ZION AND THE PRESENCE OF GOD
The prophet Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 28:16, "Now I shall lay a stone in Zion, a granite stone, a precious corner-stone, a firm foundation-stone: no one who relies on this will stumble." We recognize the "corner-stone"/ "stumbling stone" as Jesus Christ but what is the significance of the references to Zion?
In the experience of the covenant formation between Yahweh and Israel Mount Sinai had been the focus, but when King David conquered Jerusalem circa 1000BC and brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, Mount Zion became the focus of liturgical worship as the dwelling place of Yahweh: Look, I and the children whom Yahweh has given me shall become signs and portents in Israel on behalf of Yahweh Sabaoth who dwells on Mount Zion (Isaiah 8:18). Unlike Mount Sinai, whose location is uncertain, Zion has been a known location'a physical location within the boundaries of the ancient city of Jerusalem. Jewish scholars identify Mount Zion as the hill in Jerusalem between the Tyropoean and Kidron valleys on the eastern side of Jerusalem, which agrees with the biblical references to Mount Zion as the site of the Temple of Yahweh and synonymous with Mount Moriah. Christians from the time of Byzantine period, however, have identified Mount Zion as the hill to the southwest of the Jewish Zion and across the Tyropoean Valley. The Christian identification of the site of Zion is generally considered by biblical scholars and archaeologists to be inaccurate, but perhaps the original location of Mount Zion not only included today's Temple Mount but the ancient city of King David. At the time David and Solomon resided in Jerusalem (c. 1000 BC - 930 BC), biblical scholars and archaeologists believe the majority of the city was to the southeast of the present city where the village of Silwan is located today.
There is no debate; however, concerning the ancient origin of the place name Jerusalem, an ancient city predates David's conquest. In the ancient documents known as the Amarna Letters, correspondence from the vassal king of Jerusalem to his great lord the Egyptian Pharaoh, dating to the 14th century BC, it is clear that the city was one of several important city-states in Canaan under Egyptian control. But the etymology of the place name Zion is allusive. The origin may stem from the Hebrew root snn, found in the derived form sinna meaning "large shield" or "fortress" and may have referred to David's fortress within the ancient city of Jerusalem.
However, Zion's theological significance outweighs its actual location. Zion is linked to a visionary experience witnessed both by Abraham and his descendant, the great King David. Both men are revealed to be Jesus' ancestors in Matthew's genealogy in Matthew 1:1: Roll of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abraham. Abraham witnessed the angel of God staying his hand in his attempt to sacrifice his son'an angel who pointed out a ram that God intended for the sacrifice (Genesis 22:14). David also saw the angel of the Lord at the same site in 2 Chronicles 3:1. The Chronicles passage is a reference to 2 Samuel 24:16-25 where the angel of Yahweh was revealed to David just as he was revealed to Abraham. In both cases the site is identified as Mt. Moriah (Genesis 22:2 & 2 Chronicles 3:1).
In the Bible the Patriarchs set up altars to Yahweh where they had experienced Yahweh's presence and the same is true of Solomon's Temple on Mount Zion/Moriah where the visionary experience of both Abraham and David served as the authorization for the building of the Temple on that site'where Yahweh continued to manifest His presence to His people and to fulfill His covenant promises. What is important about Zion is the not the physical site but the spiritual revelation of God to His covenant people. Zion as the holy people of God is the spiritual concept that shapes the identity and the future of the covenant people. Tied to Zion is the divine promise of an eternal Davidic dynasty (2 Samuel 7:12-17; 1 Chronicles 17:11-14) which is fulfilled in Jesus the Christ, the Anointed Prince'descendant of David and inheritor of God the Father's Kingdom of Heaven on earth'the Catholic (universal) Church'the New Israel and the new Zion where God is present among His people as the Immanuel'"God with us" (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 28:20). The New Covenant Zion is the 5th kingdom promised to the prophet Daniel (Daniel 2:44-45) that is destined to rule all nations of the earth (Daniel 7:13-14) and whose ruler is the stone, untouched by hand that will break away from the mountain of the old Zion to reduce all old kingdoms to powder (Daniel 2:45). It is the Davidic king who will become a "stumbling block" on Zion, the old Zion of the Old Covenant Church'a stumbling block upon which the Apostles will build the foundations of the New Zion'the New Covenant, universal Church of Jesus Christ, the King of Kings.
Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2008 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.