Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Exploring the Gospel ~ Psalm 98

Psalm 98 is gospel-shaped. That is, although it has its own historical setting in the story of Israel, it finds its greatest fulfillment in the gospel — the good news about the kingdom of God and of Jesus, God’s anointed King.
Sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things!
His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.
(Psalm 98:1)
The gospel is not just a new song but the new song, the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel. Jesus began His ministry by announcing the gospel: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). The gospel is the ultimate expression of God’s purpose for the world, from beginning to end: “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image 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 1:1-2).
The LORD has made known His salvation;
His righteousness He has revealed in the sight of the nations.
He has remembered His mercy
and His faithfulness to the house of Israel;
All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.
(Psalm 98:2-3)
In the gospel, God has brought His salvation into the world not only for Israel’s sake but for all the nations of the earth. That is why, after the resurrection but before He ascended to His throne at the right hand of the Father, Jesus said to His disciples, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:18-19). And the apostle Paul, even as he was under house arrest in Rome, teaching and testifying about the kingdom of God, said, “Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles [Gr. ethnos, nations], and they will hear it!” (Acts 28:23-28). Add to this the intriguing fact that the Hebrew word for “salvation” in Psalm 98:2-3 is yeshuah, which in name form is Yeshua, the Hebrew name for Jesus.
Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth;
Break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises.
Sing to the LORD with the harp,
With the harp and the sound of a psalm,
With trumpets and the sound of a horn;
Shout joyfully before the LORD, the King.
Let the sea roar, and all its fullness,
The world and those who dwell in it;
Let the rivers clap their hands;
Let the hills be joyful together before the LORD.
(Psalm 98:4-8)
In announcing the good news about King Jesus the Messiah throughout the earth, God has revealed His salvation to the nations. It is cause for celebrating with shouts of joy and loud praises to God. Even creation itself is depicted as getting in the act — the seas roar, the rivers “clap their hands,” the hills are full of joy — because its own redemption is at hand. “For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:19-21).
For He is coming to judge the earth.
With righteousness He shall judge the world,
And the peoples with equity.
(Psalm 98:9)
The Lord Jesus has ascended to His throne at the right hand of the Father, where He rules and reigns with all authority over heaven and earth. But there is coming a day when He will return to judge the world. Paul spoke of that day in his sermon to the philosophers on Mars Hill, in Athens. He proclaimed to them the God they did not know, that He has “appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man [Jesus the Messiah] whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:31).

Often, when people think of God judging the world, they imagine a hail of fire and brimstone raining down and leaving behind a scene of death and desolate ion. In that portrayal, God judging the world means God destroying the world.

Not so. As we saw above, creation is not waiting to be destroyed and put out of its misery. It is waiting to be delivered, set free from the bondage of corruption, to experience the glory and freedom of the redeemed as God brings His plan to completion. When King Jesus comes to judge the world, it is make everything in the world the way it was always meant to be. His righteousness, which is to say, His rightness, sets everything right.

That is the joyful anticipation of the gospel. The kingdom of God has come into the world, with Jesus as God’s anointed King. And when He returns the kingdom will be found in completeness —heaven on earth — the will of God being done on earth just as it is in heaven.

Let all the earth come and sing and shout for joy because of this good news.

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