1 Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion,
which cannot be moved, but abides forever.
2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
so the LORD surrounds his people,
from this time forth and forevermore.
3 For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest
on the land allotted to the righteous,
lest the righteous stretch out
their hands to do wrong.
4 Do good, O LORD, to those who are good,
and to those who are upright in their hearts!
5 But those who turn aside to their crooked ways
the LORD will lead away with evildoers!
Peace be upon Israel!
Psalm 125 (ESV)
- When was the last time you saw any mountain move? Never – am I right?
- The most natural thing for a mountain to do is not to be moved. Yet the psalmist doesn’t say those who trust in the Lord are like any mountain but like Mount Zion.
- Mount Zion is no ordinary mountain. It was where the temple was built and the Ark of the Covenant was stationed.
- “…..For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” – Isaiah 2:3
- Mount Zion represents the place where God dwells, rules and reigns.
- The immovability of this mountain is more than structural stability – it is stable in more than one way. It won’t be shaken. It would stand strong against the enemies. No plans of the wicked can topple the rule of Zion
- The immovability of Zion comes not from how deep it goes down the surface of the earth, but because God dwells there.
- The source of immovability is God’s immutability.
- We spent considerable time in our bible study learning this doctrine. It is important to us that God is not prone to change.
- A promise is only as good as a promise keeper. If the promise keeper is not trustworthy then the promises are of no value. But God’s promises are precious to us only because God – the promise keeper doesn’t change.
- If I tell, come all ye weary and burdened and I shall give you rest! And when the weary ones actually come, I change my mind and take my sword out! Can you imagine if God was mutable like us?
- So God is immutable and unchanging.
- But look at the text – those who trust the lord are like mount zion.
- Lev 1:1-17 mentions whole burnt offerings.
- A whole burnt offering was a sacrifice that was completely consumed by fire on the altar, with nothing left over. The Hebrew word for “whole burnt offering” is “olah,” which means “that which goes up” or “that which ascends.”
- The offering could be a bull, a sheep, a goat, or a bird, depending on the person’s ability to give. The animal had to be male, without blemish, and voluntarily given.
- The person offering the sacrifice would lay their hand on the animal’s head, symbolically transferring their sin and guilt to the animal.
- The animal was then slaughtered by the person offering the sacrifice, and the priest would take the blood and sprinkle it on the altar.
- The animal was then cut up into pieces, and the priest would arrange the pieces on the altar along with wood and fire. The entire animal was burned up as an offering to God.
- The purpose of the whole burnt offering was to make atonement for sin and to demonstrate the person’s devotion and surrender to God. It was also a way for the person to express gratitude and worship to God.
- In verses 12 and 17, it mentions “…..it is a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to the Lord.”
- “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:1-2
- Whole burnt offerings were dead sacrifices – We are living sacrifices and this is worship
- Psalm 141:2 – “May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.”
- Ephesians 5:1-2 – “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
- Our worship is a fragrant offering – Aroma unto the Lord!
- How does Paul urge us to be living sacrifices?
- “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus” – Philippians 2:5 – Christ-Like!
- What happens to us when we become living sacrifices?
- “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” – 2 Corinthians 3:18
- We change! When we worship we are on fire and the pleasing aroma goes into the heavens
- This is a design feature – to change.
- So that leaves us with a problem! Are we immutable or mutable? Are we like Mount Zion or continuously shifting places like sand dunes?
- Important people are always surrounded by their followers. May it be Kings, celebrities, or political figures. The important person is in the centre and “worshippers” surround them
- But here the important person surrounds the worshippers
- The mountains provide security to Jerusalem. And God provides protection to his people.
- “You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.” – Psalm 139:5
- David personalizes this. Not just the people, but also the person
- Not just when you are at church, but also when you are alone on your commute
- And when does he do this? Now and Forever!
- Which attribute of God comes to your mind? The Eternality of God.
- Look at another attribute of God coming to our aid: if God was not forevermore, how can he guarantee that he’ll guard you forevermore?
- Also, what about us? Do we live forevermore? No? Then how are we like Mount Zion?
“Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.” – Psalm 89:14
- Justice is another attribute of God.
- Spurgeon writes “The pilgrims on their journey to Jerusalem would see much of the land allotted to the righteous as they travelled. They could rightly reflect on this promise and determine that they would be those who trusted in God. They were the righteous ones who had received God’s allotment of the land.”
- The people of God, the righteous have made a dwelling in the land allotted to them by God.
- What is God protecting them from in the Land?
- “lest the righteous stretch out their hands to do wrong”
- As Spurgeon puts it “God knows that the rule of the wicked could provoke even the godly to sin through rebellion or frustration. This is one of the reasons why God promised not to allow the wicked to rule on the land allotted to the righteous”
- So? Just God has to keep them from harm because in their nature they are prone to be unjust.
- So, how are we like Mount Zion?
- Looks like we fail at every department of being like Mount Zion.
- “At least God is good to those who are upright in the heart right?”
- Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV) – “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”
- Mark 7:21-23 (ESV) – “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
- One night Polycarp had a dream, a dream he felt sure would come true. And in his dream, he was burnt at the stake for being a Christian.
- Polycarp was arrested by the Roman authorities in the city of Smyrna (modern-day Izmir, Turkey) during a wave of persecution against Christians in the second century AD.
- According to the account of Polycarp’s martyrdom, when the Roman authorities came to arrest him, he welcomed them into his home and offered them food and drink. He then asked for permission to pray for an hour before he would accompany them to their destination. During this time of prayer, he is said to have been “filled with grace” and to have been granted insight into the coming events. When the time came for him to leave, he willingly went with the authorities, accompanied by some of his own disciples. This account suggests that Polycarp treated the people who came to arrest him with kindness and hospitality, even though he knew that he was being taken into custody to face persecution and potential death.
- The proconsul threatened him with torture and death, but Polycarp remained resolute in his faith. He was eventually sentenced to be burned at the stake, and as he was being tied to the stake, he prayed aloud and thanked God for the honour of being counted worthy to suffer for the name of Jesus.
- “As the fire was kindled, a great flame burst forth, and we who were privileged to see it witnessed a great miracle. For the flames took on the shape of a sail filled by the wind, and Polycarp seemed to be in the midst of a garden, not burning in the flames, but surrounded by them as if he were bread baking in an oven or gold and silver being refined in a furnace. And we smelled a sweet fragrance, like the aroma of incense or other precious spices.”
- Finally, a soldier was ordered to pierce him with a spear, which led to his death.
- What is this intensity of faith? I don’t know. And that’s not flowery language. Everyone who knows me here knows that I don’t know that.
- What is this trust in the Lord so much so that he was looking forward to his martyrdom?
- What kind of deep stability is this?
- Do you think Polycarp was unmoved like Mount Zion? He was.
- And yet his trust in God would fall infinitesimally lesser than that of Jesus.
- But Polycarp was a creature – he was not immutable – then how is he like Mount Zion?
- He is like Mount Zion because he changed – one of the earliest lessons that Mike taught me in my faith was that, being Christ-like is not the same as being Christ.
- We don’t die on the cross for the sins of the world – but we fill up the afflictions of Christ by carrying our cross – this is what being Christ-like looks like to us.
- For God to be God is to be unchanging. For us to be Christ-like is to be forever changing.
- And this is not any change – this change is worship – this change is being a living sacrifice.
- Like in Romans 12, the more we fill our minds and renew them with the truth of God, the more we become a living sacrifice.
- The more we truly know the attributes of God, the more real and personal they become for us. The more we’ll be like Mount Zion.
- We have infinite upwards growth to happen in this area and some like Polycarp have reached height unbeknownst to us.
“He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.” – Psalm 121:3-4
- Brothers and sisters, ultimately do you know why we are like Mount Zion?
- Because He will not let your foot be moved. For if he is for you, what can possibly take you away from the fold of God?!
- Look at the psalm, he protects you lest you may be rebellious.
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:2
Let’s fix our eyes upon Him.