A psalm of David.
I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord.”
And now here we are, standing inside your gates,
Jerusalem is a well-built city;
its seamless walls cannot be breached.
All the tribes of Israel—the Lord’s people
—make their pilgrimage here.
They come to give thanks to the name of the Lord,
as the law requires of Israel.
Here stand the thrones where judgment is given,
the thrones of the dynasty of David.
Pray for peace in Jerusalem.
May all who love this city prosper.
may there be peace within your walls and prosperity in your palaces.
For the sake of my family and friends, I will say,
“May you have peace.”
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
I will seek what is best for you, O Jerusalem.
-Psalm 122 (NLT)
The person up front got on the microphone and spoke with great exuberance, "Isn't it wonderful to be in the house of the Lord this morning!" It would be more appropriate, to remark, that it's is great to be with God's people or the body of Christ.
We are glad and rejoice to worship God anywhere and at anytime, in our daily journey. The people are now the temple or house of God on earth. Each person, made alive in Christ, is a temple or house of God, all the time; and when we gather together, we are many and one house or temple for God to dwell in and among.
The temple referred to in Psalm 122 was destroyed in A.D. 70 and has been in ruins ever since. In the new covenant, the people of God, collectively (1 Cor. 3:16, Eph. 3:20), and individually (1 Cor. 6:19), are now the temple of God.
Because we are each portable worship temples, we no longer have to wait for and anticipate worship services. We live a life of worship. In our praise to God and continual thankfulness towards the Lord, God is transforming our minds to having the mind of Christ (Rom. 12:1-2, 1 Cor 2:16).
The whole Bible, the whole council of God, is valuable. But, we must find out the new covenant way of worship, that incorporates the old, but goes beyond it, because of the advent of Christ and his pouring out or baptizing us with the Holy Spirit.
In the new covenant, every Christian is charismatic, in that they have the Holy Spirit in their lives. This is normative and not optional. We need to not get hung up on worrying that charismatic means, "swinging from chandeliers", as Christians in England would say. Being charismatic means, that you have and carry God within you.
Being a Christian means that you have Christ or rather that Christ has you. Christ in you is more than your nationality, your family, your social standing, or your sex (Gal. 3:28). Your identity is Christ if you are a Christian. And Christ in you (Col. 1:27) makes you a worshiper, seven days a week.
So, Psalm 122, for the Christian, is about a desire to worship, especially with others: "I rejoiced when they said to me, let us go to the house of the Lord." What is different is that we are the temple and we are completely portable.
Most of the rest of Psalm 122, is taken up with words of adoration for the city of Jerusalem. In Revelation 21:2, John sees Jerusalem as being the bride of Christ, and earlier as the city of God, in Revelation 3:12. In Galatians 4:25-6, Paul calls out the Jerusalem on earth as being part of the law, and looks up to a heavenly Jerusalem as being a place of freedom. This is fascinating and worthy of further study.
When we recite Psalm 122, we are expressing a desire to connect with God, and as Christians, we actually connect with God through other Christians, because God is in them and God is in us. God is reflected in his people and God ministers through them. Each Christian is a 24/7 house of worship and when we gather, whether in twos or threes, or in hundreds, there is a synergy of all the little houses together, with our big God.
But the purpose when we gather is not to worship or have what we call worship services. The church in the new testament is a community of the Spirit, where the whole body is activated. Today we have services, where only a few serve the rest; and we have meetings where we don't meet one another. Jesus said that he came that we might have life (not meetings), and every snap shot on the church in the NT has words like together and one another and each one.
So, do you know what the purpose, in the New Covenant, is for our gathering together? You might be surprised that it is not to worship nor to hear preaching or teaching from an individual. The purpose of gathering is mutual edification.
Well, my brothers and sisters, let’s summarize. When you meet together, one will sing, another will teach, another will tell some special revelation God has given, one will speak in tongues, and another will interpret what is said. But everything that is done must strengthen all of you.That pattern of life in the new covenant is one were we come from worshiping and serving God all week, to our gatherings with other saints. We come from our lives with God, to edify others, bringing stories to share, and bringing blessings.
-1 Cor. 14:26
Worship in the new covenant is now a life, not an event (John 4). We don't go to a building to find God. But, we can go to all sorts of buildings or spaces to meet with people, and God is there. These people all might carry God in them, so in a sense, when you meet with other folks, you meet with Jesus in them. You will find him in the midst of his people.
Let's look at Hebrews 10:24-25:
"Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near."Here we have some inspired details about the church meeting. The purpose is to encourage one another. One another means everybody. Everyone gets to play.
There is singing in the gathering, but is is to one another (Eph. 5:19, Col. 3:16).
So, looking back at Psalm 122, I believe that the way that Christians practice the same heart that the psalmist expresses, is in a lifestyle of seeking God, of worshiping God, in their lives. The temple of the Lord is now completely portable. It is a place we can go to every day.
All of our lives is a pilgrimage towards God and towards heaven. If we take Psalm 122 in the context of the 15 steps of Psalms 120-134, it is the third step of the three vision steps:
- We get in touch for our need of God become a person of prayer, finding out that God answers.
- We become aware that God is our guardian, watching over us as we come and go.
- We develop a personal life of worship in praise and thankfulness that transforms us.
The painting above is from here
For further study or encouragement:
The Church As Meetinghouse, Enter To Serve, and Why We Must Insist On Every-Member Ministry, by David Alan Black
Living Stones and a Spiritual House, About Mutual Edification, The Role of Leaders in Mutual Edification, and Remembering The Importance of Mutual Edification by Alan Knox