Rev Dr Timothy Tow
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.” (Ps 133).
It is observed that the higher a man climbs up the ladder of success, the more enemies he makes. So, there is a Chinese saying, “Talking bad of the king behind his back.” Some of David’s enemies were Shimei, Ahithophel and even Absalom his own son.
But God also raised up loyal followers for King David. They supported David to make him king. Of 30 captains who stood with David there were three who heard David say, “Oh, how I’d like a drink of cool, fresh water from the well of my hometown Bethlehem.” Now at that time Bethlehem was occupied by the Philistines. The three captains taking their lives into their own hands broke through the ranks of the Philistines and brought back the cool, refreshing water to their king. But David said, “This is the blood of the three captains. I cannot drink it.” Then he poured it on the ground as an offering to the Lord.
The goodness and pleasantness of brotherly love David is talking about, is not that of natural brothers but rather of the spiritual. If it is also of natural brothers, it will be doubly pleasant.
Nevertheless, David has so admonished his friends to live by his injunctions as follows, “I will sing of mercy and judgment: unto thee, O LORD, will I sing. I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way. O when wilt thou come unto me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me. A froward heart shall depart from me: I will not know a wicked person. Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off: him that hath an high look and a proud heart will not I suffer. Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me: he that walketh in a perfect way, he shall serve me. He that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my house: he that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight. I will early destroy all the wicked of the land; that I may cut off all wicked doers from the city of the LORD.” (Ps 101). As St Augustine puts it succinctly to his students, “I will not allow anyone of you to talk bad of others behind their back.”
Now the Church is a Gospel centre, but we have made it a gossip centre. Twisted reports of man or things are often repeated. Watch your tongue and watch your lips. But rather say things that edify. A senior’s word of commendation on a junior goes a long way to build up the younger person. By way of illustration, a new lecturer took over the homiletics class I used to teach. Every student, even the best, was torn to shreds, after the sermon he preached. Everyone almost became a nervous wreck. Knowing that a learner needs encouragement than destructive criticism, my method is, “Please say a kind word on the sermon.” In this way his confidence is built up, and slowly he improves to be a good speaker. In our association with one another let us be kindly affectioned one to another.
The power of brotherly love, of mutual love and respect, is like sweet perfume, like the special ointment that anoints the high priest, most precious. Every drop of it that flows from the head to the beard and that flows down the garment is fragrant. How it pleases not only men but also Almighty God. When men hear of brotherly love in the leadership of the Church they praise the Lord and bless His Name, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice” (Prov 29:2).
The power of brotherly love is likened to the dew of Mount Hermon that brings life-giving moisture to the hills of Zion, from high to low. Mount Hermon in the north is 9,000 ft and the Hills of Zion 2,700 ft. This causes the parched grass of Zion, after a night’s descent of Hermon’s dew to spring up to life. From brown to green in one night. The power of brotherly love transforms the dying to exuberant life even in the famous saying, “one [shall] chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight” (Deut 32:30).
There were twelve spies sent by Moses into Canaan to spy out the land. Ten returned with a dismal report, comparing themselves to grasshoppers in a land of giants. This so discouraged the children of Israel that they would return to Egypt.
Two were of a different mind, Joshua and Caleb. Full of faith, they urged, “If the LORD delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey. Only rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not” (Num 14:8–9).
What was the result? The ten spies who brought an evil report died in the plague before the Lord, but Joshua and Caleb lived through the 40 years of wilderness journey even to 110 years and beyond 85 years respectively.
God will give you long life because of your faith, and good health and strength, even like Moses who lived to 120. The power of brotherly love, the likemindedness of brethren who dwell together in unity, is the love of David for his followers. This is the same unity of the Apostles serving their Saviour who exhorted them, “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you” (John 15:12–14).
[Source: Life BPC Weekly, 12 January 2003.]
When Jesus came the first time, the angels announced, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14). But in Luke 12:51, Jesus said, “Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay, but rather division.” How do we explain this? Jesus indeed came to bring peace into the world as the angels announced, but peace will only come when certain conditions are met. What are these conditions?
(1) Peace will only come when we make peace with God. People in the world today are looking for peace—peace in the world, peace at home, peace at work, peace in church, but they will find it in vain. The reason why there is no peace anywhere on earth is because of sin. That is why we need a Saviour, and that is why Jesus had to come. That is why our Saviour’s name is JESUS for He has come to “save His people from their sins” (Matt 1:21). So, in order to have peace, we need to be reconciled to God, and be born again (John 3:3). Yes, unless we are born again, we will not experience peace in our life, we will not have the peace which passes all understanding which only God can give (Phil 4:7). “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 5:1).
Now having made peace with God, you will not have peace on earth for this sinful and satanic world hates God. That was why Jesus said He did not come to give peace on earth but division. James 4:4 says, “whosoever… will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” Similarly, anyone who is a friend of God becomes the enemy of the world. The world will hate the faithful and obedient follower of Christ. Did not Jesus say, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you… Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also” (John 15:18–20)? The Apostle Paul said,“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Tim 3:12).
Why is there no peace on earth? Two reasons: evil and error. How can there be peace when the evils of greed, hatred, corruption, sodomy, immorality, wars, terrorism etc exist? How can there be peace when all kinds of false “ism”s prevail? But did not God promise peace on earth and good will toward men? So when will this peace come?
(2) Peace will only come when the Prince of peace returns. The leaders of the world say they want peace but they are dropping bombs and firing missiles as they speak. As Jesus predicted, there will be wars and rumours of wars and we are more alert to His second coming.
Only the Lord Jesus Christ—the Prince of peace—can bring true and lasting peace to this world, and He will do that when He comes again. When Jesus returns in all His power and glory, He will judge the nations, and all the nations will kowtow before Him. Under His reign which will last for a thousand years, there will be no wars and no instruments of war. This is prophesied in Isaiah 2:4, “And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”
Are you looking forward to the return of the Lord Jesus Christ? You will not be looking forward to the Lord’s return if your mind and heart are geared towards building up your treasures on earth. We should be building treasures in heaven and one way is to give and support and invest in missions and in the lives of people to extend Christ’s kingdom on earth until He returns. “I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35).
May the Lord help us to be a loving and a giving and forgiving people as we await eagerly and patiently for His return. The signs of the times do tell us that His second coming is very soon. JK
GOSPEL SUNDAY ONLINE, MARCH 12, 10.30am
Invite your family and friends to your home on the Lord’s Day to hear about
Biblical Earthquakes (Matt 24:7)
With Chinese interpretation
1 Goldhill Plaza, #03-35, S(308899) email@example.com 6254 1287
© 2023 True Life Bible-Presbyterian Church