Monthly Archives: July 2019

Appointed Judgment

Awake for me; 
you have appointed a judgment.
(Psalm 7:6 ESV)

In the beginning, after Adam and Eve violated God’s one command, they hid themselves from Him. They who were created for intimacy with God could not face Him because of their sin. God pronounced judgment on the Deceiver and those deceived. 

God walked in His “garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden” (Genesis 3:8 ESV). Adam and Eve did not want to face God, fearing Him and the judgment they knew awaited. Perhaps they imagined God did not know what they had done. God knows everything. This does not mean He predetermines everything. God is able to know what might have happened as well as what actually did happen. God judged the participants of the rebellion, giving the harshest judgment to the serpent, the Deceiver who inhabited a snake.

The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:14-15 ESV)

Knowing the future, God appoints a time of judgment, telling of actions and circumstances that would happen. From the body of the woman would come one of her distant sons, one of her offspring, who would crush the head of the serpent. Though the serpent would strike out and bruise His heal, he, the Deceiver, would ultimately be defeated. The prophecy is not explicit. Only after its fulfillment is it known. Jesus died on a cross, He was raised, and in His resurrection is the defeat of the enemies of God, of sin and the Deceiver and those who continue to rebel and disobey Him.

To awake means to be roused, to stir up, be excited and triumphant. Awake is the third word of the risen trilogy. 

Arise: Arise, O LORD! Save me, O my God! For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked. (Psalm 3:7)

Lift up: There are many who say, “Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD!” (Psalm 4:6)

Awake: Awake for me; you have appointed a judgment. (Psalm 7:6 ESV)

Jesus asks God to do that which God has already determined. God fixes Himself immovably against the assaults of His enemies. He bears a shield of protection against His enemies. He is triumphant against His enemies. God appointed a judgment, which means He has commanded and charged, given orders which cannot be circumvented or ignored. He will do that which He has determined to do. Judgment is the act of deciding a court case and includes bringing charges, presenting evidence, rendering a decision based upon the law, justly sentencing and finally, the execution of the sentence. God sits in the seat of a divine Judge and will uphold His laws and ordinances and decrees allowing none to circumvent His decisions and will.

God spoke to Abraham a number of times throughout his life. He promised him, and by extension, promised us, to make him a great nation and bless all people through him. “Now the LORD said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing’” (Genesis 12:1-2 ESV). God gave a promise to Abraham and to those who are His. “I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3 ESV). This promise extends to the nation of Israel with a condition. Their continual loving obedience toward God will guarantee His love and protection. He guarantees their protection by sending the Angel of the LORD, the pre-incarnate Christ.

“Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared. Pay careful attention to him and obey his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression, for my name is in him. But if you carefully obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries.” (Exodus 23:20-22 ESV)

In His discourse on the end times, giving a parable on the final judgment, the parable of the sheep and the goats, Jesus explains what happens to those who obey and those who rebel. To those who obey He will say “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34 ESV). To those who rebel, even those who think they are obeying but are not, He will say “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:421 ESV). God will judge all according to their belief or lack of belief in Him, the evidence of their intentions and the consequent actions of their wills.  Judgment is inevitable. 

Make them bear their guilt, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; because of the abundance of their transgressions cast them out, for they have rebelled against you. But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you. (Psalm 5:10-11 ESV)

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God’s Promises

Arise, O LORD, in your anger; 
lift yourself up against the fury of my enemies;
(Psalm 7:6 ESV)

God alone is able to fulfill His promises. Those who offer promises, who swear they will do something, who claim ability to satisfy, may accomplish what they have promised in some circumstances, but not every circumstance. No fallen person can say they will do something, or never do something, and know with 100% certainty they will follow through. No one can foresee the future and every possible circumstance that may arise. No one has total control over what will happen. Only God is omniscient and omnipotent, having the foreknowledge of what will be because He exists outside of space-time history. He alone sees the beginning of history from the end. Only God has the power and compassion and will to do that which He promises. 

In the Psalms, Jesus asks God to deliver Him from His enemies. “Turn, O LORD, deliver my life; save me for the sake of your steadfast love” (Psalm 6:4 ESV). Then Jesus declares God hears and accepts His prayer. “Depart from me, all you workers of evil, for the LORD has heard the sound of my weeping. The LORD has heard my plea; the LORD accepts my prayer” (Psalm 6:8-9 ESV). Jesus is so confident in the promise of God to judge righteously between those who falsely accuse Him and His own righteousness that He declares His “enemies shall be ashamed and greatly troubled; they shall turn back and be put to shame in a moment” (Psalm 6:10 ESV).

Trust is an emotional, active response to a promise, and is integral to true faith. Without trust there is no faith and “without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Hebrews 11:6 ESV). Jesus is so confident in God’s response to His suffering for righteousness’s sake that He prays God respond in His wrath. Arise means to come upon the scene and stand up in power, to fix oneself in an immovable position and to endure against all assaults. God not only arises but lifts Himself up. To lift yourself up means bear up, take upon Himself, carry, support, sustain and endure, as well as to exalt oneself. God takes a stand against sin, placing Himself as a shield between those who are His and His enemies. 

God’s anger is the snorting kind and is the same word and concept used in the previous Psalm. Anger also means nose or face and suggests heavy breathing. “O LORD, rebuke me not in your anger, nor discipline me in your wrath” (Psalm 6:1 ESV). The image is of a person who witnesses something disgusting and snorts in derision and anger. God’s anger is against sin and the Deceiver, His enemies. Those who continue to disobey His command to repent and turn back to Him are also His enemies. Those who continue in their disobedience face the wrath of God.

When Moses brought the Israelite people out of Egypt they were led by God. 

“And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people” (Exodus 12:21-22 ESV).

After years of Egyptian enslavement, God promised to bring them out of Egypt and into their own land. To do this, God sent Moses to Pharaoh to command the Egyptian king to let the people of God leave. Pharaoh refused, believing himself equal to or greater than any god. After God persuaded Pharaoh to let His people go, Pharaoh changed his mind and pursued them. As Pharaoh’s army approached God, moved from before the people to between them and the Egyptians, as a shield. 

Then the angel of God who was going before the host of Israel moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them, coming between the host of Egypt and the host of Israel. And there was the cloud and the darkness. And it lit up the night without one coming near the other all night. (Exodus 14:19-20 ESV)

God raised Himself up in judgment against a king who rebelled against Him, refusing to obey His direct command. All of Pharaoh’s army perished, feeling the wrath of God. “The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen; of all the host of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea, not one of them remained” (Exodus 14:28 ESV). God raised Himself up in judgment.

Forty years later, Joshua led the people into the Promised Land. As he was standing before Jericho, he came face-to-face with the angel of the LORD. He saw the pre-incarnate Christ, who came as the Commander of the army of the LORD. 

When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” 

And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD. Now I have come.”

And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him,  “What does my lord say to his servant?” 

And the commander of the LORD’s army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.(Joshua 5:13-15 ESV).

God the Son directed Joshua against Jericho and the enemies of God living in the land. 

God promises to rebuke and punish those who are His enemies. “Arise, O LORD! Save me, O my God! For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked” (Psalm 3:7 ESV).

Why? If Jesus died for the sins of the people created in His image, why do any continue to face His wrath? Jesus tells us. His enemies show their response to the grace of God in utter hatred for Him. God’s enemies fight against Him with fury, which is overflowing wrath and arrogance, outbursts of uncontrolled rage. Those who suffer for righteousness’ sake feel the brunt of the excessive rage of the world against God because of His righteousness (Matthew 5:10-12). Jesus endured torture, choosing to die from the brutal, cruel treatment of the Jews and the Romans because He was righteous before God. Those who continue in their disobedience want to destroy God so He no longer has control and authority of all creation. This will never happen.

Consequences of Sin

let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it, 
and let him trample my life to the ground
and lay my glory in the dust.
Selah.(Psalm 7:5 ESV)

Only the righteous can stand before God. “The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers” (Psalm 5:5 ESV). 

We see in the Hebrew Scripture instances where an adversary stands before God and challenges Him in how He treated people. “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them” (Job 1:6 ESV; see also Job 2:1) Satan is a proper noun, not a name, and means adversary, one who withstands or stands against. Twice in the book of Job, a spiritual being who was an adversary contests God’s dealings with Job, whom God calls a righteous man. Twice, God gives the adversary permission to deal with Job in a harsh manner, to test Job’s resolve to serve God. 

In another instance Jesus tells Peter that an adversary has asked for him.“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers (Luke 22:31-32 ESV). If this adversary is the devil, he will finally be driven away from God and imprisoned for eternity. “[A]nd the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:10 ESV).

Only God is righteous. He gives His righteousness to those who are His. He embeds His righteousness in those He creates and then in those who believe the Gospel. Those who rebel against God cannot compromise His righteous character. The moment they rebel and sin they cease being righteous before Him. For God’s enemies to find any evidence of sin in God they can use to accuse God of unrighteousness gives them control over Him. Jesus, in this Psalm, makes a statement that gives His adversaries control if they find such evidence of sin in Him. “[I]f there is wrong in my hand,” (Psalm 7:4 ESV) then let the enemy be victorious. 

The Deceiver looks for anything in God and those who are His to use against Him, and them, to claim victory. There is nothing. If there were, then Jesus tells us God cannot be God. If there is sin in God, in His Son, the King of kings, then let it pursue and overtake, trample His life and lay His glory in the dust. “Let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it, and let him trample my life to the ground and lay my glory in the dust.”

Pursue means to persecute and is the same word used in verse 1. “O LORD my God, in you do I take refuge; save me from all my pursuers and deliver me” (Psalm 7:1 ESV). Overtake means to reach out and secure, to attain. To tramplemeans to tread upon, to step on and stand on and laymeans to settle upon, dwell upon. These three words show absolute victory over an enemy. 

Being God’s enemy means God is viewed as an enemy. Those at war do not stop until they have utterly defeated their enemy. His pursuers and adversaries torment Jesus’ soul, that which is His very being, that which make Him who He is, His breath and substance, passions and desires, His moral character. Jesus’ enemy will examine on His life, that which is growing, active and fresh, the eternal energy which animates God. Jesus’ enemy, if there is found in Him any unrighteousness, will succeed in destroying God by overshadowing His glory, His splendor and honor, the eternal abundance of the riches, dignity and reverence due God because He is God. Should it find anything unrighteous in God, in His Son, then it has the upper hand and will defeat God.

This will never happen. The enemies of God cannot succeed in fining sin in God because there is no sin in God. There is no sin in His Son. Though Jesus walked the earth in the flesh and suffered the temptations of His enemies, He did not sin. He was God and Man the way God originally intended, a sinless servant.“Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17 ESV). He alone, because He is sinless, is able to offer the sacrifice which covers our sin before God’s eyes. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15 ESV). If there is sin in Jesus he could never accomplish His eternal purpose. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV).

Jesus stood before kings and rulers and was condemned by them to death, though He was innocent of any crime against man or against God. They, led by the Deceiver, wanted Him dead because they want God dead. For some reason, the Deceiver thought they could kill Jesus. God cannot die. God cannot sin. None will take His place.

For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it empty, he formed it to be inhabited!): “I am the LORD, and there is no other. I did not speak in secret, in a land of darkness; I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, ‘Seek me in vain.’ I the LORD speak the truth; I declare what is right. (Isaiah 45:18-19 ESV)

God’s Enemy

let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it, a
and let him trample my life to the ground
and lay my glory in the dust.
Selah. (Psalm 7:5 ESV)

Who is God’s enemy? Enemy means a personal foe that may be an individual or a corporate group, whose main characteristic is hatred. God’s enemy is an adversary whose intent is to usurp God’s ultimate authority and destroy all which represents Him.

God alone is uncreated and created all things. Does this mean He created His own enemies? Before He created the heavens and the earth and all contained in the universe, there was nothing but God. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:1-2 ESV). We do not know, and He does not tell us, when He created the heavenly beings, mostly called angels, who dwell with Him in eternity. They are created beings. We are told He created Man in His image. 

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:26-27 ESV)

We are not told if angels carry the image of God. Angels are intelligent, moral, active beings, capable of making decisions. Yet, the theological assumption of many is that angels do not have the total image of God. This is an assumption which cannot be verified with Scripture or in nature. The writer of Hebrews tells us angels are God’s servants, as is all creation, sent to serve those created in His image. “Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14 ESV). Peter tells us angels “long to look”into the grace and salvation offered to a rebellious people spoken of by the prophets of Scripture (1 Peter 1:10-12).

In the Garden of Eden was a creature, called a serpent, who was a created being who spoke to, lied to, and tempted our first parents. “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?’” (Genesis 3:1 ESV). We assume the Deceiver, a heavenly being who rebelled against God, inhabited a dumb creature, a snake, and spoke to Eve, a person given the image of God. Within free-will, and within both Adam and Eve, was the possibility of rebellion, the ability to obey out of love or disobey out of self-interest. Within the Deceiver, a created being, was the desire to destroy the relationship between every person and God, who created all people for relationship with Him. Eve saw, and reasoned correctly, that the fruit of the forbidden tree“was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate” (Genesis 3:6 ESV). She reasoned incorrectly that God was withholding something from her. Her flesh, the intentions of her heart and her pride in desiring something not given to her by God, influenced her decision to rebel. “For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world” (1 John 2:16 ESV). She was tempted and succumbed to the temptation and sinned. Because Adam followed her into sin, sin affected all their offspring, which includes all people except Jesus, separating everyone from God.

There are now three enemies of God, actively fighting against Him seeking to destroy anything created and designed to serve Him. First, people are God’s enemies. Yet, God created people for relationship by giving them His image. He, therefore, offers a means to reestablish that relationship, changing those who are His enemies into those who actively serve and love Him. Secondly, sin is His enemy. Sin acts like it has a personality by taking on the personality of the sinner. God told Cain “sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it” (Genesis 4:7 ESV). Sin enslaves people. Finally, the Deceiver is an enemy of God. One of God’s promises is to destroy the Deceiver. “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15 ESV). The fulfillment of this promise is in Jesus Christ. 

We were enemies of God but are now servants. “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life” (Romans 5:10 ESV). Sin will finally and ultimately be destroyed. The Deceiver will be cast away from God’s presence. “[A]nd the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:10 ESV). God’s enemies cannot succeed.