Saturday 22 November, 2014

Psalm 97

1 The Lord rules. Let the earth be glad. Let countries that are far away be full of joy. 2 Clouds and thick darkness surround him. His rule is built on what is right and fair. 3 The Lord sends fire ahead of him. It burns up his enemies all around him. 4 His lightning lights up the world. The earth sees it and trembles. 5 The mountains melt like wax when the Lord is near. He is the Lord of the whole earth. 6 The heavens announce that what he does is right. All people everywhere see his glory. 7 All who worship statues of gods or brag about them are put to shame. All you gods, worship the Lord! 8 Zion hears about it and is filled with joy. Lord, the villages of Judah are glad because of how you judge. 9 Lord, you are the Most High God. You rule over the whole earth. You are honored much more than all gods. 10 Let those who love the Lord hate evil. He guards the lives of those who are faithful to him. He saves them from the power of sinful people. 11 The light of his favor shines on those who do what is right. Joy comes to those whose hearts are honest. 12 You who are godly, be glad because of what the Lord has done. Praise him, because his name is holy.

Fires burning up all God’s foes (v3) is not a popular idea these days. But simply tolerating evil is incompatible with the righteousness and justice that are the foundation of his throne (v2). If God does not destroy evil and sin and rebellion we would all spend eternity amongst unrighteousness and injustice.

I suspect that today we are more comfortable with forgiveness than righteousness and justice. But it’s not one or the other for God: Jesus had to die so that justice could be satisfied, and righteousness could be exchanged for sinfulness and God could forgive us.

I need to rejoice in God’s justice (v8) and hate evil (v10). Justice and righteousness need to be as important to me as they are to God. And they are wonderful, and sorely in need of people who will fight for them.

And my heart needs to be like God’s towards those who still hang onto sin and evil: to love them more than life itself.

I need to recognise too that people who continue to refuse what Jesus did, who hold onto their evil and rebellion, are in a terribly dangerous place. If they don’t take hold of Jesus in place of their opposition to God, they will be destroyed – completely and unstoppably (v4-5).

Father, I do praise you because your name is holy. And I do rejoice in your justice and the blessing it is to me. And adore you for your love for me that you sacrificed your Son to save me from the destruction I deserve. Give me the courage and wisdom to fight for justice, and the compassion to warn those who are in danger because they oppose you.

Written by David Cornell

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