19(Psalm 011,01-07)Taking Nothing for Granted
Now, in using this Psalm to reflect on recent events, I want no one to make the mistake of thinking that I am here casting the United States in the role of the “righteous” in Psalm 11. That would be far from true, but it is also true that the Lord has many people here, and if their nation is invaded, they are truly under attack.
The temptation that David faced when he wrote this Psalm was simply to be afraid of his enemies, to fear them, to flee from them. That is precisely the temptation that confronts this land in the face of terrorism and mass murder on our own soil.
David faced down this temptation and confronted this fear successfully because he was able to remember some things about his God.
In verse 4, the “holy temple” is the same as the heavenly throne. Today, I want to remind you that the Lord who is the head of our Church in all things, is also the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, ruler of all the nations of the earth. Ours is not a God who is in charge of things on Sunday morning but then must bow to the whims of the “real” rulers of the earth on Monday thru Saturday! He is King, even now. He is in charge, even now. Even now, not a sparrow falls to the ground apart from His control, and neither does one human being. God is in charge. It is true that the present age is evil, unspeakably so at times, but this does not mean that our God has lost his sovereignty.
Rest assured then, that what has happened in the last several days has not gone unnoticed. His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men. God was watching. God is watching. And what I want us to remember is that as vivid as the video clips were that streamed out of New York City on that day, as brutally clear and frightening as they were…remember that God saw it all more clearly than any camera could ever capture. He saw the hearts of every individual involved. He heard the prayers and cries of the victims, and, yes, He knows very well the details about the perpetrators.
The last three verses of Psalm 11 detail God’s differing attitudes toward the “righteous” and the “wicked.”
[RE-READ VERSES 5-7]
This where this message turns “Politically Incorrect” in a big way. And not simply incorrect where the culture is concerned, either. I’m about to say some things that would be reacted to badly even within the church. And that is a sad thing. But, somebody should say these things, and say them clearly.
Church, be reminded today that there are things that God hates. I didn’t use that word by accident, so let me say it again. God hates. Yes, love is of God and our God is love. But the angels in heaven do not circle the throne with their eyes and feet covered crying out, “Loving, loving, loving, is the Lord God Almighty!”
But what do they cry? “Holy! Holy! Holy!”
If a holy God did not hate sin and violence and wickedness with a burning hatred a thousand times hotter than the deepest Hell, He would lose the right to call Himself holy. But God is holy and therefore, He hates unholiness.
God’s hatred of sin is related to His pursuit of justice in human affairs. Do not be fooled. God is not mocked. The Bible is clear that God not only punishes sin in the afterlife, through the judgment of Hell, but He punishes sin right now, in this life.
Because this is true, there are a couple of things we should keep in mind.
1. Vengeance belongs to God. Ultimately, despite all the rhetoric, it is not the military might, nor the investigative prowess, nor the stirred up collective indignation of the United States of America that will bring the guilty in this crime to justice. As passionately as you might yearn that justice be done here, God wants it more, and what God wants, God gets. God has fire and brimstone and burning wind stored up for the guilty, and they will drink that cup dry.
2. I happen to agree with the national leaders who are suggesting that we should as a nation declare war on the terrorists and any who help them, but my caution is that we not tread upon territory that belongs to God. In the prosecution of that war, if it comes, let us not seek revenge, for human wrath has nothing to do with true justice.
3. God promises in the Scripture to reward righteousness and to punish wickedness in this life as well as the next. We can boil that down and say that we live in a world of “moral cause and effect.” We are not evolutionists who believe that things happen randomly. Neither are we deists who believe in a far off god, who has taken a “hands off” stance concerning our situation. Neither are we post-modern “progressives” who believe in an “open” god who is just as surprised by the way things turn out as we are. We instead believe in the God of the Bible, who keeps His promises.
We all like to say that. We like to claim some of God’s promises. We’re thinking of grace and forgiveness and eternal life when we sing songs like, “Standing On the Promises of God.” But what of God’s equally strong promises to chastise His people when they sin? What of God’s faithful promise to unleash His judgments in the earth on a sinful nation?
We’re not so comfortable standing on those. But that does not lessen their validity even one whit. God promised to bless obedience in His people. He also promised to curse their disobedience with very many, very uncomfortable, very bad things. For instance, listen to the promise of Deuteronomy 28:25 and 26 “The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies; you shall go out one way against them and flee seven ways before them…Your carcasses shall be food for all the birds of the air…”
This is in accord with the rest of Scripture. We modern folk don’t like to say it, but horrible, disastrous military defeat is generally to be seen as a sign of God’s judgment.
What are you saying, preacher? Do you suppose that those who perished in the terrorist attacks were worse sinners than we are?
Absolutely not. What I am saying, though, is that we have all sinned. And every one of our sins, from the large and grotesque to the ones we’d like to think of as small and inconsequential, deserve nothing better than what happened on September 11th to those people in the towers. What I am saying is that the fact that we are here today is proof of God’s goodness and mercy toward us. He has given us one more day to repent and become obedient to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Not one of us deserves the life we now live. Be thankful for the day.