The highest church building in England is that of Brentor, Devon. Build atop a large Tor on the edge of Dartmoor the church rises hundreds of feet above the village below. Until a new church was built in the village in the 1800s worshippers literally had to “go up” to the house of the Lord.
Such was the case in ancient Israel with the Temple. The Temple Mount actually sits atop Mount Moriah which itself is overshadowed by higher hills around it. It is a sort of hill within a ring of hills. It is this image of having to ascend from the valley below to the Temple that the pilgrim had in mind in Psalm 122:1 when he said:
I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go up to the house of the LORD!’
Under the Old Covenant the Temple was the centre of the sacrificial system for making atonement for sins and the presence of the LORD on earth. His public worship, as prescribed by countless commandments, was therefore centred around the Temple where the Israelites were “to go up” to benefit from these two primary functions. Though under the New Covenant the function of the Temple has been replaced by the Cross and the Holy Spirit, “to go up” is still relevant for it refers to the act of Christians gathering together for public worship.
Whilst Christians are to worship the Lord through every aspect of their lives, and can also do so privately, to gather together for the public worship of the Lord on His appointed day is a chief form among them all. To enter into His presence, sing His praises, hear from His Word, have the ordinances (baptism and communion) administered and fellowship with other believers; these are all reasons to attend public worship (duty) and do so with gladness (delight). “To go up” means the process can be demanding of us in some way, but that any ardours melt away when we consider the end of our worship, the LORD, and when are efforts, or rather our faith in this means of grace, is rewarded with untold spiritual blessings. The Lord and not the location or building, the pastor or the people, is the object of this act of worship and the reason for going. He is the centre and spring of all of our gladness along with our desire to go. If we love Him, we’ll love “to go up.”
The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,
Even in our day and age when people don’t keep their commitments as much as they used to (or ought to); when we have a big appointment—a really big appointment—all other appointments become second place to that big appointment. Time centres around it.
As a Christian my entire week’s structure revolves around the worship of our Triune God each Lord’s Day (Sunday). Each week is spent in expectation of this big appointment as I prepare to worship my Lord, and each new week is grounded in the rest it affords. Failing ill health or a grave emergency, I never miss this appointment with my God and my brothers and sisters in Christ; vacation, family, work, nothing. It is my number one weekly priority which governs all others.
Hebrews 10:25 says as much,
Do not neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
The Lord’s Day is our big appointment, the Divinely appointed day for rest and worship and family. It is a passion of mine to encourage others to order their lives accordingly and receives its blessings.
Church tradition tells of John, the apostle, being bed ridden in his old age (he live until his late 80s or early 90s) and yet his desire to worship His Lord and be with his people was such that he requested to be brought to worship on a stretcher! I’ve know many dear saints who’ve done likewise, whose great desire it was to make this big appointment.
Our statement of faith expresses this sentiment: We believe that the first day of the week is the Lord’s Day, and that, in a special sense, it is divinely appointed day for worship and spiritual exercise.
The evangelical Anglican and abolitionist, William Wilberforce, summarized what my own experience has testified to be true: I can truly declare that to me the Sabbath has been invaluable.
The Lord’s Day is my big appointment, is it yours?
The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,
Author: Chris Crocker
Pastor, historian and beekeeper.
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