The City of God

The prophets and seers of ancient time visualized the heavenly state as a city, a holy city, the city of God. The Psalmist sang of it in these words: "There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High." He further declares that "God is in the midst of her;" and again, in a psalm of David it is said, "Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God." Zion is described as the dwelling place of the Lord, of which "glorious things are spoken." Isaiah, also, makes reference to the glory of the church as "The city of the Lord, The Zion of the Holy One of Israel."

John at Patmos envisioned this city of the great King, and described it in appealing language: "And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband." And he sets forth in detail the beauty of this holy Jerusalem as far exceeding the wonders of any earthly city. John's language is so beautiful, so appealing, that one is led to inquire as to its significance. Why did John's concept of the heavenly state take the form of a city? This symbolic concept had its origin in the thought of city as affording shelter and security, as a place of safety. In the early history of mankind, men adopted community life primarily for security against their many common foes, and as the community grew, this was supplemented by many other advantages which were not available to the isolated dweller, living apart from his fellows. The city was protected by walls; water supply was established; markets were organized, and provision was made for the general well-being of the inhabitants in such terms as necessity demanded. Thus by degrees the city came to furnish to its inhabitants the greatest possibilities for safety from their enemies and for all material comforts and advantages. Accordingly, the heavenly state came to be visualized as a city, the city of Zion, where dwell those eternally blessed of the Father, and within the confines of which was gathered all that mankind esteems as desirable—the beautiful, true, and good. It was the dwelling place of all that the human heart longs for. It was the consummation of hope, the goal of human longing, the abode of the perfect and eternal.

December 11, 1926

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