ARE YOU MARCHING TO ZION?
by Wayne S. Walker
“They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion” (Psalm 84:7). As has been pointed out in a previous Psalm study, “Mount Zion” was originally one of the hills upon which the city of Jerusalem was built (2 Samuel 5:7). Then it came to be used of the city of Jerusalem in its entirety (1 Kings 8:1). Next, it came to be used figuratively for the entire nation of Israel (Psalm 69:35, 149:2). Finally, it was used prophetically with reference to the spiritual kingdom that the Messiah would establish (Isaiah 2:2-3, Joel 2:32).
Thus, we “have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels” (Hebrews 11:22). Based upon this figure, Isaac Watts wrote in the well known hymn beginning, “Come, we that love the Lord,” that “The hill of Zion yields A thousand sacred sweets, Before we reach the heavenly fields, Or walk the golden streets.” At the same time, we remember that “Zion” is used throughout the Old Testament as a synomym of Jerusalem and that “John sa the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21:2).
Robert Lowry started with Isaac Watts’s hymn and took the figure a step further by adding his own chorus which says, “We’re marching to Zion, Beautiful, beautiful Zion; We’re marching upward to Zion, the beautiful city of God.” As I wrote in a 1988 article about this wonderful song, “I have heard some brethren object to the thought of ‘marching to Zion’ because we are already in God’s spiritual Zion, the church. However, if we recognize that Zion is used throughout the scriptures as a synonym of Jerusalem, we will also realize that while we are in the church or spiritual Jerusalem now…, we are also journeying toward a heavenly new Jerusalem [or Zion] which will not be reached until after this life is over.”