And what we get the picture of here in Psalm 133 is that that physical reality is now being used as a spiritual picture of how precious unity is and how important it is to God. Hello and welcome back to the Truth Pulpit with Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio.
I'm Bill Wright. Today Don brings us part one of a message called That Precious Unity with a look at how the biblical practice of communion will help you to develop, cultivate, protect, and deepen the unity in your local church. Well Don, while a lack of unity in the body of Christ is detrimental to the overall health of the church, isn't it true that disunity also hinders our ability to be an effective witness for the Lord?
Well that's right, Bill. And my friend, today it's our privilege on the Truth Pulpit to open up a relatively unfamiliar psalm. It's going to be refreshing to open Psalm 133 in our program today because this text shows us the blessing of the people of God coming together in a common love for Him. And here in the New Testament, it's a common love for Christ and for each other. And it speaks about the importance of unity among the people of God. Unity is a rare jewel to be protected when we find it in a church. Let's see how to do that as we open Scripture today on the Truth Pulpit.
Thanks so much, Don. And friend, let's join our teacher now as he continues teaching God's people God's Word with a message called That Precious Unity. Our text is found in Psalm 133, and I invite you to turn in your Bibles to the book of Psalms to this brief but beautiful Psalm 133. This beautiful psalm is speaking about the blessing of spiritual unity among the people of God. David wrote this psalm, but it's possible by the grammar that it was written for him and not necessarily by him, but whatever the case may be. You'll remember that the songs of ascent, Psalms 120 through 134, were sung by the Jews as they were going up to Jerusalem for their national feast.
This was part of their annual tradition. And the psalm therefore is presenting an image of the tribes of Israel gathered together, gathered together around the temple, gathered together for worship that God had appointed for them. And so it's a picture of a spiritual act of worship that is taking place by the people of God in the Old Testament. And the psalmist is rejoicing in the spiritual beauty of that.
It's something that he finds great pleasure in, great joy in. And so as you begin in verse one, let's look at it there together. He says in verse one, behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity. And that word behold that opens the psalm is kind of a call to attention.
It's a trumpet call to pay attention to what the topic is in this psalm, emphasizing our need to pay attention to what is said here. The New Testament places great emphasis on the unity of believers in the New Testament. And one of the things that we've tried over the years to develop here at Truth Community Church is a sense that as we gather together, we're not coming together just simply as individuals.
We're not individuals coming together for what we can get out of corporate involvement and corporate relationship. We're coming together as a body. We're coming together in harmony with one another. As a person enters into the life of a local church, there should be a sense of understanding that I'm coming to be a part of something that is bigger than I am. And that means that we come not only to receive ministry and fellowship and teaching, but we come to give as well. We come with a responsibility to participate in the life of the body of Christ. And nothing could be more unbiblical than the common idea of a back row Baptist that comes in five minutes late, sits in the back and then leaves five minutes early and never involves themselves in the life of the church and just deliberately conducts him or herself in a way to not be involved and not to have to interact with people. That is not the picture of the body of Christ at all.
Some time ago, we went through and listed out. In the New Testament, there are 20 to 25 different passages that talk about our responsibilities to one another, to love one another, to pray for one another, to serve one another, and on and on it goes. And so the environment that God cultivates among his people is one of being together and one of unity when that happens. The idea of a fractured body of people biting at one another over this or that issue, nothing could be further from the way that God intends it to be. And if you've ever been in a church that has gone through a difficult church split or you've been perhaps in congregational meetings where people are yelling at each other like they were victims of road rage, you know how that just spoils everything about the nature of a church.
And it's just so very destructive to come in and have a sense that people are not united together. This psalm is presenting the positive side of these spiritual principles, saying it is good and pleasant for the people of God to dwell together in unity. And what we're going to see is that God himself places a very high value on this so that to undermine the unity of his people, to attack it with accusations and things like this is a very grave matter. We come together, and I've said these things before, you've heard me say these things, that when we come into the local church, when we come into the body of Christ, we're coming into something that does not belong to us. You know, the body of Christ belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ. It's his by right of purchase.
He purchased his body with his own blood. And that means that we come with a sense of reverence, a sense of respect, a sense of humility. Every one of us as we come together, we're coming to something that belongs to Christ, that belongs to someone higher than us, and the body is his.
And so that means that we have responsibility not only to serve and to worship, but to protect that body and to sacrifice ourselves for the greater good of the body of Christ. And so this psalm points us in that direction. It's interesting to note, if you glance down at Psalm 134, it opens with the same word, behold. In verse 1 of Psalm 133, behold how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity. And then in the concluding psalm of the Songs of Ascent, verse 1, behold bless the Lord, all servants of the Lord. You see a verbal link together between those two psalms. And so remembering that these songs were sung during the national feast, we have the picture of the 12 tribes of Israel gathered together for the worship of Yahweh.
It's a serious time, but it is a joyful time. Worship should be serious, but it should also be joyful. And that's what we're getting a picture of here in Psalm 133. Now in the Old Testament context here, unlike today in the New Testament church, the worship of the assembly was based on national ethnic ties.
They were descended from Jacob, from the one also known as Israel, the children of Abraham, through the line of Isaac and Jacob. And so they're coming together on national ethnic ties. But here in this psalm, almost unique to the Old Testament, there is this emphasis on the spiritual component. They are gathered together for worship. And the psalmist loves the principle of worship. He loves the act of worship.
He loves being with the people of God. To be gathered together with common ethnic ties, gathered together in a common place, all gathered together to worship the same God in the same way, based on the same revelation, by the same kind of sacrifice that God had instituted. There is this profound sense of spiritual unity that is taking place. The 12 tribes were gathered together as one, gathered together united in worship around the one true God. Now listen, beloved, if that was true in the Old Testament, then how much more so for us as we gather together for New Testament worship, gathered around the person of Christ, the incarnate God, gathered around in remembrance of his sacrifice on the cross for our sins, and his burial and his resurrection and his ascension on high, and knowing that we have an elder brother in heaven who loves us, and we have all been born again by the same Spirit, by the same faith.
You know, these were realities that were not revealed yet in the Old Testament, and yet here we are benefiting from them. You know, and we gather together and we share life together in a local body, and as we gather together consistently with one another and share life together, the unity of that is something that should be even more precious to us. And so as you look at verse one, there's this emphatic sense, behold, take note of this. Look around, as it were, at what you have in worship and appreciate it for how good and how pleasant it is. And so as we gather together, we come in a sense of appreciation for the gift that God has given us of common worship together in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. I trust that every one of you has a sense that it is good and it is pleasant to be gathered together like this. The fact that you view it that way is a sense that you're entering into the spirit of this psalm and what God intends worship to be. It's agreeable.
It's lovely. I can remember, by contrast, you know, and these things just kind of give us, these things just kind of give us a barometer of the spiritual state of our souls, and that's why I dwell on it and emphasize this. I can remember going to church as a young child, I guess you could say, eight, ten, twelve years old before I stopped doing that, and I had figured out that, you know, by the time I was twelve or thirteen, I had figured out from watching my dad that religion was for women and young children, and now that I'm becoming a man, I can, you know, put those childish things aside. But I remember that, you know, going and it was just, you know, it was just, it was nothing that I enjoyed. It was just kind of an irksome thing, and, you know, I didn't want to be there.
The things were weird to me and all of that, and I had no appreciation for it. But, you know, the Lord saves you and puts a new spirit in you and makes you a new creation, and you see all of these things from a different point of view. For the true Christian, what I'm saying is this, for the true Christian, the sense of gathering together with the true people of God and to hear the word of God taught and to sing hymns together, this is among the sweetest things of all of life to happen. And someone who doesn't have some kind of appreciation for that, some kind of enjoyment in worship, really needs to step back and ask themselves whether they're a Christian or not, because scripture declares worship to be good and pleasant, agreeable, something lovely to be enjoyed and to be enjoyed together and not simply as a spectator sport watched from a distant.
We could put it this way. I'm trying to say these things in multiple ways to impress it upon your heart with the help of the Holy Spirit. God does not intend worship to be mechanical and lifeless.
That's not worship. It's good. It's pleasant. Our heart is engaged in it. Now, coming back to Psalm 133, having looked at verse one, what we see now in the following two verses is the psalmist is going to illustrate the blessing. He's giving two illustrations of the blessing of the unity that believers enjoy together, that brothers dwelling together in unity, what they enjoy. And so what follows are now illustrations of the blessing. And there's so much packed into these three verses. It's really just a beautiful, beautiful psalm. And so he says in verse two, we'll spend a little bit of time here. He says, it is like, what is like? This dwelling together in unity is what the antecedent of the it is.
Dwelling together in unity is like something. It's a simile that he is giving us. He says, it's like the precious oil upon the head coming down upon the beard, Aaron's beard, coming down upon the edge of his robe. Now, to us in the 21st century, that might not sound like such an appealing figure of speech.
You know, if I get, if I get, you're like me, if you get anything on your head, you know, you're kind of wanting to brush it off, you know, fly lands on your head or something like that, you know, and we don't think in those terms. So what we need to do here is we need to take a moment to understand the background of this simile so that we can appreciate it for its beauty in the way that the original reader would have understood. And we can find something of the background of this in the book of Exodus. I'm going to take you to a couple of rather obscure passages that are going to help us understand what is being said here in Exodus chapter 29 and chapter 30. We're going to, you know, if you've read through the Bible, you know, on a reading plan or something and your eyes kind of glazed over as you got into the details of the law and the latter part of the book of Exodus, all of a sudden this is going to have a new life and a new significance to you. And let me just read a couple of passages and we'll comment on them later. In Exodus chapter 29 in verse 4, God told Moses, you shall bring Aaron.
Oh, that's interesting. Aaron's the guy that was mentioned in Psalm 133. You shall bring Aaron and his sons to the doorway of the tent of meeting and wash them with water. You shall take the garments and put on Aaron the tunic and the robe of the ephod and the ephod and the breastpiece and gird him with the skillfully woven band of the ephod. And you shall set the turban on his head and put the holy crown on the turban. Getting ready to anoint Aaron into the office of high priest and his high priestly garments are being described there.
And they were exquisitely made with beauty, with detail, with fine jewels. And then something happened in order to symbolize him being set apart to his office as high priest. Verse 7, you shall take the anointing oil and pour it on his head and anoint him. Ah, the oil on Aaron's head, signifying that Aaron was being set apart to the office of high priest, set apart to serve in that mediatorial role between God and the people, the appointed high priest. This is what Psalm 133 is pointing back as being precious and lovely. This is the man who is going to stand, as it were, between God and the people. Well, go over, keep that in mind, and go over to chapter 30, verse 22. And we're going to read about a dozen verses here that I'm pretty sure I've never read from a pulpit in many years of ministry, but I'm going to today.
And there's a point to taking the time to do this. It would have been easy to just pass over this and allude to it briefly, but I want you to see it. This is the formula for the anointing oil. In verse 22, the Lord spoke to Moses saying, take also for yourself the finest of spices, of flowing myrrh, 500 shekels, and of fragrant cinnamon, half as much, 250, and of fragrant cane, 250, and of cassia 500, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, and of olive oil a hen. You shall make of these a holy anointing oil, a perfume mixture, the work of a perfumer, it shall be a holy anointing oil. With it you shall anoint the tent of meeting and the ark of the testimony, and the table and all its utensils, and the lampstand and its utensils, and the altar of incense, and the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and the laver and its stand. You shall also consecrate them, that they may be most holy. Whatever touches them shall be holy, meaning they're set apart.
You shall anoint Aaron and his sons and consecrate them, that they may minister as priests to me. You shall speak to the sons of Israel saying, this shall be a holy anointing oil to me throughout your generations. It shall not be poured on anyone's body, nor shall you make any like it in the same proportions. It is holy and it shall be holy to you. Whoever shall mix any like it, or whoever puts any of it on a layman, shall be cut off from his people. This was an exquisite mixture made according to a very precise formula. It was a unique fragrant oil used for the anointing ceremony.
And here's what you need to see about this. This rare oil, this unique oil and the unique event in which it was used, represented the special presence and blessing of God. It is set apart for holy purposes.
It is a picture of exquisite intimacy done under the direct instructions of God that this is how it is to be. And then with one other passage in Leviticus chapter 8, Leviticus chapter 8 where Aaron is actually installed, this is all preparatory instruction in Exodus. Now in Leviticus chapter 8, we'll read a few passages here in Leviticus chapter 8 verse 1. Leviticus chapter 8, the Lord spoke to Moses saying, take Aaron and his sons with him and the garments and the anointing oil and the bowl of the sin offering and the two rams and the basket of unleavened bread and assemble all the congregation at the doorway of the tent of meeting. So Moses did just as the Lord commanded him. When the congregation was assembled at the doorway of the tent of meeting, Moses said to the congregation, this is the thing which the Lord has commanded to do.
So in verse 6, Moses had Aaron and his sons come near and wash them with water. He put the tunic on him and girded him with the sash and clothed him with the robe and put the ephod on him and he girded him with the artistic band of the ephod with which he tied it to him. You see the tie to those passages from Exodus that we had just read. He then placed the breast piece on him and then the breast piece he put the Urim and the Thumen. He also placed the turban on his head and on the turban at its front he placed the golden plate, the holy crown, just as the Lord had commanded Moses.
Now watch this, all that preliminary to this. Moses then took the anointing oil and anointed the tabernacle and all that was in it and consecrated them. He sprinkled some of it on the altar seven times and anointed the altar and all its utensils and the basin and its stand to consecrate them. Then he poured some of the anointing oil on Aaron's head and anointed him to consecrate him. This meticulous ceremony of which the anointing oil was a central part as God set apart Aaron to his high priestly office. The wonderful aroma filling the room, the people were prepared and God had established the conditions for Old Testament worship to take place in the nation of Israel.
Amazing, wonderful to contemplate. And so what you see, this illusion in Psalm 133, you can turn back there now with me, Psalm 133, this illusion is to something particularly unique and precious in the worship that is precious to God as shown by the meticulous instructions for the formula of the anointing oil and the fact that it was to be used in no other way. This was set apart for a glorious purpose and what we get the picture of here in Psalm 133 is that that physical reality is now being used as a spiritual picture of how precious unity is and how important it is to God. That anointing oil should never be violated.
It should never be used for any other purpose. It had a particular aspect and role to play in the worship as the high priest was set apart. Unity in the body, unity among brothers has that same kind of effect only it's in a spiritual, not a physical dimension. It is exquisite. It is crucial to worship.
It is that which gives it its lovely fragrance. That's Don Green with part one of a message called That Precious Unity. You're listening to The Truth Pulpit and if you'd like to learn more about Don and his teaching ministry, just go to thetruthpulpit.com. Once there, you'll find Don's bio along with a library of his sermons that are available to you at no cost. And if you'd like to support this ministry financially, you can do that at the same web address. Again, it's thetruthpulpit.com. We'll continue in our series called The Priority of Unity next time. I'm Bill Wright hoping you can join us then as Don continues teaching God's people God's word here on The Truth Pulpit.
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