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Let Us Go to the House of the Lord

Psalms  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  21:54
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Our text today is one of the most beloved and most misunderstood of the Psalms: Psalm 122. It is divided into three parts:
The Pilgrim’s Joy
The Pilgrim’s Praise
The Pilgrim’s Prayer
Let us begin with...

The Pilgrim’s Joy

The psalm opens with the psalmist speaking to his companions:
Psalm 122:1–2 ESV
I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!” Our feet have been standing within your gates, O Jerusalem!
Is it possible for the New Covenant believer to experience this same type of joy? The Old Covenant Temple no longer exists, it was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.
The answer to this question is yes! Because God’s special dwelling place on earth in no longer located in a physical building. In fact, forty years before the Romans destroyed Temple a new and superior Temple replaced it. This new and superior Temple was not made of stone, but of flesh and blood, His name was Jesus!
In John chapter two we read about Jesus cleansing the Temple, there we read this:
John 2:18–21 ESV
So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body.
John is teaching us that Jesus is the new and superior Temple. The author of Hebrews teaches that the Old Covenant Temple and priesthood were mere shadows pointing to something greater. Jesus did not destroy the Old Covenant Law and its institutions, He fulfilled them!
Matthew 5:17 ESV
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
What this means is that where Jesus’ presence is on earth, God’s Temple is there.
You may ask, “Where Jesus’ presence on earth?”
Jesus give us the answer.
Matthew 18:20 ESV
For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
The House of God is found everywhere two or three believers gather together to worship in Jesus name! God’s Temple is here!
Christ gave us the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, not only to help us remember what He did for us, but also to remind us of His abiding presence among us.
Just like the Old Testament saints where filled with joy as they anticipated being in Jerusalem worshiping God in His Temple, we should be filled with joy anticipating God in His New Covenant Temple: The church gathered in Jesus’ name.
It is sad that so many Christians have forgotten this, they think that a joyful worship experience is found in the music or in being animated. These things can give us a type of joy. The same type of joy you can get at a sporting event or a concert, but the type of joy Psalm 122 speaks of is the joy of being in God’s presence!
God is here! Be joyful!

The Pilgrim’s Praise

We now turn to the middle section of this psalm. Here the psalmist gives us the reason for his joy. The first thing he points to is the miracle of the gathering of God’s people:
Psalm 122:3–4 ESV
Jerusalem—built as a city that is bound firmly together, to which the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, as was decreed for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the Lord.
If you read your Old Testament, one conclusion is inescapable: The tribes of Israel did not get along!
It is no different today. There are lots of “tribes” here. Some of you are “Republican” and some of you are “Democrat.” Some of you are of the “Traditional Music Tribe” and some of you are of the “Contemporary Music Tribe.” I could go on, but I think you get the idea.
Tribalism can be a real problem in the church; it was a problem in the early church. For example, Paul writes the Corinthian church:
1 Corinthians 3:1–4 ESV
But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human?
Then he adds this warning:
1 Corinthians 3:16–17 ESV
Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.
Don’t let your differences with other believers destroy your experience of God’s Temple, rather let the gathering together of different “tribes” be a reason of praise as it was for the psalmist. The Lord’s Supper reminds us that we are the “body” of Christ and that God is glorified in our differences, not in our sameness!
The second thing the psalmist points to is the justice of God.
Psalm 122:5 ESV
There thrones for judgment were set, the thrones of the house of David.
Many believe that the judgment sets of the kings of Israel were set up in or near the Temple. The kings of Israel were acting as judges on behalf of God.
In the Lord’s Supper, we see the justice of God satisfied by the Suffering Servant, Jesus. Our hearts should be filled with these words every time we gather:
My sin—not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
Finally we come to:

The Pilgrim’s Prayer

This prayer is as follows:
Psalm 122:6–9 ESV
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! “May they be secure who love you! Peace be within your walls and security within your towers!” For my brothers and companions’ sake I will say, “Peace be within you!” For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your good.
Many today misapply these words to the present political Jerusalem. I am not suggesting it is not a good idea to pray for the peace of the present political Jerusalem, but that is not what these words now mean under the New Covenant.
As we have seen, God’s temple is no longer limited to one physical location, because Christ is now God’s Temple and anywhere two or three are gather together in His name, He is there as the true Temple of God!
However, as Paul has already warned us, divisions in the church can destroy God’s Temple. In addition, we find repeated warnings in the Letter to the Seven Churches in the book of Revelation that doctrinal and behavioral error can destroy a church. For example:
Revelation 2:5 ESV
Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.
What a tragic thing when the light goes out in a local church. When Jesus taught believers were to be a “city on hill” (Mt 5:14-16), He was teaching that in the Gospel Age the church was the New Jerusalem, the New Mount Zion! God gave the Old Testament church the Great Commission and before He ascended into Heaven He reissued that commission to the New Testament church:
Matthew 28:18–20 ESV
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
As the psalmist says in Psalm 122:8, “For my brothers and companion’s sake I will say, “Peace be within you!”
Are you praying for the peace of the church? If not, there is no better time to start than as we celebrate the Lord’s Supper. The church is God’s divine plan for reaching the Nations. There is no Plan B! Therefore:
Rejoice in the Church!
Give God Praise for the Church!
Pray for the Peace of the Church!
Let us pray.
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