ZION is the ULTIMATE place of REFUGE for God’s PEOPLE
July 20 Bible Reading: Isaiah Chapters 13-15
"What will they answer the messengers of the nation? That the Lord has founded Zion, and the poor of His people shall take refuge in it." (Isaiah 14:32)
Some biblical historical narratives indicate that the Philistines originally came to Canaan from Crete, and settled along the southwestern coast of Israel, south of the territory of Judea (Gen. 10:14; 1 Chr. 1:12). When King Ahaz of Judah died in 727 B.C. (v. 28), these Philistines sent their representatives to Judah to invite the new King Hezekiah to join them in rebelling against Assyria. The Philistines saw the turn of events as a golden opportunity to return to greatness as King Ahaz had died, and Sargon, the king of Assyria, was fighting against other nations. However, King Hezekiah consulted God about this matter, and God used Isaiah to warn him against any Philistine alliances (vv. 29–32). God’s response through prophet Isaiah was clear: God will protect His own, in spite of the political and military turmoil. Eventually, King Hezekiah refused to partner with the Philistines against Assyria!
What happened later on was that King Hezekiah attacked the Philistines and recaptured much of the territory that was controlled by the Philistines (2 Kin. 18:8). In fact, the destruction of Philistia would leave no refuge for the Philistines. The only place they could go to be saved would be Jerusalem, the city built by God. That would be the place to which the poor of all nations could come, becoming God’s people! So, the question raised in verse 32 is that if any Gentile messengers would ask what is going on, they will be told that the Lord is fulfilling His promises to Zion, and protecting the inhabitants of Jerusalem!
Let us understand that God Himself established Zion (or, the spiritual Jerusalem) as the center of true worship. The name ‘Zion’ is mentioned about 125 times in the Bible, and the very first time, it is mentioned as ‘the city of David’ (2 Sam. 5:7). God’s Word mentions the name ‘Zion’ at various times: "So you shall know that I am the Lord your God, dwelling in Zion My holy mountain. Then Jerusalem shall be holy, and no aliens shall ever pass through her again" (Joel 3:17). "But on Mount Zion there shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions" (Obadiah 1:17). "The Lord also will roar from Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem; the heavens and earth will shake; but the Lord will be a shelter for His people, and the strength of the children of Israel" (Joel 3:16).
Zion is God’s chosen place of significance since it is ‘the city of the Great King’ (Ps. 147:12). God had ordained Solomon to build a temple in that city so that He could live among the Israelites there (1 Kings 6:13). This is God’s speaking about Himself: "Yet I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion" (Ps. 2:6). Thus, Zion is holy because of God’s declaration (1 Kings 11:13), His promises, and the worship that is offered to Him there (1 Kings 8:14–66). We should also note that our Lord Jesus Christ revealed Himself as the King of the Jews in that city before He became the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of the entire humankind (Matt. 21:4–11). The future rule of the King of Kings will be in that city as well (Rev. 21:2-4). It is thus clear that Zion is the ultimate place of refuge for God’s people!