Welcome to this week's ToGather.church! In a world of chaos, violence, decay, natural disasters, distrust, war, and hatred, where will Jesus' disciples find their help and hope? This question about seeking refuge from the upheaval in the world feels as fresh as the evening news, our daily digital news feed, or the latest rant by politicians. Thankfully, the answer to the key question of the moment — "Where can I find help, security, and hope?" — remains the same: In the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.
I lift up my eyes to the hills — where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
Phil's message this week helps us understand why this familiar passage was so important to the people of Israel. As a song of ascent, the people of Israel sang the words of Psalm 121 as they ascended the roads leading into Jerusalem. Generations of people built the Holy City on several mountaintops to protect it from invasion. All pilgrims headed to one of Israel's great festivals would join hundreds, sometimes even thousands, of other pilgrims as they made their way up the roads into Jerusalem. These pilgrims felt a great sense of solidarity as God's PEOPLE (Israelites and children of Abraham) as they made their way to their essential PLACE (Jerusalem and the Temple Mount), very much aware of God's POWER that had preserved them!
Israel was a tiny nation lying along the fertile Jezreel Valley and in the shadow of har Megiddo (Armageddon). For millennia, nations had used this passageway as the primary connection between the Far East, Middle East, Europe, Asia, and Africa. The most powerful nations also had fought to control this passageway and the people God had perched in this strategic location.
Despite many warnings from the prophets, God's people began to trust in their identity as his chosen PEOPLE and in the holiness of God's glorious presence in their PLACE (Jerusalem and the Temple), and they presumed the Almighty's POWER would consistently deliver them. Assuming they were God's PEOPLE, and being blessed with PLACE and repeatedly delivered by God's POWER, made them blind. They never thought that God would use his POWER to discipline them! God judged them according to his demands for righteous character, gracious compassion, and faithful justice. They had turned their identity as his PEOPLE and his blessing them with PLACE into idols. He found them guilty.
Rather than trusting in PEOPLE, PLACE, and POWER, Phil reminded us that Psalm 121:1-8 declares that we will find our help, hope, and spiritual health in trusting the LORD, YHWH — God as Father, Son, and Spirit. If we love God, then we will obey him. He will not only help us, but Father, Son, and Spirit will make their home with us (John 14:14-23).
When we see the beauty of the mountains, this psalm should remind us to seek the Creator and Sustainer behind them. This God, our God, the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth, longs for us to draw near, worship, and build our lives upon him and his ways.
Our full worship video helps us open our hearts to the LORD — YHWH, God as Father and Son and Spirit. We can celebrate his love and presence as we are filled with the Spirit and sing, share the Lord's Supper, pray, and share a closing blessing.
We pray the Holy Spirit fills and empowers you as we worship! Demetrius has found several wonderful songs that use our focus passage, and we believe the Spirit will bless you as you worship and lift your eyes, hearts, and praises to the Lord!