A Picture of Zion
Q: Can you give me a physical description of Zion?
A: Zion is the mountain upon which Jerusalem is built. As a mountain, it isn’t much, not more than a good-sized hill. Hosting the royal city of ancient Israel and the place of the Temple made it figuratively tall among earth’s mountains. This center of ancient Israel’s religion and monarchy was used by God in later prophetic and apocalyptic writings to stand for the new, heavenly kingdom.
If you want a description of the earthly Zion, the best thing would be to use an encyclopedia or Bible dictionary. Look for “Jerusalem” as well as “Zion.”
If you desire a description of the heavenly Zion, no one can do it justice. The inspired writers who glimpse it or who utter God’s descriptions of it speak in high-flying, poetic language that conceals more than it reveals. We will never have a true description of Zion’s glories until we are called home by Christ to live there forever.
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Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.