The Lord's Vision for Salvation

by LA UBF   06/11/2011     0 reads





Psalm 87:1-7

Key Verse 6


The LORD will write in the register of the peoples: “This one was born in Zion.” 

Today we would like to study Psalm 87 and think about the Lord’s vision to save all peoples on earth. 

For the last two weeks I visited Korea and mainland China. Through the visits I saw many engaging themselves in one venture or another--and most of them with great excitement. One of the tour guides, for example, lived his life with great enthusiasm, so I said to him, "I can see that you are a man of great enthusiasm. What made you to do what you do with such great excitement?" He said, "I have a vision.” I asked, “What vision?” He said, “My vision is to make one Yuan from every single Chinese." There are 1.4 billion Chinese people. So his vision is to earn 1.4 billion RMB (Chinese Yuan).   

But the Bible asks, “What good is it for a man to gain all the money in the world, and yet forfeit his soul?” So unlike the tour guide the Lord has the vision to save souls. Let us think about what it is to save people into His kingdom. 


First, he has set his foundations on the holy mountain (1)


Look at v. 1. This verse states that the Lord has set his foundations on his holy mountain. In mainland China the Chinese leadership is afraid of people gathering in groups. They are afraid of the so-called Jasmine movement. They are aware of how the Egyptian regime established by Mubarak tumbled down. 

While the American journey team visited Beijing University last week the government closed down the campus for fear that another student revolt such as the one that had taken place a year ago might break out. And we could not call our missionaries as 'missionaries' for if you did on the phone, for example, that the conversation that involves the word 'missionary' gets automatically recorded.


Since the Chinese government was built on the ideologies of limited value such as materialism, the foundations of the nation remain insecure, uneasy, and unstable. But it is not so with God's kingdom, for the Lord has set his foundations on the holy mountain. 


The expression 'holy mountain,' especially the word 'holy' suggests that God's kingdom is permanently secure and stable, for it relies on God himself. The word 'holy' means 'set apart' or 'different from'. The Lord is set apart only in one point that he alone is self-sufficient. Inasmuch as the kingdom relies on the founder himself, that is, the Lord, his kingdom alone remains safe, secure, sound, and stable forever. 

Are you interested in the life in this Kingdom? Shouldn't we then be excited to invite people to this permanent kingdom?


Second, the Lord loves the gates of Zion (2).

[In Psalm 87 the word Zion is repeated four times. As used in this psalm, Zion is another name for Jerusalem which in turn denotes the kingdom of God. Read also Hebrews 8:5, Exodus 25:40, and Ezekiel 5:5, all of which show us that the heavenly Jerusalem represents the core of God’s salvation plan becoming manifested in the worlds of space and time (Ephesians 1:20; 2:6,7).]  

Verse 2 further elaborates on the wondrous features of God's kingdom, that is, the gates of Zion. 

In this passage a comparison is made, that is, between the gates of Zion and the dwellings of “Jacob”. The Lord loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob. 

The gates of Zion refer to the gates through which the saves souls enter the City of God. According to Revelation 21:12, there are 12 gates leading to the City of God. On each gate is written one of the names of the twelve tribes of “Israel”. 

Characteristically Israel refers to a man living on a spiritual level, whereas Jacob denotes a man operating on a physical level. Spirit gives life to man, but flesh counts for nothing.

Jacob represents an earthbound man, whereas Israel connotes a heavenward man. No wonder that the Lord loves the gates of Zion. One proverb says that the path of life leads man upward to keep him from falling to the grave. The Lord hates anything that is related to death: he is the Lord of life.  

Who can enter the Holy City through the pearly gates? The Apostle John says, “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.” Rev 22:14

The Apostle further says that the 12 gates of the holy city are made of pearls, indicating they were all born of the precious blood of our Lord Jesus. Thanks to his grace, following Jesus' example, the members of his bride undergo conflicting situations. Yet as they keep their faith, the Lord molds in them beautiful characters, as precious and solid as gem stones. No wonder that in Revelation 21 and 22 it is written that nothing impure can get go through the gates. And the gates lead men to the streets made of pure gold. 


There are many dwellings of Jacob which are all very nice. There are Chinese Jacobs like the Chinese emperors, and there are American Jacobs such as Bill Gates. Jacobs in this world spend tons of money to build gorgeous places to live. But the Lord loves the gates of Zion more than ‘all’ the dwellings of Jacob. Let us pray to invite many Jacobs to Bible studies, so they may open their eyes to the greatness of the life in His kingdom, and seek His kingdom.   


Third, glorious things are said of you, O City of God (3).


Deeply moved by the Spirit of God, the psalmist then speaks of the glory of God's city, so he says, "glorious things are said of you, O City of God." In the Pilgrim's Progress, Mr. Christian strove to make progress to the celestial city. This city is the city of the God of all glory. 

Speaking of the same transaction, the Apostle Paul says that we the believers go from glory to glory, until we fully see the glory of God reflected in us. 

Due to sin all fall short of the glory of God. Yet in Jesus the hope to restore Gods' glory sprang up and is growing in us. 

The vision of the glorious kingdom made realistic in our hearts is the key to overcoming the temptations of this world.  

During the days of the early Christians, thanks to the vision, Christians did not comise with the world; despite fiery persecutions they kept their faith. In order to inspire the early believers, the Apostle John then shared with them the glorious things of the City of God in Rev. 21. Let us read Revelation 21:1-8.


Fourth, this one and that one were born in her (4-5a).


Look at verses 4-5a. Surprisingly, the psalmist shares God's vision of the work of salvation arising not just among the Jews but also Gentiles, such as Rahab, Babylon, Philstia, Tyre and Cush. [The expression ‘born in Zion’ is synonymous with the expression ‘born of God’. John 1:12,13] 

These five categories of people represent those who are typical of the Gentiles who by faith in the Lord would be saved into the family of God. [Would someone read John 1:11-13? Here ‘all’ in v. 12 include both the Jews and Gentiles, all who believe in Jesus.]

Unlike the Jewish people, Gentiles were given a limited access to the knowledge of God. Naturally they worshiped idol gods. Idols make dumb people dumber. Idol worship keeps man in darkness. Naturally, idol worshipers live on the level of an animal, some on a sub-animal level. No wonder that the Jews regarded the Gentiles as worse than dogs. Surprisingly though even in the day of the sons of Korah, that is, about 3,000 years age (while King David was ruling the nation Israel), the Lord revealed to them the vision to save Gentiles into His city.


You and I are the Gentiles. In the past I used to live like Rahab the Do-nothing (Isaiah 30:7). Like the Babylonians I used to live a violent life. But the Lord had mercy on me. One year after I graduated from college one of my law-school classmates invited me to UBF where I met Jesus and was saved into his kingdom.


Thanks and praise be to God for saving a sinner like me. As I thought about the grace upon me it occurred to me that it was not an accident that the vision to save the Gentiles came to the sons of Korah. Korah was rebellious to the Lord. As he revolted against Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord brought down holy judgment on Korah and his descendants. Yet, some of them survived. The Lord graciously granted them to serve at the Lord's temple, until Solomon built the temple. This was truly grace upon grace to them. How come a rebellious group of people can be given access to the worship at the Lord's temple?! Most likely the sons of Korah understood this grace so the Lord revealed the vision of salvation among the undeserving. With this grace in mind, let us invite people, even those who live on a dog's level.


Fifth, the Most High himself will establish her [the City of Zion] (5b).


In Psalm 90 Moses offered one important prayer topic, "Establish the work of our hands, O Lord." Psalm 90:17

His prayer tells us that it is a sad thing for one to work hard only to see what he has been working on comes to nothing. Moses lived 120 years. For the first 40 years he built a career in Egypt until he became the crown price of Egypt. For the next 40 years he was hiding in a desert land as a fugitive. During this period of time he saw the career as the royal prince come to nothing. After living as Mr. Nobody for 40 years, God called him to lead people out of Egypt to the Promised Land. So from the age 80 till the age 120 he led people out of Egypt to the Promised Land. During this period of time he saw all the Israelites who had come out of Egypt collapse in the desert land. They could not make it to the Promised Land. He himself could not get in. Basically, he felt the work of his hand coming to nothing.


Essentially though what people try to build up here on earth throughout their lifetime is no different than what Moses underwent. During their young adulthood they don't know what to do. So some students change their major five times. Then after they graduate they try to get a job. Some are lucky so they land a job. They make some money. If they are lucky they find a marriage partner. If they are luckier they produce children. If they are lucky they get promoted, buy a house, and pay off the mortgage. Then what? We know the answer. They kick the bucket and are hurried to the grave.


We see in the Scriptures a number of examples of people working hard for nothing. Most of them know that they will end up in futility. Yet still they ignore God's call and work hard on what is perishing. 

One day a rich young man wanted to follow Jesus. So he asked the Lord the way of eternal life. Jesus said, "One thing you lack. Go sell everything you have. Give to the poor, and follow me." The young man had great wealth. So he dropped his head and went way feeling sad.


But it is not so with those who has the vision of the City of God. As I visited Korea and China, especially in China, I met missionaries working hard for God's kingdom. One of them sacrificed the opportunity to live in a better place in order to stay close to the students. So he lives near the campus paying rent that is higher than in other areas. Most of them have a lot of problems, such as job security, visas, child-education problems and more. But essentially they have no problems, for as they seek first God's kingdom and his righteousness, the Risen Lord who himself establishes his kingdom provides them with what they need.


Sixth, the Lord will write in the register of the peoples (6).


Look at v. 6. This passage refers to “the register of peoples born in Zion”. As we saw earlier, those who are born in Zion represent those who are born of God, the ones who acknowledge the name of God, even if it meant suffering from martyrdom. In my opinion this ‘register’ is the same as the ‘book of life’. [In the Bible King David talks about the book of life, Jesus mentions talks about it, the Apostle Paul talks about it, and the Apostle John talks about it.] The word register then refers to the record of the members of the family of God. 

I am a member of Andong Kim family. When my parents gave birth to me they went to a village office and reported the birth and the official made an entry into Andong Kim's family record.


But by God's grace the Lord saved me. Based on the passage I can see that each time a person repents and believes in the Lord, the Lord himself makes an entry into the registry of our Lord Jesus' family record. Speaking of this transaction we are told that we Americans hold dual citizenship, that is, citizenship in the U.S. and citizenship in the City of God.  


During the 50th year celebration in Seoul, Korea, as I went through the worship program and the post worship seminar, I had fellowship with more than 600 attendees from different nations and ethnic backgrounds. I had a fellowship with Padiet Deng of Sudan, for example. Had it not been for the grace in the Lord, I would never be able to establish friendship with him. But since we belong to the family born of Jesus' blood, I felt no distance whatsoever with him. And I praised the Lord for in Jesus and in the UBF ministry the Lord helped me to have brothers and sisters "all" over the world!


Seventh, they will sing, "All of my fountains are in you." (7)


Let us read v. 7. This is the final and by far the greatest reason why we need to invite students to our Lord Jesus with great enthusiasm, that is, all of my fountains and your fountains are in the Lord. 

Let us read the passage with an emphasis on the word “all". What does “all” mean? All means all. The word “fountains” refer to the sources of life, not just biological life but spiritual life. And not any life but quality life, not the life of temporary existence but the life that is full all the time. "All of my fountains are in you." 


Like the Samaritan woman a lot of students on college campuses look for the source of satisfaction in all the wrong places. Jesus had mercy on the Samaritan woman so he offered the living water to her. The woman found the gift in the Lord. She rejoiced and invited the townspeople. 


All of my fountains are in you! Indeed the Lord is the source of all we need for life. He is the source of the joy of life. In Jesus we can see peace rolling like a river. Speaking of the same phenomenon, one Psalmist says, "The Lord gives his children drinks from the river of delights." [Psalm 36:8; Revelation 22:1,2] When one believes in Jesus, the Lord establishes the spring fountain of this life in him. Even when he has no money in his pocket, when he has the Lord in him, the joy of life overflows in and through him. 


In conclusion, let us read v. 7. 

One word: all of my fountains are in you