Lesson Eight - Zion

"But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God..." Hebrews 12:22 (see also Revelation 14:1).

Throughout Scripture (both the Old and the New Testaments), Zion is used to represent the people of God. Many Old Testament prophecies fulfilled in the New Testament in the Church are in fact prophecies of Zion (see Acts 2:17-21/Joel 2:28-32; 1 Peter 2:6/Isaiah 28:16; Romans 9:33/Isaiah 8:13-15; Hebrews 2:10-13/Isaiah 8:16-18).

"Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads...They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb" Revelation 14:1,4.

The Concept of Zion

The name of Zion runs throughout the Bible, like a thread binding together the purposes of God. Zion itself was a literal place, a small fortress hill jutting out from the south of Jerusalem. Yet the concept of Zion was in the mind of God long before the natural hill of Zion was even created. Before the creation of man, Lucifer defied God with five statements of intent, one of which was: "...I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north" Isaiah 14:13 (KJV).

Psalm 48:1-2 defines exactly what this "mount of the congregation" was that Satan coveted so much:

"...beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King" (KJV).

The description "on the sides of the north" is unusual, for geographically, Zion was on the south of Jerusalem. The Hebrew word for "north" here is zaphon is used for north in most parts of the Old Testament, but has a root meaning "hidden, to esteem, to keep secretly."

The History of Zion

"For the Lord has chosen Zion, he has desired it for his dwelling: 'This is my resting place for ever and ever; here I will sit enthroned, for I have desired it...'" Psalm 132:13-14.

The name Zion itself means "fortress". But why did God desire it for his dwelling? An quick look of the history of Zion will help understand what Zion came to represent in the minds of the people of Israel and in the heart of God.


The first mention of Jerusalem and Zion is found in Genesis 14:17-20, where Melchizedek, "the priest of the most high God", blesses Abraham. Melchizedek is "king of Salem", the old name for Jerusalem, which is used interchangeably with Zion (Psalm 76:2). Though only mentioned once historically, Melchizedek made a great impact in Scripture as a fore-shadow of Christ Himself (Hebrews 7:1-17).

Mount Moriah

God commanded that Abraham offer his son up as a sacrifice, not just anywhere, but on Mount Moriah (Genesis 22:1-2). Mount Moriah was the mountain which Zion extended off, and would later become the location of the Temple.

David's City

When the Israelites conquered Canaan, they took Jerusalem, but failed to take Zion (Jude 1:6). David, who had grown up in Bethlehem, six miles to the south, obviously loved Zion, not only for its position, but also for its history. The first thing he did when he became king of all Israel was to take Zion (1 Chronicles 11:3-9). From then on Zion became known as "the City of David" (2 Samuel 5:7-9).

Zion as a Symbol

Throughout Scripture, Zion represents:

In the New Testament, Zion represents the Church. Everything that Zion represented symbolically in the Old Testament is now fulfilled today in the Body of Christ. It is we as believers who have "now come to Mount Zion" (Hebrews 12:22).

Desolation of Zion

"Your sacred cities have become a desert; even Zion is a desert, Jerusalem a desolation. Our holy and glorious temple, where our fathers praised you, has been burned with fire, and all that we treasured lies in ruins. After all this, O Lord, will you hold yourself back? Will you keep silent and punish us beyond measure?" Isaiah 64:10-12.

The ideal of Zion that was conceived in the mind of God never changed, but the people of Zion marred and distorted that image (see Jeremiah 18:1-21). Zion came to represent the very opposite of God's original ideal, and so the hand of God moved in judgment against the people of Zion. Such was the desolation that Jeremiah mourned over "the Daughter of Zion":

"The Lord is like an enemy; he has swallowed up Israel. He has swallowed up all her palaces and destroyed her strongholds...The Lord determined to tear down the wall around the Daughter of Zion. He stretched out a measuring line and did not withhold his hand from destroying. He made ramparts and walls lament; together they wasted away. Her gates have sunk into the ground; their bars he has broken and destroyed...My eyes fail from weeping, I am in torment within, my heart is poured out on the ground because my people are destroyed, because children and infants faint in the streets of the city...All who pass your way clap their hands at you; they scoff and shake their heads at the Daughter of Jerusalem: 'Is this the city that was called the perfection of beauty, the joy of the whole earth?'" Lamentations 2:5-15.

In the same way, the Church, as the fulfilment of the Zion Ideal, also came to represent the opposite of that ideal. And the Church too became a place of spiritual desolation. But the promise to natural Zion held true also for the Church.

"The Lord will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing...The ransomed of the Lord return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads..." Isaiah 51:3,11.

Restoration of Zion

"Awake, awake, O Zion, clothe yourself with strength. Put on your garments of splendour, O Jerusalem, the holy city...Shake off your dust; rise up, sit enthroned, O Jerusalem. Free yourself from the chains on your neck, O captive Daughter of Zion" Isaiah 52:1-2 (read also verses 3-8).

God promised to "rebuild Zion and appear in his glory" (Psalm 102:16). The ideal that God had in His mind from before the creation of the world will be expressed in His Church in these last days. We, however, as God's people, must rise to God's ideal (read Jeremiah 3:12-15). This is the work of His Spirit in our lives, restoring not just the Church, but the goal that He has set for us as the fulfilment of Zion.

"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" Psalm 48:12-14 (read also Micah 4:2).

Zion Gives Birth

"'Yet no sooner is Zion in labour than she gives birth to her children. Do I bring to the moment of birth and not give delivery?' says the Lord. 'Do I close up the womb when I bring to delivery?' says your God" Isaiah 66:7-9.

Spiritual Zion brings to birth a people who have a heart after God. This now also includes you, for "You have come to Mount Zion..." (Hebrews 12:22).

"Indeed, of Zion it will be said, 'This one and that one were born in her, and the Most High himself will establish her.' The Lord will write in the register of the peoples: 'This one was born in Zion.'...As they make music they will sing, "All my fountains are in you." Psalm 87:5-7 (also v.1-4).


Copyright © 1995 Paul, Bunty and David Collins. All rights reserved. This study may be freely used and reproduced, wholly or in part, by the Christian Church for the non-profit purposes of study and training only, provided copyright and contact information is included.

Unless otherwise stated, all scriptures quoted in these studies are from the New International Version of the Bible, © New York International Bible Society, used by permission. Other versions referred to are: KJV (King James Version), NKJB (New King James Bible), TLB (The Living Bible), Amp (The Amplified Bible) and The Message. All versions used by permission.

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