Saturday, March 31, 2012

Now Faith is Reality

Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen. (Hebrews 11:1 HCSB)

The NKJV has this as, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” The substance of a thing is it’s underlying reality. The interesting thing about the Greek word, hypostasis, which speaks of the underlying state, is that it was sometimes used to refer to a title deed. A title deed signifies possession. So, for example, if you have the title deed to a piece of land, you legally possess the land itself.

Hope is about what we have not yet seen, or what has not yet come into manifestation. But just because we have not yet seen a thing does not mean that there is no reality to it. For example, I may inherit a piece of land that I have never visited before, but that does not make it any less real. And if I possess the title deed, not having yet seen the land does not make it any less mine. The title deed is the proof that that land belongs to me.

What I want to focus on today, though, is the time factor. Hope is about the future, about what I fully expect to see even though it has not yet come about. That is the nature of hope. Paul said, “hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance” (Romans 8:24-25).

Hope is future, but faith is now. The author of Hebrews does not use the word “now” as a simple connective, like “so,” “and” or “but.” Rather, he is showing the relationship between the faith we have now and what we expect to see in the future.

These things concern the promises of God, which is the only biblical basis for faith. If God had never promised anything, we would have no reason for expectation. But because God has made certain promises to us, and since He does not lie, we can believe Him and expect to receive from Him everything He promised.

Faith is about believing the promises of God. By faith, we take possession of those promises, even though we have not yet seen them come to pass. Indeed, faith is the reality, the evidence, the proof, that we will see them come to pass. The faith we have now is the reality that connects us to what we expect to see. Faith and hope each do their part until we have seen the full manifestation. And in between is patience.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Love, Law and Faith

The apostle Paul has some interesting things to say about the relationship between love, law and faith. We find these relationships in his letter to the Jesus believers in Galatia.
All the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:14)
Someone asked Jesus which was the greatest commandment. He answered,
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.
Love fulfills the law God gave through Moses to Israel. God intended for that law to instruct the people of Israel in how they should live. But it could never produce in them what it instructed — it was never meant to. That is why God promised to cut a new covenant with His people:
“Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah … I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. (Jeremiah 31:31, 33)

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. (Ezekiel 36:26-27)
These two prophecies speak of the same reality. God promised a new heart and a new spirit — His own Spirit — to produce in us what the law of Moses never could. This is fulfilled in the gospel of Jesus the Messiah, who by His faithfulness is the mediator of the new and better covenant, which is cut with His own blood (Hebrews 8:6; Luke 22:20). At Pentecost, just as He promised, God gave us His Spirit, who dwells in us to produce the faithful character of Jesus in us. Paul speaks of it as the “fruit of the Spirit.”
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)
Love fulfills the law, but the law could not produce that love in us. Only God can.

What matters now, Paul says, is “faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6) and walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16). The Greek word for “work” is energeo, which is where we get the word “energy.” We might say that faith is energized through love. The word “walk” speaks of a consistent manner of living. Walking in the Spirit is continually yielding to the Holy Spirit and letting Him do His work in us.

If you find that your faith is weak, check how your love is doing. If your love is weak, check how you are doing in your daily walk with God. God is love, and when we yield to His Spirit, we are yielding to the Spirit of Love. As we do, His love will become strong in us and our faith will become powerful and effective.
Faith works through love, and love fulfills the law.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Love and Obedience

Yesterday, in a discussion on Facebook, someone asked about obedience in the Christian life — what it is, whether it’s a list of rules, or if it’s the same for everyone, or whether it’s a heavy burden or a light one. Here is my response:
I don’t actually think much in terms of obedience. I think more in terms of loving God and loving others and letting the love of God work through me. It’s been said that we become like what we behold. As I get older, I find that my desire is to behold God more. In that, I discover that godly things flow out of my life, not as a matter of obedience or discipline or discipleship, but more naturally than that.

A few years ago I heard Mike Bickle speak (he is the founder of International House of Prayer, in Kansas City, MO). He was talking about his earlier days when he was a dean (or some such) at some sort of ministry or Bible school. He said that sometimes students would come in who were struggling with some sin in their life. The harder they tried, the more difficult it got and the more they failed. The answer he would give them was very simple:

“Don’t try harder. Love God more.”

Love works in a very different way. It doesn’t think of obedience as obedience, or of sacrifice as sacrifice. It is focused simply on the Beloved. And that is a life-changing thing.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Transformed by the Image of the Son

For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Romans 8:29)
This has always been God’s plan for those who belong to Him, that we be conformed to the image of His Son. To be “conformed” means to have the same form as something, to be just like it. What we are conformed to here is the “image” of Jesus.

The use of “image” is very significant, especially in regard to God’s plan from the beginning. The Greek word is eikon. In English, we spell it as icon. An icon is a representative image. Click on an icon on your computer screen, for example, and you bring up the program that is represented by it. The icon and the thing it represents go together. Indeed, the icon derives its meaning from the thing it represents.

Now think back to what God did in the beginning, when He created the heavens and the earth. After He made everything else and saw that it was good, He said, “Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). In the Septuagint, the earliest translation of the Old Testament from Hebrew to Greek, the word used for “image” is eikon. Man was created to be the icon of God, to be like Him and represent Him on the earth. That is why, according to the rest of this verse, God gave man dominion: “Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air and over the cattle, over all the earth and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” We were all created as icons and meant to have dominion, to be kings and queens who reflect the glory of God on earth.

Of course, we know that Adam blew it all when he rebelled against God, and that affected not only us but all of creation. But that is why Jesus came, “who being the brightness of His glory and the express image [eikon] of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3). He is God become flesh and is the perfect representative of the Father on earth. Jesus said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).

So when Paul speaks of God’s plan to conform us to the image of the Son, Jesus, it is all about restoring us to the purpose God originally had for us at creation — to be His image, to be like Him and represent Him over all the earth.

When does this happen? I believe it has already happened for those are born again, born from above by the Spirit of God, through faith in Jesus the Messiah. We received a new identity as “sons of God” (John 1:12). We received the Holy Spirit dwelling within us — Jesus Himself dwelling in us by His Spirit (Romans 8:9-10). We became part of the new creation, and the old thing that we were passed away (2 Corinthians 5:17). In this new identity, this new life, this new creation, we are now conformed to the image of Jesus, the Son of God.

That is what we really and truly are inwardly. But there is a tension between that and what we are outwardly. The apostle John recognized this tension when he said, “Beloved, now we are the children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2). When Jesus comes again, we shall see Him as He is, and we shall also see ourselves as we truly are in Him — we shall see that we are like Him.

Paul also recognizes this same tension between what we are inwardly and what we outwardly. In Romans 12:2, he says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2). If we let the world around us press us into its mold and shape us according to its own fallen image, our lives will not accurately reflect the new life and identity we have in Jesus.

What we need is to be transformed, changed from the inside out so that what we are outwardly matches up with what we are inwardly. This transformation is a process. That is, it happens over time. It is not something we can do ourselves. It is something He must do. It happens by the renewing of our minds, but even this is the work of God. Our part is simply to yield to Him and let Him transform us, letting Him renew our thoughts and our ways by His thoughts and His ways. The more we allow Him to work in us in this way, the more our outward lives will reflect who we really are inwardly in Jesus the Messiah. (See also Not Conformed — Transformed and Exploring the Mind of God.)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Exploring the Gospel ~ Psalm 96

Sing to the LORD, bless His name;
Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day.
(Psalm 96:2)
“Proclaim the good news” is all one Hebrew word, basar. The Septuagint (a.k.a. LXX), the earliest translation of the Old Testament into Greek, renders it with the verb evangelizo, which, of course, means to evangelize, to announce the gospel. The announcement is about the salvation that comes from Yahweh. But what is this salvation about? We find the shape of it throughout the rest of this psalm.
  • It is a declaration to the nations that reveals the glory of Yahweh and displays His wonderful works (v. 3).
  • It is Yahweh being exalted and honored above all “gods,” specifically the idols worshiped by the nations (vv. 4-5). But it would also include whatever diabolical spirits may be behind them. This is part of what Paul means in the New Testament when he speaks about “principalities” and “powers.”
  • It is Yahweh coming to dwell in His temple, among His people, in honor and majesty, strength and beauty (v. 6).
  • It is all the peoples of the earth bowing down before Him, acknowledging His honor above all else (vv. 7-9).
  • It is declaring to the nations, “Yahweh reigns!” (v. 10), that is, that He is King.
  • It is heaven and earth coming together with rejoicing (vv. 11-12).
  • It is Yahweh judging the world with truth and righteousness (v. 13), with the judgment that sets things right, roots out evil and brings deliverance to all who trust in Him.
Although the immediate historical setting for this psalm was the rebuilding of the Temple at Jerusalem after the Babylonian captivity, the ultimate fulfillment is found in Jesus of Nazareth. He is the Messiah, God’s Anointed King, in whom everything in this gospel and this salvation is fulfilled. Indeed, the name of Jesus in Hebrew, Yeshua, means “salvation.”
  • Jesus began His ministry by proclaiming the good news that the time was now fulfilled and the kingdom of God has come into the world (Mark 1:14-15).
  • After the resurrection and before He ascended to heaven, Jesus declared, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18). In other words, not only has the kingdom of God come into the world, but Jesus Himself is the King.
  • Then Jesus sent the disciples (and through them, the Church) to go and “make disciples of all the nations,” baptizing them and teaching them everything Jesus taught (Matthew 28:19-20).
  • God has raised Jesus from the dead and seated Him at His own right hand, “far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come, and He put all things under His feet” (Ephesians 1:20-22).
  • God has also highly exalted Jesus and “given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).
  • In Jesus the Messiah, God is bringing everything that belongs to heaven and earth together into one (Ephesians 1:10). That is why Jesus taught us to pray, “Kingdom of God, come. Will of God, be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10 JVD). He also promised that whatever we bound on earth in His name will have already been bound in heaven, and whatever we loose on earth will have already been loosed in heaven (Matthew 18:18).
  • Jesus is the Word who became flesh and “dwelt” among us (John 1:14). The Greek word for “dwelt” literally means to tent, or to tabernacle. It corresponds to God dwelling in the Tabernacle of Moses, and later in the Temple. Peter calls Jesus the “living stone, rejected by men, but chosen by God and precious,” then adds, “You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:4-5). This is temple language.
  • At the end of the book of Revelation, heaven and earth are joined together by the New Jerusalem, with the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb (Jesus) as its temple. “And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it” (Revelation 21:22-24).
The gospel of God’s yeshuah (“salvation”), portrayed in Psalm 96, is now being accomplished through King Jesus (Yeshua) the Messiah. His kingdom reign has already begun and will be fully revealed when He returns to judge the world and everything will be completely set right.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Faith Says Thanks

Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it, with thanksgiving. (Colossians 4:2)
We should, of course, always have an attitude of thanksgiving toward God, because we have innumerable blessings. (Here’s a little exercise that can lift your spirit at any moment: Think of one thing for which you can give God thanks. Then see if there is not something else that comes to mind to thank Him for. And one more after that. And another after that.)

What I have in mind today, though, is about when to give thanks for the things we have asked of God in prayer. Should we wait until the answer appears before we say, Thank You, Lord? Or would it be presumptuous to thank Him for it before we even see it come to pass? To answer that, let’s take a look at this very important, perhaps even surprising thing Jesus said about prayer:
Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. (Mark 11:24)
That’s a pretty wide open statement. Sure, it is qualified by the context: “Therefore” refers back to having faith in God and how to exercise that faith (Mark 11:22-23). And we need to be in proper alignment with God and His purposes. So, for example, a bank robber cannot expect God to answer his prayer for a good wheel man and a clean get away. But when our faith is in God and we are partnering with what He is doing in the world, then this prayer has a lot of latitude.

What I want you to notice in particular is the word “receive.” The Greek word is lambano and means to “take hold of.” It is like when someone offers you a gift and you reach out to take hold of it — you actively receive it. Lambano is used here in the active voice, not the passive. That is, it is something we do, not something we wait to be done for us. Pay attention especially to the tense, because this will help answer the question I have posed. Jesus does not say, “Believe that you will receive” (future tense), but “Believe that you receive” (present tense). The NASB goes so far as to translate it as a present perfect: “Believe that you have received.”

What this means, then, is that when you have faith in God and are walking in proper relationship with Him, you can pray and know that you have received what you have asked of Him. So when you ask, believe that you have received it — that you have laid hold of it — and it will be yours. And if you believe that you have received it, you don’t have to wait until the answer shows up, you can go ahead and give God thanks for it.

Ask for it by faith, receive it by faith, give thanks for it by faith. As one of my friends likes to say, “Hope says, Please. Faith says, Thanks.”

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Keep On It

A few years ago, my brother and I were up in Spartanburg, SC, tending to our grandmother’s affairs. Since we were not from there and were not very familiar with the town, we asked one lady how to get where we needed to be next. She told us to go out to the main road and turn right, and then “you keep on it and keep on it and keep on it.” Then she gave us the name of the road where we were to turn after that, along with a few landmarks to watch for.

My brother and I laughed about that as we drove along, repeating her words, “Keep on it and keep on it and keep on it.” We could see that there were some good reasons for her to emphasize it that way. As we began following her directions, there were many opportunities where we could have turned off the path and gotten ourselves lost. We were also unsure how many miles we would have to go before we reached the proper intersection. And I don’t know about you, but I have often had the sense in such situations that maybe I had gone too far and missed the proper turn, wondering whether I should go back and see or keep moving forward?

Take this as a sort of parable of faith — or more precisely, of faith and patience, because the two go together. We receive a promise from God, by the Word or the Spirit, and we have determined to believe it. But there can be quite some time between faith and fulfillment, between “Amen!” and “There it is!” We may also find that there are things that immediately arise to test it, and many opportunities to turn off the path of what we have been promised.

Abraham certainly experienced this. So did Joseph and Moses and David, not to mention Jesus. In fact, anybody who ever accomplished anything worthwhile by faith has experienced it. But they kept on.

Jesus told a few parables about what it means to keep on.

Like the one about the man who knocked on his neighbor’s door at midnight because he had a friend come to see him and there was no bread to set before him. Though the neighbor was tucked in for the night with his family and did not want to be disturbed, the man stood shamelessly at his door and refused to be turned away — he really needed that bread! (Luke 11:5-8).

Or the parable about the woman who sought justice from a judge who could not have cared less. He tried to turn her away but she would not relent. Finally, just to get her off his back, he gave in and granted her request (Luke 18:2-8).

What if they both had just given up and gone home. He would have had no bread to offer his hungry friend, and she would have had no justice. But they kept on.

Jesus said that those who ask will receive, those who seek will find, and those who knock will have the door opened up to them (Luke 11:10). But the asking and seeking and knocking must be done in faith, not in doubt, and that faith must be persistent.

How long should you persist? Let me answer that with another question: How much do you need the answer? We continue to press in patiently with our faith until we have received what we have asked, found what we have been seeking and the door stands open before us.

In other words, we keep on it. And keep on it. And keep on it. Until we see the promise has been fulfilled.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Treasure That Endures

Recently I have been “mini-blogging” on Facebook (and “micro-blogging” on Twitter) about “laying up treasure,” based on Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-20).

Though I’ve written a series of posts about this in the past (see Laying Up Treasure in Heaven), bringing it up again allowed me to clarify a bit for a friend of mine who was having difficulty following what I was saying.

“Laying up treasure for ourselves” is about what we do with our money and resources. Jesus tells us to lay them up for ourselves, not on earth but in heaven. A lot of Christians think that means that, whatever they lay up in heaven, they’re not going to see it until they die and go to heaven — perhaps this is why my friend was having difficulty. But that is not what Jesus is talking about.

The sermon on the mount is essentially a manifesto in which Jesus announces the coming of the kingdom of God from heaven to earth, and how we are to respond to it. Notice the direction — it is not about us on earth going to heaven but heaven coming to earth. The kingdom of God, which we are taught to seek in Matthew 6:33, is the will of God being done on earth as it is in heaven (as Jesus taught us to pray in the “Lord’s Prayer”).

So, when Jesus tells us to lay up for ourselves treasure in heaven, it is not for the sake of heaven. Heaven does not need it. Nor will we need it when we die and go there. Rather, it is for the sake of earth. That is, we lay up for ourselves treasure in heaven so that that the will of God may be done on earth as it is in heaven.

This is a total reorientation of our lives and requires a shift in our thinking. As followers of Jesus, we are people of the kingdom of God, the kingdom of heaven that has been coming into the world ever since Jesus came. That kingdom is not where we are going to go someday; it is where we are from right now. Everyone who has received King Jesus the Messiah is a citizen of heaven. This is not future promise but present reality.

We are a colony of heaven on earth. We are not waiting to be air-lifted out, like the last Americans at the fall of Saigon, climbing the steps to the rooftop to be evacuated by helicopter. Quite the opposite, we are an insertion team, sent into the world to manifest the life and culture of heaven on earth. (I blogged about that last month — see A Colony of Heaven).

What this means, then, is that our money, our resources and everything in our lives are to be committed to and directed by heaven (that is, by God in heaven). It is about seeking the kingdom of God — the rule and reign of God on earth as it is in heaven — with our finances and resources. We are no longer to be directed by the way the world does things. Now we receive our instructions, our provision and, indeed, our whole life, from heaven.

So laying up treasure for ourselves in heaven is for the sake of the kingdom of God being revealed on earth. As we seek that kingdom, even with our finances, we will always have everything we need. That is the promise Jesus made in Matthew 6:33. We can commit ourselves and all our resources entirely to the will of God being done on earth as in heaven because God has committed Himself to take care of us fully and completely (see 2 Corinthians 9:8).

Laying up treasure in heaven is trusting in the economy of heaven (the provision of God) instead of the economy of the world. So it really comes down to who or what we love, trust and serve. That will determine where we lay up our treasure, and whether that treasure will endure.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Yahweh My God

O LORD My God, in You I put my trust;
Save me from all those who persecute me;
And deliver me.
(Psalm 7:1)
The inscription on this psalm calls it “a meditation of David, which he sang to the LORD concerning the works of Cush, a Benjamite.” We cannot positively identify who Cush was or relate this to any particular incident in Scripture. All we know about it is what we find reflected in this psalm.
David is looking for vindication from Yahweh. Apparently, Cush made some accusations against him, charging him with iniquity, doing evil to one who was at peace with him and plundering him without cause (Psalm 7:3-5). It seems likely that the allegedly aggrieved party Cush had in mind was himself.
Cush was not a helpless individual, though. It looks like he was himself a warrior, with a band of soldiers to rival David’s, for David is concerned, “Lest they tear me like a lion, rending me in pieces, while there is none to deliver (v.2).

This was a matter of covenant. David was of the tribe of Judah, Cush was of the tribe of Benjamin, and both were of Israel, the people with whom God made covenant. Because they were both in covenant with God, they both had covenant responsibilities toward each other. Now there was strife between them, a division so serious it was about to escalate into all out war.

David turns to God, as he always does, even when he is in the wrong. He appeals to Yahweh to judge the matter and is ready for the verdict either way: “O LORD My God, if I have done this … let the enemy pursue me and overtake me. Yes, let him trample my life to the earth and lay my honor in the dust” (vv. 3-5).

However, David is confident of a different verdict and his expectation is that he will be vindicated: “Judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness, and according to my integrity within me” (v. 8). He has kept his covenant obligation toward his neighbor and has not been deceitful. He leaves it to God, who “tests the hearts and minds” (v. 9), to decide the case. “My defense is of God, who saves the upright in heart” (v. 10).

In this name Yahweh My God, we see the covenant aspect and the personal aspect. Yahweh is the personal name by which God revealed Himself to His people in covenant. By calling Him my God, David sees himself as in personal relationship with Yahweh. David trusts in Him, runs to Him for refuge and is submissive to Him. He looks to Yahweh as the one who knows his heart, the judge who will render proper judgment and set things right for him. We find this name a number of times in the psalms, most if not all of them, by David:
Consider and hear me, O LORD My God,
Enlighten my eyes,
Lest I sleep the sleep of death;
Lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed against him;”
Lest those who trouble me rejoice when I am moved.
(Psalm 13:3)

The LORD My God will enlighten my darkness. (Psalm 18:28)

O LORD My God, I cried out to You, and You healed me. (Psalm 30:2)

Vindicate me, O LORD My God,
According to Your righteousness;
And let them not rejoice over me.
(Psalm 35:24)

Many, O LORD My God, are Your wonderful works
Which You have done;
And Your thoughts toward us
Cannot be recounted to You in order;
If I would declare and speak of them,
They are more than can be numbered.
(Psalm 40:5)

I will praise You, O LORD My God with all my heart,
And I will glorify Your name forever.
(Psalm 86:12)

O LORD My God, You are very great;
You are clothed with honor and majesty.
(Psalm 104:1)

David looks to Yahweh My God to vindicate him, enlighten his eyes and his darkness (that is, to renew his strength and vitality in the face of his foe), and to heal him. He praises Him for His greatness, honor and majesty. He acknowledges the wonderful works his God has done for him and the multitude of thoughts He has toward him.

We do not find this name in the New Testament but we do find the qualities it represents. We see them in Yeshua haMeshiach (Jesus the Anointed). In Him we have new covenant and personal relationship with God. In Him we are vindicated — God finds in our favor and judges us as righteous. In Him we have one whose works on our behalf are indeed wonderful and whose thoughts toward us are too many to count.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-39)
Yahweh My God!
Yeshua My God!
Jesus My God!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

My King and My God

Give heed to the voice of my cry,
My King and my God,
For to You I will pray.
(Psalm 5:2)

David was king over Israel, but He recognized a higher King — Yahweh, his God. David did not see himself as king instead of God, but as king under God, one anointed by God. He understood what it meant to be king because he knew Yahweh as his King.

What is a king? A king shepherds his people, leads them in the way they should go, protects them from their enemies, makes provision for them. David understood these responsibilities very well and knew how to fulfill them. God chose David to “shepherd” His people, Israel, and the biblical testimony is that “he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, and guided them by the skillfulness of his hands” (Psalm 78:72).

Yahweh is the pattern for what a king should be. He hears the cry of His people, and answers them. He brings justice for His people through sound judgment, setting things right for them and dealing appropriately with the enemy and the oppressor. He defends His people and surrounds them with His favor as with a shield.

So, David called on Yahweh every morning, bringing his praise, his prayer, and the meditations of his heart. He laid them out before his King, then waited and watched and looked to Him in expectation (Psalm 5:1-3). It was a personal time, an intimate time with his God.

Indeed, this combination of names, My King and My God, though it is found only a couple of times in the Bible, portrays that intimate connection. David claims Him as his own. God is not just the King to him but my King. David loves to be in the tabernacle, the presence, of the LORD. “As for me, I will come into Your house in the multitude of Your mercy” (Psalm 5:7). In Psalm 84:3, the only other place in the Old Testament where we find this name, the psalm writer longs to be in the courts of the LORD, to find a place near the altars of “My King and My God.”

It is more than interesting, then, that when the risen Jesus invites Thomas to examine the wounds in His hands and His sides, even to touch them and see how real they are, all Thomas can do is exclaim, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:24-28). This was not merely a recognition that Jesus was master and teacher over him. Here was the sudden realization that Jesus is Messiah, the Anointed One, chosen and blessed by God as the King who would sit upon David’s throne forever. With David, he makes that personal and intimate declaration, “My King and My God.”