God Rules the Nations
Friday, July 10thth
Sometimes it is hard for us to understand the Old Testament because there are so many bloody wars in it. Moses and Joshua led Israel in battle as they wandered in the wilderness and entered the Promised Land. Saul and David fought battles to complete the occupation of the land God gave them. Later kings after Solomon were constantly fighting battles as other nations attacked them.
In the Old Testament era the nation Israel followed and represented the one true God to the world. Other nations worshipped other gods, false gods, mere stone idols. As they were faithful to God, Israel prevailed as a witness to the LORD. When Israel was unfaithful, other nations waged war against them.
This psalm is about the king of Israel preparing to go out to war. They begin with praise for what God has done in the past. “Clap your hands for joy, all peoples! Praise God with loud songs . . . He gave us victory over the peoples; he made us rule over the nations.” Psalm 47:1,3. And in the succeeding verses they are preparing to go out to war again and they acknowledge that it is God who goes before them and fights for them. “God has gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet.” Psalm 47:5 The last two verses again proclaim that it is God who fights for Israel and he will always be victorious because he rules over the nations.
What physically happens in the Old Testament is a spiritual picture of what happens in the New Testament with Jesus. There is a spiritual battle taking place as the church bears testimony for Jesus. It is a battle not fought with swords and guns but is fought for the hearts and minds of people everywhere seeking to bring people into the Kingdom of God. Many resist. Some resist with guns and swords and others mock and reject with words. But it is still a battle for the rule and reign of God. Jesus fought this battle, not with swords as his disciples expected to, but by sacrificing his life so that all who call on him could experience God’s love, forgiveness and acceptance.
And Paul tells us in Philippians that God will once again be the victor as one day, “every knee will bow in heaven and on earth and confess Jesus is LORD.” So today no matter what happens in the word, we should know that God rules the nations and in the not too distant future his reign will be fully recognized. Thank you, God, that you are the one who goes before us and fights our battles. You are worthy of all praise and thanksgiving. You are our strength and hope.
God is Our Security
Thursday, July 9th th
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.” Psalm 46:1-3
We should know by now that nothing in this world is absolutely safe and unchanging. The continents are actually afloat and are moving plates. When the plates shift and collide, we have earthquakes. Volcanoes vent the earth’s internal heat. Earthquakes create massive tsunami’s that can cause massive death and destruction. Nothing in this physical world is absolutely secure.
Only God is the rock that never changes; only God can be our refuge and strength. He is the almighty creator God who ultimately rules over creation. He is the one who ultimately rules over the nations and will make the wars to cease. When Jesus returns to rule as king over this earth the creation will be restored and made whole and all people’s and nations will bow to the rule and authority of Jesus, the king.
As we wait for that day, we only have to wait on God. He promises to be with us and to be our strength. “The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” Verse 7.
But how do we experience that in the midst of all the chaos? We have to learn to quiet our hearts and minds to listen to God. “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth!” Verse 10.
God, there is so much noise all around me. There are so many things that are pulling for my attention and time. Yet all those things are temporary and offer no lasting peace and security. Help me God, to hear your words and voice. Help me to know you in the deepest places of my heart and mind that I might find my security in you. I know that you want to be a very present help in my life. Still my heart and mind that I might hear your voice in the midst of all the noise around me. Speak to me through your eternal Word. Amen.
The Royal Wedding—Past, Present and Future
Wednesday, July 8th th
Psalm 45 a most unique psalm; it was written to celebrate the king’s wedding. But it has much greater significance as it anticipates the coming of Jesus and the future wedding of Jesus, the king and his bride, the church, as described in the Marriage Supper of the Lamb in Revelation 19:6-9.
The psalmist starts by describing the grace, majesty and strength of the king in verses 1-9. And in verse 6 he switches gears and addresses God, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness.” God’s kingdom is eternal and is right and just. And one day, Jesus is returning as the messianic king who will establish God’s righteousness over all the world. Jesus will rule in righteousness even as the king described in the psalm rules in righteousness.
Verses 10-15 now speak about the bride to be as she is to be presented to the king in marriage. Her loyalty is no longer to her father’s house but to the King and Lord. “Because He is our Lord, worship Him.” Verse 11a. She is presented to the king in her purity and in beautiful flowing robes and she comes with gladness and great joy at being the bride to the king. And that is how the church will be presented to Jesus the King of Kings when he returns to the earth. They come wearing robes having been made pure by the blood of the Lamb at the cross according to Revelation 7:14.
The psalm closes stating that his kingdom will never end, and his sons will rule for ever and ever because of his righteousness. Jesus obeyed God and was fully righteous when he was crucified. And because he was obedient to the His Father, all powers and rulers on this earth will bow before him as the King of Kings. His rule will never end. This wedding psalm celebrates Jesus as the final King to come who will be joined with His bride, the church, forever.
That is the hope we have to look forward to in the midst of all the chaos and difficulties in this life. Jesus is returning to rule as king and to welcome his people to rule with him in righteousness. The question we must ask is—Are we ready for Jesus’ coming?
Jesus, it is hard to imagine what that day will be like when you return to rule this world. Help me to appreciate and understand just how glorious that day will be, that I have nothing to fear. Fill me with you Spirit that I might be prepared and live in a way that truly honors you. Amen.
Tuesday, July 7th th
As one commentator observed, sometimes in God’s work to be faithful is not to be successful as we would describe success in this life. Think of Jesus. He was faithful in preaching the Good News. He healed the sick and delivered people from evil spirits. He faithfully taught his disciples, but by the end of his ministry they all abandoned and betrayed him, and his enemies crucified him. By any human standards of success, he was a failure.
This is a psalm written by a king of Israel. We don’t know which one. According to his understanding the people of Israel have been faithful to God; he led their armies out but were defeated. He doesn’t know why? We don’t know why? Maybe they “jumped the gun” so to speak and went out to battle when they should have waited on God. But that is just speculation.
So what does the king do? He goes boldly to God in prayer. “With our own ears we have heard it, O God— our ancestors have told us about it, about the great things you did in their time, in the days of long ago.”Psalm 44:1. We’ve heard all about what you have done in the past and we are asking you to perform you mighty works again.
The king declares his allegiance to God and recognizes that he and his people are ultimately dependent on God for their success. In verse 4 he declares that God is the true king and that he will not trust in his own ability or power that ultimately victory only comes from God.
The psalmist goes on to declare that he and his people will continue to serve God faithfully even though things have not been working out the way he expected. He will not abandon God. And he closes his prayer, by boldly asking God, “Rise up; come to our help! Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love!” Psalm 44:26.
That is truly bold prayer. When things are not going the way you expect, will you boldly come before God and talk about what he has done in the past? Will you continue to affirm your love and loyalty to God despite the challenges? And will you call upon him to rise up and meet you in the challenges facing you? It reminds me of the admonition in Hebrews 4:16, “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”