Bread – Vengeance

January 17, 2018


Psalm 94

O Lord, God of vengeance, O God of vengeance, shine forth!…the Lord our God will wipe them out.”  Ps. 94:1,23

When I went to label this Bread, I almost called it “revenge” because we tend to think of “revenge” and “vengeance” together.  However, they are two separate things.  Revenge is an act of passion, committed in anger.  Vengeance is an act of justice, committed with thoughtful action focused on redress of wrong.  “Injuries are revenged, crimes are avenged.” [Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, Zondervan 1966; citing Dr. Samuel Johnson].

Here the Psalmist is asking God to deliberately redress the wrong of those people, fools in the Biblical sense, who deny God and oppress His people.

Of course, we wish God to exercise vengeance in our time, according to our schedule and for our purpose.  He will do so, but in His time and according to His purpose.

And, indeed, the wicked will be wiped out, as we know from having read the biblical prophets, including John, the author of Revelation.

But, seeing where God sometimes appears to not care, we are inclined to exercise God’s vengeance ourselves.  Instead of asking God for it and being content to let God do what He will do when He does it, we like to accelerate the process and “help” God along.  But we are told not to.  “As far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.  Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath [vengeance], for it is written ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay.’”  Rom. 12:18-19 (NIV).

We will be wronged today.  The method and degree may be uncertain, but the fact is not.  The wrong may be to our ego or it may be to our person, including assault, or property, including theft.

Like so many things, the only question will be our response.  Will we react in revenge, making sure that we get even.  Or will we respond with mercy, praying to God to avenge or seeking God’s agent on earth, the magistrate, to deliver vengeance.

We are inclined to say “vengeance is mine.”  But the Lord says that vengeance is His.

When we are ready to deliver the blow, fight for our rights, or deliver the cruel verbal punchline which our tormentor deserves, what will we do?  Will we ignore God once again and turn to our own devices to secure our own revenge?  Or will we rely on Him who is faithful, and wait for His action on our behalf?

The truth is we don’t wait well.  But maybe the process of waiting for justice is its own schoolhouse of faith, driving us even further toward the true King, Jesus, and denying ourselves?

Tough call.  Even tougher obedience.  But necessary if we do in fact believe God is King and we are not.

_______

© 2018 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bread – Moving

January 5, 2018


Psalm 93

Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.”  Ps. 93:1b

As I read this, I also read in the newspaper and hear on radio and television about the major fires occurring in California, the major cold spell which has dropped across the United States, and the major “bomb cyclone” (whatever that is) which is terrorizing the East Coast.  And I here that Mount St. Helens is rumbling again, threatening major volcanic explosion.

Surely from our perspective the world is not established in any kind of recognizable pattern and it is moving all over the place.  Even the magnetic North Pole moves on a regular basis.

So what on earth (literally) is the Psalmist saying?  Is it nonsense?

Just like the first sentence of this Psalm sets a pivot point for understanding God and ourselves (who reigns, God or man?), this second sentence confronts us with choosing who we believe.  The choice is this – Do we believe with our senses (and, by extension, our “science”) or do we believe in God?

This is a tough question, because all I can sense is what I can see, read, touch, hear, smell, and taste.  Everything else is, literally, an explanation or a theory I have to take on faith.  For example, the “law” of gravity is really no more than a theory which has been demonstrated to be accurate in a broad variety of circumstances over a long period of time.  Because we can verify the outcome of the “law” of gravity with our senses (we see the apple fall from the tree; we feel the attraction of a mass bigger than we are; we are “stuck” on the earth), we might harden the theory of gravity into the “fact” of gravity, but at its heart it is still a theory – an explanation if you will which makes sense to our senses.

So, when we use our senses to probe the world, we would logically conclude that the world is not established and that can and is being moved.  As a result, if we are the standard, the plumb line of truth, then we must conclude that the Psalmist speaks nonsense.  Or, if we want to be more charitable, “his” science was not as good when he lived as “our” science is today.  That is really no more than saying that he, the Psalmist, is excused for being stupid because we are smarter.

So, we are left with only two conclusions – he (the Psalmist) is the fool for believing that, because God reigns, the world is established, or we are the fool for believing our own senses over God’s revelation, concluding that the world is not established.

The Psalmist believes that God reigns and, as a result, the world must be established because it is God’s world, created by Him, reigned over by Him.  To the extent the Psalmist’s senses tell him otherwise, he would conclude that his senses are wrong or, if not wrong, limited (God’s ways are higher than his).

And indeed the Psalmist later in the Psalm realizes that the seas are a tempest, saying in conclusion “Mightier than the thunders of many waters … the Lord on high is mighty!”

Are you moving in your thoughts, in your ideas, in your perceptions of the world?  Are you tossed about on the angry seas of apparent inconsistencies, observable disasters, images of rack and ruin?

Maybe it is because you are not anchored to the God who reigns.  Maybe it is because you do not conclude, therefore, that the world as created by God, as reigned over by God, is in fact established by God for all time.  Because once you realize that the world is indeed anchored by God and you stand with Him, then though the tempest blows and magnetic poles shift, then though the volcanoes erupt and the ice falls from the sky, then though the deluge swamps our homes and the fire rages, we will not move because we stand on solid rock.

Chicken Little says the sky is falling because, indeed, by his senses it is.  Those who stand on the rock say “Yes, but the world is established, the Lord reigns.”

Where do you stand?

_______

© 2018 GBF    All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

Bread – Reign

January 3, 2018


Psalm 93

The Lord reigns; He is robed in majesty;…Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.”  Ps. 93:1

This single thought, that “the Lord reigns,” may very well be the most significant pivot point in the Bible.

The reason is simple.  Either God is in control (reigns) and man is not, or man is in control (reigns) and God is not.  There may very well be some thinking of co-regency, where both God and man reign together, in some kind of partnership, but that is the thinking of a man who wants to remain in control and sort of nod (instead of bow) toward God.

All things follow from this.  If God is Creator but does not reign, then we have the vision of the uninvolved God, who does not know and does not care.  If God is a figment of our imagination, then we may say He reigns, but we really don’t believe it because, if we can think Him up, then we can unthink Him as well.

If we don’t think God reigns, then He becomes to us nothing more than a genie in a bottle, to be conjured up from time to time as needed using the magic incantations we learn in church.  If God reigns, though, then His Holy Spirit moves as it will.

If we reign, then we have control over whether or not we believe in God.  If God reigns, He must first act to cause us to see and believe.  If God reigns, our salvation in Jesus Christ is assured.  If we reign, our salvation depends upon the mood of the day.

Do we actually believe that God is King over us, that He reigns over us and the entirety of space and time?  If so, and we say we are His, then why do we not know His laws, why do we not spend time getting to know Him and His ways better, why do we not draw daily strength from His power?

At the time I write this, new year’s celebration has just passed.  Because it is the beginning of the new year, many people resolve to do certain things.  What about this resolution – I resolve that the Lord reigns?

Does the fact that I resolve it make it true, or is it true because He does reign.

See, the thing we have to come to grips with is that the Lord reigns whether I resolve it or not, whether I believe it or not, whether I deny it or not.   Therefore, the better resolution is this – “I resolve to get to know the Lord who reigns.”

Now that is a resolution worthy of the rest of our lives.

_______

© 2018 GBF  All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

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