How Good it is for Brethren to Dwell Together by Messianic Bible

How Good it is for Brethren to Dwell Together by Messianic Bible

   “Behold! How good (Hine ma tov) and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity.”  (Psalm 133:1)

Hinei Mah Tov — Behold! How Good …

    Psalm 133 begins with these three words of joy and thankfulness.

    They have been expressed through song and dance in Jewish communities for nearly three thousand years!

    The psalmist tells us that dwelling together in unity with our brethren is related to the blessing that God commands on Mount Zion — which even includes life forevermore.

    So, let’s take a closer look at who the brethren are, what it means to dwell in unity, and what kind of blessing God bestows as a result of this unity.

    Israelis shopping at the Mahane Yehuda (Camp of Judah) market in Jerusalem.

    Who Are the Brethren?

    In Hebrew, brethren is achim — אַחִ֣ים.

    It can refer to siblings, fellow countrymen, relatives (as in Israel and Edom in Numbers 20:14), or even very close friends (as Jonathan was to David in 2 Samuel 1:26).

 While King David is credited with writing this psalm, he didn’t write it about friends or relatives dwelling in unity.

    Like so many of his psalms, David penned it as a song of praise to God.

    The brethren in this psalm are all those who come together to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

    In fact, Psalm 133 is one of 15 psalms known as the “Songs of Ascent.”

    Some believe it was sung in ancient times as the Jews ascended up the hill to Jerusalem on their way to worship the God of Israel at one of the three Biblical Feasts (Shalosh Regalim).

    Shalosh means three and regalim means feet, but in this context it refers to the three pilgrimages to Jerusalem, which were made on foot.

    During the three Biblical Feasts of Pesach (Passover), Shavuot (Pentecost), and Sukkot (Tabernacles), the Jewish people had to go up (aliyah) to Jerusalem.

    Others say the 15 psalms were sung by the Levites (Israel’s priests) as they ascended the 15 steps of the Temple on their way to perform their liturgical duties.

    Whatever the original purpose for these Songs of Ascent, they were sung by the Jewish People (brethren) who came together in unity to worship the one true God of Israel.

    Yeshua, however, took this common Hebraic meaning of brethren (as fellow Israelites worshiping in song) and raised it to a kingdom understanding when He said:

  “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, ‘Behold My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.”  (Matthew 12:48-50)

    In saying this, Yeshua reiterated what the Jewish People already knew but perhaps forgot.

    God expects His People to not only hear, read, and even sing His Word, but also to do it.

    As the early Israelites told Moses, “Speak to us all that the LORD our God speaks to you, and we will hear and do it.” (Deuteronomy 5:27)

    How Does God Want Brethren to Dwell in Unity?

    In Hebrew, yashab often means to dwell but also to sit, wait, remain, and inhabit.

   The Jewish followers of Yeshua (brethren) in the first two chapters of the Book of Acts, sat, waited, and remained together in prayer after Yeshua ascended to heaven.

   They were together in one accord as the Holy Spirit came upon them on the Holy Day of Shavuot (Pentecost) as tongues of fire.

   The Holy Spirit empowered them to unify around a common faith in Yeshua as Messiah and a common mission to spread the Gospel to the Jew first.

   This idea of unity in action fits within the Hebrew mindset that emphasizes doing over the Greek mindset that emphasizes thinking.

   In Hebrew, unity is yachad — יַחַד and one of its meanings is to be unified as a community in action — such as to fight together in battle (Joshua 9:2), argue together with God (Isaiah 43:26), advance together as troops (Job 19:12), sing together (Job 38:7), and exalt God’s name together (Psalm 34:3).

   Quite often in Scripture, yachad also refers to assembling together as a community.

   Jewish communities are known for creating a sense of belonging whether they are in Israel or anywhere else in the world.

   Nowhere else can you join a Biblical feast and feel like you are part of both a heavenly and an earthly family.

   The challenge for the Body of Messiah (Christ) today, is to foster that same sense of tight community where heaven and earth meet so others can feel it, and want it.

    How can we do this?

    One powerful way is by loving our neighbors.

    The Believers in the Book of Acts who were primarily Jewish had extreme unity in this way.

    Rabbi Shaul (the Apostle Paul) tells the Believers in Rome to do something practical for their Jewish brethren in Jerusalem:

   “For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings.”  (Romans 15:27)

    This includes taking care of the lonely, poor, and elderly as it is one way to worship the Lord as brethren in unity.

    Men prepare boxes of food for the poor in Israel.

    When Peter explained to the Jews gathered at Pentecost how Yeshua fulfilled the Messianic Prophecies, he called them his brethren:

   "Brethren, I may confidently say to you …” (Acts 2:29)

    And Yeshua said,

 “’Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of Mine, you did for Me.’” (Matthew 25:40)

    Yeshua spoke these words in a much longer parable (verses 31-46) to explain the responsibility of people who have entered the kingdom of God to help those who are less fortunate by feeding, clothing, and visiting even the least of them.

    Doing these deeds bestows on us an eternal blessing from our Father in Heaven that could extend to those we reach out to and help today.

Unity of Brethren in Worship Is Like Anointing OIl

    How good and pleasant is this kind of unity among brethren?

   “It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe.” (Psalm 133:2; see also Leviticus 8:12)

    Anointing oil represents the Ruach of God, His Spirit, which was poured over Aaron the High Priest (Kohen  Gadol) and other priests to set them apart as holy and fit for His Temple service.

    When we worship the Lord together in action by loving each other, we are clothed with His Ruach (Spirit) in unity.

    We don’t have to imagine this precious oil being poured over us like the priests in Israel, for we are active-duty priests in God’s kingdom on earth, as Peter said:

  “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9)

    The beautiful thing about being a priest in the service of Yeshua is that He gives each of us His Holy Spirit to anoint, strengthen, and enable us to do what He asks us to do.

   “By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another," Yeshua said.  (John 13:35)

Unity of Brethren in Worship Is Like Life-Giving Dew

   “It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the LORD bestows His blessing, even life for eternity.” (Psalm 133:3)

    Most of Israel receives virtually no rain from May through October, yet during these months the coastal lands are blessed with life-giving moisture as the night breezes carry mist from the Mediterranean Sea, spreading it over the parched ground, nourishing and reviving plants and foliage.

    The mountains of the snow-covered Mount Hermon at the most northern point of Israel are also known for spreading abundant mist throughout the night to the hills below and the land beyond.

    Our worship of God in word and deed is like this life-giving dew.

    And, perhaps, as our spirit-filled community of brethren worships in unity, performing practical deeds of love towards the Jewish People, a jealousy will be aroused that leads them to the knowledge of God and His Son, Yeshua, in a way that blesses them with life eternal.

     This is why Paul challenges the Gentile Believers to do as he does, saying:

   “Salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious.”  (Romans 11:11)