MOORE — We like to bring forward a lesson full of imagery: Is that the old ship of Zion?
Zion is a stunning image splashed throughout the Old Testament. With the beautiful temple of God once resting on its western slope, Zion is the highest hill in Jerusalem. From her fixed position high above the hills, Zion served as a fortress of protection and a beacon of light to the land of Judah.
Old Testament writers honored this place called Zion and often wrote of her in their writings, looking forward to a better Zion: the church of our Lord. The Holy Spirit, in contrasting the limitations of the old covenant with the blessings in the Lord’s church reminded the Hebrews they, indeed, had come to that better place:
“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” (Hebrews 12:22).
There is a river (Shiloh), the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High (Psalm 46:4). The title “most High” is significant. By His deliverance of His own city He has proved Himself the supreme Ruler of the world, refuting the self-deifying pretensions of king Sennacherib (Isaiah 36:20; 37:4; 37:10 ff.). Later the names of Zion (Sion) and “the heavenly Jerusalem” are given to “the city of the living God” as in Galatians 4:26, But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. Revelation 21:2 “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” For a greater understanding of these verses please read Galatians 4:22-31; Ephesians 5:22-33.
Certainly, the faithful prophets of old did not take Zion for granted. They loved her even as we are to love the Lord’s church today. With the striking imagery of Zion representing the church, many song poets through the years also sought to capture the beauty of Zion, some referring to her as an old ship. In 1977 Conrad Cook penned the lovely words to “Is that the Old Ship of Zion,” a song that tells the story of a man standing on the river bank, looking out and seeing the old ship of Zion sailing in the distance.