A midsummer’s pop quiz … only take a second: the Holy Land—where is it? Answer—Israel.
The drawback with that good and cosmopolitan response might be that as one goes through the Bible and comes to the book of Ezekiel one discovers that this little bit of territory in the Middle East that today we call the Holy Land stopped being the Holy Land even back in the Old Testament.
How so? The Bible tells us that what made ancient Israel the Holy Land was the presence of the Holy God, the visible manifestation of the Holy Spirit.
The first Holy Land, so to speak, was Mt. Sinai, the mountain of the Lord. Mt. Sinai was where the cloud and the pillar of fire first appeared. The mountain was holy because God was there.
That holiness moved. When the pillar of fire and cloud moved to Jerusalem, Jerusalem then became the new mountain of the Lord, Mt. Zion. Jerusalem became the Holy City.
After a some time passes in the Old Testament God moves again. In Ezekiel 10:1-22, the prophet witnesses that the Holy Spirit departs from Jerusalem. As a result of God’s departure the city was then left defenseless. Without God’s special presence Jerusalem became vulnerable to being trampled upon. That ancient city has been so ever since.
When the Holy Spirit leaves a place, by definition, that place can no longer be called holy. God alone is the one who can make any place or any land holy.
Well, where has God’s special presence on earth moved to now? The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit has moved into His people. Can we then say that God’s new Holy Land is simply His people?
Still, some good Christians in our day make the same misjudgment that the Hebrew people made in Jeremiah’s day (Jer. 38:1-28). The people mistakenly thought that even though God had left Jerusalem that somehow the city was still uniquely holy. They were convinced that Jerusalem held something inherently special and innately holy about it even though God’s presence had been removed.
Modern day Israel is remarkable. Christians see it as holy, in part, because Jesus walked there. Yet, in the truest biblical sense, that special piece of real estate lost God’s unique presence long ago. Modern day Israel is no longer holy in the way that ancient Israel once was.
Biblically speaking, especially keeping the New Testament in mind, God says that the new Holy Land, the new Mt. Zion, the new City of God, is here—not there.
In Hebrews 12 we read: “You have come to Mt. Zion, to the Heavenly Jerusalem …” So, to the Christian, the city of God is here, it is where God’s people live together in fellowship with Him. The Holy Land is wherever God’s people gather.
The Holy land is at Celebration Church. It is in your home group. It is wherever you find yourself in worship of the one true God, and the Holy Land is whatever country you find yourself in today.
You’ve come to Mt. Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God, you’ve come to the thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, the church of the first born (Heb. 12:22).
So you don’t need to book a flight to the Holy Land to get there. Chances are, in the deepest spiritual sense, you are there already. The Holy Land has come to you.
Now that’s something to celebrate!