“How great is the Lord, how deserving of praise, in the city of our God, which sits on his holy mountain! It is high and magnificent; the whole earth rejoices to see it! Mount Zion, the holy mountain, is the city of the great King!” (Psalm 48:1-2, NLT).
Zion is the Hebrew name for the mountain in Jerusalem where the Temple was located. On the one hand Zion was synonymous with the actual city of Jerusalem that was destroyed in 586 BC and again in AD 70. On the other hand Zion was the City of God that transcended geographical location. Zion was the City in which God dwelled!
Zion was symbolic of God’s protection and blessings (as described in this psalm and others). Zion was also symbolic of the heavenly Jerusalem that Abraham and all men and women of faith were seeking: “Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God…they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:10,16).
Zion symbolizes the invisible, spiritual Kingdom of God that culminates in a visible, physical Kingdom in which all of redeemed humanity participates. Zion represents the destiny of the physical universe–a new world order that is established from (or in the middle of) the present world. Heaven and Earth ultimately come together so that the dwelling place of God is no longer in heaven but on Earth among His redeemed people
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth…And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. (Revelation 21:1-3 NLT).