Wednesday, May 9, 2007

The Happiness of the Nations

Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,
The people He has chosen as His own inheritance.
(Psalm 33:12)
Happiness is not just for individuals. An entire community, a tribe, a people, even a nation can know happiness and blessing. But just as it does for an individual, the happiness of a nation is not inherent. It comes from somewhere and is the by-product of something.

The nation God is talking about in this psalm is Israel, but He has issued a standing invitation to all the nations who will turn to Him. Psalm 2 begins with, “Why do the nations rage and the people plot a vain thing?” (v. 1); the nations and peoples conspire together, setting themselves against the LORD and His Messiah (v. 2). But this same psalm ends with a wonderful opportunity for repentance and redemption:
Now therefore, be wise, O kings;
Be instructed, you judges 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,
When His wrath is kindled but a little.
Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.
(vv. 10-12)
Likewise, in Psalm 33 we read:
The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect.
The counsel of the LORD stands forever,
The plans of His heart to all generations.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,
The people He has chosen as His own inheritance.
(vv. 10-12)
As we see in verse 12, the counsel of the Lord and the plan of His heart is to bless with happiness all those who put their trust in Him, to make them His inheritance, His own. Psalm 89 details what this happiness is like for the nations and peoples who live in awe of the LORD:
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne;
Mercy and truth go before Your face.
Blessed are the people who know that joyful sound!
They walk, O LORD, in the light of Your countenance.
In Your name they rejoice all day long,
And in Your righteousness they are exalted.
For You are the glory of their strength,
And in Your favor our horn is exalted.
For our shield belongs to the LORD,
And our king to the Holy One of Israel.
(Psalm 89:14-18)
The throne of God — His rule and reign — is established upon righteousness and justice, and He brings mercy and truth wherever He goes. The nations that turn to Him will experience His mercy and truth, and the up side of His rightness and justice. The joyful sound is the jubilation of trumpets that call them to come and enjoy the feast of the Lord. The light of His countenance is His wonderful favor upon them. They shall continually rejoice (Hebrew, giyl) with spinning and twirling because of His name. They will be exalted by the rightness and favor of the LORD. He shall be their shield, and His glory shall be their strength. Psalm 144 adds even more:
That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth;
That our daughters may be as pillars,
Sculptured in palace style;
That our barns may be full,
Supplying all kinds of produce;
That our sheep may bring forth thousands
And ten thousands in our fields.
That our oxen may be well laden;
That there be no breaking in or going out;
That there be no outcry in our streets.
Happy are the people who are in such a state;
Happy are the people whose God is the LORD!
(Psalm 144:12-15)
Even to those who have known Him but have turned away, God says, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sins and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

God is making from the nations of the world a people all His own. Before He ascended to His throne in heaven, Jesus commissioned His disciples:
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:19-20)
To all those who receive Him, He says,
You are a chose generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who call your out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. (1 Peter 2:9-10)
In the vision he received on the isle of Patmos, the apostle John heard this tribute sung to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God:
You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals;
For You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
And have made us kings and priests to our God;
And we shall reign on the earth.
(Revelation 5:9-10)
Happy indeed are those whose God is the LORD, even the nations who “kiss the Son,” the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Those who trust in Him will live in awe of God, and rejoice with whirling and twirling, and they shall be blessed with abundance and prosperity.