By Gary D. Erickson
Text: Hebrews 12:18-24
For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart: And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:) But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.
In the forty-eighth Psalm, verse twelve, is a parallel scripture to my text: Walk about Zion, and go around about her: tell the towers thereof
Now then, when I read this not long ago, I looked up all of those scriptures that were related to this beautiful expression of confidence that the psalmist was giving here when he said, “When doubt arises in your heart, when you have situations you don’t understand or can’t seem to get through, just walk about Zion, walk around and look at it.”
What we are going to do here for a little while tonight is walk about Zion. Keeping that text of Scripture in mind, let’s go to Psalm 46. He said, “God is our refuge and strength.” God is! Not will be, not waiting for you to get a hold of things, not a futuristic God. God is! He is a very present help in time of trouble. God is! That means right now. A present help in trouble. Look at the beautiful expression of confidence. I’m asking the child of God tonight, where is your confidence? The psalmist said:
“Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof Selah. There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High [God will not run out of strength or help.] God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early. The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah. Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. Be still and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will he exalted in the earth. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.” [Psalm 46:1-11]
God is our refuge. God is our strength. There is no reason to be discouraged. There is no reason to be forlorn. There is no reason to be singing the blues. My God is on His throne. You have been in the valley long enough. He has something special for you. You have been out in the chilling cold long enough. You’re going to have to go with me to the upper tower. You’re going to have to let the sunshine in. It is not His will that you perish. It is not His will that the enemy overtake you. But He said, “I’ve got my eye on the scene,” and when the enemy rushes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord lifts up a standard against it.
We’re going to walk about Zion tonight. Now watch what it says: Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth . . . Be still and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. [Psalm 46:8, 10]
Chapter 47:1 [Psalm], “O clap your hands, all ye people. . . ” This Psalm was written about the time the Jews were returning to their own land and renewed their praises and promised obedience to the Lord God. Let both Jew and Gentile magnify the Lord: the Jews to magnify Him for their deliverance from Babylonian captivity, and Gentile for being called into the glorious liberty of being called the children of God. This clapping of the hands is like music. It is a universal thing. Chinese can clap; Egyptians can clap their hands. Look around the globe at all the praise that comes to man; it usually comes by applause. Every generation has clapped their hands. All people of all races, creeds, and colors, even in the remotest dark jungle, know how to clap their hands. And God said to them, through His psalmist David, “When you realize who you are and what you are and that you are coming up to Zion, I want you to clap your hands, all ye people [that included the Gentiles] and shout unto God with the voice of triumph.”
What the hands can’t do, let the voice perform. There are times that the hands or the arms might be tied down to the bedside. Maybe an intravenous needle is connected to it, and you cannot clap your hands. Utter your voice. Use something to praise the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
We clap our hands and sing praises and shout unto God with a voice of triumph. You can’t just praise God with your hands because of all the clapping that you can do it doesn’t utter a word. It’s only a noise that sends forth the resounding praises of the King in bringing us back to Zion. God has not brought us unto all the rules and regulations of the Mosaic system. He hasn’t brought us to the mountain that belched forth its smoke through all the rituals and procedures of the law, but He has brought us by the New Birth, by His own expression of love. He has brought us into the city of Zion, the church of the firstborn, the general assembly of the Most High God. We are not in a room off by ourselves. We are in the general assembly of the church, the firstborn. Actually, it means you are sitting in heavenly places, where the King is making ways, for there is a King in Zion, and He has not vacated His throne. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is our King. He is our God. Oh yes, He is!
So, why shouldn’t I clap my hands? Why shouldn’t I utter my voice? Maybe you need to walk about Zion with me tonight! Maybe you need to catch a new vision of what the church is all about! This is the house of the King, and we ought to do no other business here except the King’s business.
When you can’t get off of that sickbed, He gets off of. His throne, and He passes the parking lot, and He walks through the front doors. And He doesn’t have to stop at the reception desk and ask where you are or what room you are in. He goes through, past the elevators, and up to your floor.
He comes into your room because He said that “You are a child of Zion, and you are one of My precious sheep. I’m going to send a healing balm, and I will be with you through this trial. And I will be with you while you are sick, and I’m going to be here when you need comfort. Because I am King in Zion.”
Zion is not just a little place. It is a large place. It covers the whole globe spiritually, so He knows what I have need of, even before I ask Him. He knows how to bless you. He knows how to take care of you, for He is King in Zion. Yes, He is!
No wonder. I praise Him in the morning, and I praise Him in the noontime, and I praise Him when the sun goes down because He is my refuge and my fortress, a very present help in the time of trouble. When we find ourselves in trouble, we need to go to the city of our God for the protection of His church and for the way that He has made for us.
He shall choose our inheritance for us, the excellency of Jacob whom he loved. Selah. [Psalm 47:4]
We didn’t choose it! He chose it! “The excellency of Jacob whom he loved. Selah.” That word means go back and read this and meditate on this again. Every time you see the word selah in. Scripture, it means to stop and think about it. Go hack and read it again.
God is gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet. [Psalm 47:5]
Did you know that this was a direct prophecy of the ascension of Jesus? He said, “The Lord bath gone up.” And when Jesus went up, the angels said, “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into the heaven? This same Jesus that you see going up into the heavens is coming back in like manner as ye have seen Him go.”
What will you do when you realize what He has done? We will sing praises to our God.
Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises. [Psalm 47:6]
Now He wants to get that message across.
For God is the King of all the earth: sing ye praises with understanding. [Psalm 47:7]
He wants you to sing with understanding; understand what you sing about, understand what you are doing. He doesn’t want me to clap my hands just for no reason. He doesn’t want me to ignorantly utter words of song. He wants me to understand what I am doing. And I’m telling you, I do understand. I understand when the wicked cannot understand. When the world can’t understand, I understand where He brought me from, and when I clap my hands, I’m clapping with understanding. I understand what I am doing. People say, “You folks get all worked up and don’t know what you are doing.” Oh yes, we do know what we are doing! I know what I am doing. I’m uttering this voice He gave me in praises to the King.
The princes of the people are gathered together, even the people of the God of Abraham: for the shields of the earth belong unto God: he is greatly exalted. [Psalm 47:9]
Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of holiness. Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King. [Psalm 48:1-2]
The joy of the whole earth is in the new Mount Zion, the church. You will never find joy anywhere like you will find in the church. You won’t find it in a dancehall. You won’t find it in a tavern. You won’t find it at a party. But real joy comes when you sit down or walk about the city of the New Jerusalem. Sit down in the church of the King of kings. You will find joy, real joy, unsurpassed joy. Joy when it’s dark. Joy when you’re down.
God is known in her palaces for a refuge. For, lo, the kings were assembled, they passed by together. They saw it, and so they marveled; they were troubled, and hasted away. [Psalm 48:3-5]
The kings walked up, and they took a look at the city and said, “My goodness, my kingdom doesn’t mean very much when I see the kingdoms of God.” And then they hasted away because that place is a fortress, a refuge. God was known in her palaces for a refuge.
Fear took hold upon them there, and pain, as of a woman in travail. [Psalm 48:6]
Now look at this, friend, when you think the church is going down, when you think the church is taking a nose dive, when you think that nobody is living right anymore. We need to have such a power and such a source in here that the devil cannot look in here. I’m not talking about the sinner coming in to find Christ. I’m talking about the devil coming in to make trouble, coming in to make trouble for a home, a young boy, a young girl . . . coming here and looking around to see what he (devil) can get his hands on and clutches into.
Let me tell you, we are walking about Zion tonight because this is the city of refuge of the great King.
Thou breakest the ships of Tarshish with an east wind. [Psalm 48:7]
Jerusalem wasn’t really in touch much with the outside world. Now they thought they would float the ships of Tarshish into their calm seas. These ships were laden with false gods and idols of the heathen, who practiced witchcrafts and all manners of evil. But God said, “My eye followed that ship,” and soon as it came near, He turned the wind loose and watched as those ships were broken and shipwrecked. I’m preaching about a powerful God, a holy God!
As we have heard, so have we seen, in the city of the LORD of hosts, in the city of our God: God will establish it for ever. Selah. We have thought of thy lovingkindness, 0 God, in the midst of thy temple. [Psalm 48:8-9]
When I walk around in the morning, I am thinking of Your loving kindness. We have thought about it in the city. We have thought about how it was when You (God) were in there in the holy place.
According to thy name, 0 God, so is thy praise unto the ends of the earth: thy right hand is full of righteousness. Let mount Zion rejoice, let the daughters of Judah be glad, because of thy judgments. Walk about Zion, and go round about her: tell the towers thereof Mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces; that ye may tell it to the generation following. [Psalm 48:10-13]
Take a walk with me. Count the towers, look at the city, walk around the other direction, and mark ye well her bulwarks.
The world tonight would use all their witnesses to testify of the pleasures of the world. Someone said, “Well the church doesn’t have very much to offer.” But I want to remind you this evening that if I were able to arrange it, I could get witness after witness, testimony after testimony of all that God had done for them all over this world. I could line them up here and say, “Take your time, friend, and praise the God of Zion.” Testimonies of praise, of deliverance, of healing, of salvation; I can hear them praising God right now. They come from the north, south, east, and west. Not too proud to shout, clap, utter praises to God.
Walk with me, tonight. Walk about Zion. We are in the general assembly of the church of the firstborn. I know there are those who would like to take our shout and victory away from us. I know those who would say, “Why you don’t have anything because you don’t belong to us.” Well we do have something. I want them to know we are preaching the Apostolic doctrine. We are in Zion’s city. We are not pushed down or pushed back. We have fellowship with the Lord, and we love His name, and we love this truth. And we all better get on with the program. It is not just one organization or another that will be the only ones who make it, but it will be those who are washed in His blood, baptized in His name, filled with His Spirit; those are the ones who are walking about Zion.
The above article, “Walking About Zion” is written by Joe D. Sizemore. The article was excerpted from a sermon compilation called Hot Bread, written by Paul R. Cagle Jr.
The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.