Sunday, November 29, 2015 pm                                                Songs Index

“We’re Marching to Zion”
#2, Sacred Selections


This being the 5th Sunday, tonight we want to examine another song.  In the times we are now facing, I find that if we consider the message of this song, it can help give us the resolve we need to press on toward the goal.

Background.  The text was written by Isaac Watts (1674-1748).  He was a prolific songwriter, who wrote more than 650 hymns, many of which are still sung today.  Most of his songs were written at an early age where he was member of the Above Bar Congregational Church in Southampton, England.    The words that he wrote which became our hymn were published as part of a series of hymns in 1707.  The tune at that time was very different.  The tune in our song book was produced by Robert Lowry in the late 1800s.The original hymn was 10 stanzas.  Our song book has four of them.

While young, Isaac Watts had smallpox which deformed him and made him a sickly and frail boy.   He was also very prolific with knowledge having learned Greek, Latin, Hebrew and French by the time he was thirteen years old.  Perhaps his appearance, as well as his father being a dissenter of the Church of England and the persecutions it produced (including imprisonment), were factors in his resolve in some of his songs. 

 “We’re marching to Zion”, is a song of resolve regardless of the circumstances we find ourselves in.  Let us examine the message of this song.

 I.                    Chorus – We’re marching to Zion

a.        We’re marching to Zion – What is Zion?
Zion, is one of the names for Jerusalem.  It was actually a portion of the city that was subdued by David (1 Chronicles 11:4-9).  He then named it, “the City of David.”  The term is found about 161 times in the Bible (7x in the New Testament). 
Throughout the prophets it was a term used to describe Jerusalem, and more specifically as representative of Judah (or Israel) as its capital and as God’s people. 
Quite often it was used with a dual implication - a double message – one speaking of the LORD redeeming the physical nation from captivity or oppression, but its ultimate fulfillment in Christ coming to establish His eternal kingdom, which is Zion.
In my studies of the word in scripture, I believe the best way to describe Zion is, the place where God meets with His people.  Physically that would have been Jerusalem (where the temple was), but now it is in heaven which is related to the church universal (the body of all who are saved). 
In the New Testament the word is found 7 times  - 2 times in the gospels to identify the prophecy of Jesus entering the city – Matt. 21:5, John 12:15 (based on Zechariah 9:9);
2 times in Romans – Rom. 9:33 and 11:26 – also OT prophecies dealing with Israel’s rejection of God and thus salvation is available to all.  And 1 Peter 2:6 where this same rejection is recorded.
NOTICE Hebrews 12:22-24, “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel. “  While dealing with the saved, the Hebrew writer speaks of future hope in heaven.
That Zion is representative of heaven is seen in the various descriptions of the previous verse.
In Psalm 2:6, a messianic psalm we read, “Yet I have set My King On My holy hill of Zion.”   This is a reference to Jesus as we continue to read the text it is directed toward Him (vs. 7-9, Acts 13:33, Hebrews 1:5, 5:5, etc.). 
Jesus is NOW seated in heaven at the right hand of God (Hebrews 10:12, 12:2, Romans 8:34, etc.) in heaven (cf. Heb. 9:24 – He has entered into heaven itself.  Heb. 8:1 – seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens…)
So we see in this that in our song, Zion is representative of heaven (as in many other songs we sing – which is why we have taken time to address this). 

b.       We’re marching to Zion, beautiful, beautiful Zion… – while on this earth, we are marching toward heaven.  The idea of marching is that we are moving toward that place.  I think of Philippians 3:12-14 – I press toward the goal.  We are running a race toward the finished line (1 Cor. 9:24-27, Heb. 12:1-2)

c.        The beautiful city of God – Heaven is described as a city.  Heb. 11:10, 13-16.
 Revelation 21:9-22:5 – the new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven is described.  It is a spiritual city where there is night, no sun or moon, no sickness or sorrows, etc.  And it is where the throne of God is found!

d.       Throughout this song, we are reminded that heaven is the goal we are striving to reach.

 II.                  Vs. 1, Come we that love the Lord

a.        Come we that love the Lord - This is a call to Christians – Matthew 22:37 – love God with all your heart.  Love Jesus – John 14:15, 1 John 4:19, we love Him because He first loved us. 
Such will obey Him – 1 John 5:3-5
James 1:12 – the crown of life is promised to those who love Him. 

b.       And let our joys be known – this song reminds us that in those difficult times, we need to strive to be joyful - Phil 4:4.  Consider Paul and Silas in prison in Philippi – Acts 16:25 – they were singing songs.
If one is joyful, sing – James 5:13

c.        Join in a song in sweet accord – in this I think of joining together to sing.  Among the thoughts that comes to my mind with this song is the unity we have in Him.  Worship brings us together.  Singing brings us together – Ephesians 5:19-20, Colossians 3:16 – both imply a joyful disposition.
It is said that as Israelites went together in groups to Jerusalem for various feasts that they would sing various psalms (called the psalms of Ascents – Psalm 120-134). 

d.       And thus surround the throne – our singing is a spiritual sacrifice go up to God – Heb. 13:15,
ALSO, let us be reminded that as Christians we have the privilege of approaching God in heaven – Heb. 4:16.

 III.                Vs.2 – Let those refuse to sing

a.        Let those refuse to sing who never knew our God
1) Those who are of the world do not have the same privileges as Christians.  For example consider Ephesians 2:12 – they were strangers and without Christ, having no hope…
2) The world doesn’t care about Him.  They do not have the hope and source of joy that can provoke us to praise Him even in troubling times.  Let em!

b.       But children of the heavenly king may speak their joys abroad
1) We are children of God – 1 John 3:1 – the manner of His love – we are called children of God
2) We can and should speak of His joys abroad – do not be ashamed of Him.  1 Peter 3:15 – give a reason for the hope that is in you.  1 Peter 2:9 as a royal priesthood we proclaim His praises…
Paul constantly glorified God to others – “I thank my God” – Rom. 1:8, 1 Cor. 1:4, Phil. 1:3, 2 Tim. 1:3, Philemon 4, etc. – he was not ashamed to tell  others about Him. 

 IV.                VS. 3 – The hill of Zion

a.        The hill of Zion yields a thousand sacred sweets – as Christians on our journey to heaven, we enjoy numerous blessings even now.  Eph. 1:3 – God has blessed us with every blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. 2 Cor. 1:3 describes Him as the Father of Mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation… 

b.       Before we reach the heavenly fields, or walk the golden streets – this continues to remind us of the same thought.  We are blessed as Jesus said in Luke 18:30 – in this age blessings, and in the life to come – eternal life.
But also I see the endurance of our journey – we have to stay the course and compete according to the rules – 2 Tim. 4:7 – we must finish the race!  2 Tim. 2:5 – compete according to the rules!
The golden streets is a reference to Revelation 21:21 where the New Jerusalem is described.

 V.                  Vs. 4 The let our song abound

a.        Then let our songs abound and every tear be dry  - in this world we face toils and troubles.  But in Him we are not defeated.  Be reminded of 2 Cor. 4:7-9 – we are hard pressed but not crushed, perplexed but not despaired…    1 Peter 5:7 tells us to cast all our cares on Him. 
We may groan to be further clothed in Him – 2 Cor. 5:1-5, but we have hope!  Why?

b.       We’re marching through Immanuel’s ground – Immanuel means, “God with us.”  The name was prophesied by Isaiah (7:14) and applied to Jesus when He would be born (Matthew 1:23). 
IN the case of this song, we are reminded that even though this world is the dominion of Satan, and He seems to be winning, God is still in control!  1 John 4:4 – He is greater than he who is in the world.
 If we serve Him, He is with us!  Jesus told His disciples that while the ruler of this world was coming, “He has nothing in Me.” (John 14:30)
Romans 8:31 – if God be for us, who can be against us?
1 Corinthians 2:12 says, “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.”

c.        To fairer worlds on high – even the most grand of places on this earth are nothing to be compared with heaven!  2 Peter 3:13 speaks of how we are looking for new heavens and a new earth – a new dwelling place with Him for all of eternity!

 We will sing this song differently – Begin with the chorus – then sing the four verses and conclude with the chorus.

 It is no secret that we are living in very troubling times.  At every turn immorality seems to be prevailing, we live in a self-centered society, the international landscape is very troubling with terrorism on the rise and the faith of Christians is continually assaulted.  In times of discouragement, we need to remind ourselves of where our true hope lies – in heaven.  And with resolve we need to be marching toward Zion.  Are you?