“I will make mention of Rahab and Babylon to those who know Me; behold, O Philistia and Tyre, with Ethiopia: ‘This one was born there.’ And of Zion it will be said, ‘This one and that one were born in her; and the Most High Himself shall establish her.’ The Lord will record, when He registers the peoples: ‘This one was born there.’ Selah” Psalm 87:4–6
Where were you born?
I was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA. And other than the few days my twin brother and I were in the hospital following our birth I don’t think I’ve spent more than a few hours in the city at any one time.
For many people the place of their birth is also their home town and it’s the place that seems to call to them no matter where they are. Family and friends are there. The most important memories from childhood are set there. It’s home, and the heart yearns to renew its connection with home.
Ever since I was a boy every few years we were packing up our belongings and moving to another town. After I became an adult that pattern continued, the only difference being that sometimes the different towns are also in different states. For a long time Michigan, the state I grew up in, was the closest thing any place was to home. No specific town, the whole state was fine. But now, after nearly half my life living in other places even those feelings of home have nearly all faded. It’s not that I feel homeless. It’s just that no place feels particularly like it’s home.
In Psalm eighty-seven, David writes of a time when God registers the citizens of the city of Zion. At that time people will be present from Rahab, another name for Egypt, Babylon, Philistia, Tyre and Ethiopia. All these were proud and prominent countries. Countries their citizens were proud to claim as their home. But something has changed for the people God is registering. Our focus text tells us that when God registers the people all the people, though they were born in very different places, are registered as having been born in Zion.
Somehow the roots they’ve established in this world have been transferred to heaven, and Zion has become the place their hearts yearn to return to. Yes return to. By faith they’ve been reborn in Zion. Though their bodies have never been there and their eyes may have never seen that land, their hearts have dwelt there and they long for their home.
For those of us who’ve already set our hearts in Zion the words of the gospel hymn speak the reality that beats within us, “This world is not my home, I’m just a-passin’ through, my treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue; the angels beckon me from heavens open door, and I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.”