Zion theology can seem confusing to many; however, once we garner a grasp if it we will better understand the promises of Christ and, in turn, we will be better equipped to live the blessings God has for us. While I am certainly not an expert on Zion theology, I do have a little bit of an understanding of its beauty. Today’s readings offer a great opportunity to elaborate on Zion theology.
Isaiah and Zion Theology
Isaiah is steeped in Zion theology, and once you understand Zion theology a bit you will see deeper beauty in the book of Isaiah. This is extremely relevant for Christians! Did you know that the book of Isaiah has been nicknamed “The Fifth Gospel” because it is heavily referenced in the New Testament? More than 40 passages from Isaiah 1-39 alone are either quoted or alluded to in the New Testament – wow!
Zion Theology 101
Zion theology in a nut shell. For starters, the book of Isaiah was written by multiple authors – meaning Isaiah didn’t write the entire book. Given that today’s first reading is from the first section of Isaiah (chapters 1-39) we will focus on this book – which most scholars believe was written by the prophet Isaiah himself.
During this period both Israel (the Northern territory) and Judah (the Southern territory) existed. Jerusalem was the capitol city of Judah. The Jewish people, generally speaking, were a sinful group. Committing idolatry of all kinds, turning their backs on God, and committing one social injustice after another. Many prophets had come before Isaiah warning the people that they had better shape up, or else bad things were going to happen.
The Suffering of the Jewish People
Well, the people didn’t shape up, and as result, bad things happened. Israel was conquered by Assyria and it ceased to exist as a nation. Then Judah suffered greatly at the hands of the Assyrians and other surrounding nations. It was a horrible time for the Jewish people. They suffered cruelty and pain beyond our human comprehension at the hands of the Assyrians and other nations.
You see, God allowed the Assyrians to overtake his people in an attempt to refine them so they would return to God. They were his chosen people, and like a loving parent, he desired that they return to him and enjoy the life God so wanted to bless them with. Further, God’s plan was that they become a light to the world so that the world would know that God was the God of all nations. Enter in Zion theology.
In the Old Testament, and in Isaiah, we see reference to a “remnant.” A small group of people who stayed close to God and lived their lives in a way pleasing to God. From this remnant a small shoot will come forth, a descendant of David. This shoot will be a new just, humble and holy king called Immanuel. This remnant is the beginning of a new Jerusalem, a people who have turned back to God and who proclaim him to be holy, holy, holy.
There will be justice for all and peace on earth for everyone at this future point in time – not just the Jewish people. This message of hope is woven throughout Isaiah. Yes, things are bad now; however, great things are coming – Immanuel and Zion coming! Zion will be a new nation at some point in the future. Zion will encompass the entire earth, it will be filled with God’s goodness and all the people of the world will know and worship God.
And this is where it gets really fun! Isaiah is rich in “end of times” language. When reading Isaiah you may be tempted to think he is talking about the time period of his day, which he does often; however, he also talks about a time in the future – the time of Zion. Given this the lines can become blurry and we can become confused, not knowing whether Isaiah is talking about events he lived through, or events at some future day in Zion.
Today’s First reading
With all of that being said I invite you to go back and read today’s first reading – Isaiah 29:17-24, keeping in mind that Israel is also called Jacob, and see the new Zion. Picture the people of the whole world. See them healed, see all the people “in awe of the God of Israel.” Can you see Zion in this reading now? Beautiful isn’t she! A lush orchard, where the lowly find joy in the Lord, no more tyranny, no more injustice. Jacob’s children will see God in their midst – translation, the adopted sons and daughters, the Christians, will also see the work of God’s hands in their midst. Be still my beating heart and show me where to purchase my ticket to Zion!
Jesus: Our Light and Salvation
We will see the Lord in the new Jerusalem, in Zion. He will be our light. Our eyes will see, our ears will hear what he has for us. There will be nothing to fear because all the former things will have passed away. In today’s Gospel we see Jesus healing the sight of two blind men. This event occurred shortly before Jesus entered Jerusalem. In other words, this happened shortly before the Crucifixion and Resurrection. Both events had to happen before Zion could come into being. I suppose that’s why Jesus told the men to not share what had happened with them – Jesus knew he must be crucified and he didn’t want anything to stop that. And Jesus did all of this so that we could one day share in his glory, so one day we could share in Zion.
How Do We Fit In?
If you have read my posts before you will know that I believe forgiveness is the key to restoration. Forgiveness of ourselves and others. Once forgiveness is manifested, love can then perfectly heal our wounds. And it is with love that we gain entry into Zion, a place where there is no more sin or pain – only love. If you would like to read more about forgivess, here is a link on my website I invite you to read: What Forgiveness Is (and what it is not)
I hope you find your way home towards the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ – the one who is love himself. May you speak and think words of love, forgiveness and mercy as you sing and praise of God’s glory! – Carolyn
Sacred Heart of Jesus – have mercy on us.
Mother Mary – pray for us.
Today’s Readings Isaiah 29:17-24; Psalm 27:1,4, 13-14; Matthew 9:27-31
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