The Mystery of 87

Psalms 87 (HCSB)
“His foundation is on the holy mountains.
The Lord loves the gates of Zion
more than all the dwellings of Jacob.
Glorious things are said about you,
city of God. Selah
‘I will mention those who know Me:
Rahab, Babylon, Philistia, Tyre, and Cush —
each one was born there.’
And it will be said of Zion,
‘This one and that one were born in her.’
The Most High Himself will establish her.
When He registers the peoples,
the Lord will record,
‘This one was born there.’ Selah
Singers and dancers alike will say,
‘My whole source of joy is in you.'”

Psalm 87 is quite remarkable. It reveals an unexpected inclusion with regard to the citizenship of Zion. It refers to the most well known historical enemies of Old Testament Israel as “those who know Me,” saying that when God “registers the peoples”, in the future, “the Lord will record, ‘This one was born there.'”

Does this mean that there will be future Gentiles (non-Jews, non-circumcised pagan enemies, born to foreign nations) who will be considered as those who have a citizenship in Zion because they were born there?


It is the same concept which Jesus fleshed out with Nicodemus, a Pharisee, that entrance into the Kingdom of God is by spiritual birth, not physical birth…

John 3:1-21 (HCSB)
“There was a man from the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Him at night and said, ‘Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher, for no one could perform these signs You do unless God were with him.’ Jesus replied, ‘I assure you: Unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ ‘But how can anyone be born when he is old?’ Nicodemus asked Him. ‘Can he enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born?’ Jesus answered, ‘I assure you: Unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I told you that you must be born again. The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.’ ‘How can these things be?” asked Nicodemus. ‘Are you a teacher of Israel and don’t know these things?’ Jesus replied. ‘I assure you: We speak what We know and We testify to what We have seen, but you do not accept Our testimony. If I have told you about things that happen on earth and you don’t believe, how will you believe if I tell you about things of heaven? No one has ascended into heaven except the One who descended from heaven — the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life. For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God. This, then, is the judgment: The light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. For everyone who practices wicked things hates the light and avoids it, so that his deeds may not be exposed. But anyone who lives by the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be shown to be accomplished by God.'”

Nicodemus could not wrap his head around this enigma. And, being a Pharisee, it’s safe to say that he would have been familiar with the peculiar content of Psalm 87 (only adding yet even more bewilderment to his thought life).

Fortunately, however, we (Christians) are not puzzled by this. Instead, we are given joy, just like the singers and dancers of Psalm 87.

Here is Paul, summing up the indicative portion of his letter to the church in Ephesus, which reveals the mystery previously “not made known to people in other generations…”

Ephesians 3 (HCSB)
“For this reason, I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles — you have heard, haven’t you, about the administration of God’s grace that He gave to me for you? The mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have briefly written above. By reading this you are able to understand my insight about the mystery of the Messiah. This was not made known to people in other generations as it is now revealed to His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: The Gentiles are co-heirs, members of the same body, and partners of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I was made a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace that was given to me by the working of His power. This grace was given to me — the least of all the saints — to proclaim to the Gentiles the incalculable riches of the Messiah, and to shed light for all about the administration of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things. This is so God’s multi-faceted wisdom may now be made known through the church to the rulers and authorities in the heavens. This is according to His eternal purpose accomplished in the Messiah, Jesus our Lord. In Him we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. So then I ask you not to be discouraged over my afflictions on your behalf, for they are your glory. For this reason I kneel before the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named. I pray that He may grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power in the inner man through His Spirit, and that the Messiah may dwell in your hearts through faith. I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know the Messiah’s love that surpasses knowledge, so you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us — to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

Rejoice in “The Mystery of 87”!

Godspeed, to the brethren!