When the Jews sang Psalm 87, and Christians read it, it was to be a reminder of the great mission God has imparted to us. We are not here for ourselves; we are here as the people of God to bless and disciple nations. By the proclamation and demonstration of the gospel, we have a role in helping to invite those citizens of the New Jerusalem as those “born here.”
When Christ returns, representatives from all nations will become citizens of the City of God. As John says in Revelation 5:9:
And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation …”
Having citizens from every tribe and nation is part of the glory of the city. Obviously, it is the glory of God that draws all peoples into the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:23). This is magnificent. Then there is the glory of the city itself (Rev 21:2). Then there is the glory of the shalom peace that will prevail among peoples all over the world, such peace as the world has not witnessed since man’s rebellion against God. It is the blood of Christ that has not only reconciled us to God, but also to one another.
And again in Revelation 7:9:
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands …
There will be the unity (one King and one Kingdom) of the diversity of every tribe and nation. What a glorious sight.
The Lamb’s Book of Life in the city of God
Verse 6: “The Lord records as he registers the peoples, ‘This one was born there.’” Here we find that God has a registry of the people. “The Lord records as he registers the peoples.” As a name is recorded, it is also noted that the people were born there.
In John’s Revelation the Lamb’s Book of Life is opened (17:8, 20:12). We see the fulfillment of the coming of the City of God – the New Jerusalem in chapter 21. At the end of the chapter we witness the great ingathering of the nations, the glory of the nations revealed and the registry of the peoples in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life. Revelation 21:22-27:
The registering in Psalm 87:6 is a global census. Not just the natural born in Jerusalem, the Jews, are being registered, but also those declared to be born there by God Himself. Could it not be that the registry is a list of citizens from the book of the living, the Lamb’s Book of Life?
All who have come under the blood of the Lamb
Today, we think of the great metropolitan centers of commerce and culture like London, New York, Paris and Singapore. People from all over the world gather in these cities and even “strangers” may call them home. These cities are bound by time and place.
Zion, the City of God, is the great metropolis where all, no matter their background, who have come under the blood of the Lamb are now citizens of this heavenly kingdom. It will not be bound by time and place, but will be the eternal gathering place for those from every tribe and nation.
The prophet Hosea invokes the language, those who were “not my people” are now “my people.”
Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And in the place where it was said to them, “You are not my people,” it shall be said to them, “Children of the living God.” Hosea 1:10
and I will sow her for myself in the land.
And I will have mercy on No Mercy
and I will say to Not My People, ‘You are my people’;
and he shall say, ‘You are my God.’” Hosea 2:23
The Apostle Paul reaffirms the same when he quotes Hosea in Romans 9:24-26.
… even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles. As indeed he says in Hosea,
“Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’
her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’”
“And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’
there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’”
Live today in the promise of the coming city of God
We began this series by looking at the brokenness in our own nations and communities and the shatteredness of our own lives. These tensions existed between nations and peoples at the time the psalmist wrote. But he glimpsed a vision of the future in the City of God, the City of Peace, on the holy mountain of Zion. He saw, through a glass darkly, a vision of the City of God and its inhabitants from all nations. While we are closer to that great day, as we read in scriptures, we are blinded by the glory that we see, and this is still but a shadow of the glory that we shall see.
Paul saw it when he wrote, “Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all,” (Col. 3:11). And the Psalmist saw it when he recorded: “This one was born there!”
May we live today in the promise and reality of the coming city of God.
– Darrow Miller