Tag Archives: Jerusalem

Jesus Christ

Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings 
and crowned him with glory and honor. (Psalm 8:5 ESV)

From before creation God placed His Son over all things. Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Yet, there is rebellion in creation. It is against Jesus, the Son of God, that peoples and nations rage. “Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?” (Psalm 2:1 ESV). This is a baffling question. Why would those created by God rebel against Him? Yet, over the nations filled with people who rebel against God are kings and rulers who think of ways they can encourage those under their authority to continue their rebellion against God. “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 2:2 ESV). In the end, no created being can dictate to God who and what He is or successfully rebel against Him.

God establishes His Son on the throne over all creation. “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” (Psalm 2:6 ESV). As the King, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, exercises total authority and control over that which God created. Though nations and people rebel against Him, He will stop their rebellion and punish those who have not repented.  “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 2:8-9 ESV). God warns both kings and rulers over their precarious position before Him, telling them to serve His Son in fear and reverence. 

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)

God will crown His Son, Jesus Christ with glory and honor. God gives Jesus the greatest honor and splendor, the highest reputation and dignity, and before Him every knee will bow and every tongue will declare Him God (see Philippians 2:9-11). This is what glory means. Honor means splendor and majesty, to have an ornament placed upon, as an ornate crown befitting a king. Jesus is King and His crown will declare His high and exalted position of creation and eternity.

Hebrew syntax does not have past, present and future tense. Hebrew tenses are finished or being done. What is viewed as in the future is that which God has already completed in eternity, even though we do not see it completed in our present. The writer of Hebrews captures this when he quotes Psalm 8.

It has been testified somewhere, “What is man, that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him? You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet.” Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. (Hebrews 2:6-9 ESV).

Jesus, in His infinite compassion for those He created in His image for relationship with Him, decided from eternity to redeem those who are His from their sin and rebellion. He is a true King willing to give all that is necessary to bring back those who have marched away from Him. Jesus gives Himself.

You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. (1 Peter 1:18-21 ESV)

Jesus, as He walked through Jericho on the way to Jerusalem to die and be resurrected, ate with a tax collector and sinner, a hated man. Zacchaeus, humbled and convicted by the presence of Jesus in his home, and the compassion and benevolence of His forgiveness, declared his repentance and penance from a sincere and devoted heart.  Jesus then made a declaration of why He came. “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:9-10 ESV). Jesus came to find the lost and lead them back to the God who created them for Himself. We are His crown.

God’s Care

What is man that you are mindful of him, 
and the son of man that you care for him? (Psalm 8:4 ESV)

God is mindful of not only all people but also deeply cares for His Son. To care means to pay attention or observe, to seek and visit, to appoint and assign. Jesus does what the Father wants because of His love for His Father. 

Before Jesus was born God set the stage of the world for His Son. “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5 ESV). God did not randomly decide that Jesus should come at a particular time and place but diligently planned everything from before the fall of Adam. God knows exactly what He is doing.

Before Jesus was born, God decided who would be His forerunner, John the Baptizer, and His parents, Mary and Joseph. An angel visited Zechariah while he was offering a sacrifice (Luke 1:5-25) and Mary (Luke 1:26-38) and gave Joseph a dream (Matthew 1:18-25). Prophecy, written in the Hebrew Scripture,  tells that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the birthplace of David, the king of Israel. God directed the Roman government to bring Joseph and his pregnant with Jesus wife from Nazareth to Bethlehem. After Jesus’ birth, God warned Joseph to take his family to Egypt because of the murderous paranoia of Herod. Then God brought them back to Galilee, to Nazareth, where Jesus matured and then began His ministry.

John was Jesus’ cousin and The One sent to announce the coming of Messiah. “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight’” (Mark 1:2-3 ESV; Malachi 3:1; Isaiah 40:3-5).Jesus came to John and was baptized by him, though Jesus did not need cleansing though baptism. God uses baptism as evidence of identification. Jesus identified with sinful people through identification so that those sinful people could identify with Him through His resurrection. At Jesus’ baptism God declared Jesus, a man, His Son.

“And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:16-17 ESV; see also Mark 1:11 and Luke 3:23).

God, the Father, spoke verbally to those who could hear, His love for and pleasure with Jesus.

Toward the end of His earthly ministry Jesus took three of His disciples up a mountain to pray. Often, He would go to a desolate place to pray alone. While on the mountain, Jesus was transfigured before them. Jesus may have been transfigured other times as well, but there were no witnesses at those times or in those places. This time there were three witnesses. God spoke to these three.

And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!” And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen. (Luke 9:35-36 ESV; see also Mark 9:7 and Matthew 17:5)

Before Jesus’ passion, His crucifixion and resurrection, He was in Jerusalem speaking to the crowds about what was going to happen. He was troubled.

“Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”

The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 

Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. (John 12:27-30 ESV)

God spoke to Jesus, demonstrating His love and pleasure in His Son, showing that He cares about Him and what Jesus will endure to redeem those who are His. 

Stilling the Enemy

Out of the mouth of babies and infants, 
you have established strength because of your foes, 
to still the enemy and the avenger. (Psalm 8:2 ESV)

Jesus regularly confronted the Jewish religious leaders about their unreasonable expectations of God and their false worship of Him. It was the children shouting “Hosanna to the Son of David!” (Matthew 21:9 ESV) who truly worshipped God, not the religious leaders with their legalistic, unscriptural traditions and unrighteous deeds. 

When God created Adam and Eve in His image they were innocent and teachable. They were God’s authority over the  world, given dominion. Their purpose was to learn about God by examining and learning about what God created. They were not created with a full understanding of God or their world, but had to grow and learn as they matured. They were childlike without being children. 

Children exclaimed over Jesus as He entered Jerusalem and taught in the temple. These children recognized who Jesus was, something the religious leaders refused to do. For the religious leaders, the traditional decorum of the temple excluded children, the poor and sinful, the physically imperfect or handicapped and any who did not, could not or would not adhere to their legalistic worldview. The religious leaders were the politically correct police of the first century. They were tyrants and God’s enemy.

Who is the enemy? Who is the avenger? How do the words of a child or baby still both the enemy and the avenger?

In the first part of this verse (Psalm 8:2) the word foe is used. A foe is anyone who physically or vocally tries to bind up, or shut up, those toward whom they are actively hostile. Up to this verse, the Psalms are filled with descriptions of the wicked and sinful person. There is one spiritual being who is totally depraved. He is the Deceiver who tempted Eve and Adam in the garden. Many are taught and trained by the Deceiver to stand against God. “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” (Psalm 2:1-2 ESV). Foe is another word for enemy, those who violently oppose God. Ultimately, God’s foes are silenced and stilled by His judgment.

Jesus, speaking through David, poetically foretells the speech of a child will silence the aggressive and antagonistic teachings of God’s foes. To still means to cause to cease to act, to put an end to or destroy, and to cause to rest. The allusion is that not just any child or a number of children will do this but a specific child. God has already told us who this child is. In response to the raging of the nations and the leaders of the world, God establishes His Son as King of kings. “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). The child that will silence the enemy and the avenger is, of course, His Son, Jesus.

Isaiah gives a divine prophecy about the child, Jesus, the Son of God, who will lead the kingdom of God.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this. (Isaiah 9:6-7 ESV)

We know who this child is. He is Jesus, who was incarnated as a child, who grew into a man who welcomed children and confronted the religious leaders.  Jesus, by His sacrifice, puts an end to the hostile war against God by His enemies. 

“Hosanna to the Son of David!”

Out of the mouth of babies and infants, 
you have established strength because of your foes, 
to still the enemy and the avenger. (Psalm 8:2 ESV)

Jesus stood in the outer temple court, encircled by the blind and lame, many of whom He healed. Children, cried out in the court “Hosanna to the Son of David!” (Matthew 21:9 ESV). They were surrounded by the remnants of the money-changers and merchants Jesus had just driven way. The chief priests were also there, witnessing the challenge to and destruction of their traditions and authority. They fumed. Jesus quoted this verse from Psalm 8 to them as a rebuke to the thinking of their hearts.

Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, the traditional mount of a king. The people witnessed His royal entry and shouted their praise for Him. “And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!’” (Matthew 21:9 ESV, also Mark 11:9-10). They exclaimed over Him like He was a king. Then, Jesus entered the temple and violently drove away those who were buying and selling in the court, desecrating the House of God, His Father’s House. Children followed Him into the temple and continued calling out praise and exclaiming over Him. The priests, who allowed the desecration of the temple by sanctioning the selling of animals and the exchange of money, were indignant with the words and loudness of the children. “But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’ they were indignant, and they said to him, ‘Do you hear what these are saying?’” (Matthew 21:15 ESV). Jesus knew exactly what the children were saying. They were worshipping God. “Yes; have you never read, “‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’?” (Matthew 21:16 ESV)

Children hold a special place before God. They are teachable and trainable. Until they are trained to not listen to God, children willingly seek Him and want to be near Him. It isn’t until they grow and are taught to turn the wisdom of God upside down that they begin to rebel against God. Jesus recognized the simple, untainted by the world, values of the child. “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will” (Matthew 11:25-26 ESV). Yet, Jesus also knows that people who rage against Him were once children who had been taught to hate God and anything having to do with God. 

Earlier, Jesus settled an argument among His disciples by stating the importance of being childlike and the danger of corrupting any child by teaching them how to sin.

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 

And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 

“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.  

“Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes! (Matthew 18:1-7 ESV)

Being childlike is important to God, so much so that He first revealed Himself to the world as a baby. God tells us that His Son would be born. “The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you” (Psalm 2:7 ESV). His birth as a human child was announced to a small group of shepherds by Angels.

And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:9-11 ESV)

Hosanna is an exclamation of adoration and means to save now. Before the angels disappeared from the sight of the shepherds the sang “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:14 ESV). Jesus entered Jerusalem to the praise of people who adored Him and was followed by children who continued the refrain. Praise for God cannot be stopped or silenced. All creation will declare His glory.gels

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Out of the mouth of babies and infants, 
you have established strength because of your foes, 
to still the enemy and the avenger. (Psalm 8:2 ESV)

Jesus began His life in the womb, was born and lived as a baby and an infant, growing through all the natural stages into adulthood. We have none of His recorded words as He grew, until He was twelve years old. The boy Jesus and His family traveled to Jerusalem during Passover and He stayed behind, speaking to the teachers in the Temple, listening and asking questions. His parents searched for Him for three days. When they found Him, Jesus’ responded with “why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49 ESV). Jesus did not suddenly become inquisitive and interested in spiritual matters at twelve. Luke tells us that as a child He impressed people. “And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him” (Luke 2:40 ESV).

In this Psalm, the word babies means a child or a boy, and the word infants means a child who suckles or nurses. It was common for children to nurse until they were walking and talking and playing in the streets. Children express themselves in the most innocent manner, speaking truth, as they view truth, without inhibition or filters. As they learn to speak, they are taught what is appropriate and not appropriate to say from their parents and those around them. Every person is trained by their immediate family and surrounding culture. Yet, God declares that He establishes, which means to ordain or appoint. Strength, is personal, social or political power and might. God puts in children the desire to know Him. God does this because of His foes, those who would bind, tie up, or shut up the truth with their lies and hostility. It is not the socially accepted who are wise and understanding in the ways of God, but children. “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will” (Matthew 11:25-26 ESV; Luke 10:21).

As Jesus entered Jerusalem during His last week, crowds followed Him, singing His praises. He went to the temple and cleansed it, driving out the merchants bought and sold, and the moneychangers, from the outer temple court. People came to Jesus so He could heal them. The children in the temple continued their refrain from His triumphant entry in Jerusalem. Everyone loved Him except the religious leaders.

“But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant, and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, ”Yes; have you never read, “‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’?” (Matthew 21:25-26 ESV)

Jesus tells us that God reveals Himself to children and hides Himself from those who adopt the rebellious wisdom of the world, their own flesh and the Deceiver.  “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will” (Matthew 11:25-26 ESV; see also Luke 10:21). In eternity, God’s kingdom is consummated as His original intent in creating Man in His image, with dominion over creation. Isaiah paints an image of the kingdom of God, led by Messiah who gives righteous judgments. “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them” (Isaiah 11:6 ESV; see 11:1-10). Ultimately, it is Jesus who is eternally strong and eternally established by God to have victory over those who are His foes. 

John, the Beloved

John was a disciple and apostle of Jesus.  Current popular thought portrays him as a mild-mannered, almost feminine looking young man. A recent novel fictionalized him as almost, though not quite, a homosexual. He was the disciple Jesus loved and leaned on Jesus’ breast during the last supper. He was the type of man the postmodern world wants a man to be. 

Okay, enough of this pandering nonsense. 

What was John like?  He was a fisherman, one of Peter’s buddies. Don’t think for one moment Peter would put up with the modern description of John. Peter and his brother, and John and his brother, were all “cut from the same cloth.” They were hard-working, rough around the edges, people nobody in our day or in our country would want to tangle with. Some go to gyms to get exercise. Their very existence was exercise. They could out-row, out-run, out-lift, out-work any muscle-bound gym rat in this country. 

John had a temper. He and his brother were called “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17). One time, as Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem to be murdered, they passed through a Samaritan village. Samaritans and Jews did not like each other. “And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, ‘Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?’ But he turned and rebuked them” (Luke 9:54-55). They were as tough as anyone living in Galilee or Judah at that time. 

John followed Jesus through almost His entire ministry. He was one of the inner-three, the most privileged of disciples. He was the only one who came back and stood before the crucified Jesus, nailed to a cross, with Jesus’ mother, staring at the gut-wrenching spectacle of mangled humanity hanging before him. He was the one who Jesus appointed to care for his mother. He was there when Jesus died. In my opinion, John had a stronger backbone and stomach than any of the other disciples.

John’s Gospel is unique, set apart from the three synoptic Gospels. He was intimately familiar with the life and ministry of Jesus. He gives insight into the gospel of Christ and its impact upon the people who knew and heard Him necessary to fully understand God’s will. John knew, intellectually and intimately, Jesus. 

John was the longest living Apostle. He not only wrote the Gospel of John, but the three Epistles of John and the Revelation or Apocalypse of John, the last book in the New Testament. 

The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John,who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw.” (Rev. 1:1-2)

He was exiled to the Island of Patmos, probably a political prisoner of Rome, for the remainder of his life. While there, Jesus, whom he had walked with on earth, showed himself to John and told him to deliver a message to the Seven Churches. 

John saw God in his vision.  Remember Job?  He figuratively slapped his hand over his mouth to keep from spouting more self-righteous verbiage when he saw God.  Remember Isaiah?  He admitted his mouth and heart and the collective mouths and hearts of the nation were sinful when he saw a vision of God.  Remember Ezekiel?  He fell to the ground in a faint when he saw a vision of God.  All had seen a vision of God and all had reacted humbly, radically, honestly. 

Peter knew Jesus nominally, until Jesus performed a miracle, doing something only God could do. Then he fell on his face and cringed over his sinfulness.  Paul grew up steeped in the Scripture, a knowledgeable Pharisee blinded by the brilliance of Jesus and knocked to the ground on the road to Damascus. John knew Jesus during His ministry on earth, and walked with Jesus and the Church for the rest of his life. It doesn’t matter how much or what kind of knowledge you have, when you are face-to-face with Jesus you will react.  When John saw Jesus he “fell at his feet as though dead” (Rev. 1:17).

How can sin, and anyone corrupted by sin, stand before a just, righteous and holy God. They cannot. This means God has to remove sin from the person before the person can enter His presence. He will do this but not without us acknowledging the truth of sin.

Paul, the Apostle

Paul’s conversion is dramatic. Needless to say, most people do not have dramatic conversions. I don’t know anyone who was stopped in their tracks by a blinding light while on the way to capture and kill Christians. 

That Christians are persecuted for their faith is an indisputable fact.  Paul’s conversion was so dramatic he used it as a defense before the authorities who wanted to have him killed because he was a Christian and a Jew. Luke, the writer of Acts, relates “Saul’s” (who became Paul) conversion in Acts 9. Paul then tells us about his experience two more times, once in Acts 22 as he stands before an angry mob in the Temple Courts. Then in Acts 26 he stands before King Agrippa after appealing to Caesar. 

Before his conversion he was known as Saul of Tarsus, grew up in Jerusalem, joined the sect of the Pharisees and learned from Gamaliel (see Acts 22:3). Gamaliel made an amazing statement about the disciples of Christ and their preaching after Jesus was resurrected and ascended.  Because they were Christ’s disciples they were being threatened, beaten, thrown in jail and persecuted because they talked about Jesus. Peter and the others were not intimidated. They would continue to preach because God had told them to do so. Standing in court, Gamaliel said to his peers: “So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” (Acts 5:38-39).  Shortly thereafter, Stephen was murdered, with Saul standing nearby, holding the coats of those who stoned Stephen. 

Saul learned Scripture from Gamaliel but did not learn to think until confronted by Jesus. Saul learned blood-thirsty action from those willing to murder for god. Had he paid attention to the lessons of his teacher and learned how to think from him he would have seen the wisdom in letting God deal with those who are against Him. Instead, Saul tries to control the situation for God through his violent actions. 

Saul is a zealot for god (I use little “g” for a reason), letting his loyalty for the traditions of his elders control his passion for religion. Notice in Acts 9:1 Saul breathed “threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord” and traveled out of country to capture those who were threatening his religion. Saul claimed to know God and God’s absolute will. He had spent his life learning … something. Studying god as an intellectual exercise, or the manipulation of people in god’s name, as an emotional point of pride, does nothing for the person’s actual relationship with God. In reality, both methods of learning about god are a cheat. 

On the road, at noon-time, when the sun is the highest and brightest a “light from heaven flashed around him” and he fell “to the ground” (Acts 9:3). A light so bright Saul could not see for three days. He saw a light brighter than the sun at its zenith. Only God casts a light so bright. 

Then God spoke. “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:4).

For the first time in his life Saul is forced to honestly listen to God. In response, he asks an honest question. “Who are you, Lord?” (Acts 9:5). He called Him “Lord.” Saul knew instinctively with whom he was speaking. The answer must have stunned the zealous Pharisee. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:5). Paul later tells the Church Christ is the head of the body. When the individual Christian is persecuted Christ is persecuted. Not only does the Christian identify with Christ, but Christ identifies with the Christian. 

Those who were with Saul saw the light, heard the voice and helped the handicapped Pharisee into the city of Damascus. We know nothing else about them. Jesus was after Saul. If He went after those other men you may be sure He got them. 

In an instant, after a life of learning about god, Saul was broken and learned about God. 

Just and Righteous

God is a righteous judge, 
and a God who feels indignation every day. (Psalm 7:11 ESV)

Psalm 7 poetically presents as a closing statement in a legal trial with God as the presiding judge. God is both just and righteousness. He is just in that He adheres to and upholds the laws of His nature and those laws which He has put in place to govern His creation. He is righteous in that He lives perfectly according to His laws and expects His creation to follow those laws. In the beginning, God created people and endowed them with His image, which gives them the tools needed to know, understand and act according to the nature of God in their every endeavor. Man, Adam and Eve, and all who follow, rebel against God, refusing to acknowledge Him as the eternal Lawgiver and breaking His laws. Since the laws broken are based upon Himself, He is the only One with the authority to judge those who broke the laws. “God is a righteous judge”  (Psalm 7:11 ESV).

God blesses the Righteous Man whose “delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:2 ESV). As the eternal government of His creation, God judges the kings and rulers of the world who teach and train their people to rebel against Him by enthroning His King, His Son, Jesus Christ. “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill” (Psalm 2:6 ESV). Those found in Christ, His righteous King, who take refuge in Him are declared righteous and comprise the citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Does God feel? Does God have emotions? Can we understand His emotions as we understand ours? God feels indignation every dayIndignation is anger, an expression of irritation and rage, a defiant posture, a denouncement and curse. God is enraged at the violation of His law, which is a direct assault on His character and being. There is never a moment in space-time history where God relaxes His hatred for sin. “For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you. The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers. You destroy those who speak lies; the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man” (Psalm 5:4-6 ESV).

Jesus felt. He wept over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41). He showed His physical anger over the desecration of the temple by the religious leaders who allowed merchants in the temple courts (John 2:15; Matthew 21:13). He condemned the religious leaders for their hypocritical lives (Matthew 23). He felt deep emotions at the tomb of Lazarus (John 11:35). He had compassion on the hungry, the sick, the disabled, the demon possessed and the dead. Jesus, as Man, felt the full range of emotions given all people. Emotions are part of the image of God in Man, therefore, God also has and feels emotions. The difference is between us and God is neither God nor Jesus as a Man is corrupted by sin. Their emotions are pure and righteous. Our emotions are tainted by sin.

God hates evil and sin yet loves the one who commits evil and sins. His compassion for the sinful does have a boundary yet knows no end. Those who continue to reject Him, even after receiving the grace of His forgiveness through the sacrifice of Christ, have no other path into His presence.

For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. (Hebrews 6:4-6 ESV)

As part of the image of God, our emotions are directional and like warning flags, which tell people when they are in God’s will or tempted to sin against God. Those who take refuge in God may feel joy and love toward God. Those who are facing temptation or have fully embraced sin, feel fear and anger and guilt. Many philosophies have taught we should not trust our emotions. When corrupted by sin, nothing we do conforms to the original intent God had for Man, including our emotions. Those filled with the Holy Spirit have an Interpreter who directs and confronts and counsels the citizen of His kingdom. We are given spiritual tools in the image of God. We are given the Holy Spirit, who is God Himself, embedded in a recreated being stuck in a sinful physical body.

God wants those who are His to hate sin as much as He hates sin. We are to hate sin in the world and to hate sin in those who exist around us. We are to hate sin in ourselves and purge sin from our lives. At the same time, we are to love those who are in the world, created in the image of God and loved by Him. We are to hate sin every day. We hate sin because He hates sin.  Conversely, like God, we are to love people as He loves them. We can only accomplish this though the work of the Holy Spirit giving us the discernment we need to recognize sin yet love those who sin, who are created in God’s image.

Established

Oh, let the evil of the wicked come to an end, 
and may you establish the righteous—
you who test the minds and hearts, O righteous God! 
(Psalm 7:9 ESV)

Those who seek God and His righteousness are often troubled in their souls, mourning over the presence and consequences of the sin the see in themselves and in the world in which they live. They know and love truth and hate and abhor evil. Their prayers echo the prayer of Jesus in the Psalms that evil and wickedness would come to an end. To endmeans to cease, be no more, fail, as well as complete. God promises that sin, wickedness and those who rebel against Him, who are sinful and wicked, will come to an end. The wicked person will not cease to exist but will cease corrupting God’s creation with their evil.

God spoke about what will happen to His sinful enemies. They are excluded from His eternal presence and with those whom He has declared righteous. “Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous” (Psalm 1:5 ESV). Those who continue to rebel, even after commanded to repent and turn toward God, are given a warning about what will happen if they do not submit and serve Jesus. “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled” (Psalm 2:12 ESV). Those who do not repent, continuing to fight against Him, in word and action, are eternally silenced. “For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked” (Psalm 3:7 ESV). Those who would murder God, continually lying about Him, are consigned to a place of destruction, away from His presence. “You destroy those who speak lies; the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man” (Psalm 5:6 ESV). Though Jesus took upon Himself the punishment for sin, the wicked reject the command of the Holy Spirit to accept and abide in His grace. The evidence of their rejection is their continued, blatant sin. “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” (Psalm 5:10 ESV).

The wicked will come to an end and He will establish the righteous. To establish means to make firm, to stabilize, to fix and secure, to make enduring. Those who are righteous in Christ will enter His presence in eternity and never again face the corruption of sin and rebellion.

God knows the difference between those who live and revel in their sin and those who are drawn into His presence, who take refuge in Christ. To test means to examine and prove, to be put on trial and thoroughly scrutinized. Only God knows intimately the thinking of the hearts of all people. He tests the minds and hearts. “For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish” (Psalm 1:6 ESV). Peering deeply into the hearts and intentions of all people, God knows and sees the difference between those who hate Him and those who love Him.

For there is no truth in their mouth; their inmost self is destruction; their throat is an open grave; they flatter with their tongue. 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 5:9-10 ESV).

Jesus knew the hearts of those around Him, who challenged His authority and sought to murder Him. When He saw the faith of those who brought a paralytic to Him to heal, He forgave the paralyzed man of his sin. This irked the religious leaders who watched. They knew only God could forgive sin. To them, Jesus was simply a man and, they thought, sinful. Jesus knew their hearts. “And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, ‘Why do you think evil in your hearts?’” (Matthew 9:3-4 ESV; see also Luke 5:22). Jesus then demonstrated His authority over sin by healing the man. Many people saw His miracles. They believed He could perform signs and wonders because they watched Him do great things. But, Jesus knew their hearts and that they sought only what they could control. Jesus would not allow anyone to control Him.

Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man. (John 2:23-25 ESV)

God is righteous and knows those who have relinquished control to Him and are righteous because of His Son.

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.