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Jerusalem Is God
Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God! (Psalm 87:3)
Walk about Zion, and go all around her. Count her towers; mark well her bulwarks; consider her palaces; that you may tell it to the generation following. For this is God, our God forever and ever; He will be our guide even to death. (Psalm 48:12-14)
When the sons of Korah wrote about Zion in Psalm 48, they were speaking of the city of Jerusalem, for that is what Zion is, the city of Jerusalem (2 Samuel 5:6-7/1 Chronicles 11:4-5; 1 Kings 8:1), as Psalm 48:2 declares, "Mount Zion on the sides of the north, the city of the great King." The city is Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is a term used for the location of the city on the earth formerly known as Jebus (e.g. Joshua 18:28; Judges 19:10), and there is a heavenly Jerusalem as well (Galatians 4:26; Hebrews 12:22). It is also a term used for its inhabitants, those who sinned against the Lord (e.g. Jeremiah 4:14; 8:5; Lamentations 1:8), and is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt (Revelation 11:8). It is also a term used in reference to both the old and new covenants (Galatians 4:24-25).
Jerusalem is also the city of the great King (Matthew 5:35).
The LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob. (Psalm 87:2)
It is the city the Lord has chosen (Psalm 132:13; Zechariah 3:2), where the Lord dwells (e.g. Psalm 9:11; 76:2; 135:21), where the Lord is great (Psalm 99:2), where His fire and furnace are (Isaiah 31:9; see also Isaiah 33:14; Hebrews 12:29), where He utters His voice (Amos 1:2; Joel 3:16; Micah 4:2), and where He will shine forth (Psalm 50:2).
God has declared,
In Jerusalem shall My name be forever. (2 Chronicles 33:4; see also verse 7 and Isaiah 18:7)
Jerusalem is the "perfection of beauty" (Psalm 50:2; Lamentations 2:15), the "joy of the whole earth" (Psalm 48:2; Lamentations 2:15), and she will be called in the future "the city of Truth" (Zechariah 8:3). And, Jerusalem is called God. "For this is God, our God forever and ever" (Psalm 48:14).
The context to this statement ("this is God") is clearly speaking of Jerusalem (Zion), as it is written,
Walk about Zion, and go all around her. Count her towers; mark well1 her bulwarks; consider her palaces. (Psalm 48:12-13)
The Psalmist points to the physical structures of Zion, the towers, the bulwarks, the palaces; to look at them, note (mark) them, to consider them, and then says,
That you may tell it to the generation following. (Psalm 48:13)
For this is God, our God forever and ever (כִּ֤י זֶ֙ה ׀ אֱלֹהִ֣ים Kiy zeh elohim, For this is God).2
For this God is our God for ever and ever.
For such is God, Our God forever and ever.
The LXX reads,
ὅτι οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ θεὸς ὁ θεὸς ἡμῶν . . . . (hoti houtos estiv ho theos ho theos hêmon)
For this is God our God . . . .
In Psalm 48 the sons of Korah speak in the present, pointing to Zion as being God Himself. For the future, Scripture says of Jerusalem that her walls will be called "Salvation" and her gates "Praise" (Isaiah 60:18; for context see verse 14). Jerusalem will be called the "Throne of the Lord."
At that time, Jerusalem shall be called The Throne of the Lord, and all the nations shall be gathered to it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem. (Jeremiah 3:17; see also Psalm 93:2; Daniel 7:9; Matthew 5:34; 23:22; Revelation 4:5)
Here in Jeremiah 3:17 Jerusalem and "the name of the Lord" are synonyms. In other words, the name of the Lord will be Jerusalem, as the city is later called, "The Lord our righteousness."
"Behold, the days are coming," says the Lord, "that I will perform that good thing which I have promised to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah:
In those days and at that time
I will cause to grow up to David
A Branch of righteousness;
He shall execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.
In those days Judah will be saved,
And Jerusalem will dwell safely.
And this is the name by which she will be called:
THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS." (Jeremiah 33:14-16)
The future Jerusalem is here called "The Lord our righteousness."
Some may argue against this stating that "The Lord our righteousness" refers to the Branch not Jerusalem, because of similar words found in Jeremiah 23:5-6.
"Behold, the days are coming," says the Lord,
"That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness;
A King shall reign and prosper,
And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.
In His days Judah will be saved,
And Israel will dwell safely;
Now this is His name by which He will be called:
THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS."
Indeed, Jeremiah 23:5 calls the Branch "The Lord our righteousness," but this should not blind the reader to what is further revealed in Jeremiah 33. Note the differences of the two passages: Jeremiah 23 continues with the main subject of the Branch all the way through verse 6 with "In His days" and "His name." Jeremiah 33 does not do this. In Jeremiah 33:16 instead of saying "In His days" it says "In those days" and uses the opposite gender "she" instead of "His" when referencing the name. Also, the nearest feminine antecedent for "she" in Jeremiah 33:16 is Jerusalem (see e.g. Isaiah 65:18 for a feminine reference to Jerusalem). The "Branch" in Jeremiah 33:15 is "He" not "she," and therefore the name "The Lord our righteousness" is a reference to Jerusalem. But, of course, if Jerusalem is God and the Branch is God, both being "The Lord our righteousness," then it is all one and the same, but yet different (as John 1:1; 14:8-9, 28). [Note also regarding the female gender for God, that Christ is the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:24), and yet wisdom is found in the female gender in Proverbs (e.g. 1:20-21; 8:1-2; 9:1-3)]
Also found in Jeremiah is this statement:
You who have escaped the sword, get away! Do not stand still! Remember the Lord afar off, and let Jerusalem come to your mind. (Jeremiah 51:50; see also Jeremiah 31:6)
Why (in parallel thought with "Remember the Lord") let Jerusalem come to mind? Because letting Jerusalem come to mind is remembering the Lord, as Psalm 137 illustrates.
If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill! If I do not remember you, let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth - if I do not exalt Jerusalem above my chief joy. (Psalm 137:5-6)
Here the Psalmist exalts Jerusalem above his chief joy and pronounces a curse upon himself if he does not remember Jerusalem and exalt her. Exalting Jerusalem above his chief joy is idolatry, if Jerusalem is not God. It would be exalting Jerusalem above God. As it is written,
Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy; and on the harp I will praise You, O God, my God. (Psalm 43:4; see also Psalm 5:11; Jeremiah 15:16)
The king shall have joy in Your strength, O LORD; And in Your salvation how greatly shall he rejoice! (Psalm 21:1)
For You have made him most blessed forever; You have made him exceedingly glad with Your presence. (Psalm 21:6)
Jerusalem is to be exalted above this? No, she's exalted in this, "For this is God."
In light of the above, Daniel's practice of praying with his windows open toward Jerusalem is quite interesting. Psalm 137 is the very context in which Daniel lived.
Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days. (Daniel 6:10)
Moreover, there is a blessing for those who love Jerusalem.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: "May they prosper who love you." (Psalm 122:6)
And there is a curse upon those who hate her.
Let all those who hate Zion be put to shame and turned back. Let them be as the grass on the housetops, which withers before it grows up, with which the reaper does not fill his hand, nor he who binds sheaves, his arms. Neither let those who pass by them say, "The blessing of the Lord be upon you; we bless you in the name of the Lord!" (Psalm 129:5-8)
Finally, Psalm 102 says,
You will arise and have mercy on Zion; For the time to favor her, Yes, the set time, has come.
For Your servants take pleasure in her stones, and show favor to her dust. (Psalm 102:13-14)
For more on God, see He Is Holy Gods, The Lord Is A Man, God Is Love, The Lord Kills, The Seven Spirits of God Are God, The Throne, Heaven, and the Kingdom Are God, and The True Fear of God, points X & XI.
1. "Mark well her bulwarks" is more literally, "Set your heart to her bulwarks." The Hebrew reads,
שִׁ֤יתוּ לִבְּכֶ֙ם ׀ לְֽחֵילָ֗ה (siytu libkhem ׀ lechêylâh)
θέσθε τὰς καρδίας ὑμῶν εἰς τὴν δύναμιν αὐτῆς . . . . (thesthe tas kardias humon eis tên dunamin autês)
Set your heart unto her power . . . . (LXX Psalm 47:14)
2. Some may argue over the Hebrew concerning the paseq (the vertical line) between "this" (זֶ֙ה zeh) and "God" (אֱלֹהִ֣ים Elohiym) in Psalm 48:14(H15).
כִּ֤י זֶ֙ה ׀ אֱלֹהִ֣ים (kiy zeh ׀ elohim) For this ׀ is God (Psalm 48:15 in the Hebrew).
They might argue that there is a separation of thought between the two words. But, the verse just prior to this well illustrates a paseq does not necessarily mandate a serparation of ideas or flow of thought.
Verse 13(H14), the verse just prior to verse 14(H15), has a paseq (vertical line) in the Hebrew between "your heart" (לִבְּכֶ֙ם [libkhem]) and "to her bulwarks" (לְֽחֵילָ֗ה [lechêylâh]). See footnote 1 above. Yet clearly, there is no break up or separation of thought. It all flows together, "Set your heart to her bulwarks."
Likewise, verse 11(H12) illustrates this as well.
יִשְׂמַ֤ח ׀ הַר־צִיּ֗וֹן (yismach ׀ har tsiyyon)
Let Mount Zion ׀ rejoice (Psalm 48:11,H12)
The history of the paseq is uncertain. One writer who researched extensively on the paseq wrote,
The term paseq signifies 'separating' or 'separator,' and pasiyq means 'separated.' Both are inappropriate designations applied by later Jews in ignorance of the origin and true function of the sign, which, though placed between words, was not always intended to mark a separation. (p. 2, The Note-Line In Biblical Hebrew Commonly Called Paseq or Pasiq, by James Kennedy, Edinburgh, T & T Clark, 1903, underlining added)
"Not always intended to mark a separation" is well illustrated again in the first occurance of paseq in the Hebrew Bible, Genesis 1:5.
וַיִּקְרָ֙א אֱלֹהִ֤ים ׀ לָאוֹר֙ י֔וֹם (vayyiqrâ' elohiym ׀ lâ'or yom)
And God called ׀ the light day, . . . (Genesis 1:5)
The uncertainty of the paseq is illustrated in Emmanuel Tov's book, Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible. He wrote that the "paseq" was "a sign denoting a slight pause," and then speaking of the accentuation which includes the paseq he wrote,
. . . the accentuation was probably intended to indicate the melodic pattern of the reading, although according to some scholars, its primary function was exegetical-syntactic." (Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible, p. 68).
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