Category Archives: God

God’s Decree

Meditations on the Psalms

I will tell of the decree (Psalm 2:7 ESV)

All creation is bound by the laws of God. What is a decree? A decree is a legal ordinance prescribed by a ruling authority to resolve, to limit, or to fix and approve a specific required action. God is speaking in the first person about an action He has determined necessary which has already been done and finished. History, from God’s perspective, is complete and finished, even though people have yet to live it. He sees and knows what will happen. God is telling us about that which He decided in eternity to accomplish in space-time history.

King David desired to build a temple for God in Jerusalem, to house the ark of the Lord. Before he died God told him, through the prophet Nathan, that he was not the one who would build a temple for God. “When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (2 Samuel 7:12-13 ESV). God decreed David not build the temple but that Solomon, David’s son, would build a house for God and the ark of God in Jerusalem. This is what happened in history.

From the beginning, when God created Adam in His image, He gave Adam a boundary. There was only one constraint placed upon him. He was to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:1 6-17 ESV). Adam was given dominion over the earth and everything on it. He was given the enjoyable responsibility of being fruitful and multiplying and subduing the earth. He was even given direction to care for everything, including the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The only restriction place on him was that he did not have permission to eat from this one tree. If he ate from the tree he would die both physically, though not right away, and spiritually. Surely die is actually the word die twice. Die die.

When God brought His people out of Egypt, making them wander through the desert, He gave them laws and ordinances. He decreed they follow His laws. Exodus through Deuteronomy are a compilation of laws and the history of Israel from the time they entered Egypt until they entered the Promised Land. In two places the Ten Commandments, ten irrevocable statements of God about Himself and those who are His, are given, once at the beginning of their wanderings and then at the end. God is specific and pointed in His statements. They are to worship Him only and love each other. (See Exodus 20:1-17 and Deuteronomy 5:6-21.) These are immutable laws, absolute in the physical world and the eternal realm. They transcend space and time, and are upheld by God throughout eternity.

God’s decrees are not simple corporate mandates for nations and peoples to blindly follow. They are commands for each individual.

God leaves the Christian in the world as a testimony to the world about Him and His grace. Having the image of God gives the ability to naturally follow God and His will. For the Christian, having the indwelling Holy Spirit, because of the corruption of the vessel containing the image of God, gives the tools needed to live righteously in an unrighteous world. Christians do not try to be salt and light. They are salt and light.

You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16 ESV)

Following God’s laws and decrees are a natural ability for those created in the image of God. That He has to tell us His decree about His Son is a testament to the truth of rebellion and sin. God gives His written laws so there is no mistake about His absolute will. Go sent His Son, Jesus Christ, as irrefutable evidence of the need of Man and the grace of God toward those bent by sin. Jesus’ life is God’s decree about life


Introduction to Psalm 2

Meditations on the Psalms

God tells us bluntly the entire world is fighting against Him, not only refusing to obey Him but actively conspiring against Him. Psalm 2 takes up the theme of Psalm 1, expanding and explaining the extent of the war raging against Him, and by extension, against those who are His.

God speaks in the first person of His completed actions. Psalm 2 begins with God asking a rhetorical question, then He answers His own question with statements of eternal truth found in the rest of the Psalm. Though the Psalm does not speak directly to idolatry, those who are in authority, who teach and train others, instruct their students in the worship of idols because they refuse to worship God. Idolatry is replacing that which only God is and does with anything not God. Those who insist upon setting up for themselves useless idols in the place of the eternal God find themselves destroyed, along with their idols. God will not tolerate continued rebellion, or those who teach and train others to rebel.

Jesus is given all authority over the peoples, kings and rulers of the world. All people mutiny against His authority, refusing to acknowledge Him as King or Creator. All people build up idols to take His place. These idols are blatant creations of their own minds, the thinking of their own hearts, so they might imagine they control their own destinies. How foolish.

Kings carry authority to make and uphold laws. Yet, even kings of the world cannot change that which is set in eternity. They may decree something different than what God has established but they cannot change reality or truth. It is the duty of kings and rulers to uphold truth, not to change truth to suit their individual ends and desire. Idolatry, at its basest level, is the individual changing the truth of God into a lie and saying the lie is true.

“What profit is an idol when its maker has shaped it, a metal image, a teacher of lies? For its maker trusts in his own creation when he makes speechless idols! Woe to him who says to a wooden thing, Awake; to a silent stone, Arise! Can this teach? Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in it. But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.” (Habakkuk 2:18-20 ESV)

Jesus instructs His disciples to not adhere to the teaching of those whose sole intent is to usurp the authority and place of God. “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (Matthew 16:6 ESV; see Matthew 16:5-12). Initially, His disciples did not understand these words.

They watched Jesus feed thousands, taking the food available and creating more food for the people. Jesus did that which only God can do, creating one substance out of another. God created Adam out of the dust of the earth (see Genesis 2:7). He then created Eve out of the rib of the man (see Genesis 2:22). By creating lots of food out of a little food Jesus showed He is God. He then told His disciples to beware of the teaching of those who value tradition over the words of God. Their teaching would lead people away from Him, not toward Him. Jesus thunders severe words against those who lead astray people created in the image of God.

“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves. (Matthew 23:13-14 ESV)

Standing before Pilate, who thinks he has greater authority, Jesus declares those who brought Him for execution face greater condemnation. “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin” (John 19:11 ESV).

Psalm 2 addresses those with worldly authority, placing them directly under the eternal authority of God and warning them of the consequences of rebellion.  God set His Son, Jesus Christ, on the everlasting throne, placing Him over all in the heavens and in the created universe. This is not a debatable fact.

Tree of Life

Meditations on the Psalms

He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. (Psalm 1:3 ESV)

The Psalmist continues to describe the blessed Man who does not follow the ungodly into their sin but actively seeks to intimately know God through Scripture. We are given an illustration, a metaphor, of who Jesus Christ is in this world and throughout eternity. He is like a tree planted in the one place where that tree will always bear fruit and will always be healthy. The tree is planted next to streams of water for abundant nourishment. It is hard to not think of the trees planted next to the nourishing river coming from the Garden of Eden.

Scripture begins and ends describing the tree of life (see Genesis 2:9) planted in the Garden of Eden. Before the fall, Adam was given permission to eat from the tree of life. After the fall, Adam and all men are excluded from the Garden so they could not eat from the tree of life and live for eternity in their fallen state. “Then the LORD God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—’” (Genesis 3:22 ESV). People were created in the image of God for relationship with Him. When sin corrupted that relationship God’s justice required they be excluded from His presence. Yet, God provided a means for people to be righteous before Him through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God the Son and who is also the perfect Man.

Scripture ends with the tree of life. “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations” (Revelation 22:1-2 ESV). From this tree those who dwell in eternity may eat and be healed.

We have already seen, in Jesus’ response to the temptation of the Deceiver, that “‘man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Deuteronomy 8:3). Jesus then tells us that “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:53-54 ESV; see John 6:55-58). Jesus Christ is the source of life for those who belong to God. This suggests that Jesus was present in the Garden of Eden as the tree of life. People are now commanded to accept Jesus and in doing so will receive life.

One sin excluded Man from the presence of God. That sin was committed by one man, Adam, when he ate the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Because of his action all men are condemned. “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Romans 5:12 ESV; see Romans 5:12-21). So, because of the sacrifice of one Man, Jesus Christ, redemption is offered to all men.

Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many (Romans 5:14-15 ESV).

Adam was a type of Christ. Now, the command is to eat from the tree of life, which is also a type of Christ. One act of disobedience excludes those who disobey from the presence of God. That act of rebellion is to not obey God’s command to eat His flesh and drink His blood. God’s command to all is to eat from the tree of life, which is the body and blood of Christ, and live spiritually with Him in eternity.

Before Herod

Meditations on the Psalms

Blessed is the man… nor sits in the seat of scoffers; (Psalm 1:1 ESV)

Finally, the person who is righteous before God does not scoff nor is He trained by, or accepts the teaching of those who do scoff.

A scoffer is someone who heaps scorn, mocks or view another person with disdain. Those who sit in the seat of the scoffer actively teach others to disregard and rebel against God. To sit in the seat suggests the person teaches or trains others. In the ancient world, including Israel, teachers sat while their students stood before them. Everyone who lives is a teacher, having been trained by family and friends and society to live and think and feel in the ways of the group. Yet, the person who sits in the seat of the scoffer has greater influence over those who gather around them. Think of sitting in a classroom where one learns the ways of the scornful, and is given the tools of the trade.

Herod, perhaps the most worldly and wicked, was the third jurist. None of the Herod’s were Jewish, yet they ruled over the Jewish nation.

Herod Antipas was the son of Herod the Great, who sought to murder Jesus when a baby, murdering all the children in the vicinity of Bethlehem two years of age and under just to make sure. Herod Antipas, after a feast where his wife’s daughter danced, agreed to have John the Baptizer beheaded. Previously, John had confronted him about his adultery so he had John arrested and thrown in prison.

He was s superstitious man, thinking Jesus was John raised from the dead (Matthew 14:1-11). Jesus was warned once that Herod wanted to kill Him (Luke 13:31). Jesus warned His disciples about the teaching of Herod. “Now they had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. And he cautioned them, saying, ‘Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod’” (Mark 8:14-15 ESV).

Herod had followers called Herodian’s, who were not religious but held to the political worldview of Herod, which appears to encompass sensuality and corrupt living. Herod’s life was a mockery of everything godly.

Jesus stood moot before Herod, refusing to speak to the man. Herod wanted Him to perform, to entertain him and those with him. Herod had murdered Jesus’ cousin, the forerunner of the Christ. Jesus’ refusal to answer suggest His utter disdain for the man and what he represented. Herod’s life was one of scoffing and mockery, so his reaction to Jesus, who would not perform on command and who treated him with disrespect, was to mock and treat with contempt.

When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. And when he learned that he belonged to Herod‘s jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time.

When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. So he questioned him at some length, but he made no answer. The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him. Then, arraying him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate. (Luke 23:6-11 ESV)

Herod, a worldly leader, mocked and scoffed at Jesus because he could not control Him.

What does the godly man not do? He does not walk in his whole being with those whose every word and action contradicts God. He does not stand as a student before a teacher learning how to violate God’s will. Nor does he sit as equals with those, taking part in their blasphemous thinking and comments. Everything the godly man does is diametrically opposed to everything done by the wicked, sinful scoffer.

The Deceiver – Part One

Meditation on the Psalms

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; (Psalm 1:1 ESV)

There is another creature in Scripture leading the rebellion against God. It is the Deceiver. Who is the Deceiver? There are allusions in Scripture but little information is definitive. It, the Deceiver, created by God for service to Him, rebelled against God, seeking to usurp His authority in eternity. It is also known as Satan, the devil, the old serpent, tempter, ruler of this world.

Jesus tells us three things about the “ruler of this world” (see John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). Ruler means commander or leader. The KJV uses the word “prince.” World means the earth, its inhabitants, including and incorporating all of the rebellious citizens of that which was created by God. Jesus is referring to the world in which He came and we live. Thus, the ruler of this world is the commander or leader of those who are in rebellion against God in this world.

Jesus is not suggesting the Deceiver is royalty, or owns the world, but that It is a usurper, a created being instrumental in planning and executing a coup. He tells us ultimately the Deceiver is cast out, a future action for us but a completed action from God. “Now is the judgment all, of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out” (John 12:31 ESV).

Secondly, the ruler of this world came to corrupt Jesus and tried to kill Him, but could do nothing to God the Son. “I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me,” (John 14:30 ESV).

Finally, the ruler of this world has already been tried, judged and sentenced. “The ruler of this world is judged” (John 16:11 ESV). While Jesus gives the Deceiver the status of ruler of the world, Its rule is at the pleasure of God and is taken away at His discretion.

Do not think the Deceiver is the king or ruler of hell. People don’t like to think about or conceive of hell. Some take a morbid curiosity and begin building ideas about what hell is like based upon the poetic and allegorical descriptions in Scripture. Sometimes Jesus refers to Gehenna, a place outside of Jerusalem because of its association with the detestable god Molech and the abominable practice of burning children alive as a sacrifice to Molech.

Gehenna is translated as hell. This little valley was where everything detestable was thrown, whether garbage or unwanted corpses. Whatever was tossed into this valley was burned. A perpetual stench arose from the valley. Hell is worse than this place. But, the Deceiver is not its ruler.

Hell is the place of eternal punishment. Hell is separation from God. It was made for the Deceiver and the fallen angels. “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels’” (Matthew 25:41 ESV). But, it is also an eternal place where those who rebel against God and die in their sins are consigned.

“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!” (Luke 12:4-5 ESV).

A Righteous Man

Meditations on the Psalms

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way  of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; (Psalm 1:1 ESV)

In the Psalms, God speaks to everyone in the world about His Son, Jesus Christ. God speaks in the first person in Psalm 1. He is describing a man who is righteous before Him.

Man is singular but can refer to Mankind as a singular group of people, all created in the image of God. Most often man refers to one person such as a husband, servant, great person, champion. As described in this verse, the man is sinless and never surrenders to any impulse to rebel against God.

Unlike modern English tenses, which express past, present and future, Biblical Hebrew views action as either completed or not completed. The man described in Psalm 1 does not, nor will ever, rebel against God and His moral code, but has accomplished the exact opposite by upholding God’s absolute will. All of his obedient actions toward God are complete and finished.

Many see themselves in this Psalm because they want to see themselves. If Psalm 1 is about anyone it is about either those who are in complete rebellion against God or a man in complete submission to Him and those who identify with that man. Psalm 1 speaks about one person who has no sin, who hates sin and refuses to participate with anyone or anything that leads to sin.

Paul is adamant in his assessment of the spiritual condition of all people. Everyone is facing the judgment of God and under His condemnation because of their rebellious nature.

What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written:

“None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” (See Psalm 14:1-3 and Psalm 53:1-3)

“Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive” (See Psalm 5:9).

“The venom of asps is under their lips” (See Psalm 140:3).

“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness” (See Psalm 10:7).

“Their feet are swift to shed blood (See Proverbs 1:16);

in their paths are ruin and misery, (See Isaiah 59:7-8);

and the way of peace they have not known” (See Luke 1:79).

“There is no fear of God before their eyes” (See Psalm 36:1) (Romans 3:9-18 ESV)

God blesses the man who does not rebel against Him but works tirelessly to seek His will and intimately know Him. This describes only one person who has ever lived. Only Jesus Christ has perfectly done all God wanted without sinning. Every other person who has ever lived has rebelled against God.

Only Jesus Christ is perfect and only He has kept the law of God perfectly. Because of His perfection He is righteous before God and the only One able to bring those who are rebelling to repentance and belief into God’s presence.

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. (Romans 3:21-25 ESV)

If this Psalms shows anything about individuals it shows who each person serves and with whom each person identifies. Even though every person is responsible for their own actions, thoughts and words, they are still controlled by sin and the desire to rebel against God. He will not forsake those who seek Him. He may not remove them from the temptations they face but He will enable them to confront and subdue the temptations with the confidence of knowing to whom they belong. People are blessed by God as they are identified with Jesus Christ, the only sinless One blessed by God.


Rest. If you want to rest, do not go to a hospital.

That Thursday evening I was put in a room by myself. There was a small curtain next to the front door.  I have wires taped to my chest, an IV in one arm, more needles in the other arm. Lights may be dimmed but never go out. There are noises I am not used to, beeps, blips and obnoxious sounds coming from my room and all the other rooms on the floor. Several times during the night I hear “code blue” or “stroke” and the call for staff to respond. Something happened to a monitor in the room next to mine and I watched staff run to the patient.

While I was in Emergency Room I heard the same beeps, blips and obnoxious sounds. But I also heard cries of pain and agony muffled by closed doors and walls. Children and adults screamed. I didn’t know for whom I was praying, but I prayed. I envisioned broken bones and deep wounds, burns and other injuries needing aggressive attention. I was not afraid for me, but for them. I have occasionally awakened the last few nights as I remember the sounds of suffering.

Still, I was able to rest. I was not afraid for me.

Rest is an attitude. It is not the attitude of “I don’t care” but the attitude of “there is One caring for me” whom I trust. Rest is possible even when surrounded by turmoil, people who are always active, felt desires or needs for security, overwhelming difficulties, because it is a discipline of the thinking of the heart. I trust God because He has told me I matter to Him. Those you love matter to you. We are to love God and people even when confronted by turmoil, activity, insecurity and any difficulty.

And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”

 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:35-40 ESV)

Loving people does not mean we ignore the wrong things people do. Wickedness also comes from the thinking of the heart. Loving people does mean viewing them as valuable. God does not stop the suffering. This does not mean He loves people less.

I rest because I am at peace with God. My peace does not come from anything I have done but from what He has done for me. I will not ignore Him with my life because He has not ignored me. Though this world is engulfed by unrestrained turmoil, pain and suffering, He stands as Creator. Surrounded by selfish and self-centered activity, He sustains His creation. Assaulted by a felt desire or need for security against that which cannot be controlled, He governs. Overwhelmed by problems, He gives purpose. There is no area of my life He does not touch. “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 ESV)