- Sermon Notes
When Unity is a Reality
Intro: Cause and Effect.
This morning we are going to turn to Psalm 133 and look at the cause-and-effect relationship that is seen, when we as God’s people dwell together in unity. The word “unity” is defined as the state of being one, or oneness. It carries the idea of many parts being made into or caused to act as a single entity. As a verb it is defined as “harmonious agreement.” It is the state of being united or joined as a whole.
The Bible consistently depicts unity as something that we as God’s people are to pursue, it is a term that Jesus prayed would be seen in us today, and this morning we are going to look at Psalm 133 and some things we are told will be evident amongst you and me when unity is a reality.
Psalm 133:1-3, Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to live together in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down upon the beard, as on Aaron’s beard, the oil which ran down upon the edge of his robes. It is like the dew of Hermon coming down upon the mountains of Zion; for the Lord commanded the blessing there—life forever.
Psalm 133 written by King David and is a well-known Psalm that is a part of a group of songs from Psalm 120-134 known as the Psalms, or Songs of Ascent. These Psalms were songs sung by pilgrims and travelers who would make their way to Jerusalem to worship the Lord for the three great Jewish festivals in Jerusalem. So the picture is, the people are on a journey toward Jerusalem, and as the people would travel to the place of worship, they would join together and these 15 songs were the songs they would sing on their way.
They are “Songs of Ascents,” which means climbing, advancement upward, or traveling up. They would sing on their way up, Jerusalem was a city on a hill, about 2,700 feet in elevation, so they were traveling up. But there was also a spiritual understanding, they were going upward to worship the Lord, where His presence dwelt. The people would journey together, upward toward Jerusalem with one desire, to worship the Lord. Some historians have suggested that well over 1 million people would travel from their various backgrounds, villages, cities, and countries. They were united in dedication, and in direction, they were one in purpose.
- We Journey with a Oneness of Purpose
- Psalm 133 speaks of what happens when God’s people live together in unity.
- In Psalm 133, Living together in unity is the cause.
- “Live together,” is also commonly translated “dwell together,” and is defined: to sit down, to dwell, remain, live in, or abide.
- To dwell in unity, sit in unity, or abide in unity gives us the picture not of walking or running away from, but walking or running with and alongside one another.
- We are on a journey, together. And the Lord calls us to unity on the journey.
Ephesians 4:13, Until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.
- As we live together and attain to the unity in faith, we are in pursuit, together, of the measure of stature which belongs to Christ.
- Last week we studied Philippians chapter three, where the apostle Paul wrote about the importance of forgetting what lies behind and pressing on toward the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. We got the imagery of forgetting what lies behind and running the race marked out for us. We looked at the reality that the threshold of the finish line is defined as heaven, it is a heavenward call.
Philippians 3:15-16, Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.
- In Jesus’ high priestly prayer in John 17, He expressed His desire for our oneness. In verse 11, “so that they may be one”; in verse 21, “that they may all be one”; verse 22, so that they may be one”; verse 23, “that they may be perfected in unity.”
Galatians 3:28, …You are all one in Christ.
Ephesians 4:1(b)-6, …Walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, being diligent to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you also were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.
- When it comes to oneness and unity, it is important to have a picture of what is being referred to as we see the continued call to unity amongst those in Christ.
- In Scripture, the term “unity” is sameness, or oneness of purpose, not sameness of persons.
- As Jesus prayed in John 17 for our “oneness,” He pointed to His oneness with the Father. In verses 11 and 22 of John 17, He prayed, “that they may be one, just as we are one.”
- Jesus was referencing the oneness of our triune God.
- We know that the blessed trinity is God in three persons. We sing the song at church from time to time. Our triune God is three in one, God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit.
- We believe there is one God, eternally existent in three co-equal persons (Deut. 6:5, Matthew 28:19). They are one in nature and essence, while distinct in personality.
- It is the powerful union between God the Son and God the Father that Jesus uses. They are united in perfect harmony, with unified purpose and desire.
- This is a powerful picture for us to strive for, to be so united in purpose and we are linked not only to God, but our unity reflects God.
- There is a uniqueness of persons, but a oneness of purpose.
- Unity is distinctiveness going in the same direction. It is purpose driven, not persons driven.
Illus. In the game.
John 17:20-21, “I am not asking on behalf of these alone, but also for those who believe in Me through their word, 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 sent Me.
- God created us all differently, uniquely, specifically and for a purpose.
- There is a direction we should agree on, that is the pursuit of Christ. There is also an opposite direction, sin, that we should also agree is not good and should be refrained from. Aligning with His Word, refraining from the sin that separates.
- In Psalm 133, living together in unity in the cause or action…and some of the effects of the cause, or the reactions to the action are defined.
- We Behold What is Good and Pleasant
Psalm 133:1, Behold, how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!
- To “behold,” is to take notice. Our attention is being drawn to something that isn’t often seen, so we are being told to take notice, to “stop, look, and listen!”
- Unity is good because it is tied to God’s desire and purpose for His people.
- And it is pleasant because it makes our common pursuit of Christ, more pleasant and enjoyable.
- Unity is good, it is tied to God; and it is pleasurable, because divisions do not dominate.
- The specific subject and application is to God’s people. The specific word there identifies a kinship, a people in the same family, with the same father.
- And clearly, unity in the family, pleases the Father.
- While in Acts 13 recently, we studied a scene shown in the early church as they were “ministering to the Lord.”
- The question was asked, have you ever had someone tell you, what you just said ministered to me? And then imagining God saying that to you…” You really ministered to me! You really blessed me!”
- Unity is tied to what the Lord’s desire for me and you. “Look at my kids living together in harmony! What a blessing.”
Illus. Family Goals.
- In unity we behold what is both good and pleasant. Not everything that is good is pleasant, and not everything pleasant is good.
Illus. Good or Pleasant.
- One commentator describes the product of God’s people living together in unity as “precious and profitable…”
- When God’s people live together in unity, it is good and pleasant.
- In Psalm 133, the people of God, from various places, backgrounds, and parts of the world journey together toward the dwelling place of the Lord. They are all headed in the same direction, they are all singing the same songs.
III. We Are Refreshed and Blessed
- Verses two and three, give two pictures, or a two-part description of just how good and pleasant unity is.
- Unity is like, or likened to two things…what is it like?
Psalm 133:2, It is like the precious oil on the head, running down upon the beard, as on Aaron’s beard, the oil which ran down upon the edge of his robes.
- You might be thinking, wow, oil running down the beard of Aaron to the edges of his robes…Oh how good and pleasant! Or maybe, just maybe, you aren’t thinking that immediately.
- Surely, this specific picture, the custom our attention is being called to, is quite far removed from our modern day.
- That said, there is an application here for us today. So, I will look at what it means, and what it means for you and me.
- First, the custom of oil applied to one’s head was quite common in Bible times. It was called an anointing, which was to sprinkle, apply, or smear.
- It could be as simple as taking fragrant oil, applying it to your thumb, and then applying it to the forehead of another person. It was also done at times as a greeting when you would enter a person’s home (Lk. 7:46), it was used for medicinal treatments (Luke 10:34), and also when preparing a body for burial (Mark 61:1).
- In its simplest application in that day, it was used to refresh, and apply a favorable fragrance from the perfume in the oil.
- So, we get the picture of a refreshing, and pleasurable fragrance in the atmosphere when we are in unity.
- But there is even more to the application because the oil referenced here is the “precious, sacred, and holy oil” that was applied to Aaron.
- In Exodus 30:22-32, the Lord instructed that for the service of the tabernacle and priests, a holy oil be made. We are given the recipe for the precious oil that Aaron, the high priest would be anointed with. The instructions for what were included in the oil, called the holy anointing oil.
Exodus 30:30-33, “Anoint Aaron and his sons and consecrate them so they may serve me as priests. Say to the Israelites, ‘This is to be my sacred anointing oil for the generations to come. Do not pour it on anyone else’s body and do not make any other oil using the same formula. It is sacred, and you are to consider it sacred. Whoever makes perfume like it and puts it on anyone other than a priest must be cut off from their people.’”
- The specific formula was provided by God and was only to be applied to that which was directed specifically by God. It was not to applied to anyone, or anywhere else.
- It was a specific type of oil, reserved for the tabernacle and the priests. It was a precious, holy oil. It showed that the priest was set apart for service to God.
- In Psalm 133, the holy oil is applied to Aaron the High Priest, which would have had the same blessings of refreshing and fragrance but would also have been a part of his being set apart for service to God.
- The picture, or application for you and me, is very tangible. Unity is like the precious, holy oil being poured onto the high priest, flowing down to the body.
- Anointing oil is often a symbol of the Holy Spirit in Scripture (Acts 10:38, Is. 61:1) in Hebrews 2:17 and 4:14, it is made clear to us that Jesus Christ is our high priest.
Colossians 1:18, He is also the head of the body, the church.
- So, the powerful picture we get from this is that when believers dwell together in unity, it is like the oil of the Spirit being applied to our High Priest in such a way that it flows down to us, His body, the church.
- In unity, we are refreshed, there is a fragrance that is pleasant, and we see a people united, together, set apart, consecrated to God, and covered in the Holy Spirit.
Psalm 133:3, It is like the dew of Hermon coming down upon the mountains of Zion; for the Lord commanded the blessing there—life forever.
- The picture given here is of Mount Hermon, the highest mountain in ancient Israel, located in the northern portion of the land, it sat at over 9,200 feet at its peak.
- In the southern part of ancient Israel were the mountains of Zion, specifically, a hill in Jerusalem where the temple sits.
- Mount Hermon had snowcapped peaks, an abundance of dew, and precipitation. The moisture would make it lush and green.
- This would have been quite the contrast to the dusty, dry wilderness that defined other parts of Israel and Zion.
- When unity is a reality, what is dry and dusty becomes lush and green. Life becomes thriving and healthy; God gives blessings from above.
Isaiah 43:18-19, “Do not call to mind the former things, or consider things of the past. Behold, I am going to do something new, now it will spring up; will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.
- In both instances the blessings come from a higher place, and flow down. No doubt a depiction of what is given from God above when unity is a reality.
Acts 3:19, Repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.
Psalm 133:1, How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!