“Glorious things are said of you, city of God: Indeed, of Zion it will be said, ‘This one and that one were born in her, and the Most High himself will establish her.’
The Lord will write in the register of the peoples: ‘This one was born in Zion.’”
Psalm 87:3, 5-6
Jerusalem: ‘The City of God.’
It is a city with an extraordinary history: the city of Melchizedek (Genesis 14*), the place where Abraham offered Isaac and God provided His substitute, the place of Calvary, and the only city with a counterpart that will descend from Heaven (Revelation 21).
Why did God choose Jerusalem as His dwelling place on earth?
Even at the height of its ancient glory in Solomon’s day, it was a relatively humble city. It had no pyramids, parthenons, or hanging gardens. No elegant statues, aqueducts, coliseums, or theaters.
It was a humble place for the God of the universe to dwell, but that’s actually fitting for the God of the Bible, who chose to enter this world as a baby in a stable. This is the city that is synonymous with God’s presence.
Christ’s work at Calvary opened the floodgates of God’s presence, which now indwells believers through His indwelling Spirit. Yet He still identifies with Jerusalem as the likeness of His official residence.
“The Lord will write in the register of the peoples: ‘This one was born in Zion.’”
In the ancient world, every culture had its own deities, a pantheon of gods and goddesses who looked after them in exchange for their worship and devotion. YHWH was not the God of one nation, but of all the nations. Everywhere Israel dwelt – in Egypt, in the wilderness, or in Babylon – there were many who kept their devotion to YHWH. They effectively exchanged their citizenship in those lands for another identity. They gave up privileges and positions in foreign governments in order to be among those who worshiped YHWH. Even when born in foreign lands, it was as if they were “naturalized” citizens of Jerusalem.
God welcomes those who know what it is to be lost and then to discover the truth… to be pursued and caught by the truth. As they do so, the LORD himself registers them in his book. He counts them as His own as He writes their names in the Book of Life.
Jesus said that to enter the kingdom of God, you must be born again. This new birth suggests a new nature, a new person, a new identity, and a transformation from within. It is not a change of address but a change of heart. It happens in God's presence - where God dwells.
There are no open borders in Heaven - only citizens will be admitted.
The good news is that this citizenship is free, and there are no waiting lists. All of its citizens are citizens by birth.
Revelation 5 and 7 speaks of people of every nation, language, tribe, and tongue joyfully assembled in worship. Their names are written in God's register.
They are the citizens of the Heavenly Jerusalem – the City of God!
* Melchizedek was the king of Salem - Salem was very probably Jerusalem, Psalm 76:2