Psalm 92:1–8; Isaiah 64,65; Colossians 4:10–1 Thessalonians 1:5a

Psalm 92:1–8: This psalm opens with rejoicing: “It is good to acclaim the Lord/ and to hymn to Your name, Most high…” (2) We get a glimpse of what worship must have been like: that it is more than just an hour but an all-day affair: “…to tell in the morning Your kindness,/ Your faithfulness in the nights.” (3) And worship was intensely musical: “…on ten-stringed instrument and on the lute,/ on the lyre with chanted song.” (4) But above all, it our reflection on what God has done–or in our case, also what Jesus has done: “For You made me rejoice, Lord, through Your acts,/ for the works of Your hands I sing in gladness.” (5).

Notice that the source of our rejoicing is what God has done for us through “Your acts” and the “work of Your hands.” Our joy has a godly source; it is not self-generated. I think this is the crucial difference between true joy and the ways in which we try to create a sort of artificial joy through events and acts of our own, all of which fade quickly. Only God’s joy has lasting power.

At this point the psalm shifts to a philosophical note observing, “How great are Your works, O Lord/ Your designs are very deep.” (6) We will never fully grasp the depth of what God has done–and is doing–in his creation. Especially with regard to injustice and the apparent short term success of the wicked, who “spring up like grass,/ and all wrongdoers flourish.” (8a) The psalmist is telling us that God’s “deep designs” and why God allows this lies beyond our understanding. But one thing is sure: They will eventually “be destroyed for all time.” (8b) Because is is “You [who] are on high forever, O Lord!” (9)

These are important words for us to remember in these days when the culture is arising up in active hostility against what they call “Christian.” There’s a deeper lesson in there: are we who call ourselves “Christian” really acting (and notice that this psalm is all about action) as Jesus told us we should?

Isaiah 64,65: In the deuteronomic system there is always reckoning as Isaiah writes in the voice of God: “ I will not keep silent, but I will repay;/ I will indeed repay into their laps/ their iniquities and their ancestors’ iniquities together,” (65:6) But those who cling to God will be spared: “I will bring forth descendants from Jacob,/ and from Judah inheritors of my mountains;” (65:9). I don’t think it’s a stretch to imagine this as a prophesy of Jesus.

But for those who abandon God, they will receive their just fate: “I will destine you to the sword,/ and all of you shall bow down to the slaughter;/ because, when I called, you did not answer,” (64). The terms of the Covenant are starkly apparent.

But for those who follow God, there is the glorious promise, “I am about to create new heavens/ and a new earth;” (17) and we should “be glad and rejoice forever
in what I am creating;” (65:17) Isaiah then describes a New Jerusalem, reminding us that the New Jerusalem of Revelation is not the first time where “no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it,/ or the cry of distress.” (65:19) God will always be present, “they call I will answer,/  while they are yet speaking I will hear.” (65:24) And then, in the famous image, “The wolf and the lamb shall feed together,/ the lion shall eat straw like the ox;” (65:25)

If we are wondering for a description of what God’s perfect creation will be like, this is a good place to look. For what I think Isaiah is describing here is what Jesus called the Kingdom of God.

Colossians 4:10–1 Thessalonians 1:5a: Paul adds his personal notes “with my own hand” as he concludes his letter to the church at Colossae. What’s fascinating is that “Aristarchus my fellow prisoner,” “Mark, the cousin of Barnabus,” and “Jesus who is called Justus” are the only “the only ones of the circumcision among my co-workers for the kingdom of God, and they have been a comfort to me.” (4:11) Paul has been completely abandoned by the Jews, and we can only conclude the Church is now almost completely Gentile.

This greeting also reminds us that Paul is not just an abstraction, but a human being surrounded by friends, who truly loved him. Also, in this wonderful passage full of names is where we see the crucial point of the church that I think we forget too often as we talk about “personal faith.” The essential element of the Church is that it is flesh and blood community. No TV evangelist will ever replace that. Nor will some abstract statement that “I have my own personal spirituality.”  Those who say that are fooling only themselves.

Speak Your Mind