Why is Unity So Blessed and Important? #314
Hello friends and happy Thursday to you! In case you missed it last night, I taught a Facebook live message on how God will take us through the desert wilds (spiritually) in our lives, and how those desert wilds are often the best place to meet God and know Him on a deeper level. If that sounds interesting to you, hop on over to Facebook to watch the video. When God takes you through the desert.
Our Bible readings for this fine day start with 2nd Kings 18, followed by Psalms 132-134, then Hosea 11 and Philemon 1. Speaking of 2nd Kings 18, you could probably win a bet with most Christians on this passage with a simple question: Does the Bible talk about drinking your own pee and eating the, uh, other stuff? Most people would say ‘no’ to that question, and then give you a look of disgust. 2nd Kings 18 says otherwise, as we will soon see. Brace yourselves.
The bad news is the fifth grade boy in me wouldn’t let me just simply gloss over 2nd Kings 18:27, the good news is that the fifth grade boy in me is not in complete control, so we won’t be discussing that verse anymore. Instead, our focus is on Psalms 133, which has long been one of my favorite Psalms. Yes, we have talked about unity among the people of God before, but that is one of those subjects that we can talk about more than once, because it is ubiquitous in the Bible and quite very important. Let us read our Psalms and then discuss the blessings of unity.
How delightfully good
when brothers live together in harmony!
2 It is like fine oil on the head,
running down on the beard,
running down Aaron’s beard
onto his robes.
3 It is like the dew of Hermon
falling on the mountains of Zion.
For there the Lord has appointed the blessing—
So it is quite clear that unity and harmony among followers of God is a wonderful and blessed thing, but what is this business about it being like the oil running down Aaron’s beard, or the dew on Mt. Hermon all about? (Because, quite frankly, that is a strange simile to use here)
I believe what this is referring to is the holy anointing oil of Exodus 30 -oil that was used to consecrate items for use in the temple and to consecrate (prepare and set apart as holy) Aaron and the other priests:
22 The Lord spoke to Moses: 23 “Take for yourself the finest spices: 12½ pounds of liquid myrrh, half as much (6¼ pounds) of fragrant cinnamon, 6¼ pounds of fragrant cane, 24 12½ pounds of cassia (by the sanctuary shekel), and a gallon of olive oil. 25 Prepare from these a holy anointing oil, a scented blend, the work of a perfumer; it will be holy anointing oil. 26 “With it you are to anoint the tent of meeting, the ark of the testimony, 27 the table with all its utensils, the lampstand with its utensils, the altar of incense, 28 the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils, and the basin with its stand. 29 Consecrate them and they will be especially holy. Whatever touches them will be consecrated. 30 Anoint Aaron and his sons and consecrate them to serve me as priests.
I think what the Psalmist is suggesting to us is that brothers dwelling together in unity becomes a precious and blessed mixture of people in the same way that these spices combined with olive oil made a mixture of holy anointing oil. The individual ingredients themselves weren’t blessed and holy, but together the mixture became holy and anointing. Likewise, there is something blessed and beautiful about the people of God being together in such wonderful harmony and unity. Flour, sugar, cocoa and oil are nice and all, but when you combine them in the right ratio to make brownies from scratch, you have a wonderful thing. Likewise are the people of God gathering together in great unity and love – it is more holy and anointed and Gospel proclaiming than just one Christian.
This is why we are not to forsake the gathering together of the Body of Christ – even in a pandemic (our church is meeting outside, but still meeting) because there is a greater blessing on the people of God together. We are not a bunch of people practicing our religion solo according to our preferences, but a mixture of people – a Body of Christ TOGETHER like the holy anointing oil.
I believe I have mentioned before that one of the greatest deficiencies of the English language is the fact that the second person singular and plural are both the same word, “you.” Thus when reading something, we don’t know if it is directed to an individual you, or a bunch of yous. One of the pastor Facebook groups I am a part of recently had a poll which was wondering if Bible translators should translate the second person plural (which is obviously different than the 2nd person singular in Greek) to “Y’all,” or “You guys,” so that people would understand how many of the Bible’s commands are not to individuals, but to ‘y’alls!’ As a native Southerner, I am all for this, and believe that ‘Y’all, grits, Alabama football, and excellent biscuits are our monumental contributions to Western culture. Yes, I know about the less than positive contributions, but let’s not focus on the negative today!
So, when the people of God come together in obvious unity and love, they proclaim the gospel in a similar way as when the anointing oil mixed with spices is poured on a priest that you can smell and see the specialness of the oil, as Jesus tells us in John 17:
20 “I pray not only for these, but also for those who believe in me through their word. 21 May they all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us, so that the world may believe you sent me. 22 I have given them the glory you have given me, so that they may be one as we are one. 23 I am in them and you are in me, so that they may be made completely one, that the world may know you have sent me and have loved them as you have loved me. John 17:20-23
Here’s Spurgeon to drive the point home for us, and to explain the ‘dew of Hermon’ reference:
As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion. From the loftier mountains the moisture appears to be wafted to the lesser hills: the dews of Hermon fall on Zion. The Alpine Lebanon ministers to the minor elevation of the city of David; and so does brotherly love descend from the higher to the lower, refreshing and enlivening in its course. Holy concord is as dew, mysteriously blessed, full of life and growth for all plants of grace. It brings with it so much benediction that it is as no common dew, but as that of Hermon which is specially copious, and far-reaching. The proper rendering is, “As the dew of Hermon that descended upon the mountains of Zion,” and this tallies with the figure which has been already used. For there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore. That is, In Zion, or better still, in the place where brotherly love abounds. Where love reigns God reigns. Where love wishes blessing, there God commands the blessing. God has but to command, and it is done. He is so pleased to see his dear children happy in one another that he fails not to make them happy in himself. He gives especially his best blessing of eternal life, for love is life; dwelling together in love we have begun the enjoyments of eternity, and these shall not be taken from us. Let us love forevermore, and we shall live forevermore. This makes Christian brotherhood so good and pleasant; it has Jehovah’s blessing resting upon it.
Oh for more of this rare virtue! Not the love which comes and goes, but that which dwells; not that spirit which separates and secludes, but that which dwells together; not that mind which is all for debate and difference, but that which dwells together in unity. Never shall we know the full power of the anointing till we are of one heart and of one spirit; never will the sacred dew of the Spirit descend in all its fullness till we are perfectly joined together in the same mind; never will the covenanted and commanded blessing come forth from the Lord our God till once again we have “one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” Lord, lead us into this most precious spiritual unity, for thy Son’s sake.
J. I. PACKER, “Introduction,” in Psalms, Crossway Classic Commentaries (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1993), 300.