“His foundation is in the holy mountains.”
How wonderful is the Zion of God!
We sing of this Zion of the Lord in number 237 of our Psalter. Psalm 87 is a eulogy, a word of praise concerning this Zion of God. This Zion is the church of God, also called the “City of God” as in verse 3. Glorious things are said of this Zion of God, things that concern God and are therefore glorious. God is glorious and these glorious things are all related to Him: His grace and mercy, His goodness and perfection, His forgiveness and to know Him in love and covenant fellowship. All these glorious things are true of this City of God.
Psalm 87 is also prophetic. It speaks of the church of God as throughout the ages. The Lord knows all His innumerable own by name, as we read in verse 6. They were all born in Zion; that is, they all owe their life to the regenerating power of the blood and Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ, which operates in the church of God. They will come from Rahab (Egypt) and Babylon, from Philistia and Tyre, also from Ethiopia; all nations shall swell this City of God, and they were all born through the almighty and irresistible grace of God, until that day when the new heavens and the new earth shall burst forth in song and sing forever the song of Moses and of the Lamb.
This Zion has been founded in the mountains of holiness. Literally we read: “His foundation is in the mountains of holiness.” This “His” refers to the Lord, Jehovah. Concerning this there need be no doubt. If the reference were to Zion, then we would read in the original: her foundations. That this is Jehovah’s foundation, that He has laid it is, of course, also established in other Scriptures, as in Isaiah 28:16: “Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.” It is to the foundation of God that we now call attention in this meditation.
The text surely refers to Zion’s foundation.
Various connotations are given of Zion in Holy Writ. Scripture speaks of Zion as the Body of Christ, as in the epistles of Paul to the Ephesians and the Colossians, and also in his epistle to the Romans. Then, the Word of God speaks of Zion as a building and temple of the Lord, as in Ephesians 2:20-22: “Which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places. Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the church.” And in this psalm we read of Zion that it is the City of God, as in verse 3: “Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God. Selah.”
Zion is the church of the living God. As the body of Christ the church is an organism which is a fullness, and in that fullness a unity, to which not one can be added and from which none can be subtracted, consisting of exactly so many members, each member occupying its own place and serving its own purpose, all together serving the wonderful and glorious body of our Lord Jesus Christ. As a building, the church is constituted of so many bricks or stones, all differing from one another and yet blending together into one marvelous structure, showing forth the glory of its heavenly Architect and Designer. As a city, the church is a glorious commonwealth, a spiritual community living its own life, speaking its own language, gathered out of all nations, peoples, lands, and tongues, revealing forever the glory of Him, the living God, Who alone and sovereignly called them out of darkness into His marvelous light.
Zion’s foundation—this presupposes two things.
First, this foundation presupposes firmness, stability, permanency. We may distinguish whatever rests upon a foundation from a tent or tabernacle. A tent does not rest upon a foundation. A tent is unfolded in the evening and folded up in the morning. A tent emphasizes the temporary; it is used by a traveler or pilgrim who has no abiding place and is enroute to his destination. A city or a house rests upon a foundation. This emphasizes the idea of permanency. Scripture speaks of the city that has foundations. A city is the goal, the end of one’s sojourn or travels. In a city one intends to abide. There one sets up his permanent home. A foundation means that it cannot be moved. It renders a home or city stable or permanent.
Secondly, a foundation also determines the nature and form of a structure or building. One does not build a square house upon a round foundation. Hence, the foundation also determines the form and shape of the building. This, we understand, applies also to any church in the midst of the world. An Arminian foundation implies an Arminian church. If a church rests upon the Arminian conception of the universal love of God, universal atonement (that Christ died for every man, head for head), the free will of the sinner and the denial of absolute depravity, and the general well-meaning offer of salvation, then that church will be Arminian in all its preaching and teaching. Zion, too, rests upon a foundation. This foundation of Zion, we know, is Christ Jesus. And this means that Christ does not merely render the church of God secure, does not merely establish its firmness and permanency, but He also determines the nature and being of this church of God, its spiritual identity, its life of holy fellowship and communion with the alone blessed God. Christ does not only determine who the church shall be but also what it shall be. He suffered and gave His life that we should be reconciled to God and be a holy people unto the Lord. What He merited for us He also bestows upon us by His almighty and irresistible grace. Christ determines this structure of Zion, the church of God, redeemed by His blood and sanctified by His Spirit.
The realization of this foundation is suggested by this word of God. In the first place, we read: “His foundation is in the holy mountains.” This is His foundation. And the word “His” refers emphatically to the Lord, Jehovah. Besides, in the second place we read that His foundation is in the holy mountains. These holy mountains are the mountains of Jerusalem: Mt. Zion and Mt. Moriah, the palace of the king resting upon the former and the temple having been built upon the latter. These mountains are called holy, because they were consecrated by God unto Himself, unto the service of the Lord, set aside by God for Himself in a peculiar way. Upon these mountains were built, according to divine instruction, the palace of the king and the temple of the Lord. And, if you inquire further, you will notice that God’s dwelling place with His people, upon Mt. Moriah, centered in the Holy of Holies, and that m this Holy of Holies was the ark of the covenant, with its mercy seat (the covering of atonement), and that the high priest entered this inner sanctuary once a year to sprinkle upon the mercy seat the blood of the sacrifice. Also within this ark of the covenant was the moral law, the law of the ten commandments. Strikingly beautiful was the symbolism. The law of God within the ark of the covenant speaks of the law of God as it is written in our hearts, and this because of the blood of the covenant sacrificed in behalf of the people of God. This symbolism, we understand, pointed to Him Who was to come, our Lord Jesus Christ, called in Scripture the Chief Cornerstone and also the foundation of the church of the living God. It is in and through Him that the founding of Zion was realized.
Indeed, throughout the ages God lays this cornerstone or foundation. This, we understand, is Jehovah’s foundation: His foundation. And He lays it throughout the ages, even as we read in Isaiah 28:16: “Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation.” Notice: Behold, I lay, I am laying in Zion this foundation or stone. Hence, the Lord is constantly laying this stone. All through the ages He-is preparing all things for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. That this stone or foundation is laid in Zion, according to Isaiah 28:16, means that it is laid in the sphere of Zion, the church of God, inasmuch as Christ, the Chief Cornerstone, is the Head of this church of God. Throughout the ages the Lord is causing all things to culminate in that moment, known as the “fullness of time,” the one and only exact moment in history for the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ, in our flesh and blood. Throughout the ages of the Old Dispensation God speaks of this foundation; He speaks of Him in Genesis 3:15, where we read of the seed of the woman which would crush the head of the serpent; He speaks of it by the prophets of the Old Day, in all the symbols and shadows and sacrifices of the Mosaic law in the old dispensation. He laid this foundation in the mountains of holiness in the city of Jerusalem, spoke of the Christ through Him who sat upon the throne of David, symbolic of the mighty Son of David Who was to come, and He also spoke of Him in the temple upon Mt. Moriah.
This foundation is laid centrally in Christ Jesus. Finally, the Cornerstone makes His appearance in our flesh and blood. God laid this Stone, this Foundation, when He caused Him to be born as the Son of God, Incarnate, born of a virgin, through the operation of the Holy Spirit. Bethlehem is the key to Calvary. Calvary is the climax of Bethlehem, but without the former the latter would be impossible. Even as we read it in Answer 36 of our Heidelberg Catechism, where, in answer to the question concerning the profit we receive by Christ’s holy conception and nativity, we read: “That He is our Mediator; and with His innocence and perfect holiness, covers in the sight of God my sins wherein I was conceived and brought forth.” Christ, the eternal Son of God, underneath the burden of all our sins and guilt, enables Him to bear the eternal and infinite wrath of God, redeeming us from sin and death and meriting for us everlasting life and glory, to lay the foundation of the church, the Zion of God, in unchangeable righteousness and justice. Then, God laid this foundation upon the cross of Calvary, in the suffering and death of His own beloved Son, enabling Him, through the power of the everlasting Spirit, to stand in the bottom of bottomless hell, enduring, consciously and obediently, the eternal wrath of God, redeeming Zion and laying the church’s foundation in the everlasting and unchangeable righteousness of God.
Zion has been established; the church is founded in the righteousness of God; this church can therefore never be moved, inasmuch as the righteousness of God is more steadfast than the mountains. This Christ rises from the dead, is exalted into glory, receives all power in heaven and on earth; in Him the church of God is rooted, and out of Him that church is gathered and preserved into God’s wonderful and heavenly fellowship. Indeed, we shall sing forever the song of Moses and of the Lamb. To God, in Jesus Christ, our Lord, be all the praise and the glory, now and forevermore.
Zion is founded in His holy mountains.
In Christ Jesus, God’s Son, our Lord.
May we stand upon and rest solely in Him.
And the everlasting victory is sure.