The Tables Will Be Turned

Read Psalm 149

Featured Verse: Psalm 149:9

“To carry out the sentence written against them. This is the glory of all his saints. Praise the LORD.”

God’s people have been the victims of injustice for far too long, but the day is coming when they will be not only victorious, they will actually be the administrators of Divine justice upon this evil world. (Psalm 149:6-9)  Through humiliation and indignity, the saints of God have historically borne the yoke of oppression, but when Christ returns to set up his Father’s righteous rule on the earth, it will be with glory, praise and joy that his people will carry out just punishment upon those who have served Satan’s purposes. (Psalm 149:1-5)

Now that kind of militant talk may make you a bit uncomfortable. You prefer to love your enemies and pray for those who have persecuted you. You are more accustomed to think in terms of forgiveness and reconciliation, peace and tolerance than judgment. And rightly so. That is our assignment for the time being.

But at the proper time, Divine justice calls for Divine judgment. And Divine judgment is only right and fair when you consider the cruelty and wickedness that has been carried out against the people of God throughout the centuries. Just think of what the nation of Israel, the Jews, have endured—not the least of which was the horror of the holocaust.

And what about the church? According to Voice of the Martyrs, anywhere between one hundred to three hundred thousand believers are killed each year throughout the world for nothing more than believing in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Daily, in other parts of the world, the saints are mistreated, suffer economic terrorism, endure beatings, rape, imprisonment and death—by the thousands. Just because we don’t see those horrors here in the western world does not mean it is not happening elsewhere—or won’t happen here some day.

Yes, Divine justice is coming to this world. It has to, or God isn’t just and righteous. And when justice finally arrives, you and I will lift our voice in praise, and along with all the saints and the heavenly hosts, say, “just and true are your judgments, O Lord.” (Revelation 16:7)

Yes, the day is coming, sooner than you think, when the tables will be turned, and the saints of God will be in charge. God’s justice demands it; God’s fairness ensures it.

And thank God, by his grace and mercy, through faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, you and I will be on the right side of the table!

“Your life is short, your duties many, your assistance great, and your reward sure; therefore faint not, hold on and hold up, in ways of well-doing, and heaven shall make amends for all.”
~Thomas Brooks

The Complete Appropriateness Of A Downright Nasty Little Prayer

Read Psalm 137

Featured Verse: Psalm 137:8

“O Daughter of Babylon, doomed to destruction, happy is he who repays you for what you have done to us.”

If you are going to enjoy the psalms, sooner or later you’ll have to deal with a psalm like this. This is a downright nasty little psalm that calls for the violent destruction of the Babylonian people—akin to the call for a Jewish Jihad! This is what we call an imprecatory psalm—the calling down of a divine curse; a prayer for violent vengeance.

So the question is, what place does such an angry psalm have in a loving God’s book?

First, this isn’t simply a religious rant. Psalm 137 should not be isolated from the others psalms—or from the rest of Scripture, for that matter. It makes sense only in context of both theological and historical context. The writer wasn’t just calling down vengeance because he didn’t like someone. The Babylonians had perpetrated great violence against God’s people, so the psalmist was only calling on God to do what God had promised to do.

Second, this is not a call to take vengeance into human hands. The psalmist sees God as judge, jury and executioner, and upon that basis makes his plea for the proper execution of Divine justice.

Third, though it isn’t acknowledged within this psalm, other Scripture shows that before the Jews had called down judgment on their captors, they had first thoroughly repented before God for the very things that had brought them under the iron-fist of Babylon to begin with. (Daniel 9:1-19) They had, as Jesus later called us to do, taken the beam out of their own eye before they bothered with judgment for their tormentors. (Matthew 7:1-5)

Finally, this prayer, and others like it, is aligned with God’s prophetic indictment of Israel’s enemies. They are praying what the Scripture has already declared, calling into fulfillment God’s judgment against some extremely evil people.

For the most part, our prayers should be along the lines that Jesus taught: “Love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.” (Luke 6:27-28 NLT) But when evil goes beyond the pale, it is certainly appropriate to pray for what is at the core of God’s being: Justice.

However, there is just one caveat: If you are going to unleash an imprecatory prayer, just remember that Divine justice is blind; it cuts both ways. So make sure your own evil has been covered by the blood of Christ, which comes only by grace through faith through the acknowledgement and repentance of sin.

“I tell you, brethren, if mercies and if judgments do not convert you, God has no other arrows in His quiver.”
~Robert Murray M’Cheyne

Love That Outweighs Wrath

Judges 7:1-11:40

Love That Outweighs Wrath

Then the Israelites put aside their foreign gods and served the Lord.
And he was grieved by their misery.
Judges 10:16 (NLT)

Go Deep: When you read the book of Judges, you quickly discover a pattern—a sad one.  It’s not limited to Judges—it’s the same cycle in the history of God’s people from creation to the present day.  In a nutshell, it is concisely illustrated in Judges 6:6-10, and it goes something like this:

God calls a people unto himself and blesses their obedience to his ways; God’s people wander from their calling and pursue gratification outside of God’s law; God sends warning after warning of the disastrous consequences of disobedience; God’s people continue in their rebellion; disaster strikes; the people repent; God relents and restores.

It would be so much easier if we would just stay under the umbrella of God’s blessing through our loving obedience, wouldn’t it?  And yet we don’t.  As the old hymn points out, we’re “prone to wander from the God we love”.  And how it grieves his heart when we do.  It grieves him that we would spurn his love—and the blessings that flow to us for our loving obedience—to swallow the sweet poison of the world’s enticements.  It grieves him that we would ignore the plentiful warnings, both throughout Scripture as well as through the convicting voice of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, to plunge knowingly into that which invites Divine judgment—the direct judgment of his punitive anger and the more familiar judgment of the consequences of going our own way.

God is a just God, and sin brings his justice.  But God’s redemptive love is more powerful than his righteous wrath!  That is not to lessen or negate the consequences of sin—the law of sowing and reaping is a universal law—but what we observe in the history of God’s dealing with his people is that his compassion outweighs his indignation…when there is repentance. Notice the interaction between God and his people in this section of Judges 10:

God:  “You have forsaken me and served other gods, so I will no longer save you. Go and cry out to the gods you have chosen. Let them save you when you are in trouble!” (Judges 10:13-14)

Israel:  “We have sinned. Do with us whatever you think best, but please rescue us now.” Then they got rid of the foreign gods among them and served the LORD. (Judges 10:15-16a)

God: And the Lord could bear Israel’s misery no longer. (Judges 10:16b)

Again I say, how about we skip the rebellion and it’s consequences by staying under the umbrella of blessing by loving and obeying the God who loves us.

Just Saying… Dutch Anabaptist reformer Menno Simons wrote in a letter, “Wherever there is a pulverized and penitent heart, there grace also is, and wherever there is a voluntary confession not gained by pressure, there love covereth a multitude of sins.”

Psalm 149: The Tables Will Be Turned

One Year Bible: II Kings 18:13-19:37, Acts 21:1-16; Psalm 149:1-9; Proverbs 18:8

The Tables Will Be Turned

To carry out the sentence written against them.
This is the glory of all his saints.
Praise the LORD.
(Psalm 149:9)

God’s people have been the victims of injustice for far too long, but the day is coming when they will be not only victorious, but the administrators of justice upon this evil world. (Psalm 149:6-9) With humility and through indignity, the saints of God have borne the yoke of oppression, but when Christ returns to set up his Father’s righteous rule on the earth, it will be with glory, praise and joy that his people will carry out just punishment upon those who have served Satan’s purposes. (Psalm 149:1-5)

Now that kind of militant talk may make you a bit uncomfortable. You prefer to love your enemies and pray for those who have persecuted you. You’re more accustomed to think in terms of forgiveness and reconciliation, peace and tolerance than judgment. And rightly so. That is our assignment for the time being.

But at the proper time, Divine justice calls for Divine judgment. And Divine judgment is only right and fair when you consider the cruelty and wickedness that has been carried out against the people of God throughout the centuries. Just think of what the nation of Israel, the Jews, have endured—not the least of which was the horror of the holocaust.

And what about the church? Anywhere between one hundred to three hundred thousand believers are killed each year throughout the world for nothing more than believing in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Daily, in other parts of the world, the saints are mistreated, suffer economic terrorism, endure beatings, rape, imprisonment and death—by the thousands. Just because we don’t see those horrors here in the western world does not mean it is not happening elsewhere—or won’t happen here some day.

Yes, Divine justice is coming to this world. It has to, or God isn’t just and righteous. And when justice finally arrives, you and I will lift our voice in praise, and along with all the saints and the heavenly hosts, say, “just and true are your judgments, O Lord.” (Revelation 16:7)

Yes, the day is coming, sooner than you think, when the tables will be turned, and the saints of God will be in charge. God’s justice demands it; God’s fairness ensures it.

And thank God, by his grace and mercy, through faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, you and I will be on the right side of the table!

“Your life is short, your duties many, your assistance great, and your
reward sure; therefore faint not, hold on and hold up, in ways
of well-doing, and heaven shall make amends for all.”
~Thomas Brooks

Psalm 137: The Complete Appropriateness Of A Downright Nasty Little Prayer

One Year Bible: I Kings 20:1-21:29, Acts 12:23-13:12; Psalm 137:1-9; Proverbs 17:16

The Complete Appropriateness Of A Downright Nasty Little Prayer

O Daughter of Babylon, doomed to destruction,
happy is he who repays you
for what you have done to us.
(Psalm 137:8)

If you are going to enjoy the psalms, sooner or later you’ll have to deal with a psalm like this. This is a downright nasty little psalm that calls for the violent destruction of the Babylonian people—akin to the call for a Jewish Jihad! This is what we call an imprecatory psalm—the calling down of a divine curse; a prayer for violent vengeance.

So the question is, what place does such an angry psalm have in a loving God’s book?

First, this isn’t simply a religious rant. Psalm 137 should not be isolated from the others psalms—or from the rest of Scripture, for that matter. It makes sense only in context of both theological and historical context. The writer wasn’t just calling down vengeance because he didn’t like someone. The Babylonians had perpetrated great violence against God’s people, so the psalmist was only calling on God to do what God had promised to do.

Second, this is not a call to take vengeance into human hands. The psalmist sees God as judge, jury and executioner, and upon that basis makes his plea for the proper execution of Divine justice.

Third, though it isn’t acknowledged within this psalm, other Scripture shows that before the Jews had called down judgment on their captors, they had first thoroughly repented before God for the very things that had brought them under the iron-fist of Babylon to begin with. (Daniel 9:1-19) They had, as Jesus later called us to do, taken the beam out of their own eye before they bothered with judgment for their tormentors. (Matthew 7:1-5)

Finally, this prayer, and others like it, is aligned with God’s prophetic indictment of Israel’s enemies. They are praying what the Scripture has already declared, calling into fulfillment God’s judgment against some extremely evil people.

For the most part, our prayers should be along the lines that Jesus taught: “Love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.” (Luke 6:27-28 NLT) But when evil goes beyond the pale, it is certainly appropriate to pray for what is at the core of God’s being: Justice.

However, there is just one caveat: If you are going to unleash an imprecatory prayer, just remember that Divine justice is blind; it cuts both ways. So make sure your own evil has been covered by the blood of Christ, which comes only by grace through faith through the acknowledement and repentance of sin.

“I tell you, brethren, if mercies and if judgments do not convert you,
God has no other arrows in His quiver.”

~Robert Murray M’Cheyne