You are hereUnity Is Like Oil And Water

Unity Is Like Oil And Water

  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/vaduva/planetpreterist.com/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 842.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_argument::init() should be compatible with views_handler::init(&$view, $options) in /home/vaduva/planetpreterist.com/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_argument.inc on line 745.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_validate() should be compatible with views_handler::options_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/vaduva/planetpreterist.com/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 589.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_submit() should be compatible with views_handler::options_submit($form, &$form_state) in /home/vaduva/planetpreterist.com/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 589.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter_boolean_operator::value_validate() should be compatible with views_handler_filter::value_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/vaduva/planetpreterist.com/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter_boolean_operator.inc on line 149.

By jcarter - Posted on 09 September 2003

by Jeff Carter
There is a road inside of you
Inside of me there is one too.
No stumbling pilgrim in the dark,

The road to Zion’s in your heart.


(Petra – Road To Zion)

Psalm 134 – the final of the 15 Psalms of Ascent (though it’s quite possible that they were not sung strictly in the order found in the scriptures) celebrates the pilgrims arrival at the temple. It’s a song of praise and worship in the temple, singing, raising their hands and worshiping the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.There is a road inside of you
Inside of me there is one too.
No stumbling pilgrim in the dark,

The road to Zion’s in your heart.


(Petra – Road To Zion)

Psalm 134 – the final of the 15 Psalms of Ascent (though it’s quite possible that they were not sung strictly in the order found in the scriptures) celebrates the pilgrims arrival at the temple. It’s a song of praise and worship in the temple, singing, raising their hands and worshiping the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.Psalm 134
A song of ascents.
Praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord
who minister by night in the house of the Lord.
Lift up your hands in the sanctuary
and praise the Lord.

May the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth,
bless you from Zion.

It was the reward, the prize of the journey to be in the temple. It wasn’t a chore. It wasn’t a drudgery. And the journey to the temple wasn’t seen as an obligation – even though it was. It was a wonderful thing for the Jewish believer to find himself within the gates of the temple at last.

It was a wonderful privilege to be in the house of God with other believers from all across the country. But this also was probably a source of trouble. We know what happens when you get any group of people together: conflict and disagreement.

There are certain areas of life where seems impossible for people to agree. Politics and Religion especially are topics that common courtesy cautions us to avoid around the dinner table.

Even us here at PlanetPreterist – if we were to take a quick poll of opinions on various topics we could easily find several points of disagreement. Even though we all love and serve the same Lord. This has been a problem for Christianity (and all religions) throughout history.

We find it especially in my denomination, The Salvation Army, where we prize Uniformity as a kind of virtue. We dress in uniforms so that we’re all the same – but we often don’t want to recognize that “Uniformity is not Unity” and so we often pretend that there is not any dissent among the ranks and pretend that we have no disagreements. We salute and go on...

We may all worship the same risen Lord and Savior, but still, finding unity is like getting oil and water to mix.

It’s even more difficult when there are variations of belief, and style – or differences in opinion – and sadly it’s even more difficult when there are differences of culture, or gender, or sexual orientation, or racial background.

We divide ourselves from our brothers and sisters over every little thing. It’s sometimes said that we as Christians squabble over the 10% that we disagree about rather than uniting in the 90% we share in common. We want unity – but we want it on our own terms. We want a unity of our own kind.

On finding himself in Jerusalem the pilgrim would have been confronted with thousands of others like him arriving in the city of God. And each of those pilgrims arrived with their own expectations of what the festivals would be like and how the festivals should be celebrated. They came with their own ideas and their own traditions.

How good and pleasant it is
when brothers live together in unity!

Indeed. It is a wonderful thing when brothers can live together without fighting. I have two younger brothers. We don’t fight anymore, as we're separated by several hundred miles - that and we've learned to actually like each other, but we certainly did when were younger. Hair pulling, shoving down stairs, pokes in the eyes, punches in the nose, name calling, the whole scene. We were terrible to each other. We were terrible brothers.

In the culture of the middle-east extended families often lived together – not necessarily in the same tent, but in the same area, on the same stretch of land. Can you imagine my brothers and I (as we were when we were younger) and our families sharing a common space of land without fighting? You wouldn’t have been able to before. But we’re better now. We’ve learned to deal with each other better. If we had to, I think my brothers and I could live together in unity. Maybe.

How good and pleasant it is
when brothers live together in unity!
It is like precious oil poured on the head,
running down on the beard,
running down on Aaron’s beard,
down upon the collar of his robes

This unity between brothers – flesh and blood as well as spiritual brothers – was to be compared to precious, sweet, oil. Oil perfumed with spices.

Oil (olive oil especially) was used for cooking, lighting oil lamps, washing, medicine, skin softener, and perfume. The oil was mixed with spices and used to cover unpleasant body odors. Spiced oils were also used as an enticement – the same way that perfumes are used even today.

Exodus 29 tells of the anointing of Aaron as the first high priest. Verse 7 tells us of the use of scented spiced oil in that ceremony “Take the anointing oil and anoint him by pouring it on his head.” The oil was poured – not just dabbed – over the chosen one’s head. It would flow down over his head, face, into the beard, and onto the robes – covering him from head to foot in this precious scented oil.

The word “Christ” comes from the Greek word "christos" which refers to anointing oil. Calling Jesus the Christ is the same as calling him “the anointed one”

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. 2 Cor. 2:14

As Christian brothers God uses us to spread the fragrance of the Christ – the one anointed with the perfumed oil. But how can we do this if we are not in unity with each other? How can we spread the beautiful fragrance of Christ, the anointed one if we’re squabbling and fighting amongst ourselves?

How good and pleasant it is
when brothers live together in unity!
It is like precious oil poured on the head,
running down on the beard,
running down on Aaron’s beard,
down upon the collar of his robes.
It is as if the dew of Hermon
were falling on Mount Zion.

Unity is next compared to the dew that falls on Mount Hermon. Mount Hermon is a mountain found along the far northern border between Israel and Syria. It is over 9,000 feet above sea level, and its peaks are covered most of the year with snow. It has been suggested as the mountain that Jesus along with Peter, James, and John climbed for the Transfiguration event.

This whole northern mountain range was a moist area (as compared to the arid lands of the rest of Israel). The dews that fell along these lands was excessive, almost like a heavy rain overnight.

The Psalmist says that unity among brothers is like finding these lush dews falling on the Southern mountains of Zion – near Jerusalem. This was physically impossible. The dew of Hermon couldn’t fall on mountains on the other side of the country.

Some have proposed that perhaps the author thought that the dews of Hermon would evaporate and then travel in clouds across the land to fall on the mountains of Zion like rain. But this is a stretch. The beauty is not in the "actual-factuals" scientifics of the comparison.

Most of Israel was a dry and weary land. Hermon was lush and watery. Unity would be like having the blessed dew where it was needed; and dew was thought of as a blessing. In Genesis 27:28 Isaac blesses Jacob and says, "May God give you of heaven’s dew and of earth’s richness-- an abundance of grain and new wine." Dew was a blessing from heaven. Dew was prosperity. In an agricultural society water was wealth.

How good and pleasant it is
when brothers live together in unity!
It is like precious oil poured on the head,
running down on the beard,
running down on Aaron’s beard,
down upon the collar of his robes.
It is as if the dew of Hermon
were falling on Mount Zion.
For there the Lord bestows his blessing,
even life forevermore.

For there the Lord bestows his blessing. "There" is not a specific place. It isn’t just the city of Jerusalem. "There" is the unity between brothers. There (in unity) the Lord gives his blessings.

Actually the Hebrew here is much stronger. More literally it might read, “there the Lord COMMANDS a blessing.” This is what the Lord wants for us: our unity and he will give (will command) the blessing of eternal life.

When we are united with Christ, and united with each other – there the Lord can pour out his blessings –even life evermore.

But unity is difficult. And the images the psalmist has chosen aptly illustrate this. Unity between brothers is like oil and water. You can put oil and water together, but don’t expect them to unite. You can put brothers together with their families on the same patch of land, but don’t expect them to be happy about it. You can put believers into a church but don’t expect them to agree with each other or to even get along. They’re oil and water. They won’t mix. They won’t naturally want to unite.

But it is unity that is praised; unity that is blessed. Unity. Not necessarily uniformity, or unanimity – but unity. We may not all like the same things. We may not sing the same songs. We may not agree on the forms and outlines of our meetings or structures of our churches. We may not be able to come to agreement on issues like literal /spiritual rapture, etc.. But we can find unity in our worship and service of the risen and ruling Christ.

And we can find it today. This isn’t something that we see as an ideal – achievable someday, perhaps after Jesus comes (we know better than that), or only someday in heaven. No. This unity is something we work for today, now. The Kingdom of Heaven isn’t something we put off. The Kingdom of Heaven is within us – or it is if we are living in unity with each other.

Can we unite with each other in love and grace? Can we forgive and ask forgiveness? Can we share ourselves with each other? Can we compromise without loosing ourselves? Can we build each other up? Can we, each one, strive to be the servant of the other?

This is unity. This is the precious oil poured down the head and beard. This is the beautiful fragrance of Christ. Unity. This is the dew, the water of heaven – the living water. Unity among brothers. Unity among believers. Unity.

SciotaMicks's picture

Jeff, great article.
As you alluded to, unity can be accomplished if we all adhere to the greatest commandment - Love.
That should come first and foremost.
-A

Recent comments

Poll

Should we allow Anonymous users to comment on Planet Preterist articles?
Yes absolutely
23%
No only registered users should comment
77%
What are you talking about?
0%
Total votes: 43