Summary: This message challenges the faithful to take seriously faith in the Lord Jesus Christ alone but looking past certain Hills that are in view.
My Friends, WE NEED TO TALK! I want to highlight this headline in our little chat. I want to discuss with you: “HILL RELIGION.”
The Text I have tagged and targeted for teaching is Psalms 121:1-2. It reads in the New King James Version:
“I will lift up my eyes to the hills-
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the LORD
Who made heaven and earth.”
Between the Hanging Gardens in Babylon and the Palm-Scented Valley of Jezreel, there lay a Dusty Desert. And in the distance, we hear the cadence of marching feet. For recently liberated Captives of Babylonian oppression, with the steady thump-thump of weary yet happy feet, are on their way home to Israel after seventy years of slavery.
Prior to our text, they had already traveled a day’s journey into the barren desert. And, at the close of the day, these sojourners pitched their tents having settled in for a night’s rest. And at nightfall, these children of Jacob could be heard from their tents reciting the First Verse of Psalm 120 saying, “In my distress I cried unto the LORD, and HE heard me.”
As we approach our text, another day’s journey has been completed, and their tribes have settled in order around the standards of Israel for another night’s rest. As our text indicates, they bivouac near the foot of an un-named mountain. Sentinels or guards have been placed in strategic locations in the mountain to watch for distant and incoming danger, and to protect the weary travelers below.
Now before retiring to sleep, a sojourner seeking assurance lifts up his eyes to the hills to locate the guards on duty. He spots the guards in the mountain as their silhouettes move back and forth. And yet, their presence does not ease his anxiety! He still feels vulnerable and insecure. So he asks himself the question – “From whence comes my help? Does my defense come from soldiers on guard in the hills? Surely,” he reasons, “they have to get sleepy and tired during their watch and doze off to sleep.”
Therefore, he Revises His Religion, he Updates His Creed. For he concludes that his help does not come from the Hills of his Religiosity. He says in our text – “My Help Comes From The Lord.” Then he rises from his bed and proclaims in a loud voice to all of Israel what had just been revealed to him as he Looked Beyond the Hills. Said he:
“The LORD will not suffer your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your Keeper, The LORD is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day, Nor the moon by night.
The LORD shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul.
The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in From this time forth, and forevermore.”
Now, to catch the significance of that statement, you must bear in mind THE IMPORTANCE OF MOUNTAINS IN THE LIFE OF ISRAEL. The Hills or Mountains, to these Hebrews, were Holy, being the Abode of God.
You do recall, don’t you, what happened when Israel pitched in the Desert of Sinai in the Third Month of their Exodus? Well, just in case you have forgotten, let me refresh your memory. As you recall, they were told by Moses to sanctify themselves for three days, and on that third day the Lord would come down in the sight of all the people upon Mount Sinai. The base of the Mountain was roped off lest anyone should touch it and die. So when the trumpet sounded on the morning of the third day, a thick cloud descended upon the mountain accompanied by thunder, lightning and the voice of a very loud trumpet. So loud was it that all the people trembled. Then the Lord descended upon Mt. Sinai in fire, the smoke ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain shook greatly.
Now, at that manifestation of the Presence of God, Mt. Sinai became a Holy Place in the psyche of Israel to be admired from a distance and became the Object of Worship. Likewise, Mounts Horeb and Zion became Sacred Places. Mount Horeb because of the Burning Bush experience, in which shoes were to be removed for the ground was holy. Thus, through the years, these Mountains were made the Objects of worship whether God was in them or not; the Superstition of the Hills became the Religion of the Hebrews.
Therefore, it become highly significant and worthy of our attention when our brother in the text LOOKS BEYOND THE HILLS TO THE LORD! If these ancient Hebrews saw the Necessity of Looking Beyond the Hills of their Heritage and History to the LORD of Creation, then certainly THERE MUST BE SOME HILLS IN OUR PRESENT PREDICAMENT THAT NEED LOOKING BEYOND TO THE AUTHOR AND FINISHER OF OUR FAITH!