“Mount Zion rejoices, the villages of Judah are glad because of your judgments. Walk about Zion, go around her, count her towers, consider well her ramparts, view her citadels, that you may tell of them to the next generation. For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.” (Ps 48:11-14 NIV)
In ancient times, mountains were thought of as being the home of the gods. Remember Mount Olympus, home of Zeus? And what about Mount Zaphon, or Mount Aqraa, as it is known today. According to Ugaritic texts, it was the sacred mountain of Baal. As a rule, these sacred mountains were tall, majestic peaks, inaccessible to common man.
God had such a mountain as well, Mount Sinai, where He personally met with Israel and talked face to face with Moses. Yet all but one of the Bible’s references to this mountain, also known as Mount Horeb, were all in conjunction with the giving of the law. Even New Testament references to Sinai or Horeb traced back to this event.
But such is not the case with Mount Zion. The book Isaiah, as well as the Psalms, make frequent references to this mountain. Just what is Mount Zion, where is it, and what is its significance to ancient Israel, and to us today?
Mount Zion is neither remote nor particularly impressive. What this biblical reference refers to is actually the hilly areas of Jerusalem, and more specifically, the temple mount. It is about 2000 feet above sea level, and as a result, the Psalmists’ description in Ps. 48 hardly seems applicable: “It is beautiful in its loftiness, the joy of the whole earth. Like the utmost heights of Zaphon is Mount Zion, the city of the Great King.” (Ps 48:2 NIV)!
In the Old Testament, the term “Zion” is used to represent the coming of God’s kingdom. In essence, “Zion” was a symbol of God’s dominion over the whole Earth. Isn’t it interesting that this is where the temple was built! Therefore, worship at the temple was kind of a foretaste of a future when God’s Kingdom would spread throughout the entire world, and the gentiles would come and submit to Israel’s God!*
As a result, it is significant that Mount Zion does not dominate the area of Judah in the same way Olympus overshadows Greece. It is also significant that unlike the other mountains, Zion has a large human population, and thus none of the remoteness or mystery typically associated with the mountains of the gods. You see, unlike the gods of the nations, God does not wish to dominate over us from above. No! Instead, He came and dwelt among us: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” (John 1:14 NIV)!
Friends, God’s covenant is with people, people just like you and I! He no longer dwells among us. Instead, His greatest desire is to dwell IN us: ” … so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” (Eph 3:17 NIV); “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” (1 Cor 6:19 NIV).
So the next time you read about Mount Zion, remember: This is a non-impressive high place in a populated area because God wishes to spend time with us, to help us, to love us, to comfort us, to support us, to have a personal relationship with us! He is a God of people, a God of relationships, and one day, every knee will bow at the name of Jesus! “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.'” (Rom 14:11 NIV)
What a glorious day that will be. I’m looking forward to it. What about you?
In His love,
Lyn Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two teens, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, www.scripturalnuggets.org, with Answers2Prayer Ministries, www.Answers2Prayer.org.
* Taken from “The Archaelological Study Bible, copyright 2005 by the Zondervan Corporation, pg. 843.