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Mosaic Spokane

The Blessing of Unity

Psalm 133-Unity through Community

Intro:  Good morning…it is a joy to be here with you this morning to look at God’s word.  I feel very at home here on many levels. 

Context of this Psalm-This is one of 15 Psalms of Ascent.  The psalms of Ascent are psalms numbered 120-134.  The first minor detail that we must clear up is why are they called the psalms of Ascent?  Why are these 15 psalms considered to be songs of going up?  The best explanation is that these were the songs the Hebrew people sang as they went of various pilgrimages to Jerusalem.  Jerusalem is at a higher elevation than the areas around it, in fact there are valleys just before the city.  So, it is geographically reasonable to say that it was an ascent, a climb, to come into the city of Jerusalem.  Thus is truly was an ascent.  And the reason people would come to Jerusalem was to worship on the three annual festivals that the Jews celebrated.  The Psalms are the official  hymnbook of Israel.  And so the picture I want you to have in your mind is that of thousands of Jews ascending into Jerusalem singing this very psalm that we are about to read.

Opening Illustration:  About 11 years ago to celebrate our 10th anniversary, my wife and I went to Banff National Park in Canada and one day we decided to visit Lake Louis, a pristine glacial lake.  The first thing that strikes you is the color of the lake; a turquoise color, but if that we not enough the lake is framed by these majestic snow and glacial covered mountains in the distance. The largest was looming Mt. Victoria.  It looked so far away. But she was the source of the beautiful water for it is because of the glacial runoff and sediments that the lake gets its color. 

Now most people are content stay at the edge of the lake in front of Chateau Lake Louise.  It provides stunning shots of the lake and the mountains in the distance.  Some people however are not content to stay put…they walk the 4.5 km boardwalk and they are rewarded with views of the lake that are slightly elevated to enhance the turquoise color. It is at this point that a sign tells you to beware of avalanches that are more common in the spring with its warmer temperature

Well, now there are fewer people on the trail past this sign but my wife is from Colorado and I am a prideful man so we continued onward and upward.  The water was now just an ice cold small stream not a lake, and it was chalky colored.  The lake got smaller but the mountains that earlier looks so small began to grow.  After about 30 more minutes we chatted with a man that was returning.  He said the trail was a times covered with snow fields.  He said the next five weren’t bad but that the 6 one was very difficult to cross.  We went onward and upward crossing the 5 snow field using small fir trees that the snow had snapped (our 3rd or 4th clue to turn around) as walking sticks.  We decided to cross the 6th field and part of the 7th as we were drawn by the mountain peaks, now towering over us.  We were dwarfed by the majesty of God.  All I could think of was, “God you are truly awesome!”  We stood there awhile took some pictures and then heard a roar, not from a bear and not from thunder.  It was an avalanche somewhere.  Heidi took off and I followed.  A few minutes later we saw a small avalanche.  As we walked back and talked about what I was planning on preaching this Sunday, we began to see an obvious correlation to our hike.  I told Heidi that I was preaching on reconciliation.

Unity is a lot like that hike: You see most people were content to stay back by the Chateau.  It was nice, it was easy, it was safe.  They didn’t want to make the effort to get to the mountains.  But they missed out on so much beauty, they missed out the raw glory of the mountains who’s waters filled the lake before them.  They missed the source of the lake.  And those who refuse to be people who risk and labor and climb towards others in reconciliation will never know the beauty that awaits them.  Yes it is risky, yes it is dangerous, yes it may hurt or humble you to be unified to others but you will never experience the beauty or the euphoria of such a state. So here’s my thesis if you will.

Main thought: It is good and pleasant for us to dwell together in unity.

Read Text:

Prayer for illumination:

This psalm is rather straight forward in its meaning.  The first verse is the thesis statement or truth statement.  David is telling us that when we dwell in unity that it is a good and pleasant thing.  This statement is then followed by two verses that describe what unity is like by way of simile.  It describes how good and pleasant this kind of life is to God and to those that participate in it.  So let’s look at this description.

The Psalm starts in somewhat of a startling fashion with the word behold, or rather look, let your gaze wonder and be still on something amazing.  It is like that hike Heidi and I took.  You make a turn and there in front of you is a snowcapped peak jetting upward to the sky.  Your eye is fixated; you are mesmerized by its staggering beauty.  The same thought is going on here.  Look at how good, look at how pleasant it is to dwell in unity.  It is a valuable thing to behold.  So much so that the author of this psalm, David, seems to break out in song where he builds and builds his case in a somewhat staircase effect.  He seems to get all ramped up as he describes it: this unity is like precious oil, no it is like the dew of Hermon, no it is like life evermore.  Let’s look a bit closer at these three things.

David, by way of simile first describes this type of unity in terms of precious oil flowing down the beard of Aaron.  In the OT Aaron was the high priest for Israel, he would be the representative of the people of God, he would be the one that would petition to God on behalf of the people of God.  Aaron was anointed, ordained, set apart from others to his new office with the pouring of oil on his head, but not just any oil, it was precious oil.    Precious oil was the best of oils and would be the most fragrant of all oils.  It would have blended in it myrrh, cinnamon, cane, and cassia.  And David said it was used in abundance that in fact so much was used that is was flowing down the beard, down the hems of his garment.  Needless to say, it was a lot of fine, potently fragrant oil—all would be able to smell it as it saturated the air. 

<Illustration>  After I graduated from college I went to Scotland for a summer missions trip.  One of the great things was living with host families while we were there.  The Scottish are very hospitable and relaxing people.  Scotland is also pretty gray and wet, even in the summer, so to have a fire at night was common, it was also common to have a ‘wee dram of whiskey’ as you sat around visiting.  But this was no ordinary fire for every so often the father would throw some peat on top of the flames.  I soon learned that peat had a very nice aroma and calming effect to it, perhaps the whiskey had something to do with it as well.  My point is that smell was very pleasant, the whole night was pleasant, the conversation, the laughing, etc.

David, is telling us the same thing, that when we are unified it produces a pleasant aroma, that being in a community where we are united is a sweet experience.  Perhaps you have experienced such a time and it was fragrant.  Or sadly you have not experienced such unity, but rather saw only discord and loneliness.  That would reek of death.  But as David continues to build his case, he then says that unity is also refreshing and brings life.

  1. We see this in the next verse, verse 3. [re-read]

David describes this unity as the dew of Hermon.  Does anybody know why David would refer to Mt. Hermon?  What is so special about Mt. Hermon.  I learned the hard way about it’s significance.

<illustration>  Seminary RTS days. 

David knows his geography and is referring to Mt. Hermon the tallest peaks in Israel.  It is in fact tall enough to have snow on it year round; it is the Mr. Rainier of Israel.  So how is this unity like the dew of Mt. Hermon?

  1. First it refreshes. It is this mountain that supplies life giving water, refreshing moisture to the other surrounding mountains.  When we dwell in unity it should have a refreshing effect on us.  And you know that that can indeed be the case.  You have had times in the company of others that is absolutely refreshing, but who is this unity to refresh?
  2. Secondly it is to refresh all peoples. You see the text says that the dew flows from the mighty and powerful Mt. Hermon to the somewhat lowly, at least geographically, little Mt. Zion. Biblical unity includes the high and the low, it should transcend one’s age, occupation, income level, nationality, physical stature, stage in life.  All are to be included and when this happens God declares that this is good and pleasant.  He says, behold, look at this ; look at this great thing that is occurring, oh how refreshing, oh how it brings life, just like the waters who’s source is Mt. Hermon, bringing life to the desert below.

Not only that, outsiders, eavesdroppers of the faith, say, “look at this…this people at Mosaic Church….they sure do love each other.  What’s their secret?  Why do they do that?  I think I want some of that. 

III. The last thing we see is that this unity can bring life, eternal life. [re-read].

There are times when the fellowship and community that people partake of that is so good and so pleasant, David and Jesus, describe it in heavenly terms/life giving terms.

And when you are unified God says an amazing thing will happen.

This is found in John 17:20-23. 

20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.

This text tells us that when the church is unified, when we are serving others, not having to always be right, deferring, etc.  that the world may believe that God sent Jesus to us and that God loves them.  That is how important unity is to God and how crucial it is for mankind, it is through our unity that people believe in Jesus. 

Unity is one Mosaic Church’s greatest apologetics, greatest witnessing tool, greatest evangelistic efforts.  Let me encourage you to strive for such unity.  Make amends, seek forgiveness, ask for forgiveness in your congregation.  Don’t be content to sit back at the hotel, get out on the boardwalk, venture into difficult terrain, cross the relational snowfields and even avalanches in your life so that you can behold the beauty of unity.

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