The Songs of Ascents
As a college student, I was a part of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, an organization with a rich history of discipling young Christians in living for Jesus. It was here that I was especially encouraged to study the Bible as God’s Word, to share the Gospel with other people, to pray about pretty much everything, and so on. And I loved it. And I grew closer to Christ.
Discipleship. Holiness. The good news of transformation in Christ that we have considered in Ephesians and which I thoroughly embraced in high school gave way to a life of following Jesus, of being “in the world but not of it”, of running a race, of persevering in trial and so on … Not that the good news was ignored – it was the foundation for discipleship, the foundation for holiness. I was not saved, however, for nothing. I was saved to step out and begin walking, following Jesus on His way.
That is what I am hoping for all of us. Not that we will be trying to live proving to God or others that we are good, but that as those who know God, as those who have been transformed by Christ, we would be striving to live as He would call us to live. Discipleship. Holiness.
Starting in April, I am returning to the Psalms and will be preaching through Psalms 120-134, known as the Songs of Ascents. Although we are not certain as to how they were used in Israel’s worship, they were likely sung by pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem for one of the great feasts. Others suggest that they were sung, one at a time, as Levites ascended the steps to the temple to perform their ministry. Either way, the picture is that these psalms were important to the people of God as they headed to their “home”, Jerusalem, and to the temple, the place where God dwelt. As Christians, we are those who are home, but not yet home. Like those pilgrims, we are heading towards our God. Like those pilgrims, the goal is worship. Ascent.
So I am glad we can hear and sing and reflect on these psalms together in the months ahead. I am praying that we will find each other’s company on the road enjoyable, that each one of us would know experientially the truth of one of these songs – “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity.” May the Lord bless us on our travels.