• Thayer Thursday – Oil & Dew

Jul
23
Thayer Thursday – Oil & Dew

Chris Thayer is the Director of Discipleship at Good Shepherd Church in Charlotte, NC where he oversees adult life groups and Biblical education. On Thursdays I share his weekly “Thayer’s Thoughts” for small group leaders, which are based on the previous Sunday’s sermon. Click HERE to watch or listen to the accompanying sermon.

Pastors and teachers often tell Christians how important it is that we read our Bibles, but often leave out how we should read our Bibles.

Unfortunately the result of this for much of my young adult life was reading the Bible while being confused and frustrated that I couldn’t figure out what was going on much less what it meant. So I ended up taking the bits that did make sense, set the rest aside, and tried to apply it to my life in a meaningful way.

Through a combination of God’s grace and great mentors—I slowly learned how to read scripture. I’m now much more confident in not only understanding the content I’m reading, but ultimately in knowing the God who inspired it.

Because I’m a product of the experiences I’ve had, and want to help other people either avoid or overcome the same pitfalls I made when reading scripture—I often find myself repeating several key principles in how to properly read our Bible. This is why I appreciate a phrase Talbot has repeated every week in our current sermon series, “On the Up & Up.” Every week he’s said: “The words of the Bible had a life before they were written in our Bibles.”

He has used this particularly to point out that the Psalms of Ascent were songs the ancient Israelites sang on their multiple yearly pilgrimages to Jerusalem before they were ever put between the covers of the Bibles many of us have in our homes. The same principle applies, for instance, to Paul’s letters (or any other writings of scripture for that matter) which were actual letters written to actual churches before they were ever collected into what we know as the Bible.

This is a fantastic way of understanding the books of the Bible. It reminds us that by their very nature—the books of the Bible are in one sense foreign. They weren’t written by people who lived in the 21st century. They weren’t written to us. They were, however, preserved for us.

These ancient documents have been passed down from generation to generation that we might ultimately understand the God, our God, who inspired them. Since we’re so far removed from their writing, what we read is often confusing without a little bit of research.

We see that clearly in this week’s Psalm of Ascent, Psalm 133. The writer of Psalm 133 compares unity to two things that held quite a bit of meaning for an ancient Israelite. However, unless you’re a Biblical scholar these examples mean little to us. Oil and dew. Specifically, Oil being poured on Aaron’s head and running down his beard and the dew from Mount Hermon. The oil is a reference to the oil made for anointing the items in the tabernacle as well as the high priest (the first of which was Aaron). You can read about this oil in Exodus 29 & 30. This oil was extravagant, sacred, and protected. Mount Hermon was the highest mountain in the range at the northern border of Ancient Israel (on the border of Modern day Syria & Lebanon). At over 9,000 feet, Hermon receives a thick morning dew. This is in contrast to the dry climate of Jerusalem (where the Israelites are headed for their pilgrimage). The dew is life giving, sustaining, abundant.

So when we look at these two examples in their context, we see that the author of Psalm 133 is exclaiming how good the unity of God’s people is. It’s like the oil poured on Aaron’s head: extravagant, sacred, to be protected. It’s like the dew of Mt. Hermon: life giving, sustaining.

“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people dwell together in unity!”

Chris Thayer

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