Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Highways to Zion

“Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man whose strength is in you, in whose heart are THE HIGHWAYS TO ZION.  Passing through the Valley of Weeping (Baca), they make it a place of springs; the early rain also fills [the pools] with blessings.  They go from strength to strength [increasing in victorious power]; each of them appears before God in Zion” (Psalm 84:6-8 AMPC).

Herein the human heart are the taproots of God Himself; the person whose strength is in God is the person whose heart beats directly from its umbilical-cord-like connection to Zion.  But what is Zion?  From an historical perspective, Zion (Sion or Tzion) was a fort once occupied by the Jebusites.  But in Zion’s first mention in Scripture, “David took the stronghold of Zion: the same is the city of David” (2 Samuel 5:7 KJV).  And forever—David, a symbol of Christ—is the capturer of Zion (He took it!); it is the bottom or center of the heart of man, His eternal resting place.

There is uncertainty and controversy in identifying the etymology of the word Zion, but “castle/fortress” or “dry land” or “baldness” or even “river/brook” cover most interpretations.  Also, Wikipedia states the “term Tzion came to designate the area of Jerusalem where the fortress stood, and later became a metonym for Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem, the city of Jerusalem and ‘the World to Come,’ the Jewish understanding of the hereafter.”  Additionally, Wikipedia stated that a “more esoteric reference is made to Tzion being the spiritual point from which reality emerges, located in the Holy of Holies of the First, Second, and Third Temple.”

Putting all this information together, a panoramic picture emerges that looks something like this: Zion is both dry and wet, dead and alive (sounds kind of like the human heart, huh?).  The temple upon Zion was built over a Jebusite threshing floor; from the base of unclean common man God erects His holy resting place.  Fruitfulness from deadness!  The Holy Spirit broods over chaos and declares, “Let there be light!”—then order and harmony overcomes the darkness and confusion.  Wet from dry, and life from death is what Zion is all about.  The word “Jebusite” means “trodden down (with the feet)” and “polluted”: David defeated them by capturing their city via the water ducts (symbolic, no doubt, of how God conquers us via tears of repentance (our water ducts unleashed), and thereby cleansing us of our polluted dirty-footed-walk [our behavior]).

The circuitous and perilous route we take through this land of shadows and sorrows is really an internal journey.  Indeed, the Kingdom of God is within us!  Like explorers journeying to the center of the earth, so we journey to the depths of our person and there discover “God in Zion” at the pit of our beings (in our spirits/hearts).  Within ourselves, even to the bottom of our hearts, we are fruitless, dry, bald, and barren; indeed, Zion is that.  But also, Zion is water from a Rock, springs from a desert, and God in man.  In Zion, weeping turns into springs of joy, weakness into strength, darkness into light, and the impossible into miracle.  “The spiritual point from which reality emerges” is no doubt at the pit of our beings—our center spirit surrounded by soul/flesh; it corresponds to the Holy of Holies location within the temple.  It is there that God meets with us, and it is from where He instructs us outwards towards obedient behavior to His inner still small voice.

Ultimately, the highways of Zion are our heart strings, or in liquid terms, the water-courses of our soft and compliant heart to do all that the Lord our God desires of us.  Indeed, “The...heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes” (Proverbs 21:1 NAS).  Therefore, we must “Watch over [our] heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23).  God is not interested in the cold and hard heart; only the warm and soft heart, able to gush out of its flinty lock, will do.  The dry baldness at our core is not to be utterly despaired of, but rather, it is designed to provoke us to pray something like this: “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; when shall I come and appear before God?” (Psalm 42:1-2).