The Bible speaks of two cities that are laying claim to the Birthright. The Birthright is the right to give birth to the sons of God—those whom God has chosen to rule the earth. So these two cities are also pictured as women who each claim that their “son” is the inheritor of the throne.
Each of these two “women” has laid claim to a different “mountain” from which to rule the earth. Each mountain is its capital city, so to speak.
One of these “mountains” is Mount Zion in Jerusalem. This is the place where Zionists believe the Messiah will set up His kingdom to rule the earth. Jerusalem is the capital city of the Zionists.
The other “mountain” is Mount Sion, which is the new Jerusalem, a heavenly city. Rev. 21:2 and 3 says,
“And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them.”
John saw the new Jerusalem pictured as “a bride.” This is the true bride of Christ who stands in contrast to the false bride. John calls the false bride “the great harlot” (Rev. 17:1), that is, the counterfeit bride.
The Apostle Paul’s View
In Galatians 4, the apostle Paul tells us that these two “women” were pictured in an earlier allegory. He tells us that Abraham had two wives, Hagar and Sarah, each of whom bore a son to Abraham. Hagar was a bondwoman, that is, a slave-bride; Sarah was a free woman.
In that story, the two women both believed that their son was the rightful heir of the Birthright. The dispute became so intense that God told Abraham to cast out Hagar and her son. Gal. 4:30 says,
“But what does the Scripture say? ‘Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be an heir with the son of the free woman’.”
Paul’s point was that there could be only one heir, and God had promised that this heir would come through Sarah, not through Hagar. The bondwoman, he said, represented the Old Covenant, which could not save anyone, nor could it save anyone from the bondage of sin. Old Covenant salvation was based on the promises of men to be obedient to God, but men have always failed to achieve salvation by the power of their own will.
Sarah represented the New Covenant, by which men are saved through the promise of God. God cannot fail to keep His word. His promises never fail. That is why our salvation comes only through the New Covenant.
Therefore, just as God told Abraham to cast out the bondwoman and her son, so also are we to reject the Old Covenant and its fleshly method of salvation by the will and works of men.
Paul says that Jerusalem represents the Old Covenant that is the foundation of Judaism, while the new Jerusalem represents the New Covenant which is the foundation of Christianity. Gal. 4:24, 25 says,
Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother.
Judaism and Christianity may have the same Father in heaven, but they have different mothers. Only those who are born from the free woman are heirs of the Kingdom. And yet, many Christians today think that the earthly Jerusalem is the mother of the church. If that were so, then the church itself must be cast out along with its mother.
This should serve as a warning to Christians as well as to Jews that Old Covenant faith is insufficient. We are not saved by the will of the flesh or by men’s promises to God, because John 1:13 says that we were “begotten not by bloodline, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
Those who have New Covenant faith are those who base their salvation on the promises of God, even as Abraham himself did. Rom. 4:20-22 says this about him,
Yet with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform. Therefore, it was also credited to him as righteousness.
This was what the Apostle Paul taught the church.
Mount Zion and Mount Sion
Mount Zion was the seat of King David’s government after he conquered the city of Jerusalem. Jesus replaced it with Mount Sion, which is the seat of government under the New Covenant.
Many do not realize that these were not the same mount. Zion was in Jerusalem; Sion was Mount Hermon just north of the land of Israel. Deut. 4:47 and 48 says,
“They took possession of his land and the land of Og king of Bashan, the two kings of the Amorites who were across the Jordan to the east, from Aroer, which is on the edge of the valley of Arnon, even as far as Mount Sion (that is, Hermon).”
Mount Sion was outside the border of Israel. To get to Mount Sion (or Hermon) from Galilee, one had to go to the old city of Dan, which was later called Caesarea Philippi. This was situated at the base of Mount Hermon.
Jesus took His disciples to Caesarea Philippi before going to the top of Mount Hermon to be transfigured. Matt. 16:13 says,
“Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, ‘Who do men say that the Son of Man is?’”
This was where Peter received the revelation that Jesus was the Son of God (Matt. 16:16). Apparently, Jesus spent six days at Caesarea Philippi, where He taught the Gospel of the Kingdom with His disciples. Then we read in Matt. 17:1 and 2,
“Six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light.”
The Mount of Transfiguration was Mount Sion, that is, Mount Hermon. This is what made that mountain the capital of Christ’s Kingdom. That mountain was the mother of the sons of God who are the true inheritors of the Kingdom. So we read in Matt. 17:5,
“While he [Peter] was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, ‘This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!’”
Jesus’ heavenly Father declared Him to be “My beloved Son.” Those who follow Him to Mount Sion may also be declared to be the sons of God.
The Children of God
Those who go to Mount Zion in the earthly Jerusalem, those who consider Jerusalem to be their spiritual mother, are not the sons of God. They are instead the children of bondage, children of the flesh (Gal. 4:29). Paul tells us again in Rom. 9:6-8,
“For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but ‘through Isaac your descendants will be named.’ That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants.”
Just because some can claim physical descent from Abraham does not make them Abraham’s descendants. Abraham’s children are those who follow his example of New Covenant faith in the promises of God. Those who have faith in their own promise to God are still children of the flesh, because their promises are based on the will of man, not of God.
True faith believes God’s promise and does not have any confidence that man’s will brings about his salvation. Man’s will cannot initiate his salvation. Any promise that man makes to God must be seen as a response to God’s will. When God opens a man’s eyes to the truth of the gospel, he then responds by committing his life to Christ.
The Mother of the Sons of God is Mount Sion
The children of God are begotten on Mount Sion, not on Mount Zion. For this reason, Heb. 12:22, 23 says,
“But you have come to Mount Sion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to the myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the Firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the Mediator of a new covenant.”
In the verses preceding this statement, we are told that we were not called to Mount Sinai (as were the Israelites in the days of Moses). Instead, we have been called to Mount Sion. Mount Sinai is in Arabia, the inheritance that God gave to Ishmael, son of Hagar.
Paul tells us that “this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem” (Gal. 4:25). Mount Sinai was the place where the Old Covenant was given, and when the chief priests in Jerusalem rejected Jesus as the Mediator of a New Covenant, they put Jerusalem under the jurisdiction of Mount Sinai.
This is how Jerusalem came to correspond to Mount Sinai in Arabia. The physical locations were different, but legally speaking, they were equivalents. Anyone who considers Jerusalem or Mount Sinai to be their spiritual mother is not yet an heir. Heb. 12:12-14 tells us,
“Therefore, Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate [of Jerusalem]. So let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.”
To be an heir, one must follow the example of the Apostle Paul, who, in his early life, was a child of Jerusalem and a child of the flesh. As such, he persecuted the church. So we read in Gal. 4:28 and 29,
And you brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise. But as at that time, he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also.
Paul’s conversion on the Damascus road changed his status from a child of the flesh to a son of promise. This had nothing to do with his race or genealogy. It had everything to do with the quality of his faith.
Paul’s example shows us how to become children of God, heirs of the promise of God. When Paul’s spiritual mother was Jerusalem, he was a Zionist. When Paul claimed Mount Sion as his spiritual mother, he became a Sionist. Sionism looks to the place of Jesus’ transfiguration as the Son of God.