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The Building of Zion
“When the Lord shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory.” Psalm 102:16
We have no doubt that Zion as used in scripture is double, aside from its being the name of a literal mountain.
It represents “the city of the Lord” (Isa. 60:14)—Jerusalem. But which? There are two Jerusalems: the old, and the new: the earthly and the heavenly, and two nations or churches corresponding—the Jewish and the Gospel. Some apply the text wholly to the restoration of the earthly Jerusalem, and others apply it wholly to the success, in some way of the gospel church; perhaps it is most commonly applied to what is familiarly called a “revival of religion.” We believe such prophecies apply primarily to the building up of the old Jerusalem, by restoration, and in a higher sense, to the building up of the New Jerusalem by glorification, and that both will be accomplished in one and the same day, i.e. “the day of wrath,” or the 37 years on which we have entered reaching to A.D. 1914. We do not believe that a revival of religion fills the prophetic picture in any proper sense. The New Testament clearly locates the appearing in glory after the resurrection of the saints, for, says Paul: “When Christ who is our life shall appear we also shall appear with him in glory.” Col. 3:4. That it is associated with the Christian’s reward, and not with his work in this life is evident, because Peter speaks of our trial when ended as being “found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” 1 Pet. 1:7.
The “manifestation of the sons of God,” (Rom. 8:19) the appearing in glory, and the descent of the New Jerusalem, may be the same great fact under different names. The same glorious results are clearly foretold as coming from each. When the New Jerusalem comes down “having the glory of the Lord,” it is said “The nations shall walk in the light of it;” to its flowing river “whosoever will” are invited to come and drink, and the leaves of its tree are “for the healing of the nations.” Rev. 21:10,11,24 and 22:1,2.
As a result of the “manifestation of the sons of God,” it is said that “the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God.” Rom. 8:21. Compare these results with what is stated in the connection of our text as to the great benefits to earth’s inhabitants, of the Lord’s appearing in glory, and two things must, we think, be impressed on the reader’s mind: first, that the three things mentioned above are one and the same; second, that the appearing in glory is an event greatly to be desired for the benefit of mankind. Certainly the manifestation, or descent, are not due until after the church is glorified, hence the building up of Zion must precede the time when a perfect theology will prevail among men on earth. It is when the “Lord shall bring again Zion” that “the watchmen shall see eye to eye.” Then, the veil being removed the knowledge of the Lord shall prevail,” and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.” Isa. 52. It is during a period of imperfect theology, when we know only in part, that the stones of the heavenly building are selected and hewn to fit their places; but when the temple is built and filled with the glory of the Lord, “Then it will shine forth as the sun, and the nations will be enlightened, and they shall turn to the Lord.” Ps. 22:27. Some object to the double application of the term Zion, who are believers in the restoration of the earthly Jerusalem, and yet believe in the same general results as to the world’s conversion in the dispensation to come. They believe that the Jew restored will be God’s agency in the great work. To this we agree, and with them we would quote: “It shall come to pass in that day that ten men shall lay hold of one that is a Jew and say, we will go with you, for we have heard that the Lord is with you.” That the earthly Jerusalem restored is to be capital of the earthly nations, and center of earthly service, does not as we see it, militate against the idea that the New Jerusalem in glory, will be the power manifested through restored Jerusalem. Satan’s invisible kingdom has acted largely through the visible city and government of Rome, and by the same law of correspondence, the Roman Empire, the Beast with seven heads and ten horns, is “called the Devil and Satan.” Rev. 12:3,9.
In this sense we believe the restored Jerusalem will be called the kingdom of God, but the real, the heavenly kingdom will be as much higher than the earthly, as Christ is higher than he was. The Jews restored will be natural men, bearing the image of the Earthly, and such can neither see nor inherit the real kingdom of God. John 3:3, and 1 Cor. 15:44,50.
That not only the earthly Jerusalem is called Zion, but also the Heavenly is evident, from Heb. 12:18,22: “Ye are not come to the mount that might be touched … but ye are come to Mt. Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the Heavenly Jerusalem.” A literal mountain could be touched and stands associated with literal or earthly things. The earthly is but a symbol of the Heavenly, which is therefore called a mount which could not be touched. None we think can object to the double application, who see that in God’s plan nearly every thing is double; the two standing related to each other as the natural and the spiritual.
There are two Adams, their two wives, and two families; two births and two lives; two covenants, two laws, two sanctuaries, two circumcisions, two temples, two seeds, two nations and two lands for inheritance. Abraham, to whom the promise was made, saw through the earthly, and so looked for a “better country, that is, an heavenly,” (Heb. 11:16) and so also he looked for a “city whose builder and maker is God.” (Ver. 10.) Man could build an earthly city, but not the heavenly.
To build up Zion implies a process, and so far as relates to the earthly Jerusalem, includes the restoration of the Jewish nation of Israel according to the flesh, in all its parts; and we believe in its application to the Gospel church, the same must be true. That from 1878 to 1914 is the last half of the last trump, has often been shown, and also that this is the period during which Jerusalem is to be restored. “The last, or seventh trumpet covers the day of wrath, angry nations and the time of reward for prophets, saints and them that fear God’s name, small and great.” Rev. 11:18. All Christians, whatever their grade of development, are thus included. Some occupy a position with Christ in his throne, as a reward of their faithfulness, while many serve him before the throne. But all are included in the heavenly city, and that city descending in its completeness and glory; as the light of the nations, is called the Bride, the Lamb’s wife. As the whole Jewish church was the Bride in type, so the antitype includes the whole gospel church. This does not shut out the idea of order and variety in the city of God, nor lessen the motive of seeking by faithfulness a high position, even a place in the throne, but it does preserve the idea so clearly taught in the New Testament, of the Unity and indivisibility of the One Body of Christ. Some are to be counted worthy to escape the tribulation, as like Aaron in the mount
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with Moses, execute the judgments written, while others are left to pass through the fire, wash their robes, and come up out of the great tribulation. But as the body would not be complete without all its members, so the church or city of God would be incomplete without its citizens, as servants before the throne. “They shall be mine saith the Lord in that day when I make up my jewels.” Even them that think on his name are dear in the sight of the Lord.
The day of this building is here and both the earthly and heavenly will be built up. Then indeed the Lord in his temple will appear in his glory, and the people which shall be created shall praise the Lord.
J. H. P.
— December, 1879 —