Isaiah 40:9 says: “O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!”
Why did the prophet say go up to a high mountain? J. A. Alexander’s commentary on this verse says:
Upon a high mountain get thee up, bringer of good news, Zion! Raise with strength thy voice, bringer of good news, Jerusalem! Raise (it), fear not, say to the towns of Judah, Lo your God! The reflective form, get thee up, though not a literal translation, is an idiomatic equivalent to the Hebrew phrase (ascend for thee or for thyself). Some suppose an allusion to the practice of addressing large assemblies from the summit or acclivity of hills. (See Judges 9:7. Deut. 27:12. Matt. 5:1.) But the essential idea is that of local elevation as extending the diffusion of the sound. Zion or Jerusalem herself is represented as the bearer of good tidings to the towns of Judah. This construction is recommended by the beautiful personification, which it introduces, of the Holy City as the seat of the true religion and the centre of the church. The office here ascribed to it is the same that is recognized in ch. 2:3: the law shall go forth from Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. Not only in the restoration from captivity, or in the personal advent of the Saviour, but in every instance of the Lord’s return to his forsaken people, it is the duty of the church to communicate as well as to receive the joyful tidings.
Alexander connected the verse to the prophecy of Isaiah 2:3, where the city of Jerusalem, and the mountain of the Lord’s house, are to be established in the tops of the mountains, and exalted above the hills. [Isaiah 2:1-2] .
In the New Testament, the church is called the heavenly Jerusalem, and Jerusalem which is above. The high mountain in Isaiah 40:9 is connected with a lofty, spiritual perspective, which contrasts with the literal view. Isaiah’s prophecy encourages the saints to view things from a high, or spiritual perspective.
Ezekiel was set upon a very high mountain in Ezekiel 40:2, which is the setting of his vision extending over several chapters, in which he portrays the church under the figure of a temple. In reality there is no high mountain there.
The high mountain from where John described the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21 is also associated with a spiritual concept. The holy city is the church, also called the bride of the Lamb. But some people have imagined that John saw a literal city. John said each gate was a single pearl, and in the literal view, these pearls must have been obtained from enormous oysters, in a celestial ocean.
A high mountain in prophecy means something other than a literal mountain; it refers to spiritual things such as promises, that are the inheritance of the saints. The kingdom of God is the highest mountain of all.
In 1 Corinthians 3:9-16, Paul used the metaphor of house building, to represent the spiritual activity of Christians. Our present human body is called a “tabernacle,” or a tent. In their journey through the wilderness, after coming out of Egypt, the Israelites dwelt in tents, and they had no permanent homes, and no city, when they were en route to the promised land. In the present era, Christians may participate in developing their permanent, heavenly inheritance, which is also called a building. The foundation upon which all build is Christ. Paul warns us to take care about what materials we use to build with. Wood, hay, and stubble are mentioned as inferior materials, that will likely be destroyed in the fire. On the other hand, gold, silver, precious stones are durable materials.
Jesus said, those who do his teachings are like the wise man, who built his house upon a rock, while those who do not do them are like the foolish man, who built his house upon sand. The wise man’s house endured the storms and flood, but the foolish man’s house collapsed.
Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” [John 14:2-3] Many mansions, and many buildings make a city. It is the heavenly Jerusalem.
Paul contrasted the present earthly tabernacle of our human bodies with the spiritual house that is built by God. He said, “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” [2 Corinthians 5:1] Christians have an interest in their portion in the heavenly city.
In the table below, several OT prophecies about Jerusalem and mount Zion are compared with New Testament scriptures. The column on the right reveals that after Jesus ascended to heaven after his resurrection, the church became the continuation of mount Zion and Jerusalem, and earthly city was a type of the spiritual reality that is revealed in the gospel.
|OT prophecy: Zion and Jerusalem||NT prophecy: Christ and the church|
|the city of the great King||Psalm 48:2
Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King.
But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne:
Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.
|God shines from Zion||Psalm 50:2
Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined.
Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
2 Corinthians 4:6
For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
|salvation is of the Jews||Psalm 69:35
For God will save Zion, and will build the cities of Judah: that they may dwell there, and have it in possession.
Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.
|God is like the mountains around Jerusalem||Psalm 125:2
As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the LORD is round about his people from henceforth even for ever.
But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains:
What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
|Christ will reign forever||Psalm 146:10
The LORD shall reign for ever, even thy God, O Zion, unto all generations. Praise ye the LORD.
And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
|Christ's kingdom is established||Isaiah 2:2
And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.
This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.
Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.
For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Until I make thy foes thy footstool.
Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
|Christ the chief corner stone||Isaiah 28:16
Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.
Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
|Christ is the lion of Judah||Isaiah 31:4
For thus hath the LORD spoken unto me, Like as the lion and the young lion roaring on his prey, when a multitude of shepherds is called forth against him, he will not be afraid of their voice, nor abase himself for the noise of them: so shall the LORD of hosts come down to fight for mount Zion, and for the hill thereof.
For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.
And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.
|Jerusalem will remain forever||Isaiah 33:20
Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities: thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken.
|2 Corinthians 5:1
For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
|God is a fire||Zechariah 2:5
For I, saith the LORD, will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and will be the glory in the midst of her.
I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled?
For our God is a consuming fire.
|Christ takes vengeance||Zechariah 14:3
Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.
|2 Thessalonians 1:7-9
And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,
In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:
Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;
|Christ dwells in Zion||Joel 3:17
So shall ye know that I am the LORD your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more.
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,
To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.
|a continuing city||Joel 3:20
But Judah shall dwell for ever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation.
For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.
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