Showing posts with label Names of God in the Psalms. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Names of God in the Psalms. Show all posts

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Name That is Above Everything

I will worship toward Your holy temple,
    And praise Your name
For Your lovingkindness and Your truth;
    For You have magnified Your word above all Your name.
(Psalm 138:2)
A few years back, I wrote about this verse and how different versions handle it. Some have the Lord’s name exalted above His word. Others have His word exalted above His name. Yet others have them exalted equally.

Recently, a friend pointed out something interesting about this verse in the Septuagint (LXX), which is a Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures and dates back to the 2nd century BC. I had not thought to check this passage out in that translation. But checking out Old Testament Scriptures in the Septuagint is something I do more of these days, especially considering that the New Testament leans heavily on that version — it was the Bible of the early Church.

A simple translation of Alfred Rahlfs’ text of this verse in the LXX is: “For You magnified Your word over every name.” Another translation (Brenton’s), apparently using a text of the LXX that is a bit different, puts it this way: “For thou hast magnified thy holy name above every thing.” When I saw these, I was immediately put in mind of two New Testament passages:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1)

Therefore God also has highly exalted Him 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)
What put itself together in my mind was this: Jesus, the Word who was in the beginning with God — and is God — has been highly exalted and given “the name which is above every name.” In other words, God has exalted His Word above every name, and the name of Jesus above everything!

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.”

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

My Righteous God

Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness. (Psalm 4:1)

Simply put, righteousness is rightness. God always does what is right and He comes to set things right. Righteousness is a term that also relates to keeping covenant. That is, those who have been faithful in a covenant relationship are considered righteous, and fit for community. In calling on “God of my righteousness,” or more properly, “My Righteous God,” David appeals to the covenant God made with Israel, for God committed Himself to be good to, and set things right for, His people.

We can find out about the righteousness of God throughout that psalms. For example, the psalm writer says that the “right hand” of Yahweh is “full of righteousness” (Psalm 48:10), that is, everything He does is thoroughly and completely according to what is right. Another says that “the heavens declare His righteousness” (Psalm 50:6). The heavens, which witnessed the covenant Yahweh made with Israel, declare that He has done what is right according to that covenant. And David’s testimony is that Yahweh answers “by awesome deeds in righteousness.” He does right by His people through powerful acts of protection and provision (Psalm 65:5).

Yahweh, the righteous God, honors the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish (Psalm 1:6). He blesses the righteous and surrounds them with His favor, as with a shield (Psalm 5:12). David says that “the righteous God tests the hearts and minds” (Psalm 7:9), examining each of us in the deepest places of our being, to see whether we are upright or ungodly, straight or crooked, and He delivers those who are in alignment with Him (Psalm 7:10). Yahweh “judges” the righteous (Psalm 7:11), bringing justice and vindication to those who keep covenant with Him. Yahweh is “with” the generation of the righteous (Psalm 14:5). That is, He makes His presence, protection and provision known to them. He delivers the righteous out of all their afflictions (Psalms 34:19). He supports and sustains them (Psalm 37:17). This list could go on, for there is much more in the psalms about how God is faithful and right with those who know and trust and keep covenant with Him.

We see this same rightness and faithfulness carried over into the New Testament. Jesus teaches us to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,” with the promise that everything else that concerns us will be taken care of (Matthew 6:33). Paul says that the gospel of Jesus the Messiah is “the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith” (Romans 1:16-17). The rightness of God is revealed “through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe” (Romans 3:21-22).

God has now also made a new and better covenant through the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 8:6; Luke 22:20), just as He promised in the Old Testament. He reveals His righteousness in that covenant, and all are counted as righteous members of it who trust in Jesus. With David, then, we may each call on Him as My Righteous God.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Yahweh, Who Lifts Up My Head

But You, O LORD … the One who lifts up my head. (Psalm 3:3)

David was in quite a spot. His enemies were multiplying quickly and now they were coming against him. “Not even God can help him,” was the word being spoken over him. David might have let that bow him down, humiliated and without hope. He might have spoken in agreement with what was being said about him. But he took the opposite direction. Instead of agreeing with the pronouncement of the enemy, David pushed deeper into his covenant relationship with God and declared, “But you, O LORD, are a shield for me, my glory and the One who lifts up my head.”

In Psalm 27, David finds himself in a similar situation. But his confidence is in the LORD. All he seeks, all he needs, all he wants, is to dwell in the house of Yahweh and gaze upon His beauty. His faith is such that he declares how this situation will end: “And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me” (Psalm 27:6).

Sometimes it is the shame of sin or unfaithfulness that bows our heads, as when Ezra fell on his knees and spread out his hands to God, saying, “Oh my God, I am too ashamed and humiliated to lift up my face to You, my God; for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has grown up to the heavens” (Ezra 9:6). Or when David prayed, in his penitence, “I am troubled, I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day” (Psalm 38:6).

Sometimes it is depression that brings one down, such as in Psalm 42 and 43, where the refrain throughout is, “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance” (Psalm 42:5).

But where there is victory, where there is deliverance, where there is forgiveness, where there is hope, there is looking up. David’s daily habit was to bring his prayer and praise before God every morning. “My voice you shall hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up” (Psalm 5:3)

Psalm 110, a messianic psalm, portrays the divine King, refreshing Himself after battle and lifting His head up in victory: “He shall drink of the brook by the wayside; therefore He shall lift up the head” (Psalm 110:7). Jesus, God’s anointed King, has indeed won the victory for us, but it did not look like victory at the time because His head was crowned with thorns and bowed down.
Then the soldiers led Him away into the hall called Praetorium, and they called together the whole garrison. And they clothed Him with purple; and they twisted a crown of thorns, put it on His head, and began to salute Him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” Then they struck Him on the head with a reed and spat on Him; and bowing the knee, they worshiped Him. And when they had mocked Him, they took the purple off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him out to crucify Him. (Mark 15:16-19)

So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. (John 19:30).
This did not look like victory on that terrible afternoon, but it was victory nonetheless because Jesus took on all the principalities and powers of the world and three days later was raised up by God from the dead. Now He is exalted at the right hand of the Father, far above every principality and power (Ephesians 1:19-21), and God has given Him the name that is above every name (Philippians 2:9). God has also raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenlies (Ephesians 2:4-6). His victory has become our victory — over sin, death, depression and all the powers that stood against us. Jesus’ head was bowed down that ours may be lifted up, and He is exalted that we may be exalted with Him and share in His glory.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Yahweh, My Glory

But You, O LORD … my glory. (Psalm 3:3)

The Hebrew word for “glory” is kabod, from a word that means to be heavy or weighty. It speaks of the manifestation and abundance of goodness. The psalms are full of references to the glory of the Lord, too many to even begin to list here. The glory of God, the “weightiness” of His great goodness, is very important.

It goes back to the beginning, when humanity was created in the image and likeness of God, that we might bear His glory and reflect His goodness on the earth. But as Paul said, we all have sinned and come up short of that glory (Romans 3:23). So God chose a man, Abraham, and from him created a covenant people, Israel, to reveal His glory to the nations and His goodness to all the families of the earth. But Israel fell under the weight of her own unfaithfulness and failed to show forth the divine glory.

So God promised a Messiah who would come forth from Israel, who would deliver Israel and establish His glory among the nations. This was Jesus who, being born of a virgin by the Spirit of God, was fully human and fully divine. As the “brightness” of God’s glory and the “express image of His person” (Hebrews 1:3), Jesus fulfills God’s purpose for humanity, to bear the divine glory on earth. On the night before He went to the cross to defeat everything that stands against or comes short of that glory, Jesus prayed this for Himself and the disciples:
And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was … And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one. (John 17:5, 22)
This is true for every one who trusts Jesus. God has conformed us, in our inward being and by the life of Jesus at work in us, to the image of Jesus (Romans 8:28. That is, we are conformed to the image of the One who perfectly expresses the image of God and bears the brightness of His glory. God is now in the process of manifesting that image and glory in our outward being. The apostle John said, “Beloved, now we are 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). Paul said, “When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory” (Colossians 3:4). When Jesus appears, His glory will be apparent in us as well. Peter says, “When the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away” (1 Peter 5:4).

David called Yahweh, “My Glory.” Another psalm writer declared, “For the LORD God is a sun and a shield; the LORD will give grace and glory” (Psalm 84:11). God’s desire has always been to give us His glory — indeed, to come and be our glory. That is, to fill us with every good thing and display His splendor in our lives and in the world. He does this by filling us with Himself.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Yahweh, My Shield

But You, O LORD, are a shield for me. (Psalm 3:3)

The Hebrew word for “shield” is magen, from the word ganan, to defend, cover, surround, or hedge about. We find this name frequently in the Psalms, in connection with other names for God. He is called,

  • My Shield and the Horn of My Salvation (Psalm 18:2)
  • Yahweh, My Strength and My Shield (Psalm 28:7)
  • Our Help and Our Shield (Psalm 33:20; see also Psalm 115:9-11)
  • Yahweh, Our Shield (Psalm 59:11)
  • Yahweh God, a Sun and a Shield (Psalm 84:11)
  • My Hiding Place and My Shield (Psalm 119:114)
  • My Shield, in Whom I Take Refuge (144:2)
The first time we find the word magen in Bible, it is identified with Yahweh, who came to Abraham in a vision and said, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward” (Genesis 15:1). Then He made him a promise: “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them … So shall your descendants be” (Genesis 15:5).

To Israel, the nation that came from Abraham, the nation through whom God promised to bless all the nations of the world, God said, “Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the LORD, the shield of your help and the sword of your majesty! Your enemies shall submit to you, and you shall tread down their high places” (Deuteronomy 33:29).

God made covenant with Israel by His personal name, Yahweh (the book of Deuteronomy is the document of that covenant). By calling Him Yahweh, My Shield, David laid hold of the covenant promise and received it as his own. What God was for Abraham and what God was for Israel, God was also for David. In Psalm 35, David calls on God to take up his cause and contend with those who were contending with him, “Take hold of shield and buckler, and stand up for my help” (Psalm 35:2).

Not only is God thought of as a shield but so are the kings and tribal leaders:
The princes of the people have gathered together, the people of the God of Abraham. For the shields of the earth belong to God; He is greatly exalted. (Psalm 47:9)

O God, behold our shield, and look upon the face of Your anointed. (Psalm 84:9)

For our shield belongs to the LORD, and our king to the Holy One of Israel. (Psalm 89:18)
So David himself was considered to be a shield for his people, even as Yahweh was a shield for him. How much more, then, is King Jesus, the Son of David anointed to reign forever on his throne, a shield for all who trust in Him. He is our shield forever, in whom we can always take refuge and find protection, strength and help.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Yahweh the Righteous One

Yahweh the Righteous One
Has cut in pieces the cords of the wicked
(Psalm 129:4 JVD)
Yahweh is the Righteous One. The Hebrew word for “righteous” is tsaddik. The Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament defines it as “communally faithful.” It has much to do with covenant, and the relationship God has established with and for His people. To say that someone is righteous means that he has been faithful in that relationship. God is faithful to His people and honors those who are faithful in their relationship with Him:
  • God knows (has regard for) the way of the righteous (Palm 1:6).
  • God blesses the righteous, and surrounds him with favor (Psalm 5:12).
  • God is righteous and He loves righteousness; the upright will see His face (Psalm 11:7).
  • God eyes are on the righteous and He hears their cries (Psalm 34:15).
  • God delivers the righteous out of all their afflictions (Psalm 34:19.
  • God upholds the righteous (Psalm 37:17).
  • God is the salvation and strength of the righteous (Psalm 37:39).
  • God is gracious and merciful (Psalm 116:5).
  • God is righteous in His judgments (Psalm 119:37).
  • God is righteous in all His ways, gracious in all His works (Psalm 145:17).
  • God loves the righteous (Psalm 146:8).
If the relationship should be broken, God is not the one who broke it, but He will always do what is right in regard to it.
Then Shemaiah the prophet came to Rehoboam and the leaders of Judah, who were gathered together in Jerusalem because of Shishak, and said to them, “Thus says the LORD: ‘You have forsaken Me, and therefore I also have left you in the hand of Shishak.’” So the leaders of Israel and the king humbled themselves; and they said, “The LORD is righteous.” (2 Chronicles 12:5-6)
The judgments of Yahweh are always in line with His covenant and faithful to His promises.
The LORD is righteous in her midst,
He will do no unrighteousness.
Every morning He brings His justice to light;
He never fails.
(Zephaniah 3:5)
The ultimate expression of God’s covenant faithfulness — His righteousness — is found in Jesus the Messiah, who took the sins of the world upon Himself and nailed them to the cross in His own body. By His blood, He has cut a new covenant with the Father on our behalf. If we sin, He stands before the Father for us, on the basis of that covenant act, so that we may be counted as righteous before God — faithful in our relationship with Him — even as God is faithful and just toward us.
But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin … If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:7, 9)

My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous. (1 John 2:1)

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.

Monday, January 10, 2011

God, Exalted Among the Nations, Exalted in the Earth

Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!
(Psalm 46:10)
One of my favorite mugs has the first line of this verse imprinted on it: “Be still and know that I am God.” It is what is called a “refrigerator verse,” something people stick up on their iceboxes as a reminder. You can also find it at your local Christian bookstore or inspirational shop, on a variety of kitschy products: calendars, plaques, mugs, and even magnets to hold other kitschy things on your refrigerator. It is often thought of in a personal-devotiony sort of way, as if it were instructing us to go find a cozy little place to nestle into and get all quiet and still with God. There is no problem with that sort of thing, of course — I’ve had many precious times with God that way, silencing all other voices in and around me so that I can hear the voice of God more clearly. But the context of this verse presents it a bit more … militantly. Look, for example, at the verses that immediately precede it.
Come, behold the works of the LORD,
Who has made desolations in the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariot in the fire.
(Psalms 46:8-9)
The “works of the LORD” are the desolations He makes in the earth (not of the earth), and the desolations are the end He puts to wars and all their implements. He settles things decisively and those who remain are unable to stand against Him. It is at this point that the psalm writer, one of the “sons of Korah,” says, “Be still and know that I am God.” That is how many versions, such as the KJV, the NKJV and the NIV put it. However, consider how some other versions render it; I think they capture the sense of what “be still” means much better.
  • “Cease striving” (NASB)
  • “Stop your fighting” (HCSB)
  • “Desist” (Young’s Literal Translation)
  • “Let be” (JPS Bible)
  • “Stop fighting” (Good News Translation)
Put an exclamation point after each one of those, and I think we will have the force of it. God is speaking to those who have been warring against Him, and against His people! He is calling them to cease their striving with Him, to give it up. More than that, He is calling them to “know” — to recognize, acknowledge, confess — that He is God. He is not calling them to destruction, though, but to something very much better. In Psalm 2, He puts it this way.
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.
(Psalm 2:10-12)
“Exalted among the nations, exalted in the earth.” This is what He is; this is what He will be. The Hebrew can be rendered either way. God exalts His name among the nations, and in the end, the nations will acknowledge that He is King. Even now, this is coming to pass. God has raised Jesus from the dead and seated Him far above all principality, power, might and dominion, and has put all things under His feet (Ephesians 1:20-22). He has given Him the name that 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 2:10-11).

After the resurrection and before He ascended to heaven, Jesus came to the disciples saying, ““All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 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 28:18-20).

All the nations will be taught of Him and be baptized. They will “kiss the Son” and be blessed, and they will know that He is God, Exalted in the Nations, Exalted in the Earth.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Yahweh, God of Truth

Into Your hand I commit my spirit;
You have redeemed me, O LORD God of truth.
(Psalm 31:5)
Pursued and harassed, David looks to Yahweh, the God of Israel, as a “rock of refuge” and a “fortress of defense” to which he can run and be saved (v. 2 ). He knows that traps have been set for him and he calls on God to pluck him out of the net (v. 4). He has come to know Yahweh as the God of Truth.

“Into Your hand I commit my spirit.” The Hebrew word for “commit” means to give as a trust or deposit. There is an idea of stewardship here: David entrusts himself to God to watch over him, to keep him safe. The “hand” of God speaks of action, what God does. It is dynamic. David does not look to God to passively hold him but to actively keep him.

“You have redeemed me.” The word for “redeemed” means to ransom or rescue. The pictograph of the Hebrew letters in this word (Pe, Dalet, He) is interesting. It gives us the image of an open door (Benner, Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible). God “opens the door” for David so that he is no longer trapped but is set free.

The tense of this word is also interesting. The NKJV and many other translations render it in the past tense, as an accomplished fact. Other versions, such as the HCSB, have it as “You redeem me” (present), or as the NIV, as a petition, “Redeem me.” However, Keil and Delitzsch, in their Commentary on the Old Testament, note that it is “the praet. confidentiae [confident past tense] which is closely related to the praet. prophet. [prophetic past tense]; for the spirit of faith, like the spirit of the prophets, speaks of the future with historic certainty.” In other words, what David was asking God to do, he was so confident that God would do it, he considered it a “done deal!” Why? Because He was committing himself to Yahweh El Emet — Yahweh, God of Truth.

Now, notice how he contrasts this in the next verse. “I have hated those who regard useless idols” (v. 6). Many newer versions say “useless,” or “worthless” or “vain idols.” However, older versions, such as the KJV, the Jewish Publication Society Bible and Young’s Literal Translation say “lying vanities.” Keil and Delitzsch render it as “vain illusions.” This is a more literal translation of the Hebrew words, although the phrase was often used as a reference to idols. Everything that is not of God is a lying vanity that can very easily become an idol to us.

Notice also the word “regard.” The Hebrew word speaks of those who “guard” or “keep” or “watch over” something. David has no use for vain illusions. They have no power to watch over and keep him, but must be protected themselves. So David has no respect for those who guard such vanities and illusions. He reiterates his faith: “But I trust in the LORD.”

Yahweh is the God of Truth. He is true to Himself and true to His word. What He says is what He does and what He does is what He said He would do. We can always count on Him to keep His promises and we can entrust ourselves to Him in perfect confidence that He will take care of us in all things.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Mighty One of Jacob

LORD, remember David
And all his afflictions;
How he swore to the LORD,
And vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob:
(Psalm 132:1-2)
Jacob wrestles with God

The Ark of the LORD had been returned to Israel and David brought it to the city of Jerusalem. He was ecstatic. He vowed to the Lord that he would not go to sleep until he made an abode, a place of habitation for God. For the ark was the place where God manifested His presence on earth, so it became the priority in David’s life to find a place where God might tabernacle with him, the temple where the Mighty One of Jacob would dwell on earth.

The Mighty One of Jacob is a name that speaks of continuity and covenant. He is the God who made covenant with Abraham and confirmed it with his son Isaac and grandson Jacob. He is the God who showed Himself strong on Jacob’s behalf. By this name, David acknowledged this covenant and the destiny contained therein. By this name, he gave testimony that God had showed Himself mighty on David’s behalf.

We first see this name in Genesis 49, where Jacob gives blessing to his children and prophesies over them. Of his son Joseph he said, “But his bow remained firm, and his arms were agile, from the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob” (Genesis 49:24 NASB). Over his son Judah, Jacob prophesied an eternal kingdom: “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes” (Genesis 49:10). David, king of Israel, was of the tribe of Judah.

The Mighty One of Jacob was faithful to the promise given to Judah, and as He had strengthened Joseph in all his adversities, so He gave strength also to David in his. “For by You I can run against a troop, by my God I can leap over a wall … He teaches my hands to make war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze,” David said (Psalm 18:29, 34). As Joseph prevailed and rose to a position of greatness in Egypt, so David prevailed and ascended to the throne of Israel. Now the Ark of the Covenant manifested the presence of God in Jerusalem, and David wanted to honor Him with the best place.

David received the testimony and heritage of Jacob, and made a vow to the God of Jacob. In return, God made a vow to David, a promise of what this inheritance would mean in the world:
The LORD has sworn in truth to David;
He will not turn from it:
“I will set upon your throne the fruit of your body.
If your sons will keep My covenant
And My testimony which I shall teach them,
Their sons also shall sit upon your throne forevermore.”
(Psalm 132:11-12)
This promise finds its ultimate fulfillment in Jesus, Son of David, who reigns forever as God’s Messiah King. In Him, all the covenant promises God made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the world-redeeming purpose God had for Israel is made complete. God showed Himself strong on Jesus’ behalf when He raised Him from the dead, “according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 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” (Ephesians 1:19-21).

God has prepared the mighty working of this same power on behalf of all those who put their faith in King Jesus (Ephesians 1:19). By this power, at work in as well as for every believer, God is able to do “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). The God who was mighty for Jacob’s sake, who strengthened Joseph and David, who made of Israel a great nation and who has given an eternal King to redeem and renew the world ~ this same God is mighty for all who will give Him the dwelling place of their hearts.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Yahweh Your God, Who Brought You Up from the Land of Egypt

I am the Yahweh your God,
Who brought you up from the land of Egypt.
Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.
(Psalm 81:10)
This is a liturgical psalm, calling for the celebration of a solemn feast day, with loud singing and joyful shouts to “God our strength” (v. 1). It was instituted by God (v. 5):
This He established in Joseph as a testimony,
When he went throughout the land of Egypt,
Where I heard a language I did not understand.
A testimony is not only a reminder of what God has done in the past, but is also a witness of what God will do again in the future (see the Ark of Your Testimony). The reference to Joseph speaks of the days when the children of Israel were in Egypt, the land where Joseph became the rescuer of his family — Jacob and all the tribes of Israel. Their long sojourn eventually devolved into slavery, though, until God called Moses to lead them out of bondage.

“Where I heard a language I did not understand.” It is unclear who heard the “language” and what that language was. Some commentators believe the psalm writer is speaking for the children of Israel in Egypt, and that the language was therefore Egyptian, a tongue that was foreign to them. Others believe he speaks in the place of Israel as they heard Moses speak the revelatory language he received from God about their deliverance. It was certainly new to Moses himself, and he struggled to know what to make of it. God introduced Himself to Moses as, “The God of your father — the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Exodus 3:6). Or perhaps the psalm writer is speaking out of his own revelatory experience of the voice of God. The next section of this psalm, verses 6-15, is God Himself speaking.

“I removed his shoulder from the burden; his hands were freed from the baskets,” He says (v. 6). “You called in trouble, and I delivered you; I answered you in the secret place of thunder; I tested you at the waters of Meribah” (v. 7). God freed them, rescued them, heard their cry and answered them. At Meribah (which means “quarreling”), God tested them. Would they trust Him to take care of them in everything? See Exodus 17:1-7 and Numbers 20:1-13.

Next are words of caution as God recalls how He had spoken to Israel in the past: “Hear, O My people, and I will admonish you! O Israel, if you will listen to Me! There shall be no foreign god among you, nor shall you worship any foreign god” (v. 8-9). They had dwelt in the land of Egypt for so long they had begun to think like Egyptians, and though the language had been foreign to them, they had begun to speak to it. At times in their wilderness journey, they even longed to go back to Egypt. And they were influenced by the idolatry of the Egyptians, to worship the way the Egyptians did —see, for an example, how Aaron fashioned the gold calf for Israel to worship in Exodus 32.

Now we come to the declaration of who God was to them, a name by which He revealed Himself as their God. “I am Yahweh Your God Who Brought You Up from the Land of Egypt.” It was He, and none other, who delivered them. It was certainly no the gods of Egypt who did this, nor those of the surrounding nations. Yahweh alone did it. He did not just deliver them from their bondage; He brought them up from the land of the bondage. He lifted them out and caused them to go up to a higher place. He exalted them, taking them unto Himself as His own people.

What is the appropriate response to this? The answer is in the second half of the verse, where God says, “Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.” In the wilderness, the children of Israel worried about what they would eat, what they would drink and whether God would take care of them. When they opened their mouths, it was not in faith, but in murmuring. At Meribah, they quarreled and complained against God instead of trusting in Him.

God wanted to fill their mouths, to satisfy them with good things, but they would not have it. “But My people would not heed My voice, and Israel would have none of Me. So I gave them over to their own stubborn heart, to walk in their own counsels” (v. 11-12). They would not listen, their hearts were stubborn and they preferred their own words to those of God. God’s judgment on them was that He let them have their own lusts, which is the worst of punishments.

Oh, what God longs to do for His people, if only we would listen to His voice and walk in His ways. “I would soon subdue their enemies, and turn My hand against their adversaries,” He says (v. 14). He would feed us with the finest wheat and satisfy us with honey from the rock (v. 16). Sustenance and sweetness!

In Jesus the Messiah, God has lifted us up out of the “land of Egypt,” the place of our captivity and shame. He has exalted us and brought us into the “Promised Land,” just as He did with Israel. Open your mouth wide in expectation and let Him fill it with the language of faith.

Don’t worry about what you shall eat, what you shall drink, what you shall wear, as the rest of the world does, but seek first the rule and reign of God, and His way of doing things, and all these things will be taken care of (Matthew 6:31-33) and He will satisfy you with good things.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

To the Hearer of Prayer All Flesh Will Come

Praise is awaiting You, O God, in Zion;
And to You the vow shall be performed.
O You who hear prayer,
To You all flesh will come.
(Psalm 65:1-2)
The Hebrew word for “awaiting” literally means “silence.” As it is used here, it signifies the stillness of anticipation and yieldedness to the God of Zion. “Vows” are the dedications and commitments made to God.

Zion’s God is called, “Hearer of Prayer” (Hebrew, shama tephillah). Not as one who hears idly or indifferently. Rather, what is implied is that God hears with great regard and answers the prayers of all those who come to Him. It is for this reason, when word of it gets out, that all humanity will come before Him and, finding Him to be the Hearer of Prayer, will commit themselves to Him without reserve.

Does it sound naïve today to think that all humanity will come to Yahweh, God of Zion, when there is so much conflict in the world against the people of Yahweh? Yet back when this psalm was written, the situation was considerably worse. The surrounding nations were exceedingly vicious towards Israel. But God’s plan all along has been to reach out to the nations through the descendents of Abraham and bring His goodness, His salvation, His shalom into all the earth.
Also the sons of the foreigner
Who join themselves to the LORD, to serve Him,
And to love the name of the LORD, to be His servants —
Everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath,
And holds fast My covenant —
Even them I will bring to My holy mountain,
And make them joyful in My house of prayer.
Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
Will be accepted on My altar;
For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.
(Isaiah 56:6-7)
Jesus was passionate for this cause. It was why He cleared the moneychangers out of the court of the Temple that was reserved for the Gentiles (the nations) to come and worship the Lord. “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it a ‘den of thieves’” (Mark 11:17).

That physical structure, however, was destroyed in AD 70, just as Jesus predicted (Matthew 24). It was only a type and a shadow, whose function and purpose is now fulfilled in Jesus the Messiah:
But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. (Hebrews 9:11-12)
And now there is a new temple, one not made of dead stones but of living flesh, not made by human hands but by the hand of hand of God. 
Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, 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 … But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you 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 2:4-5, 9-10)
It is a living house of prayer for all nations, for everyone who will come and believe the promise. This is why, before He ascended to His throne at the right hand of the Father, King Jesus sent out His disciples with this commission:
All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 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; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:18-20)
This commission will not fail but will do just as Jesus said. The nations will come. In the end, there is the song of praise sung to the One who sits at the right hand of the Father:
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)
The time is coming, and already is, when all flesh will come to the God of Zion. From every tribe and tongue and nation, they will come in faith to the Hearer of Prayer, to be discipled as kings and priests before Him.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

El Simcha Gheel: God, My Exceeding Joy

Oh, send out Your light and Your truth!
Let them lead me;
Let them bring me to Your holy hill
And to Your tabernacle.
Then I will go to the altar of God,
To God my exceeding joy;
And on the harp I will praise You,
O God, my God.
(Psalm 43:3-4)
When God sends His light and truth to lead us into His presence, it is a cause for exceeding joy. That is why the Sons of Korah, in this psalm, call Him El Simcha Gheel — God, My Exceeding Joy. El is the Hebrew for “God.” Simcha is one of the words for “joy.” It means gladness, blithesomeness, mirth, pleasure and joy — not just a little, but a lot. Gheel is another word for joy and literally means to spin, whirl and twirl. It is a dancing joy. Together they are a powerful combination. God is Our Exceeding Joy, or as Young’s Literal Translation has it, “The Joy of My Rejoicing.” David also experienced this truth. He said to the Lord,
You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
(Psalm 16:11)
This is why Jesus came. God sent Him into the world to be the Light that gives light to everyone who comes into the world (John 1:9). He is the Way, the Truth and the Life, the only one who can lead us to the Father (John 14:6).

Jesus is the path of life that leads us to abundant and exuberant joy, joy without limits. He is God, Our Exceeding Joy — the Joy of Our Rejoicing.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

The LORD God of Truth

Into your hand I commit my spirit;
You have redeemed me, O LORD God of Truth.
(Psalm 31:5)
David experienced Yahweh as the “God of Truth.” The Hebrew word for “truth” is emeth, and refers to the firmness, sureness, certainty, reliability, stability, faithfulness, truthfulness or trustworthiness of a thing. It comes from the root word aman, which means to build up, support, and be firm. It speaks of permanence and a sure foundation, of pillars that can carry the load.

You might recognize the Aramaic cousin of aman, a word that Jesus used often, the word “amen.” It is translated in many versions as “truly,” or “assuredly.” Whenever Jesus began with “Amen, amen,” or “Truly, truly,” He was being most emphatic about the truth of what followed. Today we might say, “You can take that to the bank!”

This is the kind of God we serve, the God of Truth. Everything He says is utterly trustworthy. His words give stability. Indeed, the worlds were created, and are sustained, by His words (Hebrews 11:3; 1:3). They are a firm foundation.

So how did David come to this powerful revelation? It was not an idle speculation or untested theory. No, it was something he experienced time and again, going back to his days as a young shepherd boy:
David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard and struck and killed it.” (1 Samuel 17:34-35)
David’s trust in God’s faithfulness was the basis for his most famous exploit:
“Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the Living God.” Moreover David said, “The LORD, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” (1 Samuel 17:36-37)
In Psalm 31, David was once again in a scrape. Not only was the enemy pressing in hard, but even his neighbors and acquaintances were deserting him. There were a lot of people out to kill him, and none to help.

But David committed himself to the Lord. He cast his burden, his life — his whole being — over onto the God of Truth, the Faithful One. This was no piecemeal negotiation (“I’ll do this if You do that”) but a wholesale commitment, totally entrusting himself into the faithful hands of God. He had no backup plan. He didn’t need one; he knew that God would not let him down.

David committed himself to God in the direst of circumstances, and the Lord redeemed him, ransomed him, rescued him, delivered him, preserved him, just as He had done so many times before.

You can always commit yourself into the hands of God with full confidence. He will never let you down, for He is the LORD, God of Truth.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Prosperous Days, Peaceful Nights

The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime,
And in the night His song shall be with me —
A prayer to the God of my life.
(Psalm 42:8)
The “lovingkindness” of the Lord is His mercy and steadfast love. The Hebrew word is hesed, and refers to the love by which He has covenanted Himself to His people. God appoints, gives charge to His covenant love over us every day, to keep us, guide us, and prosper us.

In the nighttime, when the darkness closes in, He gives us a song to sing. It is a song of peace that turns our attention toward Him. It is a prayer to God, whom the psalm writer calls The God of My Life. For He is the one who gives us life, and He is well able to sustain us, to bless in the daytime and preserve us in the night.

Believe the lovingkindness of the Lord and look to Him to prosper you every day. Do not the fear the darkness of night, but listen for the song He will give you, and sing it to Him, and so let Him surround you with His peace. For it is the song of His love and tender mercies, and it will carry you through till dawn, and the manifestation of His prosperity in your life.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Whose is the Earth?

The earth is the Lord's and all its fullness.
The world and those who dwell therein.
(Psalm 24:1)
The earth belongs to the Lord because He created it. In Genesis 14:22, He is called, “The Lord, God Most High, the Possessor of Heaven and Earth.”
The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord's,
But the earth He has given to the children of men.
(Psalm 115:16)
As Possessor of Heaven and Earth, the Lord has given the earth to the children of men. This is a stewardship. For when God created man, He said, “Let us make man in Our image, according to our likeness; 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 over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (Genesis 1:26). God created man to have rule and reign over the earth, but it was not an authority that could rightly be exercised apart from God.

We know, of course, that Adam rebelled against the authority of God and spiritually disconnected from Him. The earth was cursed because of Adam's treason. Because man was no longer in proper relationship with God, he became vulnerable to the schemes and deceits of the devil. Since then, satan has held powerful influence over man, and has blinded his eyes to the Creator (2 Corinthians 4:3-6).

God gave man the right to rule over the earth, but satan cheated man out of it. We find something very interesting concerning this when Jesus was in the wilderness and satan tried to tempt Him:
Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if you will fall down and worship me.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.” (Matthew 4:8-10)
Notice that Jesus did not dispute satan's right to give Him the kingdom's of the world and all that belonged to them. But He was not about to yield worship to satan, for God alone is to be worshiped. For the works of the devil were about to be destroyed. The Bible says, “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise share in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Hebrews 2:14-15).

Jesus went to the cross, taking all our sin and bondage upon Himself, and destroyed them there. Then God raised Him from the dead. Forty days later, He ascended to His throne in heaven, at the right hand of the Father, where He rules and reigns forever. But before He ascended, He came to His disciples and declared: “All authority has been given to me in heaven and in earth” (Matthew 28:18). Then He commissioned His disciples to make disciples of all the nations — the same nations and kingdoms that satan offered to give Him if He would simply transfer His allegiance!

These are the nations the Father promised the Son when He said, “Ask of Me, and I will give you the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession” (Psalm 2:8). “But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of the God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool” (Hebrews 10:9-10).

The Lord God of Hosts has always been the Possessor of Heaven and Earth. Though He gave stewardship of the earth to the children of men, He has always been the owner. And though Adam lost this inheritance because of the trickery of satan, Jesus, the “Second Adam” has come to destroy the works of the devil. Now the Lord Jesus is receiving the nations unto Himself through the preaching of His Gospel in all the world. We are now in the time of the outworking of His rule and reign in all the earth.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The LORD Who is On Our Side

If it had not been the LORD who was on our side,
  Let Israel now say,
If it had not been the LORD who was on our side,
  When men rose against us,
Then they would have swallowed us alive,
  When their wrath was kindled against us.
(Psalm 124:1-3)
Here the pilgrim psalm writer is recalling one of the many times enemies rose up against Israel, and would have prevailed, except for The LORD Who is On Our Side.

Jacob expressed something similar when he said his father-in-law Laban, who had continually tried to cheat him, “Unless the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had been with me, surely you would have sent empty-handed. God has seen my affliction and the labor of my hands, and rebuked you” (Genesis 31:42).

Paul declared, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” and then expanded most gloriously on what that means:
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 has 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? …

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 form the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-39)
When the Lord is for you, that makes all the difference in the world. How good to know that He is for us, and that in Jesus Christ, we can never be separated from His love. Whenever you are pressed about on all sides, and the voice of the enemy is laying accusations against you, stop and remember The LORD Who is On Our Side, and the rich revelation of what that means for us in Jesus Christ.

Monday, January 29, 2007

The LORD, the Maker of Heaven and Earth

I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
  Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
  The Maker of Heaven and Earth.
(Psalm 121:1-2 NIV)
The psalm writer is on pilgrimage to Jerusalem, in the hill country. It can be a dangerous journey, not only because of the elements, but also because of robbers and thugs sheltered in rocks and crags along the way. He knows he will need help, but where will he find it?

His answer is “My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of Heaven and Earth.

The object of his pilgrimage is the Holy City, Jerusalem, the place where God revealed His presence is a special way. It was the Lord Himself who would give him all the aid and protection he required. It is in this regard that He is called Maker of Heaven and Earth. Who knows better than He the dangers that prevail in the earth and the help that is needed. And who is more able than He to provide that help.

Not only is the Lord the creator of heaven and earth, He is also the sustainer and provider. He does not forget one bit of His creation, but has a great love and care for it all. And if He cares so for His creation, how much more does He care for you and me, whom He has created in His own image and likeness. As Jesus said,
Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. (Luke 12:6-7)
Is there any problem too big for the One who created everything? Is there anything to small for Him to care? The Lord is not far away, but close by to assist all who will call on Him and say, “My help is from The LORD, the Maker of Heaven and Earth.”