Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Oily Hair and Mountain Dew

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head,running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore. - Psalm 133 (ESV)

I am somewhat ashamed to admin that I usually just focus on the first verse of this psalm when I read it, and often it's in quoting it to my sons when they argue with one another! ;-) Lately, however, I've been looking at this in a different context - the context of God's desire for believers to live this way with one another.

I "grew up" in the faith around lots of grumpy, fundamental, fearful and unloving Christians. Unity was always a weird thing to mention because of the associated fear of being "ecumenical" which was a total heresy. Unfortunately, the fear of heresy can lead people to avoid biblical truths that are crucial to the Kingdom of God. Such is the case with unity.

Take a look at the prayer of Jesus here:

My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message [That's us!], that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. " - John 17:20-23
There appear to be great consequences to believers having oneness!

What I hadn't really considered from Psalm 133 before is the reference to oil. Oil in the scriptures is usually a picture of the Holy Spirit! So in this context, believers being together in unity is like the Holy Spirit on the head (Jesus), running down to the beard, and even down to the robe. I take that to mean that unity in Christ results in (or is the result of?) a pouring out of the Spirit on the body.

And what of Aaron's Head/Beard? Augustine, when commenting on Psalm 133 says this:
"...As the ointment on the head, which descended to the beard, to Aaron's beard, which descended to the fringe of his garment" Psalm 132:2. What was Aaron? A priest. Who is a priest, except that one Priest, who entered into the Holy of Holies? Who is that priest, save Him, who was at once Victim and Priest? save Him who when he found nothing clean in the world to offer, offered Himself? The ointment is on his head, because Christ is one whole with the Church, but the ointment comes from the head. Our Head is Christ crucified and buried; He rose again, and ascended into heaven; and the Holy Spirit came from the head..."
Now check this out...
What is the "Dew of Hermon"? To understand this, we need to understand some info about Mount Hermon:

  • At 9,200 feet above sea level, Mount Hermon is the highest mountain in Israel, Lebanon, and Syria.
  • The mountain is actually a cluster of mountains with three distinct summits (that's pretty trinitarian, eh?) , each about the same height. This cluster, the Anti-Lebanon Range, extends for approximately twenty miles in a northeast to southwest direction, running parallel to the Lebanon range on the west.
  • Runoff from the snow-covered mountain’s western and southern bases feeds several streams and rivers. These merge to become the Jordan River. Additionally, the runoff facilitates fertile plant life below the snow line, where vineyards and pine, oak, and poplar trees are abundant.
  • Mount Hermon is called the "gray-haired mountain," or the "mountain of snow," because of the covering of snow, which is present on it most of the year.
Wooah! The Dew of Hermon is the source of the Jordan River! To an Israelite, the Jordan River is the source of fertility for the entire country. This is a big deal!

I am not saying that Unity is the Jordan River. I think unity represents the idea of "several streams" and rivers that converge to channel the water flowing from the three peaks of Mount Hermon down to the Jordan River! When we understand our place under Christ's headship, we align ourselves to be channels of blessing to the whole world.

When believers live together in unity - the water that runs off the mountain (the three peaks!) becomes the source of life for all that need water. There's some rich significance here. Compare this to scriptures that speak of "living waters" and "deep fountains".

I have to confess, I have much more to think about regarding Psalm 133. Regardless, I am convinced that unity (in Christ) is something that by God's grace we MUST live in.


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