In the presence of God

Psalm 134

1. Behold, bless ye the LORD, all ye servants of the LORD, which by night stand in the house of the LORD.
2. Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the LORD.
3. The LORD that made heaven and earth bless thee out of Zion.

This is just a short Psalm, that may seem a bit strange to us living in America in the 21st century.  But look at it closely.

We know that David organized the Levites to do the work of the Temple.  The Temple in Jerusalem was where God’s presence was.  It was where God met with His people, accepted their sacrifices and worship, and was with them.

These Levites had a lot of mundane work to do.  They would sweep the floors, take out the garbage, count the money, take stock of the inventory for the next day, and busy themselves in the business of the temple.

Some of the Levites were the night watchmen.  It was their job to guard the temple.  Anyone who has ever worked the night-shift knows how long the hours seem as they go by – especially if your only job is to stay awake and watch.

David is reminding them that their jobs are not what they seem.  They are highly favored ones, greatly privileged to stand in the presence of God, to serve Him in His Holy Temple!  Their work could very easily become mundane, repetitive and seemingly useless.  If they are like a lot of us, they would wonder if it even made any difference.

But they were working in the presence of God; their work could never be useless and mundane, for they served the glorious and almighty Maker of heaven and earth who dwelt with His people.  They served the same Triune God that led them with the glorious pillar of fire and pillar of cloud, who drowned Pharaoh in the Red Sea, while Israel walked on dry ground.  To be God’s people truly means something magnificent.  When God is in our midst, who is there to fear?

When Jesus came into the world, the Temple became obsolete.  When He died and put away our sins forever the veil that separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the Temple was torn from top to bottom.  The presence of God would now no longer be in a Temple made with hands, but He would pour out His Holy Spirit on the church and dwell with them forever, living in their hearts by faith.

When Jesus ascended into heaven, the Holy Spirit came upon the church in the upper room in Jerusalem.  That which the Temple foreshadowed was now a reality.  God is truly in our midst.  He is our God and we are His people.

So what does this have to do with this Psalm?  We may not be ancient Levites.  We may not be night watchmen in the Temple in Jerusalem.  But we are all something far, far greater:  We are a holy nation, a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9).  We are the Church of the Living God! Everything that we do is in the presence of almighty God, who loves us and sent us His only begotten Son, who died for us, rose from the dead and ascended into heaven so that He might give to us the Holy Spirit.  We truly work, eat, sleep, play, live and love in the presence of our Eternal and Almighty Father!  What a thought!

Which means that our work also can never be mundane.  Which means that we will never be alone.  Which means that he guards, defends,  and preserves us forever, even in this vale of tears, until finally complete victory is ours.

Whether we are changing diapers, cleaning toilets, counting things, stacking things, filing briefs, doing dishes, mopping floors, fixing pipes or building cabinets – we do it in the presence of God, as His servants, under His eye, under His protection, under His fatherly hand. We are bringing order and exercising dominion in a fallen world.  It isn’t fixing pipes; it is declaring war on Satan himself!  The author of confusion and chaos and ruin trembles every time a mother changes the diaper of her little one in service to her Lord.  Remember that Jehosheba “only” loved, protected and raised a baby while the wicked queen Athaliah was destroying all of the seed of David (2 Kings 11).  But through this service, God brought our Redeemer into the world.  It looked like diapers, baby food and nap time for Jehosheba; but it was the salvation of the world in God’s economy.

The problem is that often times we want to serve ourselves and our pleasures, but we will never find our purpose there, for we were created for something greater than serving our bellies.

We want all of the answers and we want them now.  But God says, “Wait.  Trust. Obey.”

Or we try to protect ourselves.  We distrust God’s hand. We still think that God only helps those that help themselves forgetting that our God helps the helpless, the fatherless, the orphans, the sick, wounded, outcast, weak, blind, lame and halt.

He gathers up the outcasts of Israel and the outcasts of the Gentiles and brings them into His kingdom, to praise and glorify Him forever in His presence.

And every task that we do, we are to do it with our might, because it isn’t useless.  It isn’t mundane. It isn’t ordinary.

It is to the Lord, and we have no idea what He will do with it – but we know that it will be magnificent!  We don’t need God to hurry; we do need to learn patience and trust.

We often sow our seeds with tears, but the harvest is plentiful and unimaginable.  Not one thing that we have committed to His hand will be wasted or lost, for His ways are not our ways.

Walk by faith, then; not by sight.  Obey Him; work in His presence; bless the Lord, lifting up holy hands, for God now accepts your works.

May the Lord bless thee out of Zion.

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