Friday, August 08, 2008

When We All Get To Heaven

Continuing my series on the fifteen Psalms which are entitled "Psalms of Ascents," I will be looking at Psalm 122 today. This is the third psalm in this series (you can read my previous posts on 120 and 121 here). In the first psalm of the series, 120, the author communicated a dissatisfaction with living in a foreign place and he longed to go to his true home. The psalm 121 the psalmist wrote about the dangers of traveling to his true home but his God watched over him to keep him safe until he arrived. This next psalm seems to indicate that the traveler made it and rejoices that he is now home.

Read Psalm 122 (NASB, NIV, KJV)

The psalmist essentially tells of the things which he is happy to experience now that he is home. i realize that this was written by an ancient Jew happy to be arriving in Jerusalem, but it seems to me there is some correlation here to a Christian arriving in the heavenly Jerusalem. Here is the sermon (this is still rough - any suggestions you may have to improve it would be greatly appreciated):

When We All Get to Heaven

I. We will experience joy (1-2)
          A. Joy from the community in getting there (1)
          B. Joy at arriving there (2)

II. We will experience unity (3-5)
          A. Unity does not mean uniformity (4)
          B. Unity does not mean licentiousness (5)

III. We will experience peace (6-9)
          A. The peace that comes from security (6-7)
          B. The peace that comes from prosperity (8-9)

I think I probably need to give a rationale for some of my thoughts here. I think the information in point I is probably self-explanatory (if you would like some explanation, just post a comment here and I will happy to respond).

Point II may not be as clear. The psalmist begins in verse 3 by saying that Jerusalem is a city which is compact. We must interpret this no in a Western Post-modern way but in a Ancient Near-eastern way. In today's understanding a city closely compacted together usually brings irritation, crime, rudeness, and many other things which are the antipathy of unity. However, in the psalmist day, a city closely compacted was safe and gave strength in numbers against an attacking enemy. The psalmist was speaking of the unity he felt when entering Jerusalem.

Then in verse 4, he mentions how the different tribes of the Lord all come up and worship in the same manner. The point is, though the twelve tribes of Israel were all different and had their own little quirks, and sometimes they fought amongst themselves, they came together to worship the Lord. There was diversity among the people of God and yet there was unity among the people of God. This produces the sub-point A: Unity is not uniformity.

Yet in balance with the diversity of the tribes, verse 5 mentions the thrones of David, where judgments were rendered. It seems the psalmist is saying that even though there is diversity and unity, this does not mean anything goes. There is still law, and still judgments to be rendered and when all the people come together they acknowledge this. Thus, while there is unity, there is not a licence to live contrary to God's will. Unity is not licentiousness.

Finally, in point III, the issue of peace is brought up. In these four verses (6-9) the word "peace" is mentioned three times. The psalmist wants peace (wholeness, completeness, Shalom) in Jerusalem. For the ancient jew, this is somewhat literal. No more wars and no more fighting amoung themselves; a wholeness for the people of God. To the Christian, peace is found through Christ and Christ alone. However, the peace we will find in heaven must be beyond anything we can fathom in this physical world.

The psalmist finds peace from the walls of Jerusalem which keeps the enemies out. In short, he finds peace through security. Second, he seems to indicating that he finds peace through the prosperity of Jerusalem. PLEASE NOTE: I am not referring to the prosperity that the charlatans called prosperity preachers are talking about. I am talking about how well off we will be in heaven. I do not expect to live like a king on this earth. I am, however, a child of the King of everything and will be living with him forevermore. I do not know how much more prosperous one could get.

In keeping with my practicing of assigning a "modern" song to each of these psalms, the obvious choice for me was used in the title: the hymn "When We All Get to Heaven" (click to listen).

Sing the wondrous love of Jesus,
Sing His mercy and His grace.
In the mansions bright and bless├Ęd
He’ll prepare for us a place.

When we all get to Heaven,
What a day of rejoicing that will be!
When we all see Jesus,
We’ll sing and shout the victory!

While we walk the pilgrim pathway,
Clouds will overspread the sky;
But when traveling days are over,
Not a shadow, not a sigh.

When we all get to Heaven,
What a day of rejoicing that will be!
When we all see Jesus,
We’ll sing and shout the victory!

Let us then be true and faithful,
Trusting, serving every day;
Just one glimpse of Him in glory
Will the toils of life repay.

When we all get to Heaven,
What a day of rejoicing that will be!
When we all see Jesus,
We’ll sing and shout the victory!

Onward to the prize before us!
Soon His beauty we’ll behold;
Soon the pearly gates will open;
We shall tread the streets of gold.

When we all get to Heaven,
What a day of rejoicing that will be!
When we all see Jesus,
We’ll sing and shout the victory!