by T. Austin-Sparks
Reading: Psalm 102.
No doubt you notice in the psalm, references to Zion, and you were probably impressed with the main feature of the whole psalm. On the one hand there is the weakness of human life. Here is a man who is very definitely up against the shortness and transience of human life, and yet he desires to live. Look at it in itself; life is not much: "It is consumed like smoke." And yet he desires to live; over against this rather poor outlook, he desires to live and the object for which he desires to live is Zion. He is so concerned for Zion, that Zion gives him a purpose in life. Zion gives meaning and character to life and it is seen in itself to be something of very much glory. It takes on glory by reason of its purpose. This psalm resolves itself into this: that this man wants to live for Zion alone. Otherwise there is not much. This may form our further meditation of the features of Zion.
Note Psalm 102:21: "To declare the Name of the Lord in Zion, and His praise in Jerusalem". So what we are going to meditate for a little while on is the Lord's Name in Zion. We might, perhaps, just remind ourselves of that fragment in Rev. 3:12: "He that overcomes will I make a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more; and I will write upon him the name of My God, and the name of the city of God, which is new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God; and I will write upon him My new name". We want to grasp the significance of attaching a name to a thing.
Now, when you come to think of it, it is not necessary to go very far to see why a name is put upon a thing. Take the ordinary things that we have to do, and they bear a name. In every department of life, no matter what it is, there is a name attached to things. And when you ask why the name is put there and why is not everything anonymous, well, the answer is this: man has made the certain thing his life work, he has put his best resources of brain, heart, soul and strength into that thing, and when it is produced, it is the expression of the best that that man can do. It is the embodiment of his very best work and when he has done it, he gives it his name, for it really expresses his own life. The name stands for thorough good workmanship and exhaustive work. The name put on the thing represents the product of man's ingenuity and application. It is his very best, and the name means that. We say: "If only you get a so-and-so thing, we have got the thing" (it may be the name of the man), "you can count on that!" That name represents something. Now you see that it is equally true in the Word of God, that when the Lord puts His name anywhere or on anything or anyone, it means that that thing represents the result of His deepest thought and His most carefully applied attention. It is the most ripe expression of what He can do. That is Zion.
You notice that fragment: "I will write upon him the name of My God". That means that that overcomer, be it an individual or collectively, is the full expression of the best God can do. God has put His best into it and it stands for His name. "I will write upon him the name of My God", that is God's work fully accomplished. "The name of the City of My God" - that is the representation of the work of the Lord; "My own new name", that is the result of His intercessory and mediatorial work, His work by the Cross and in heaven: 'My name carries all the values of My work.'
Now, if you want more evidence, let us look at it from the other angle. Look at it from the side of man. Turn to Gen. 11:4: "Let us make us a name... Let us build a city. Let us make us a tower, let us make us a name." That city and that tower was going to represent the collective energy, resources and ingenuity of this people. They were going to put these into that thing and use their resources to build something which would reach unto the heavens and when it was done, it would be the embodiment of all that they could possibly do, of the resources of mind and heart and will. They would give it the name of Babylon. Babylon stands over against Zion as representing the full, ripe expression of human energy for human glory. Just as man sought to make him a name by means of Babylon, so has God sought to make Himself a name by Zion, if you like to put it that way. His Name must be in Zion. You see what Zion represents then. It is the expression of satisfaction on the part of the One who has made it, so that He puts His name upon it. No one would run the risk of putting his name upon something with which he was not satisfied. If he put his name on something false, it would only ruin him. So that when a man puts his name upon a thing, it signifies that he is satisfied with it. There is an active and practical side; it is connected with the work done. When the Lord does something, He works His work into it, and then crowns it with His name, so that it does represent that which He has done and with which he is satisfied. Revelation 3:12 goes right on to the end. These passages mark the contrast between that which is the work of man and that which is the work of the Lord. The sphere of Christian activity has become the happy hunting ground of personal glory. Personal glory and honour has intruded into Christian work, or rather into the work of the Lord. But we need not stay with this; we want to see the deeper implications of this to our own hearts.
Here in the building of the city and the tower we see that the whole trend of things was to draw to self for self-gratification and self-satisfaction. That is what Babylon means: "Let us make us a name", and draw everything to self. Zion stands in perfect contrast. Zion seeks everything for the Lord, for the name of the Lord put upon it means the Lord's satisfaction with the work done. Then Zion draws everything to the Lord for His satisfaction, just as Babylon represents everything of self for self-satisfaction. It is a matter of everything being for the Lord. It is a very searching thought for the Lord's people, for you and I, and it will constantly come back to us and we shall be tested on this question of holding all for the Lord or all for ourselves. It will touch everything that we have, it will bring us to that position reached by the Psalmist in Psalm 102. What is the value of life? What is it that gives life its meaning, and its purpose? Is it Zion? In other words, is it the Lord? It is easy to say that we really want to be utterly out for the Lord. We should all say that we wanted that. Yes, but you and I are very blind, we do not know what we mean. Everything in our lives must meet that question. Is it for the Lord? Will you hold that for the Lord or for yourself? Even our relationships must be for the Lord - our ordinary human relationships, our family relationships and others.
It is progressive; it is not all done in a moment. It may be right on to the end of our lives that we must face this question. The same thing may happen in the Lord's work. We may get bound up in a certain work for the Lord which brings a certain amount of gratification. The thing that must hold us is Zion. It must hold us because it is all of the Lord. It is so different from Babylon, "Let us make us a name." They were saying in effect: 'We are going to be overcomers.' Well, that is trying to be overcomers in your own strength. Zion's overcomers are those who overcome the Babylonish overcomers and get through to heaven. In ourselves we have nothing and can do nothing; all is in the Lord and through the Lord. We have chosen to have no life apart from the Lord. When that overcomer company gets through to heaven, all principalities and powers will know that it is of the Lord.
Now let us look at it from the other side of the issue. Babylon represents the holding of all things for ourselves, not being prepared to let go whatever it is, for the Lord - the relationship, the home - whatever it is that we are holding for ourselves. That is the spirit of Babylon. Now let us see what is the issue. In Genesis 11 the issue is confusion and shame. The world today knows all about Babylon. The trouble in the world today results from the spirit of Babylon. It is always that way. The spirit of Babylon will bring about confusion and shame. Zion, which is just the opposite, represents everything for the Lord. The result of Zion is glory, not shame. It is blessed fellowship as over against confusion. I take again the instance cited: a fellowship in a realm which was altogether new, a new kind of fellowship. These relationships were transferred from earth to heaven. It was not loss, but glory. It would have been shame, but it became glory and fellowship. Now it is that mutuality which stands so definitely over against Babylon. Babylon is the outworking of limitation. Get through to Zion and you get out into the universal.
Then look at the weakness showed in Babylon. They meant to have strength; they were saying that unity is strength: "Lest we be scattered". It all proved weakness when the Lord came down and confounded them, and their united strength broke down and they were scattered and in terrible weakness. The strength of the Lord is in Zion and it is mighty and powerful. "They that trust in the Lord shall be as mount Zion which cannot be moved and abides for ever." The strength of Zion is that we have everything for the Lord. "Men shall declare the name of the Lord (Jehovah) in Zion". "I will write My name..." (Rev. 3:12). 'Here is something that is wholly My own, the expression of Myself. The result of My Cross at work. My Name is on it. No one will find anything to destroy My reputation when I really put My Name upon a thing.'
The Lord is working upon it to get rid of the Babylonish remains by the power of the Cross. This power gets rid of Babylon, which is nature. It is to destroy Babylon and build Zion. Zion is being built into us; it expresses the Lord's work.