I did a short presentation today on the biblical theological concept of ‘Zion’ and without going into too much detail its safe to say that the term ‘Zion’ brings with it three main theological concepts for the New Testament believer: Divine-presence, rule and salvation. Its quite fascinating then that of the two occurrences of the term in the New Testament (outside of other Old Testament quotations that occur in the New Testament) one of them occurs in Hebrews 12:22 where the believer is told that in one sense he/she has already come to Zion. Now what does it mean that the believer has already come to Zion? Well if we’re consistent with our usage of this theologically-laden term then we have to say that in one sense the believer already enjoys the presence of God, his rule and the application of his salvation – we’ve already come to Zion. Revelation 14 suggests a further eschatological fulfillment of these truths, but they are also truths now for us. So how do we respond?
Well first off I think we like to ‘limit’ the presence of God and therefore, by implication and through following the natural course of things, his rule too. With our dividing up of our lives into ‘sacred’ and ‘secular’ compartments, which I’ve blogged about before, we actually deny the truths of Hebrews 12:22, or perhaps not deny but at least play down the significance of having come to Zion. By implication then we compartmentalize his rule too and so whilst we seek to uphold a sort of general morality, because we figure that as Christians we’re supposed to be good, its not a morality based upon the rule of God but more of an obligation. Now in one sense we should feel obligated to obey God simply because he is God – but knowing that God rules through his king Jesus, out of Zion (cf. Ps. 2), and knowing that we have now come to Zion and live in that kingdom, adds new meaning to what it means to live under his rule as his subject. This impacts our third concept because it means that we’re not earning our salvation, rather we are living out the salvation already applied – the difference between religion and relationship with a king.