Zion is symbolic of Jerusalem, of the Promised Land, of Israel's hope of returning to Palestine, and of heaven or God's dwelling place with his people. Zion is a model, an ideal, a paradigm. The name is used more than 160 times in 23 books of the Bible, and its context determines its meaning. For Christians, particularly in the last 30 years, Zion appears to have become a lost concept. But for God, it is still alive and real.
The Zion of Bible times was both literal and figurative. Living in Zion today is literally not available because it will only be realized in the future. (Revelation 21:1-4, 22-26; 22:1-5) The end of the book of Revelation describes a new heaven and a new earth, the holy city, the New Jerusalem, Zion. Visualize this: no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying, no more pain, no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminates it. There is no night there, no lamp, because the Lord God gives light to the saved and they will reign forever and ever. “For the Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His dwelling place: This is My resting place forever; Here I will dwell, for I have desired it.” (Psalm 132:13, 14)
This fairy tale-like finale seems to be a far-fetched fantasy, unreal, unattainable, unbelievable. Yet this is what God has promised. These words of future delight give hope and comfort to believers living in this world of chaos and catastrophe. But an example of this God-centered life has been experienced. It's what Christian believers practiced in the first century, at least for a fleeting period of time. And yet, the principles still work today. It's a taste of the future Zion, the common unity or community of the household of faith.
In Acts 2:42-47, the new Christians all worked together to be like-minded according to the Apostles' doctrine. They ate meals together, learned together, prayed together, and had respect for their leadership and each other. The believers shared just about everything. They sold their pluralities and divided the proceeds to those with needs. They met daily at the temple during the hours of prayer and in each others' homes.
In Acts 4:32-35, thousands of believers had achieved a unity seldom seen in today's times. The Bible says they were of one heart and one soul. It also states that no one claimed exclusive ownership, but sold unneeded or unused lands and houses and brought the profits to the church leadership, entrusting them with appropriate distribution. Selfishness was at an all-time low. Harmony was at an all-time high. Division was cause for reprimand, and even disdain. (Romans 16:17; 1 Corinthians 1:10; 3:3; 11:18) The first century church reached its apex in Acts 19:20, where it says that God's Word prevailed. The believers were open and transparent, abandoning their previous beliefs and completely committing themselves to the lordship of Jesus Christ and the church.
The first century churches had a freshness of the new Christian doctrine of the Word of God and the excitement of power of God. This is still available today, but it takes work to overcome selfishness and differences of opinion. If the people in the first century could be so collectively committed and duty-bound, in the midst of many religious factions, enemy occupation and a multi-cultural environment, that extraordinary achievement could be duplicated. There is Godd's blessing when His people are unified. (Acts 4:33) Isaiah 51:3 and 11 speaks of the Lord making an Eden-like Zion, like the garden of the Lord, with “Thanksgiving and the voice of melody. So the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness; Sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” (Isaiah 51:3, 11)
Zion is a special place in the heart of God, where His people will ultimately dwell with Him forever. “Many nations shall come and say, 'Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, To the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, And we shall walk in His paths.' For out of Zion the law shall go forth, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” (Micah 4:1, 2)
All Christians in the Body of Christ are spiritually seated in heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 2:6) and can learn to reign as kings in this life (Romans 5:17). The principles in Acts still work. It's not too soon to be living in Zion.