The glorious elevation, mighty defence and unshakeable firmness of Jerusalem (Ps. 87:1) refer to Jesus Christ who is God’s foundation of the church. “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 3:11). The church is established in the blood of her crucified head and Saviour. Thus the church’s foundation can also be said to be her eternal election in Christ, for election and Christ are inseparably connected (Eph. 1:4). The church is chosen in the Lord Jesus and is, therefore, unshakeable in God’s eternal purpose of election. “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his” (II Tim. 2:19).
Moreover, the church is founded in God’s gracious covenant with His elect in Christ. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit purposed to reveal the rich fellowship of the Trinity with a people redeemed in our Saviour’s blood. This is “an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure” (II Sam. 23:5). God has promised and sworn an oath to be our God and the God of our seed forever and ever (Gen. 17:7; Acts 2:39).
Furthermore, God’s eternal election and covenant in Christ is rooted in the glorious nature and attributes of God. The foundation of the church is the infinite and everlasting mercy, faithfulness, righteousness, power, holiness, love, wisdom and truth of God!
What a foundation for the church! How high are the mountains on which she is built: the lofty regions of eternity in Christ; the very mind and heart of God—infinitely high! Far higher than the vain speculations of the greatest philosophers!
What a defence these mountains are! The cross of Christ is our refuge and strong tower! Our battlements are the truth and goodness of God! We are protected by an unconditional covenant in Christ. God promises His church, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. I am thy defence and shield.”
Let us marvel at the firmness of the church. She has been gathered and defended from Genesis 3 to the present day and to the return of Christ, and she will live with the Triune God forever. World empires have fallen—the Babylonian empire, the Medeo-Persian empire, the Greek empire, the Roman empire, the Mongolian empire, the British empire, the Napoleonic empire, etc.—but the church stands with a firmness greater than all the mountains of the earth.
All of this is despite the fact that the church of the Lord Jesus has great enemies: the world, the flesh and the devil; the pagan religions, the false church and anti-Christian states; persecution, heresy and schism. God’s eternal covenant purpose in Christ with His church stands firm. “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance” (Ps. 33:12)!
“Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God” (87:3). “Glorious” means weighty, heavy with significance and importance. It also carries the idea of brilliance and effulgence, that which shines divine illumination into our hearts and minds. The weight and brilliance or glory of the church is a derived weight or brilliance or glory, that of her head, Jesus Christ, in whose face shines the glory of God (II Cor. 4:4, 6).
“The Lord loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob” (Ps. 87:2). The Lord has no love for the reprobate wicked: “The Lord trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth” (11:5). Against them “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven” (Rom. 1:18). But God does love His people Israel, in Naphtali and Issachar and Judah and Reuben, etc., from Dan to Beersheba. Yet not every individual, ethnic Jew, “For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel” (9:6). In the New Testament age, when the church is catholic or universal, Jehovah loves His elect in Christ wherever they are, whether Jew or Gentile.
Returning to the Old Testament imagery in Psalm 87, the Lord loves Jerusalem and Zion more than any town or mountain in Israel (2), never mind elsewhere in the world. Jerusalem/Zion is elevated and especially holy (1). It was particularly chosen by God as the capital city and location of the throne of David and the site of the temple with its ark, priesthood, sacrifices and worship (78:67-72). Through the “gates” of Jerusalem/Zion, the people of God would go in and out on pilgrimage and to praise the Lord (87:2).
In the New Testament age, God especially loves His saints as gathered together for public worship on the Lord’s Day—more than in our homes or at work or university, and more than through the week. Why? Because in the church’s Sabbath services, all the saints are together for the one great purpose of praising our covenant God and fellowshipping with one another. The Word of the Lord is read and preached reverently and officially. Prayer is offered by the whole congregation through Jesus Christ our mediator. Collections are made for the advance of Christ’s kingdom and the welfare of the saints. The inspired Psalms are sung with joy and understanding (47:7). The church collectively confesses its sins and receives God’s rich blessing in faith. Graces are exercised, and we and our children draw near to Jehovah in adoration. Thus it is no surprise that “The Lord loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob. Glorious things are spoken of thee [by Jehovah, by Christ, by the holy angels and by the saints], O city of God” (87:2-3)!
Therefore, it is no wonder that Satan especially attacks the (institute) church. He seeks to weaken the church by undermining biblical and Reformed preaching, doctrine, creeds, worship, government and discipline. He seeks the apostasy and overthrow of faithful churches because he knows that the church is “the pillar and ground of the truth” (I Tim. 3:15), for it holds up and teaches God’s glorious Word in Jesus Christ.
- Volume: 13
- Issue: 9
Rev. Angust Stewart (Wife: Mary)
Ordained - 2001
Pastorates: Covenant Protestant Reformed Church of Ballymena, Northern Ireland - 2001Website: www.cprf.co.uk/
Address7 Lislunnan Road
State or ProvinceCo.Antrim
Zip CodeBT42 3NR
Telephone(01144) 28 25 891851