Summary: Number 5 in a series looking at the imagery in the modern Hymn These are the days of Elijah, looking at David and what worship is really all about.
BULLETIN: Church information, read only during the sermon. PEW: A medieval torture device still found in most churches. HYMN: A song of praise, usually sung in a key three octaves higher than that of the congregation’s range. CHOIR: A group of people whose singing allows the rest of the congregation to lip-sync. AMEN: The only part of a prayer that everyone knows.
This morning we are continuing our look at the song These are the Days of Elijah, to see what we can learn about revival from it. Obviously, I wasn’t here last week so you looked at something else, well at least obviously for those of you that were here. But here’s a quick reminder of what we have looked at before. We saw how Elijah declared the word of the Lord not only when it was hard to hear but also when it was hard to preach. No matter what else we do we need to be faithful to the Bible. Then we saw how John the Baptist prepared the way of the Lord, by urging the people to repentance and how we can also prepare the way for God in our lives through repentance. We looked at Moses and how he restored righteousness. We saw that righteousness was both a relationship with God and also a standard of behaviour. We didn’t need to meet the standard to come to God otherwise we’d all be doomed but we need to be willing to allow God to make the changes in our lives to bring it about. Then we looked at the year of jubilee. The year of jubilee is all about forgiveness and restoration. We saw how God wanted to forgive and restore us and how it was our response to forgive and restore others.
Now if you were hear for those sermons that should have reminded you where we are but if you weren’t it’s probably just really confused you. But that’s ok, because you don’t need to know it all to get to our topic today. The smart ones among you will no doubt have figured out what we are going on to talk about today from the Bible readings. We are going to be looking at lines “And these are the days of Your servant David, Rebuilding the temple of praise.”
Difference between singing songs and worship
Now the Biblical scholars among you or at least the ones who were paying attention during Sunday School, will see at least one small problem with this. David didn’t build the temple let alone rebuild it, his son, Solomon did. So is that is we just get to this part and say, well its nonsense there’s nothing to be learned here. Well, I suppose you could but that would be a very short sermon. Instead we are going to look at an incident in David’s life where he got about as close as possible to rebuilding the temple of praise. As we do this we are going to look at what is acceptable worship / praise to God?
The incident which we read about had to do with the return of the Ark of the Covenant from the Philistines and its instalment to Jerusalem but there was a hiccup, which we have read. Now I’m fairly sure that nearly everybody has heard of the Ark of the Covenant, even those people who have never read the Bible have seen the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark. So I’m guessing most people know what the ark looks like. It was actually a wooden box. But it was covered with gold and instead of a wooden lid it had a solid gold lid with two golden angels on top. God commanded Moses to build it and put various things in side. It symbolised the presence of God and God sometimes used the ark when he did the miraculous. The most famous example is probably when Joshua came to the River Jordan at flood time and told the priests carrying the Ark to walk into the middle of the river and when they did so the water stopped and the people crossed. But what was the ark for, what was its purpose?
Purpose of the ark
God had forbidden idols, but people need symbols and foci. The ark represented the presence of God. It was the place of the shikina glory, which was the visible pillar of cloud and fire that initially went with Israel in the wilderness and eventually came to rest on the temple when it was dedicated. It was the meeting place between God and man, where the high priest came once a year to the holy of holies. It was the place of redemption, where once a year on the day of atonement, blood was poured over the lid, called the mercy seat to cleanse all of Israel from their sins. It was a symbol of God’s holiness, presence and power. It kind of stood for God. But the fact that it was a box not an idol reminded people it was not God. It contained relics from the past, not because they possessed power but that they were a reminder to the people. Firstly there was Aaron’s staff, which was used to part the Red Sea, provided water in the wilderness and kicked off a number of the plauges but it was symbol of the saving power of God, then there was a pot of mannah, the bread God provided in the wilderness to remind them of God’s provision, that he would take care of them and finally there was the stone tablets on which the law was written to remind the people of God’s requirements. Like a lot of the other stuff in the OT it was an object lesson and as opposed to some of the symbolism in the Greek Orthodox church [bit on Greek Orthodox church on rich theology but not communicated so people never learn it] it was to be taught to the children, the meanings behind it all, so they could get what it pointed to. Part of that lesson was how it was to be carried and the fact that no-one could touch it, to demonstrate the unapproachable holiness of God. But more on that later. It was essentially, the primary object in Israelite worship.