Monthly Archives: May 2019

Justice

All my enemies shall be ashamed and greatly troubled; 
they shall turn back and be put to shame in a moment. (Psalm 6:10)

His enemies are those who seek His life and who rebel against God. They will not succeed in their mutiny. They are the individual rebel and the countries that rebel, led by the kings and rulers who disobey God (Psalm 2:1-3). They cannot overthrow God or His Son, established as King in Zion. “The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel” (Psalm 2:7-9 ESV). They will perish, sent away from the source of life, out of God’s presence.

Jesus’ enemies face shame and are ashamed, the same word used twice, which means humiliated, disappointed, embarrassed and disgraced, regretful, as they face God’s eternal displeasure. Troubled is the same word He uses to describe His bones and His soul. “Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am languishing; heal me, O LORD, for my bones are troubled. My soul also is greatly troubled. But you, O LORD—how long? (Psalm 6:2-3 ESV). Troubled means dismayed, terrified, and to hasten or quicken, vexed. That which Jesus felt and experienced as He took upon Himself the sin of all is felt and experienced for eternity by those who die as His enemies. They will experience shame in a moment, which means at any sudden time, coming without warning. Yet, God does warn, directing those who rebel against Him to repent and turn back in obedience. “Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him” (Psalm 2:10-12 ESV). Those who seek refuge in Him are saved from His wrath.

Hezekiah expressed his repentance in his song of deliverance from death. He knew God’s compassion, seeing it as God’s rescue of the nation of Israel from the hands of the Assyrians (2 Kings 19:20-37). Facing death by illness, Hezekiah prayed God would allow him to live. God did, answering his prayer, extending his life by 15 years. “Behold, it was for my welfare that I had great bitterness; but in love you have delivered my life from the pit of destruction, for you have cast all my sins behind your back” (Isaiah 38:17 ESV). Though Hezekiah deserved death because of his sin, he was saved from physical death because of God’s mercy. Hezekiah was a godly king. “And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, according to all that David his father had done” (2 Kings 18:3 ESV). Even those who are godly still disobey God and face the consequences of their sin. In the thinking of his heart, after God healed him if his mortal disease, Hezekiah became proud and stopped thinking about those who would follow him after his ultimate death. Isaiah spoke to Hezekiah about the future of his family and nation.

And some of your own sons, who will come from you, whom you will father, shall be taken away, and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.” Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The word of the LORD that you have spoken is good.” For he thought, “Why not, if there will be peace and security in my days?” (2 Kings 20:18-19 ESV).

This did not trouble him because he knew he would die in peace.

Jesus died in agony, tortured to death by the Romans at the direction of the religious leaders of Judea. He did not stay dead but was raised in peace. His resurrection brings peace and rest to those who are His. But to those who reject Him, who wished Him dead and would want Him to stay dead, there is no peace and rest. They will face God’s wrath in a moment. 

But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. (Matthew 24:36-42 ESV)

Created in the image of God for relationship with Him, those who rebel campaign against God, ignoring Him, attributing to Him that which is untrue, making idols and worshipping that which is false. Paul tells us everyone knows God because He has given the tools to know Him in His image. Yet, people refuse to know Him, suppressing the truth of God and living according to a lie. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth” (Romans 1:18 ESV). They are His enemies and will suffer the consequence of rebellion against Him. That which they wished upon Him will come drop on them. They will stand before God in shame and find themselves eternally outside of His presence.

Can we say Jesus is vindicated? He fulfilled His purpose in coming, God as a man. He died and was raised. He bore our sins. Even the sins of those who hate Him. Even the sins of those who executed Him. He died blameless of any wrongdoing or criminal activity. He rose, justified before God. Those who continue to rebel against Him have no excuse for their rebellion.

Advertisements

He Has Done It

The LORD has heard my plea;  
the LORD accepts my prayer.(Psalm 6:9 ESV)

God hears. He pays attention to and takes an interest in the prayers, pleas and weeping of His Son and those who have taken refuge in Him. Heard means to give attention, to not only listen to but to understand in the deepest way, to have a case, as in a court of law, presented and received and recognized. A plea is a supplication for favor, a request and appeal, again, as in a case brought before a court of law. Prayer is offered to God. It is a calling upon, talking to and with, the Lord. 

After the fall and expulsion from the Garden, Adam and Eve had children, who also had children. “At that time people began to call upon the name of the LORD” (Genesis 4:26 ESV). To call means to summon, invite, to cry out and proclaim. People, created in the image of God, close enough to the beginning of creation, knowing their separation from Him, yet knowing His presence, sought Him out. This did not happen for long. After a time, people stopped seeking Him and began doing that which they determined right. “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart” (Genesis 6:5-6 ESV). Some continued to call upon God, seeking His face. Most turned their backs on Him who created them.

There is only One person who truly seeks God. He is the One Righteous Man of Psalm 1 and the Anointed Son and King over all of Psalm 2. He is Jesus. God hears Him when He prays. Not just an acknowledgement of His words, or an understanding of His case, but a drawing Him into His presence in an intimate relationship. 

Taking three of His disciples with Him up a mountain to pray, Jesus was transformed before them as they came into the presence of God. “And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white” (Luke 9:29 ESV; see Matthew 17:2, Mark 9:2-3). Jesus often went away from people to pray. This is the only time we are aware of where people went with Him and watched. Is there any reason to not believe every time Jesus prayed alone He was not also transfigured, changed as He came into God’s presence? Jesus knows when He speaks to God He is heard.

God not only hears, He accepts His prayer. To accept means to take in the hand, hold onto, carry away, capture and seize, possess and choose. Those who accept, claim intimacy. Two people accept each other in marriage, holding onto each other, carrying each away from others, seizing and possessing and choosing each other over every other. God instituted marriage between the first Man and Woman, Adam and Eve, and declared them the example for all future marriages. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24 ESV). In the same way marriage is an acceptance of a covenant decision to hold fast to each other, so God accepts the prayer of Jesus, holding fast to Him in a relationship that cannot be divided. God hears His plea and accepts His prayer.

Jesus taught His disciples how to pray. He did this through example and demonstration, but also through direct instruction. 

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Matthew 6:5-8 ESV)

Do not be like the workers of evil He rejects, though they present themselves as His. Do not be like the hypocrites, who desire the people to worship them and not God. Be like Jesus. Impossible. We are commanded to follow Him, to be perfect (Matthew 5:48) and be holy. “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:14-16; see Leviticus 11:44, 19:2, 20:7). We cannot do anything perfect or holy in ourselves. We must be lost and abandoned to Him, in Him, covered by His righteousness and empowered by His grace and strength, to do His commands. It is the only way. He has done it. 

The Sound of Weeping

Depart from me, all you workers of evil, 
for the LORD has heard the sound of my weeping. (Psalm 6:8 ESV)

Who are David’s foes? What have they done to make themselves his enemy? How has David’s enemies attacked him, causing him grief and agony? Those who rebel against God and His authority are David’s enemies. Those who reject the Son, refusing to kiss Him, are against him. “Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled” (Psalm 2:10-12 ESV). David’s enemies are those who fight against God by warring against those whom God has chosen as His own. Jesus’ enemies are those God created in His image, for service to Him, who He loves and blesses, but who refuse to obey and receive that which God offers. God’s enemies are His people.

Depart means to turn aside, to be removed, to take or put away, to come to an end. Workers of evil are those who actively cause trouble, wickedness, sorrow, who are idolaters. These are the people who teach those under their authority to actively rebel against God, to violate God’s laws and decrees, and to fight against their God given nature, becoming that which God does not intend. 

Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?  
The kings of the earth set themselves, 
and the rulers take counsel together, 
against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds apart 
and cast away their cords from us.” (Psalm 2:1-3 ESV)

They persecute those who are God’s because they hate God. They do the opposite of what God wants. God will drive them away and they will perish because His Son, who wept over them when He saw Jerusalem, will finally stop mourning and judgment will come.

Jesus, in several places, exposes the hypocrisy of those who say they love God but do not act loving. He uses the analogy of a narrow door to show how impossible it is to follow the path of the world into God’s presence.“Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able” (Luke 13:24 ESV). The Master of the house will shut the door and though those outside beg and plead, suggesting they had done so much for the Master, He will send them away, rejecting their work as worthless, and turning them away. He will turn His back on them because they turned their backs on Him.“But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’”  (Luke 13:27 ESV, see Luke 13: 22-30).

In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), Jesus teaches the characteristics of the citizen of the kingdom of heaven. Those who recognize the truth of sin, who realize the consequences of sin and who relinquish control to God, will do those things that identify them as citizens of His kingdom. Those who claim citizenship yet do not show the evidence of change may claim God’s approval, but will not receive His blessing.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:21-23 ESV)

Ultimately and eternally it is not whether the person says they know God but whether God knows them. God knows them because He is omniscient. He does not know them as a citizen because they are not, having refused His grace and command to obedience. In the thinking of their hearts they continue rebelling against Him.

God feels the greatest joy and the deepest sorrow. His Son felt the grief that came with being rejected by those He loves. His anger at the religious leaders boils over in the His proclamation against the Scribes and Pharisees who wield the authority of Moses (Matthew 23:2). Jesus warns the people against becoming like them because of their hypocrisy. The religious leaders want the people to look to them, even worship them, instead of God. They put heavy burdens on people, declaring it is God who wants His people burdened. They are like “whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness”  (Matthew 23:27-28 ESV). Jesus then laments over Jerusalem and the people He created in His image for relationship with Him.“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” (Matthew 23:37 ESV). Jesus wants them to intimately know Him, as He cares for and loves them. They refuse. As He drew near Jerusalem that last week, His grief over the rebellion of His people distressed Him. He wept over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41). God hears the sound of His weeping. 

Grief and Hope

My eye wastes away because of grief; it grows weak because of all my foes. (Psalm 6:7 ESV)

Suffering comes to all in some form and intensity. People bring upon themselves suffering and pain. Others may cause suffering because of what they believe and their consequent actions. Suffering may happen because of sin from long ago or circumstances far out of the control of those in pain. Suffering may also come because of a person’s relationship with God. This comes from persecution and is called suffering for righteousness’ sake.

Jesus tells us to know we are blessed when we suffer for righteousness’ sake. We usually do not feel blessed.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:10-12 ESV)

We feel weak. Suffering and persecution drains energy, motivation and brings hopelessness and helplessness. Yet, Jesus, in Matthew 5, uses the word blessed twice, often translated happy. The blessing or happiness does not come from the world, which is transient, but from God who is eternal. Fixing one’s attention upon the world and the things of the world can never bring eternal blessing. God gives that which cannot be taken away, available for those who are His, only in eternity with Him.

Still, facing death without hope of continued survival affects the physical body in startling ways. The senses may begin to shut down. Fatigue and lethargy grow, coupled with insomnia. Memory goes as forgetfulness sets in. Brain functions begin to shut down causing sight and hearing problems. Concentration disappears and the person begins missing obvious things happening around them. This is called depression.

Jesus was not depressed. David could have been. Hezekiah could have been. When faced with hopelessness, impending death with no hope of survival, a person may start shutting down physically. Everyone who belongs to God has the eternal hope He offers. Many do not recognize this hope because they are so captivated by the present.

To waste away means to fail or be consumed, to shrink. To grow weak means to advance in age, be removed, or to transcribe or write out one’s feelings at the end of a tumultuous experience. Grief is anger and provocation, frustration, especially with men and with God. Foes are those who cause distress, besiege, bind, press hard upon, are put in a straight and narrow place where there is no turning or fleeing. Enemies, waging war against anyone, will do all they can to besiege and trap, frustrate and stop, cause to fail. There is a war waging between righteousness and unrighteousness. The battleground is the thoughts of the hearts of men.

Hezekiah faced the Assyrians, who had just defeated the Northern Kingdom, driving its people away because of their idolatry. The king of Assyria then turned his attention to Judea and Hezekiah. Jerusalem was surrounded and faced ultimate defeat. The king of Assyria ridiculed and belittled God before the people. Hezekiah sought God and worshipped Him. God miraculously delivered Judea from the attack of the Assyrian. Isaiah told Hezekiah that God would fight for him. “That night the angel of the LORD went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies” (2 Kings 19:35 ESV). Hezekiah knew what God would do for him and the people he ruled who worshipped God. 

Later, when Hezekiah lay dying he became despondent and depressed. He wept and prayed and God answered his prayer by giving him 15 more years of life. Death was Hezekiah’s enemy. He would die but he was young, only 39 years old when he became sick to death. He had great wealth and sought the LORD. But he was afraid to die.Jesus faced death by torture. He was afraid of the process of dying, not of death itself. For death could not hold Him. He knew that once His body died He would be raised from the dead to never again die. He also knew His death would bring many into His eternal kingdom. None would come in without His death and resurrection. Jesus’ eyes became weak and wasted away in death because of His enemy. But, when His eyes would open again in His resurrection, His grief over sin would change to joy and His blessing would come to those who are His.