I want to be challenged—and to challenge you—to be more serious about the passions and the purposes of our King, Jesus of Nazareth.
My text is Psalm 132, which has two movements. The first portion (vv 1-10) recounts King David's passionate pledge to God, to build him a house suitable for his dwelling. In the second portion (vv.11-18) God makes a promise to David that he will build up David’s house.
I want to draw three applications from this contextual historical setting, applications relevant to you and me as pilgrims in God's Kingdom; those called and commissioned to be priests and servants in the rule and reign of Jesus in and through our lives.
First Point: The way of the pilgrim (of Kingdom People) is the way of passion
To ascend to the house of the LORD—in other words, to come into the presence and experience the power of God—you must have a passion for the divine, and you must be divinely impassioned. The God of Israel is a passionate God. Those texts that picture this truth can be translated jealous or passionate, and typically it is used of God only in the context of a covenant marriage with Israel. God is passionate for Israel, and when she goes whoring after other gods, he becomes a jealous God. Our God is a consuming fire; he cares deeply for his people, for his purposes on earth. So if we want to take on his nature, if we want to be subject to his rule and reign, if we want to ascend into his presence and power, we must be passionate people.
David had a heart after God. He was far from perfect, but he was passionate. Passion goes a long way in covering up imperfections. My son is not perfect, but as a father, I love it when I see him passionate for the right thing, for the things of God and I quickly forget his imperfections. How much more is your Father in heaven moved and responsive when you are passionate for him?
David could wholeheartedly worship the LORD, dancing before him with all his might. He is an example of a man with a heart after God; he could humble himself, which is essential to authentic worship. As you decrease, God increases. Psalm131 speaks to David’s humility, and Psalm 132 is full of his passion, the two go together in him and us.
Also, David could not find his ease in Zion until he had built a suitable habitation for God. He could not find ultimate comfort in his palace or all of his royal prerogatives and privileges. David had a holy discontent until he had made a suitable habitation for God. He was determined to put God in his right place, which was the top place.
God is passionate to be the only God in your life. If in your pyramid of values there is anything on top other than God, you are engaged in idolatry, and you are not building a habitation in which God’s glory can come and dwell. I suggest that many of us, particularly those of us in the west, are being deceived and misdirected by our idols of comfort, convenience, and consumerism.
Ezekiel 16 describes the sin of Sodom as being arrogant, overfed and unconcerned—callous to the needs of the poor. I suggest to you that much of the church is not dwelling in Zion, we are taking our ease in Sodom. We are arrogant, unconcerned, overfed, spoiled, and glutted on religion. Too often we are unconcerned for those in need, which is a priority in the Kingdom of God. Storing up treasures in heaven was Jesus’ Hebraic way of saying, "give to the needy, the poor." Give all you have to the poor, and you will store up treasure in heaven, and then come and follow me, says Messiah to the rich young man. We must not take our ease in Sodom if we are going to dwell in the holy house of the God of Israel.
We must be passionate. Many of us evangelicals are fearful of emotion (except at sporting events). We need to connect with our Hebrew roots. Jewish worship is passionate and Jewish suffering has been intense, and perhaps there is a correlation. When you live without some faculty for a long time and then it is suddenly given to you, it is incredibly precious. Have you ever been starving? Do you remember how sweet that first taste of whole natural food is?
We have to hunger and thirst for God’s righteousness like the deer pants for water in the desert; then God will make our feet like hind’s feet, then we will ascend the high places. When we are dying of thirst and nothing but living waters can quench the thirst, then we shall be filled. Our Christian tradition if full of memorable personalities that were known, not for being perfect, but for their passion.
Let me make one important clarification, my comments on emotions do not mean I am saying, as is sadly often the case in American churches, that we have to work up emotion. Too many of us ministers fall victims to that tendency to manipulate an audience so we can get an emotional effect as a substitute for the spiritual presence of God.
Right after the Iron Curtain fell a friend of mine made a trip to the Soviet Union where he attended an underground church service which was still meeting quietly and secretly. He came into that room, and the glory of God was so evident there that it nearly knocked him over. His response? It humbled him.
He entered a room with 200 Soviets, some of whom for 40 years had traveled great distances each week to join together and pray for the liberation of Russia. When he saw them with hands uplifted and songs of praises issuing from their lips, all he wanted to do was crawl under the pew (except the seats were nothing but wooden boards on cinder blocks). Do you want to know why our services are cold and arid in comparison? Could it be because we worship on our terms, not on God’s terms? That we do not have a heart like David, who found no ease in Zion without God's presence?
There are pastors, church leaders, and believers all over the world burning out because they fail to understand that the fire of God comes first by being in his presence and learning to let him do the work through you. Our very being was created to be filled with the passion of God which spills out in holy obedience and good works that glorify our Father!
Keep this in mind, when your emotions energize you, you will be consumed. However, when the Spirit of the living God energizes you, it burns with a fire that does not consume, just like Moses' experience with the holy presence of God at the burning bush.
Let us rise and return to our first love. Let us pray, "Father make us passionate in pursuit of your presence and purposes!" Amen.
This devotional study is from a professionally produced transcription
of Dwight's audio message. It is a full and accurate transcript,
formalized and edited for readability and clarity by JC Studies.