“Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in His holy mountain.
Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion on the sides of the north, the city of the great King.” Psalm 48:1–2
Psalm forty-eight is a psalm of praise for God in Zion. A great deal of attention is given in this psalm to the city itself, extolling its beauty and its strength. Today as we read this psalm our hearts are drawn to think about the city of God promised to the redeemed in the book of Revelation. John, as he describes it, paints a picture of the city New Jerusalem that is immense, glorious, wonderful, and eternal.
The ancient Jewish people felt this way about their capital city, the old Jerusalem. For generations this city had been thought impregnable until one night a few of David’s men crept into the city through an underground tunnel used to bring water into the city. That night the city fell nearly without a fight.
Now the unassailable city was theirs. Their nations capital would never fall. Soon plans were made to bring the house of God to Jerusalem and when the temple was complete so was the nations belief that Jerusalem, the city of peace, the city of God, would never fall.
Psalm forty-eight verse eight makes this boast outright when it says, “As we have heard, so we have seen in the city of the Lord of hosts, in the city of our God: God will establish it forever.
But Jerusalem didn’t stand for ever. The city and its temple were destroyed by the Babylonians, as punishment from God because of the sins and rebelliousness of the people of Judah. Nearly a century later the city and temple were rebuilt and eventually the glory of the house of God was restored in the hearts of the people and it became their boast once again. But, once again, the city and temple were destroyed.
But friends, Solomon’s Temple was never God’s eternal abode, and neither was Herod’s Temple. These edifices, wonderfully beautiful though they may have been were all made by the hands of men. The book of Daniel tells us that God himself will set the foundation for his kingdom and he will raise the bulwarks of his city. No hand of man will have any part in its establishment. But long before the prophecies of Daniel were given the patriarch Abraham lived in anticipation of seeing this city. In fact, the apostle Paul, in the book of Hebrews, chapter eleven, tells us that Abraham was waiting for a city whose “builder and maker is God.”
Everything we do, everything we build, on this sin filled world is temporary, save one thing. The choice we make to follow Jesus, to let the Holy Spirit come in and live in our hearts, to become sons and daughters of God, that can be a forever choice. The reason why is because everything else is done by God. He forgives all our sins. He transforms us and makes us holy. He teaches us how to be righteous. He gives us life. He is the builder and maker of our lives.
The choice is ours. Will we stay the way we are. Will we choose to be satisfied with the messed up life we live or will we choose to let God make a new future for us? If we choose him he’ll restore us, from the inside out, into his image. And when he’s finished he’ll welcome us to himself forever.