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The City of God 

Come see the glorious things of the city of God

Psalm 87

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • June 16, In the year of our Lord, 2013

 

Prelude

  1. Let us ponder the Scripture reading of Hebrews 12.18–24
    1. As Christians, we do not approach Mt. Sinai,
      1. a mountain that could be touched, and
      2. that gave great displays of
        1. fire,
        2. blackness,
        3. darkness,
        4. tempest,
        5. trumpet blaring, and
        6. the voice of God.
          1. The Israelites begged to stay away from such a mountain,
          2. fearing the punishment,
            1. which was death,
            2. for touching the mountain.
              1. That mountain even caused the fearless Moses
              2. to fear and tremble.
    2. However, we have come to Mount Zion,
      1. the writer using Jerusalem to symbolize the church.
      2. The church is
        1. the true Mount Zion,
        2. the true city of God,
        3. the heavenly Jerusalem.
          1. When we come to this Mount Zion,
          2. we also come into
            1. the presence of countless angels,
            2. the presence of those who are registered in heaven,
            3. the presence of the Judge of all the Earth,
            4. the presence of the spirits of just people already perfected,
            5. the presence of Jesus, and
            6. the presence of His precious blood.
  2. Psalm 87 prefigured this very imagery, showing 
    1. that the Lord had the church in mind from eternity, and
    2. that the church was not an afterthought as some allege.
      1. Therefore, even as Mount Zion meant everything to the ancient Israelite,
      2. so let the Mount Zion of the church mean everything to us, because
        1. we often exalt America above the church, and
        2. as great as America is,
          1. it does not surpass the church, but
          2. Psalm 87 shows how the Lord thinks about the church,
            1. that He exalts her above
            2. everything else on the Earth.

Persuasion

  1. Psalm 87.0 – Songs There

    0 A Psalm of the sons of Korah.
    A Song.
    (Psa 87.0)

    1. Because of the supreme nature of the church,
    2. the Lord preserved prophetic songs in the Scriptures.
  2. Psalm 87.1, 2 – Foundation There

    1 His foundation is in the holy mountains.
    2 The Lord loves the gates of Zion
    More than all the dwellings of Jacob.
    (Psa 87.1, 2)

    1. I like the way the sons of Korah began this psalm,
      1. using the second person pronoun, masculine gender
      2. without yet identifying who the “His” is.
        1. Yet, somehow we know,
          1. before getting to the second line,
        2. that they meant the Lord.
    2. His foundation is in the holy mountains.
      1. The Lord is holy.
      2. Therefore, His foundation must be in holy mountains.
        1. The church is the temple of God, according to First Corinthians 3.16, 17.
        2. Therefore, we each must seek holiness.
    3. The sons of Korah said that the Lord loves the entrance of Zion.
      1. To Him, it is a welcome sight.
      2. We know that later He would give Himself to purchase her (Acts 20.28).
    4. Of all the places He could have chosen in Jacob,
      1. that is, in the Land of Israel, and
      2. for that matter in all the Earth,
        1. He chose the mountains of Zion.
        2. And of all the things He could have made the church,
          1. He made her into this wonderful collection of people
          2. from all over the Earth.
    5. Think of the significance of Mount Zion on Earth.
      1. Melchizedek served as a priest and a king there.
      2. Abraham offered Isaac there.
      3. David made it the capital of Israel.
      4. Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem.
      5. The Jews and the Romans crucified Jesus in the holy mountains of Zion.
      6. The church began on that location.
        1. We form part of the legacy of the church.
        2. Thus, consistent with Hebrews 12 and Galatians 4.21–31,
          1. we can read Psalm 87 and
          2. see the church, see ourselves.
  3. Psalm 87.3 – Glory There

    3 Glorious things are spoken of you,
    O city of God!
    Selah
    (Psa 87.3)

    1. Since the Lord chose Zion, glorious things are spoken of this city of God.
      1. Why did He chose Zion on Earth?
      2. Why did He chose us to be citizens in that city?
    2. So far, three glorious things were spoken of that city.
      1. The Lord’s foundation is in her.
      2. The Lord loves the gates of Zion.
      3. The Lord calls Zion the city of God.
    3. The rest of the psalm shows more glorious things spoken of the city of God.
  4. Psalm 87.4–6 – Born There

    4 “I will make mention of Rahab and Babylon to those who know Me;
    Behold, O Philistia and Tyre, with Ethiopia:
    ‘This one was born there.’”
    5 And of Zion it will be said,
    “This one and that one were born in her;
    And the Most High Himself shall establish her.”
    6 The Lord will record,
    When He registers the peoples:
    “This one was born there.”
    Selah
    (Psa 87.4–6)

    1. Suddenly verse 4 reaches beyond Jacob,
      1. speaking of Rahab (or Egypt), Babylon, Philistia, Tyre, and Ethiopia.
      2. The Lord Himself speaks in verse 4, saying
        1. that He would speak to those who know him, and
        2. He would speak of those five nations,
          1. all of whom had been enemies of Israel.
          2. However, in the new city of God, the church,
            1. the wolf lies down with the lamb.
            2. Enemies become friends.
    2. What did the ancient Jew think
      1. when he read this prophecy
      2. that their former enemies would be born in Zion?
        1. The Lord works wonders
        2. that we never anticipate.
    3. Then in verse 5, He adds that people of Zion would also be born there.
    4. The Most High Himself would establish Zion.
      1. All this speaks as prophecy, that is,
      2. of something not present during the days of the sons of Korah.
        1. Every city built by men
        2. shall fail, but
          1. the Lord established spiritual Zion, and
          2. it shall never be shaken (Heb 12.28).
    5. Something was coming that would include all people,
      1. whether of Zion, that is, a place of the Jews, or
      2. of nations close to Zion or far away.
        1. Whether in Africa, Asia, or
        2. anywhere that people want to be part of Zion.
          1. I am an American Gentile, and
          2. I want to live in this city of God, and
            1. as a Christian,
            2. I do.
    6. The Lord registers those born in Zion, because
      1. the Lord has a Book of Life.
      2. When you become one of His,
        1. He writes, or has written, in this Book, your name.
        2. Is your name in the Lord’s Book of Life?

          12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books (Rev 20.12).

          1. Remember that Hebrews 12
          2. referred to those who are registered in heaven.
    7. These three verses reveal three more glorious things spoken of the city of God.
      1. The Lord welcomes Gentile and Jew there, causing them to be born again.
      2. The Lord establishes her.
      3. The Lord registers people there.
  5. Psalm 87.7 – Springs There

    7 Both the singers and the players on instruments say,
    “All my springs are in you.”
    (Psa 87.7)

    1. When celebrating in music,
      1. both the singers and players on instruments declare,
      2. that all their springs are in Zion.
    2. Notice the distinction between singing and playing.
      1. Singing a song is not playing an instrument.
      2. Playing an instrument is not singing a song.
        1. Both can be done simultaneously, but
        2. they are different acts.
          1. Now we sing with our voices, our lips, and our spirits, and
          2. we make melody on our hearts (Eph 5.19).
    3. Zion is something to celebrate in music.
      1. As evidence of that consider the number of spiritual songs we have
      2. versus the number of American patriotic songs we have.
    4. All our springs are in Zion.
      1. Most cities of significant size are built next to a water source.
      2. Earthly Jerusalem is not, but
        1. springs feed the city,
        2. so that the city supplies its own water.
      3. So it is with the church.
        1. The world does not supply our doctrine, but
        2. the Holy Scriptures do.
    5. This closing verse reveals the seventh glorious thing spoken of the city of God.
      1. All our springs are in her.
    6. Thus, from this psalm alone, we have these seven glorious things:
      1. The Lord’s foundation is in her.
      2. The Lord loves the gates of Zion.
      3. The Lord calls Zion the city of God.
      4. The Lord welcomes Gentile and Jew there, causing them to be born again.
      5. The Lord establishes her.
      6. The Lord registers people there.
      7. The Lord’s springs are in her.

Exhortation

  1. The Lord has a structure, according to verse 1
    1. He has a foundation.
    2. He loves the gates of Zion.
  2. See the Lord’s actions in this psalm for Zion. 
    1. He has laid a foundation for Zion.
    2. He loves the gates of Zion.
    3. He mentions our births in Zion.
    4. He includes us in Zion.
    5. He establishes Zion.
    6. He records and registers our births in Zion.
  3. The Lord’s witness that we are born in Zion, and 
    1. that He records and registers our births there
    2. is the ultimate birth certificate.
      1. As you know, before you can get
        1. a driver’s license,
        2. a passport, and
        3. many other things,
      2. you need to prove that you are an American, and
        1. we do that initially with our birth certificates.
        2. Do you realize how important your American birth certificate is?
  4. Do you realize the significance of your heavenly birth certificate? 
    1. Without it, you cannot enter heaven!
    2. Revelation 20 declares with simple language the facts of the situation,

      15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire (Rev 20.15).

    3. Revelation 21 also pictures the church as a city.
  5. Where were you born?
    1. I was born in Pasadena, California.
    2. How many others of you have been born in Southern California?
      1. There is something about our place of birth
      2. that it is one of the few pieces of information
        1. that stays with us for the rest of our lives.
        2. When death arrives, we say of someone
          1. when and where he was born, and
          2. when and where he died.
    3. This is our first birth.
    4. What about our second birth?
      1. The first birth does not get us into heaven.
      2. The second birth does.
        1. Therefore, our first birth means little.
        2. Our second birth means everything.
          1. Will the Lord say of you,
          2. “He was born in spiritual Zion”?