Exhortation for 19/2/06 – Reading Psalm 87: “This man was born there” – Bro Peter W
劝勉词2006年2月19日—读经 诗篇第87篇:“这一个生在那里”—(老)彼得弟兄

The very purpose of these exhortations is to encourage our beloved brethren and sisters who do not have the benefits of long-established ecclesial structures. Throughout the Bible the distinction is made between those “called” to God’s purpose in every generation, and those who are merely citizens of “the World”. In Genesis these groups were defined as the believing “Sons of God” compared to the “Sons of Men” who knew not God. Later it became “Israel” the people of God and “the Gentiles” which is a title for all who are not Jews and outside of God’s covenant promises. But even in Israel not all were believers, but only the faithful “remnant” were those who would be saved. In Joel 2:32, during Israel’s history, this is described as the “remnant whom the Lord shall call”. Today it is often one here or one there in this or that nation who is called to the understanding of the truth of God. We who take the emblems today, wherever we may be located, belong to the greatest family on earth, having a common Father and also a “mother” as seen is this psalm.
本篇劝勉词的目的就是要鼓励那些身处新建教会、还不能得益于长久建立的教会的丰富经验的我们所爱的弟兄姐妹。整本圣经都清楚地区分开了那些“被呼召”到神的计划中的人,和那些只属于“这世界”的公民的人。在创世纪中,这两群人被分别定义为相信神的“神的儿子”和不认识神的“人的儿子”。后来,这两种不同的人又被称为“以色列人”——神的选民,和“外帮人”——所有不是犹太人、在神的应许之外的人。但是,甚至在以色列,并不是所有的人都是信徒,只有忠实的“剩下的人”才将被拯救。在约珥书2:32中,在以色列的历史上,他们被描述为“在剩下的人中必有耶和华所召的”。今天,蒙召懂得神的真理的人 通常有的在这,有的在那儿,有的在这个国家,有的在那个国家。我们今天将要掰饼喝杯纪念主耶稣基督,不论我们在哪里,我们都属于地上对伟大的家庭,因为我们都有同一个父亲,同一个“母亲”,就像我们在这篇诗篇里所看到的。

Those who are “called” of God in this Psalm are seen to be the citizens of Zion. The “called” is a very definitive term of scripture. It is the very meaning of the Greek word “ecclesia”—a people called out for God’s purpose. This is why we adopt that description for our community—the Christadelphian ecclesia; the ‘called out’ brothers and sisters of Christ. Acts 15:14 says: “Simeon (Peter) hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles to take out of them a people for his name.” Peter was caused to understand this when God told him to visit Cornelius, a Gentile Roman Centurion, and showed him that God was calling both Jews and Gentiles. Peter then declared: “Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him” (Acts 10:34-35). 
我们在这篇诗篇里看到,那些蒙神“召”的人将要成为锡安的民。“蒙召”,在圣经中有着非常清晰的含义。它就是希腊词“教会”的意思—— 一群被呼召到神的计划中的人。这也是为什么我们用“基督弟兄会”描述自己的原因;因为我们被“呼召”出来成为基督的弟兄姐妹。使徒行15:14中说:“方才西门(彼得)述说神当初怎样眷顾外邦人,从他们中间选取百姓归于自己的名下”。当神让彼得去拜访哥尼流,一个外帮的罗马人的百夫长时,彼得就被引导而明白了这点;他告知哥尼流,神既呼召犹太人,也呼召外帮人。彼得随后说:“我真看出神是不偏待人。原来各国中,那敬畏主行义的人,都为主所悦纳”(使徒行10:34-35)。

All baptised believers have received this call of God. God firstly directs us to His Word, we subsequently believe it and act in obedience by baptism and a constant walking in accord with His requirements. He accounts us to be recorded in “the book of life” and at Jesus’ return will raise us and give us immortality: “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption and this mortal must put on immortality” (1Cor 15:52,53) 

God’s purpose advanced from being limited to Israel to include the Gentiles by His direct call. Israel rejected their opportunity to believe their Messiah at his first appearing. Peter on the day of Pentecost said that they “by wicked hands have crucified and slain” him (Acts 2:23), and Stephen accused them in Acts 7:52: “of whom ye have now been the betrayers and murderers”. Therefore God decreed through Paul and Barnabas: “It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo we turn to the Gentiles” (Acts 13:46). So this once exclusive calling through the nation and people of Israel now became a direct call to the people of all nations, whoever would respond to the Gospel.

In verse 47 they add: “For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth”. In verse 48 we see the response of the Gentiles: “And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed”. The new status of the Gentile believers is now described as “ordained to eternal life”.

And so a place in the kingdom is assured for all of us who remain constant to our calling. This is where we the believers of today stand. Whether in Australia, China, Taiwan, Philippines, Europe or Africa it matters not—we are the sons of Zion, the sons of God, the seed of Abraham by faith and the brethren of the Lord Jesus Christ. “Ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Our Daily Reading reveals this understanding of God’s purpose. It speaks of a literal city which has a spiritual significance. Psalm 87 is a remarkable psalm that speaks of Zion as the destined metropolis of Jew and Gentile believers alike. “Zion”, the Holy Mount and “Jerusalem” are synonymous terms in the prophets for the place where God will dwell. The literal city of Jerusalem, rebuilt and more glorious, will be the centre of Christ’s millennial Kingdom, as Isaiah says: “For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Isa 3:3). 
However, by the time we get to Revelation 21:2 it is also symbolically and spiritually defined as “the Holy City coming down from God out of Heaven”, and is a figure of the redeemed, resurrected and glorified believers, both Jews and Gentiles. The Bible interweaves these two applications, the natural and the spiritual, and we need to be careful to distinguish when it is describing the literal city or the spiritual concept of His people.
我们的每日读经显示了对神的计划的理解。它讲到了一个有着属灵上的意义的真实城市。诗篇第87篇是一篇显著的诗篇,它讲到了锡安将要成为犹太人和外帮人的信徒们的首都。“锡安”,圣山,“耶路撒冷”,在预言中都是神将来的住所的同义词。现实中的耶路撒冷城,将被重建而变得更加灿烂辉煌,并成为基督的千年王国的中心,就像先知以赛亚所说的“因为训诲必出于锡安,耶和华的言语,必出于耶路撒冷”(以赛亚书2:3)。但是,当我们读到启示录21:2的时候,它也被象征性地描述为“圣城新耶路撒冷由神那里从天而降”,这是形容被赎回的,复活的,被荣耀了的犹太人和外帮人的信徒们。“自然的” 耶路撒冷城和“属灵的”耶路撒冷城,圣经中常把这两种含义交织在一起,我们需要小心地区分开到底是讲的真实的耶路撒冷城,还是属灵的概念——讲的是神的子民。

Paul in Hebrews 12:22-23 is speaking spiritually when he says: “Mount Zion…the city of the Living God, the heavenly Jerusalem...and ecclesia of firstborns, which are written in heaven”. In Rev 3:5 Jesus says of them: “I will not blot out his name out of the book of life”, where alternatively the false worshippers are described by him in Rev 13:8 as those “whose names are NOT written in the book of life”.

In Galatians 4:26 Paul again speaks of “Jerusalem which is above” as “the mother of us all”. This is a spiritual concept describing Jerusalem as the “mother” of the true servants of God who have God and Christ abiding in their hearts through faith. 

What a wonderful vision and hope we all have! There is no other hope in the world which offers everlasting life. Rev. 5:9 describes for us the joy and appreciation of the redeemed as with immortal voices they offer praise and thanksgiving: “Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue and people and nation”.
这是一幅多么美妙的将来的景象和我们都拥有的盼望啊!在世界上再没有其它的希望 能给我们带来永生。启示录5:9为我们描述了用不朽的声音所发出的欢乐的赞美和感激:“你配拿书卷,配揭开七印。因为你曾被杀,用自己的血从各族各方,各民各国中买了人来,叫他们归于神”。

All of us are firstly “drawn” and then “taught” of God. Jesus describes this: “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me” (John 6:44-45). Our commitment to him now, in this life, will secure our resurrection and glorification at his return as we see from verse 40: “And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” This “raising up” is the whole process, firstly, the physical resurrection from the dead and finally the change “in a moment” to immortality if found faithful.

How does Psalm 87 incorporate all these ideas? 
The first verse opens with the fact that Zion is not just another mountain—it is the “foundation” or ‘establishment’ of God’s interest and involves holiness. These are spiritual terms. “His foundation is in the holy mountains”. Its hills are hills of holiness because He is there, honoured and worshipped in truth.

Verse 2 tells us how He “loveth the gates of Zion more than the dwellings of Jacob.” ‘Jacob’ is the name of the patriarch before his name was changed by God to ‘Israel’, and Zion is the city God chose in the land of Israel where He would place His name and dwell. God’s love for Zion springs from the great future He has in store for her and those who identify with that great Hope. 

Verse 3 calls on the reader to contemplate the glorious things spoken of the “city of God”. The Hebrew word “Selah” means to contemplate or consider.

Verses 4 and 5 now poetically depict Zion as the birthplace of all those who have been called. The true worshippers of God are shown to have come from different centres, even some from nations who were Israel’s former enemies. Rahab speaks of Egypt from whence Israel were taken out in the first Exodus under Moses, Babylon were her former captors in the days of Daniel six hundred years before Christ, Philistia were the constant enemies of Israel’s early history, Tyre was the affluent merchant city, and Ethiopia the remotest of nations. The nationality of the saints does not matter as they all now believe in the God of Israel and are counted His people—their spiritual mother and birthplace is now Zion. This is seen from the following expressions:
§ “This man was born there” (v4)
§ “This and that man was born in her” (v5)
§ “This man was born there” (v6)
“The Highest Himself shall establish her (Zion)” as the mother of us all.
§ “个个生在那里”(第4节)
§ “这一个那一个都生在其中” (第5节)
§ “这一个生在那里” (第6节)

The Psalmist goes on to say: The Lord shall count, when he writeth up the people that this man was born there”. This conveys the same idea as having our name written in the Lamb’s book of life (Rev 21:27), recorded in the mind of God in heaven, never to be erased. What unspeakable joy to be among those numbered by Almighty God!
诗篇的作者继续说:“当耶和华记录万民的时候,他要点出这一个生在那里” (第6节)。这传达了同样的意思,就是把我们的名字写在羔羊的生命册上(启示录21:27),记在天上的神的思想中,从不抹去。被万能的神所数点,这是多么无法形容的欢乐啊!

These are the ones of Rev 21:3,4: “And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”
And again in Rev 20:12,13: “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them; and they were judged every man according to their works.”
这就是启示录21:3,4中所说的 :“我听见有大声音从宝座出来说,看哪,神的帐幕在人间。他要与人同住,他们要作他的子民,神要亲自与他们同在,作他们的神。神要擦去他们一切的眼泪。不再有死亡,也不再有悲哀,哭号,疼痛,因为以前的事都过去了。”
还有在启示录20:12,13中的 :“我又看见死了的人,无论大小,都站在宝座前。案卷展开了。并且另有一卷展开,就是生命册。死了的人都凭着这些案卷所记载的,照他们所行的受审判。于是海交出其中的死人。死亡和阴间也交出其中的死人。他们都照各人所行的受审判。”

To be numbered in Zion will bring everlasting life and eternal joy in the kingdom. This is expressed in the final verse: “As well the singers as the players on instruments shall be there”. Here the redeemed, both as choir and orchestra, shall praise with one accord, extolling the glory of their God with thankful hearts. 

“All my springs (fountains of waters) are in thee” becomes the concluding sentiment. This reminds us of the refreshing water of life from God’s Word that sustains us in our pilgrimage. Of the Kingdom age we are told: “And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.” (Rev. 22:1). This language is adopted to convey the spiritual beauty of the conditions prevailing for the redeemed in the kingdom. 

The wonderful vision of this psalm encourages us to look to the joyful day when we shall all be united as one in the city of our God. As we remember God and Christ today may we be revitalised in our faith and commitment to dedicate our lives to Him in faithful and honest service.