The City of God: A Refuge and a Light

August 19, 2020 | by: Shawn Horrall | 0 Comments

Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised
    in the city of our God!
His holy mountain, beautiful in elevation,
    is the joy of all the earth,
Mount Zion, in the far north,
    the city of the great King.
Within her citadels God
    has made himself known as a fortress.
-Psalm 48:1-3

There was a time when the City of God was a physical, earthly city. The Israelites were given Jerusalem as a fortified city, complete with bastions, ramparts, towers, walls, and other fortified defenses. This city was a visible reminder to the chosen people of Israel that the Lord provided an unbreachable defense for his people. At the same time, the Lord himself was to be the unbreachable defense for his chosen people. No works of the pagan nations would be able breach the physical and spiritual defenses that the people of God had as their protection. This community was to be “the joy of all the earth” (v. 2).

As we see so eloquently and poetically described later in Psalm 48, the heathen kings gathered to bring destruction to the city, but they became terrified and fled (vv. 5-6). The Israelites were commanded to remember how it was that they were protected—not just the physical defenses, but, in an even greater way, the spiritual force that provided for and defended them (vv. 12-14).

Again and again throughout scripture, Mount Zion and Jerusalem are referenced as the City of God. Now that the veil of separation has been removed and our sins have been atoned, we worship the Lord in spirit and in truth in this same City of God, this community of believers. This community of believers is where the saints now worship the Lord. Christian, we are all part of this community of the faithful and are to enjoy all of the same benefits as citizens. We too are to remember the City of God and number her towers, consider well her ramparts, and go through her citadels.

However, let us not stop short in our thinking that the City of God, the Church, is only a place of refuge and defense (though it is that, to be sure!). Let us be reminded that the Church is also on the offense. We are to be a city set on a hill and also a light shining in the darkness. If and when the times become dark as the night, that light cannot but shine even brighter. The Church is and will be a beacon of hope and truth — even in our culture where truth is regarded as shifting sand.

Providence has brought each of us to this congregation that we will participate in this City of God. We are to remember that this Church is more than just a worship service on Sunday afternoon. We are a refuge, a site of impregnable defenses, but also a place to be equipped and prepared to show our culture the light of Christ. We are to enter the marketplaces of our culture and demonstrate true love, justice, and mercy. Only when we remember that we have the Church — the City of God — as our refuge, can we be the salt and light that we are commanded to be and that our fallen culture so desperately needs.

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