Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Mighty God, Yahweh

The Mighty God, Yahweh speaks
And summons the earth
From the place where the sun rises to the place where it sets.
(Psalm 50:1 JVD)
This verse presents us with a combination of God’s names: El Elohim Yahweh (אל אלה'ם 'הוה). El speaks of God in His might and authority. Elohim is how God revealed Himself in the creation of heaven and earth. Yahweh is the name of His person, and is the name by which He made covenant with His people, Israel.

There is only one other place in the Bible where we find this combination of the divine names. That is in Joshua 22, where the Reubenites, Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh were accused by the rest of Israel of turning from the Lord and being unfaithful to His covenant. They appealed to God to judge the matter between them: “The Mighty One, God, the LORD, the Mighty One, God, the LORD! He knows, and may Israel itself know. If it was in rebellion, or if in an unfaithful act against the LORD do not save us this day!” (Joshua 22:22 NASB). It soon became apparent that they had been faithful and just.

In Psalm 50, this same name is used of God when He summons heaven and earth to witness as He judges His people (v. 4). Divine court is in session.
Gather My saints together to me,
Those who have made a covenant with Me by sacrificed.
Let the heavens declare His righteousness,
For God Himself is Judge.
(Psalm 50:5-6)
The heavens and the earth were present when God made His covenant with the children of Israel, in the book of Deuteronomy: “Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth” (Deuteronomy 32:1). Now they bear witness that God is righteous in this dispute.

This is all about covenant, the covenant God made with Israel. He has a bone to pick with them: He has been faithful to the covenant — which is what righteousness is about — but they have not. Two groups are in the dock. First, there are those who have kept all the mandatory rituals, but all in a very impersonal, obligatory way, and as if God was dependent upon their burnt offerings. His corrective word to them is this:
Offer to God thanksgiving,
And pay your vows to the Most High.
Call upon Me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.
(Psalm 50:14-15)
This is a sacrifice of thanksgiving, a voluntary offering of fellowship. God is not looking for a perfunctory people — it is our fellowship He desires, an offering of the heart. The more we come to Him with thanksgiving and praise, the more we realize our dependence upon Him, the more we come to trust Him, the more we learn to call on Him, and the more we discover that He is there for us in the day of trouble. The second group is those who make a pretense of covenant fidelity with their lips, but their hearts are far away from God.
But to the wicked God says:
“What right has you to declare My statutes,
Or take My covenant in your mouth.”
(Psalm 50:16)
They hate the instruction of the Lord and cast off His words (v. 17). They consent with thieves and partake with adulterers (v. 18). They give their mouths over to creating evil and their tongues to speaking deceit (v. 19). They sit in fellowship with their brothers and sisters, but then, in the greatest hypocrisy, speak slander against them (v. 20). God will rebuke them and bring their offenses out in the open for all to see (v. 21). However, all is not lost for them; God offers them opportunity for repentance.
Now consider this, you who forget God,
Lest I tear you in pieces,
And there be none to deliver:
Whoever offers praise glorifies Me;
And to him who orders his conduct aright
I will show the salvation of God.
(Psalm 50:22-23)
To those who turn to God and acknowledge Him with praise from the heart, and walk according to His instruction, He will show His salvation. God desires covenant fellowship with His people, but He also requires covenant faithfulness from them.

Israel never was able to remain faithful, so God’s plan all along was to keep Israel’s part through the Messiah, the perfect Israelite in whom all the Law and the Prophets are fulfilled. Through faith in Him, we are justified, declared to be right with God.
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1-2)
The Mighty God, Yahweh, is the divine judge who counts us faithful covenant-keepers through Jesus the Messiah.