,431 feet. This made the Temple about 30 meters or 100 feet lower in height than Mount Zion to the West, and thus when one came to worship at the Temple they could not help but see Mount Zion in the distance.
At some point, the original walls of the city of Jerusalem were enlarged to include Mount Moriah, and since the Temple was built upon this mountain, it then became included within the city limits of the now enlarged Jerusalem. Thus the city of David, the strong hold of Zion, which was Jerusalem, was no longer built just upon the mountain of Zion, but now was also built upon the mountain of Moriah where the Temple was located. Also, the once deep Tyropean valley which separated Mount Zion and Mount Moriah became filled in with debris as the years went by.
Now it is also extremely important to understand that just as Jerusalem was not Zion, and Zion was not Jerusalem, so the Temple was neither Jerusalem nor Zion, and neither was Jerusalem nor Zion the Temple. Since the Temple was located in the enlarged part of the city of Jerusalem, and the original city of Jerusalem was called the city of David, the stronghold of Zion, the distinction between these three tends to become blurred, and they are seen as all referring to one in the same. But when you understand the truth that the Temple was not Jerusalem itself, nor was it Zion itself, but that it was only built in the enlarged part of the city of Jerusalem and upon a different mountain, it helps to clear things up.
With this historical picture in mind, I believe you can begin to see how easily misunderstanding crept in when people began referring to these three sites. Many who were ignorant of this history innocently began to refer to Mount Moriah and the Temple of God as being part of the original stronghold of Zion–the city of David–Jerusalem, when such was not the truth at all.
When individuals were going to the city of Jerusalem–the stronghold of Zion, instead of being clear with their words, they declared that they were just going to Zion; and when individuals were going to worship God in the Temple in the city of Jerusalem, instead of being clear with their words, they stated that they were just going up to Jerusalem to worship God. And soon Zion, Jerusalem, and the Temple all came to be synonymous with one another. Just as the Tyropean valley became completely filled in with debris, thus removing the distinction between Mount Moriah and Mount Zion, so the distinction between the Temple, Jerusalem, and Zion became covered up with misunderstanding and misconception.
But the Bible clearly declares that Zion and Jerusalem–including the Temple, although closely connected with each another, are not one in the same, but are distinct!
“For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem...” Isaiah 30:19.
“...Thus saith the Lord of hosts; I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy.” Zechariah 1:14.
So the Bible declares that Zion is at Jerusalem, but is not Jerusalem or the Temple itself; and God is jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion, showing again that they are not one in the same but are separate entities. Yet this is not the extent of the Bible showing the distinction between these.
“Awake, awake; put on thy strength O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city...” Isaiah 52:1.
“In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not: and to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack.” Zephaniah 3:16.
“...the Lord shall yet comfort Zion, and shall yet choose Jerusalem.” Zechariah 1:17.
“For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest...” Isaiah 62:1.
“Thus saith the Lord; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem...” Zechariah 8:3.
“To declare the name of the Lord in Zion, and his praise in Jerusalem.” Psalms 102:21.
Again we can see that the Bible shows a distinction between both Zion and Jerusalem–including the Temple, because it has different messages and promises for each. Although they are closely connected, yet they are not one in the same entity, but separate. Just as Mount Zion and Mount Moriah were closely linked together through their common connection with the city of Jerusalem, and yet they were both distinct and separate from one another, so the Bible continues to reveal this distinction throughout its sacred pages.
This distinction is further revealed in the fact that both Mount Zion and the Temple on Mount Moriah were higher in height than the city of Jerusalem. This forced all the city inhabitants to look up in order to see these two entities, and thus would serve to reinforce the fact that Jerusalem was not the Temple, and neither was it Zion. And just as the Temple upon Mount Moriah was built about 100 feet lower in height than Mount Zion, thereby forcing all, as they worshiped God looking West, to notice Mount Zion rising higher than the Temple, so this would serve to reinforce the fact that the Temple was not Zion, and Zion was not the Temple.
It is extremely important to remember these facts of truth showing Jerusalem, the Temple, and Mount Zion to be distinct from one another and not one in the same. When you read statements declaring that “Jerusalem is the Temple”, you will know that Jerusalem is not really the Temple, but that the Temple was within Jerusalem. Or when you read statements declaring that “Jerusalem is Zion”, you will know that Jerusalem is not really Zion, but that Jerusalem was build upon Zion. So in remembering these facts of truth you will not become so easily confused. It is because these facts of truth are not understood, or maybe even ignored, that many innocent followers of God end up being led into error by false interpretations. Especially is this the case in regards to the dwelling place of God and His place of worship.
Prior to the Temple being built, the ark, along with the presence of God, was found within the most holy place of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. This humble tent Sanctuary was built completely and only by those whom God had inspired to carry out His commands (Exodus 36:1-4). But why? Because God desired to dwell among His people (Exodus 25:8). David had brought this tent Sanctuary within the original city of Jerusalem which was on Mount Zion (2 Samuel 6:12-19; 1 Chronicles 15-16). This particular place continued to be the dwelling place of God while king David continued to rule on the throne.
But after David’s death, king Solomon moved forward in carrying out plans to build a new Sanctuary for the ark, along with God’s presence, to dwell in. This grand stone Temple was not built completely and only by those whom God had inspired, but it was built in union with the heathen (2 Chronicles 2:7-14; 1 Kings 7:13-40). When this magnificent stone Temple was completed, the ark, along with the presence of God, was taken away from Mount Zion, moved eastward out of the Jerusalem–the city of David, and was now found on Mount Moriah within the most holy place of the stone structure (1 Kings 8:1-11). The Bible makes this point very clear:
“Thus all the work that Solomon made for the house of the Lord was finished...Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes, the chief of the fathers of the children of Israel, unto Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of the city of David, which is [on] Zion....And the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the Lord into his place, to the oracle of the house, into the most holy place, even under the wings of the cherubims.” 2 Chronicles 5:1-2, 7.
So the ark, along with the presence of God, was taken out of the humble tent Sanctuary, out of Jerusalem–the city of David, out of Mount Zion, moved east, and brought up to and placed in the magnificent stone Temple which was built upon Mount Moriah. God did consent to the request of Solomon to dwell in this new stone structure built for His glory, but only upon condition of obedience (1 Kings 9:1-9; 2 Chronicles 7:1-3, 12-22).
Now why is this important to note? Because it shows that God dwelt in two different types of Sanctuaries: one was humble, while the other was magnificent; one was built only by God’s inspired people, while the other was built in union with the heathen; one was established on Mount Zion, while the other was established on Mount Moriah; and one was due to His desire, while the other was because of His consent upon obedience. Which one of these two do you think was God’s special and favorite dwelling place–Mount Zion or the stone Temple at Jerusalem?
“For the Lord has chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation. This is my rest forever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it.” Psalms 132:12-14.
“Sing praises to the Lord which dwelleth in Zion: declare among the people his doings.” Psalms 9:11.
“In Salem [Jerusalem] also is his tabernacle, and his dwelling place in [Mount] Zion.” Psalms 76:2.
“But he chose the tribe of Judah, [wherein is] the mount Zion which he loved.” Psalms 78:68.
“The Lord is great in Zion; and he is high above all the people.” Psalms 99:2.
So we can see that God desired to dwell upon Mount Zion and within the humble tent Sanctuary established upon it in the city of Jerusalem. These above passages cannot be interpreted to mean that God chose and loved to dwell in the stone Temple built upon Mount Moriah. This is because all the above passages were written during the lifetime of king David, and the stone Temple was not built until after his death.
But what about Bible passages written after the death of king David? Did God change His mind, and now favored Mount Moriah more than Mount Zion which He loved?
“Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the Lord of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion.” Isaiah 8:18.
“So shall ye know that I am the Lord your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain...” Joel 3:17.
So we can see that even though God consented to dwell in the stone Temple upon Mount Moriah, yet God still favored His dwelling place upon Mount Zion more. This fact of truth is vital to understand! God favored His humble dwelling place upon Mount Zion more than the great and magnificent stone Temple He consented to dwell in! Yet, even though this is true, the literal city of Jerusalem, the Temple, and Mount Zion became corrupted and ruined because of apostasy.
“Hear this, I pray you, ye heads of the house of Jacob, and princes of the house of Israel, that abhor judgment, and pervert all equity. They build up Zion with blood, and Jerusalem with iniquity. The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money: yet will they lean upon the Lord, and say, Is not the Lord among us? none evil can come upon us. Therefore shall Zion for your sake be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house [Temple] as the high places of the forest.” Micah 3:9-12.
“The Lord hath cast off his altar, he hath abhorred his sanctuary, he hath given up into the hand of the enemy the walls of her palaces...Thy prophets have seen vain and foolish things for thee: and they have not discovered thine iniquity, to turn away thy captivity: but have seen for thee false burdens and causes of banishment....the mountain of Zion, which is desolate...” Lamentations 2:7, 14, 5:18.
This destruction to Zion, Jerusalem, and the Temple, was because of the determined, unrepentant, and wicked leaders of the church who chose apostasy against God instead of obedience and righteousness. But all the while they were teaching the people that God was still in their midst, that the Temple could never fall, and that they would be delivered from all their enemies if they would just remain within Jerusalem and not separate from her even though Christ had commanded all His followers to do so (Matthew 24:15-22; Mark 13:14-20; Luke 21:20-22).
Yet even in their destruction, the Lord shows a distinction between all three! Zion–was plowed and became desolate, the city of Jerusalem–was laid in heaps, and the Temple upon Mount Moriah–was leveled without one stone remaining upon another (Luke 21:5-6). This clearly reveals that, from their beginning and all the way through to their end, Jerusalem, the Temple, and Zion are not one in the same, but are distinct from each other!
Because of determined and consistent satanic resistence to God, His will, and rejection of His Son Jesus Christ, literal Zion, Jerusalem, and the Temple were ruined, and God had stated that “he will no more regard them” (Lamentations 4:16). Christ made this sad fact clearly evident. He chose to ascend, not from Jerusalem, not from the Temple on Mount Moriah, nor yet from Mount Zion; but from a higher mountain east of Moriah called Mount Olivet (see Acts 1:9, 12). And when Christ returns in the air, he will not return to Jerusalem, nor to the Temple on Mount Moriah, nor to Mount Zion, but to the same Mount of Olives from whence He ascended (Acts 1:11-12). This clearly reveals that none of these three literal sites, including Mount Zion, has any further significance in the plans of God because He regards them not!
Since this is true, and neither the city of Jerusalem, nor the Temple on Mount Moriah, nor even Mount Zion, has any further significance in the plans of God, yet the Bible does have several prophecies dealing with all three sites! This then forces Bible students to try and discover what, if anything, is the spiritual meaning to these three entities.
What could be the Biblical representation to the literal city of Jerusalem in a spiritual sense for today?
The disciples of Christ asked Him the following question: “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?”Matthew 24:3. In reply, Christ blended all these events together without giving distinction between the destruction of Jerusalem–including the Temple and everything else within its walls, and the end or destruction of the world. So Christ was connecting Jerusalem and the world together. Thus the Biblical representation of the city of Jerusalem would symbolize the world today in a spiritual sense.
What could be the Biblical representation to the literal Temple of Jerusalem in a spiritual sense for today?
As the Temple of Jerusalem was the place where God’s professed people met together to worship Him anciently, so the various churches and denominations of today are the modern place where God’s professed followers meet together to worship Him.
But just as the stone Temple was built in union with the heathen, so not everyone who worshiped at the Temple of Jerusalem were really true followers of God. You had those who outwardly appeared true, but who were really corrupt and wicked heathen at heart (Matthew 23:1-33); and these were mixed together with those who were honestly serving God with all their heart! So today not everyone who gathers in all the various denominations and churches to worship God are really true followers of God at heart. And would not Christ, if He personally came to all the various denominations and churches of today, set about to cleanse them all as He set about to cleanse the Temple of Jerusalem? Thus the Biblical representation of the Temple of Jerusalem would symbolize all the various churches and denominations today in a spiritual sense.
What could be the Biblical representation to literal Mount Zion in a spiritual sense for today?
As Mount Zion was God’s favorite choice of habitation, His holy mountain, and the place which He loved to dwell in, so only those who have truly accepted God as their Father and Jesus Christ as their Saviour; only those who have completely embraced the new covenant and have been born again; only those who have fully surrendered themselves to follow God and keep His word and commandments in His strength; only those who are honestly walking uprightly in all the light and truth which God has allowed to shine across their pathway; only those who truly love God and His Son Jesus Christ with their entire soul, mind and strength; only these people are His Mount Zion of today! Their hearts have become God’s favorite choice of habitation, His holy mountain, and the place which He loves to dwell and abide in!
“Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings...And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.” John 14:23-24; 1 John 3:24.
“For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” Isaiah 57:15.
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit...For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of God, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness....For if we live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall life. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” Romans 8:1, 6-10, 13-14.
“For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ...That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” Ephesians 3:14, 16-19.
“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another....If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit....Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.” 1 John 4:10-14, 15-16.
“Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them....They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God....For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. O Lord of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.” Psalms 84:5, 7, 11-12.
Thus the Biblical representation of literal Mount Zion–the dwelling place of God–would spiritually represent the hearts of only those who are true and faithful to God and who remain such. This spiritual representation goes beyond the boundaries of all denominations and churches, and includes all followers of God who truly love and follow Him with all their being regardless of nationality, race, church membership, and gender.
“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God....put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.” Colossians 3:1-3, 10-11.
“For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye are Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Galatians 3:27-29.
Yet many will reject this spiritual interpretation of Zion. Some will declare that the presence of God can only be found in the modern stone structures of today–being the various denominations or churches or cathedrals, etc. Still others will declare that God’s presence only dwells in one particular denomination or church to the exclusion of all others. Yet these beliefs are shown to be erroneous.
Before the Temple on Mount Moriah was first destroyed, the ark, along with the presence of God, was removed and was never returned (2 Maccabees 2:4-5). Even when the Temple was rebuilt, the ark, along with the presence of God, was not found there. God’s presence only briefly returned to the Temple in the person of Jesus Christ when He walked into it. This clearly reveals that the presence of God today is not to be found permanently residing in any temple or church, no matter how sacred or righteous their calling, no matter how high or magnificent the structure, because the presence of God can only be found through Jesus Christ.
“...David; Who found favor before God, and desired to find a tabernacle for the God of Jacob. But Solomon built him an house. Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands...” Acts 7:45-48.
“God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshiped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth...That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being...he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man [Christ] whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he had raised him from the dead.” Acts 17:24-28, 31.
Thus it is only the presence of Christ that can constitute a church of Christ, and this church of His knows no bounds of denominationalism, nationality, race, or gender! Hence if Jesus Christ is not found abiding in the heart, then that individual is not a true follower of God–no matter who they may be; no matter what outward appearance they may display; no matter by what exalted name they may call themselves by; and no matter what denomination or church they belong to! Profession alone is nothing with God! Thus God’s true church, His spiritual Zion of today, is not any denomination or church or professed people, but it is only those who truly love God and therefore obey Him completely and fully from an honest heart!
That is why the foundation of God’s true church, the spiritual Mount Zion which He has chosen and where His glorious and loving presence dwells, is not founded upon any denomination or church–no matter how long they have been in existence; it is not founded upon linage or nationality or race or person; it is not founded upon tradition or teachings of men; but it is founded upon Jesus Christ alone!
“If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore it is also contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient...” 1 Peter 2:3-8.
All denominations, churches, and religions throughout the entire world which take the position that they are God’s spiritual Zion, and that all followers of God must be connected with their particular structure or religious system in order to find God and eternal life, are placing themselves between God and His people; and they will fall–no matter who they make a covenant and agreement with to try and avoid destruction!
“...I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion....Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are they that put their trust in him.” Psalms 2:6. 10-12.
“Wherefore hear the word of the Lord, ye scornful men, that rule this people which is in Jerusalem. Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us; for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves: Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste [be confounded]. Judgement also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place. And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it.” Isaiah 28:14-18.
There is not a single denomination or church today which is 100% pure and undefiled, without the spot or stain of sin. That is why salvation and eternal life are not found within any denomination or church, temple or synagogue, shrine or holy site, but is only found in Jesus Christ alone! Thus it is only the faithful who embrace Christ as their Saviour and who fully trust and lovingly obey God who will not fall or be destroyed. These alone will abide forever because they make up God’s true church–His spiritual Mount Zion–which God loves and dwells in!
“They that trust in the Lord shall be as mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever.” Psalms 125:1.
Another way to look at this truth is from the following perspective. Since spiritual Zion represents God’s purified people and true church, and God’s professed followers are supposed to be in the process of overcoming all their sins, but they have not yet perfected their characters; these would be likened to sinners in Zion. God will continue to test, refine, and purge the characters of all His professed followers, until they either are completely purified from all sin – becoming His Zion, or cling to their sins and become separated from Zion and His faithful people.
“The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil; He shall dwell on high: his place of defense shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure. Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off....For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; he will save us.” Isaiah 33:14-17, 22.
In the end, Zion will only be composed of a completely purified and righteous people who are separated from all sin, from all determined sinners, and from all corrupt and fallen churches. Truly, they compose God’s true church of remnant, spotless, saints.
This remnant people of Zion will be intensely persecuted by the devil, the wicked, and the fallen churches of Babylon. This persecution will continue to the point that even though their brethren forsake them, their numbers diminish, and they appear ready to fall, yet they remain faithful to Christ and obedient to God’s truth. Thus these faithful obedient remnant people cannot fall because they are founded upon Christ – the King of Zion, and He will not forsake them in their time of need!
“Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the Lord hath comforted His people, and will have mercy upon His afflicted. But Zion said, The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of My hands; thy walls are continually before Me." Isaiah 49:13-16.
So God’s Zion, His true church, is not composed of all the denominations, or even just one denomination, but it is composed of faithful souls who purify their souls in loving obedience to Christ–their King of Zion! That is why salvation and eternal life is alone found in Jesus Christ, and not in any denomination. Salvation is only to be found by being connected to and remaining in Jesus Christ: and in remaining faithful to Him you thereby become part of God’s spiritual Mount Zion–His true church–which cannot fall or be removed, but will abide forever!
Only the following individuals can be part of spiritual Zion:
-- those who turn from their sins (Isaiah 59:20).
-- those who grow in spiritual strength (Psalms 84:7).
-- those who are righteous (Isaiah 33:5).
-- those who are holy (Isaiah 62:12; Obadiah 1:17).
-- those who are united together in message and work (Isaiah 52:8).
Only those who are part of spiritual Zion can:
-- be God’s people (Isaiah 51:16).
-- have the promise of salvation (Isaiah 62:11, 46:13).
-- loudly cry out and shout for God (Isaiah 12:6).
-- be delivered (Obadiah 1:17).
-- be redeemed (Isaiah 1:27, 62:12; Psalms 74:2).
-- gain eternal life (abide forever) (Psalms 125:1).
-- be saved (Psalms 69:35).
-- appear before God (Psalms 84:7).
Thus spiritual Zion today cannot represent any of the denominations or churches. This is because they are all composed of good and bad, wheat and tares, wise and foolish individuals which need to be cleansed in God’s appointed way.
Since Zion today only represents those who remain faithful to God and Jesus Christ, and since these true followers are to be found throughout all the world in all denominations and churches, then how is God going to save Zion from among the wicked in all these places who will be destroyed?
We discovered earlier that the Biblical representation of the Temple of Jerusalem would symbolize all the various churches and denominations today in a spiritual sense. We also discovered that if Christ personally would come to all the various denominations and churches of today, He would set about to cleanse them all as He cleansed the Temple anciently. And believe me, it is indeed God’s desire to cleanse all the professed churches who claim to be His followers.
Many believe that God will cleanse His church by separating all the wicked and false people out of the churches, and thus leave only the righteous remaining within. Others believe that God will separate all the true and righteous people out of all the churches, and thus leave only the wicked and false remaining within. Still others believe that God will miraculously change the character of all the wicked and false people in the churches, making them instantly true and righteous, so that no one will need to separate from any church. But just how is this cleansing process of God to be accomplished in all the various denominations and churches of today?
“Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication." Revelation 14:8.
“...I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird....And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.” Revelation 18:1-2, 4.
So God’s appointed way of cleaning is to be accomplished by separating all the true and righteous followers of God from all the wicked and false people in all the corrupt churches of today which make up Babylon! Thus God is not cleansing the churches by removing all the wicked from them, but He is working to cleanse or separate His people, scattered all over the world, from their connection with all the wicked in these corrupt churches, and bring them to Zion. God is working to separate His true flock from those shepherds who have led them astray.
“Ho, ho, come forth, and flee from the land of the north [Babylon], saith the Lord: for I have spread you abroad as the four winds of the heaven, saith the Lord. Deliver thyself, O Zion, that dwellest with the daughter [offspring] of Babylon.” Zechariah 2:6-7.
“In those days, and in that time, saith the Lord, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping: they shall go, and seek the Lord their God. They shall ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward, saying, Come, and let us join ourselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten. My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill [from one church to another seeking the Lord], they have forgotten their restingplace [in Christ alone]....Remove out of the midst of Babylon, and go forth out of the land of the Chaldeans...Thus saith the Lord; Behold, I will raise up against Babylon, and against them that rise up against me, a destroying wind; And will send unto Babylon fanners, that shall fan her, and shall empty her land [separating all God’s true followers from her midst]...[and all those that refuse to separate] shall fall in the land of the Chaldeans, and they that are thrust through in her streets....[Therefore] Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul: be not cut off in her iniquity; for this is the time of the Lord’s vengeance; he will render unto her a recompense.” Jeremiah 50:4-8, 51:1-6.
Any who refuse to work in harmony with God in this appointed cleansing and separating work, either by refusing to separate themselves from all the corrupt Babylonian churches of today, or who try and prevent their fellow brethren from obeying God and separating, are actually working at cross-purposes against God as well as leading their fellow brethren to destruction along with their corrupt church.
But this plainly shows us that salvation is not found within any denomination, church, temple, synagogue, shrine, or supposed holy place! Salvation is not found by remaining connected to any of these; but salvation is only found outside of all these corrupt places and in remaining connected to Jesus Christ!
“Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.” Hebrews 13:12-14.
Thus there is no hope that God will save anyone by their remaining within the spiritual Temple of Jerusalem–being all the corrupt churches of today, because He will only save you outside of all these, and then only if you remain connected to Jesus Christ. Sanctification and eternal life cannot be found within any corrupt and apostate church. This is because Jesus Christ, and the presence of God, are not to be found within any corrupt denomination, but only outside of them all! Just as the name of Mount Moriah, where the stone Temple was built, meant that the eternal Lord God would look upon and see it, thus inferring that God did not want to dwell there but only to look upon it; so God is dwelling in Zion, but is earnestly looking down upon all the various denominations and churches and tenderly watching over those honest-hearted followers of His who will be called out to become part of, and make up, Zion! Thus God is not working for the building up of any of the corrupt churches of today, but is indeed working for his faithful people–to bring them out of the world, and out of all the fallen churches, unto Zion!
“For there shall be a day, that the watchmen upon the mount Ephraim [a place other than the Temple at Jerusalem, thus representing those in the world who are not connected with the various corrupt churches of today] shall cry, Arise ye, and let us go up [separate] to Zion unto the Lord our God.” Jeremiah 31:6.
It will only be those who have separated from the corruptions of the world; only those who have separated from all the corrupt churches of today; only those who have joined Christ by separating from all their sins and thereby becoming His Zion, that will be able to receive the latter rain and proclaim the loud cry!
“Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month.” Joel 2:23.
“Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion: for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee.” Isaiah 12:6.
Thus only those who make up spiritual Zion will receive the latter rain and give the loud cry; only those who make up Mount Zion can be considered as God’s remnant people (Micah 4:7; Zephaniah 3:13); and only those who make up Mount Zion have a precious chance to become one of His 144,000!
“And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor any trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes [not just one in particular] of the children of Israel [God’s professed people]....And I look, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads....These are they which were not defiled with women [corrupt churches]; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.” Revelation 7:2-4, 14:1, 4-5.
The 144,000 of God are not found within, or defiled by being connected with, any of the corrupt women or churches of today, but they have been gathered out of them all in order to be connected with Christ in Zion. They have become sanctified and made holy and righteous in Christ, and have become the saints of God–His virgin bride–His true church–His remnant people! Only those in Zion have the Father’s name written in their foreheads or minds, because they perfectly reflect their Father’s character!
“Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined.” Psalms 50:2.
But not one of those who make up Zion are found connected to, or within, any of the corrupt churches of today! They have heeded God’s call to show themselves separate from them all, and have clearly given the same message to all in the churches and in the world who will listen. And when all inhabitants of the earth shall have made up their minds to either reject Christ by continuing to live in their sins and/or remaining connected to any of the corrupt churches–thus making up Babylon the great, or to receive Christ as their Saviour by giving up their sins, living in His righteousness, and separating themselves from all the corrupt churches–thus making up Mount Zion; then the end will come!
When the literal number of 144,000 faithful subjects of God shall have been made up, when Zion shall have been built up and His faithful bride hath made herself ready, then Christ will cease His intercession between God and man, the plagues will fall upon the wicked in Babylon (Revelation 16), and Christ will come to take his obedient people home!
“And of Zion it shall be said, This and that man was born in her: and the highest himself shall establish her. The Lord shall count, when he writteth up the people, that this man was born there.” Psalms 87:5-6.
“Wherefore it shall come to pass, that when the Lord hath performed his whole work upon mount Zion [building it up with faithful people] and on Jerusalem [separating His people out of the world and Temple], I will punish the fruit [offspring or followers] of the stout heart of the king [Satan] of Assyria [Babylon], and the glory of his high looks....And it shall come to pass in that day, that the remnant of Israel [God’s people], and such as are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more again stay upon him that smote them; but shall stay upon the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. The remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God. For though thy people Israel be as the sand of the sea, yet a remnant of them shall return: the consumption decreed shall overflow with righteousness. For the Lord God of hosts shall make a consumption, even determined, in the midst of all the land.” Isaiah 10:12, 20-23.
“When the Lord shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory.” Psalms 102:16.
Of course this group will not be popular with the world, or the various churches and their members, and they will be very persecuted and scattered; nevertheless they are the Lord’s chosen and beloved Zion, His favorite place of dwelling, and Christ will protect and comfort His faithful bride!
“In that time [of harvest–see verse 5] shall the present be brought unto the Lord of hosts of a people scattered and peeled, and from a people terrible from their beginning hitherto; a nation meted out and trodden under foot, whose land the rivers have spoiled, to the place of the name of the Lord of hosts, the mount Zion.” Isaiah 18:7.
“Therefore thus saith the Lord God of hosts, O my people that dwellest in Zion, be not afraid of the Assyrian [people of Babylon]: he shall smite thee with a rod, and shall lift up his staff against thee, after the manner of Egypt. For yet a very little while, and the indignation shall cease, and mine anger in their destruction....And in shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing....Behold, the Lord, the Lord of hosts, shall lop the bough with terror: and the high ones of stature shall be hewn down, and the haughty shall be humbled.” Isaiah 10:24-25, 27, 33.
“The Lord shall comfort Zion: He will comfort all her waste places; and He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord." "The glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon." "Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called My Delight, and thy land Beulah." "As the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee." Isaiah 51:3; 35:2; 62:4, 5, margin.
“To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified....I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.” Isaiah 61:3, 10.
“And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints. And he said unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb." Rev. 19:6-9.
Thus God will work for His people of Zion; He will work to deliver them from those who seek their destruction; He will turn their apparent defeat at the hands of the wicked into a complete victory for His chosen saints! And did you know, that some of these wicked people who were seeking the destruction of God’s chosen remnant at this time, were made up of those church brethren who refused to separate! These deceived and haughty persecutors will indeed be humbled when God delivers His chosen ones of Zion, to the point of bowing down at the feet of God’s saints, and then they will be destroyed!
“I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews [God’s true people], and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan [or Babylon]. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried...for thou has a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet. Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.” Revelation 2:9-10, 3:8-13.
“The sons also of them that afflicted thee shall come bending unto thee; and all they that despised thee shall bow themselves down at the soles of thy feet; and they shall call thee, The city of the Lord, The Zion of the Holy One of Israel. Whereas thou has been forsaken and hated, so that no man went through thee, I will make thee an eternal excellency, a joy of many generations....and thou shalt know that I the Lord am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob....The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory...and the days of thy mourning shall be ended. Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified.” Isaiah 60:14-16, 19-21.
“Moreover the multitude of thy strangers shall be like small dust, and the multitude of the terrible ones shall be as chaff that passeth away: yea, it shall be at an instant suddenly. Thou shalt be visited of the Lord of hosts with thunder, and with earthquake, and great noise, with storm and tempest, and the flame of devouring fire....so shall the multitude of all the nations be [as a dream of the night which departeth], that fight against mount Zion.” Isaiah 29:5-6, 8.
“O daughter of Zion,...the Lord shall redeem thee from the hand of thine enemies. Now also many nations are gathered against thee, that say, Let her be defiled, and let our eye look upon Zion. But they know not the thoughts of the Lord, neither understand they His counsel." Micah 4:10-12.
So for all those who desire to be part of God’s spiritual Zion, His faithful bride, His chosen remnant few, the place where He loves to dwell, and thereby have salvation assured in Christ Jesus: Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp of all corrupt denominations and churches, bearing the same reproaches from the wicked as did Christ.
Let us remain faithful to God until we die, or are translated to heaven without seeing death. Then we shall gain a mighty victory over Satan, Babylon, and all the wicked for the glory of God! We shall be able to walk into the heavenly Jerusalem, to stand upon the heavenly Mount Zion, and to worship God at His heavenly Temple! May the following verses be indeed our experience, and message:
“But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus Christ the mediator of the new covenant...” Hebrews 12:22-24.
“And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life [Jesus Christ] freely.” Revelation 22:17.