From Generation to Generation (15)

God be gracious to us and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us- Selah. That Your way may be known upon the earth, Your salvation among all nations. Let the peoples praise you, O God, let all the peoples praise You. Let the nations be glad and sing for joy; for You will judge the peoples with uprightness and guide the nations on the earth. Selah. Let the peoples praise You, O God; let all the peoples praise You. The earth has yielded its produce; God, our God, blesses us. God blesses us that all the ends of the earth may fear Him (Ps.67).

The Psalmist’s optimism about the future of God’s people is remarkable. His expectation is not one emphasising decline and disaster. No, he sees triumph ahead, the successful propagation of the gospel right throughout the world. Three times he uses the word “nations,” and five time, “peoples.”

And the long-term goal?  “…that all the ends of the earth may fear Him.”

Has the psalmist been drinking or smoking something he shouldn’t have? Has he been mixing with a strange bunch of theologians that didn’t know what they were talking about? Has he been doing something else, entirely irresponsible?

No, he has not, for

All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work (II Tim.3:16-17).

Is the Psalmist’s expectation yours as well? If not, why not?

Now, I readily accept the fact that the state of the world today would hardly encourage us that “…all the ends of the earth may fear Him.” But we believers are to take our directions from scripture, not the state of the world. If David had taken his guidance on the battlefield that day from Israel’s circumstances (when he turned up to supply his brothers with food and convey news to Jesse), he would never have done what he did, to God’s glory. And we must do the same.

After the resurrection, Jesus declared to His disciples that

Repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem (Luke 24:47),

and Zechariah promised that

…many nations will join themselves to the Lord in that day and will become My people… (Zech.2:10).

What are we witnessing today? God is disciplining and chastising His people, because we have fallen short of His glorious plans.

God has always disciplined His people and chastised them, when they were compromised with the nations around them, and were clearly unfaithful to God. But the goal of the discipline was that they would “learn righteousness,” and we see this so many times throughout the Old Testament.

This is why I don’t see the present decline and poor state of the church as being terminal. But we really are in a low state, and this requires a great deal of change. I don’t expect change to come from The Top, because true reform has never started there. The top generally opposes reform, as they did in Jesus’ day, and as they did when Luther inadvertently started the Reformation in 1517.

Reform will have to begin in the grass-roots of the church. We have been going backwards for hundreds of years, and change cannot come without a great deal of change within the church.

When Jesus came to the temple in John 2, there was instant confrontation:

And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables; and to those who were selling the doves He said, “Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a place of business” (Jn.2:15-16).

There’s nothing wrong with capitalism and money, but there was something terribly wrong with what was taking place in the temple. What was it? Jesus identified it:

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth (Mat.6:24).

Israel’s religious leaders had become deeply compromised with Rome. They’d concluded that the continued patronage of Rome and the flow of money and power was more important than obedience to God and His Son. John’s Gospel in particular (in passages such as 11:47-53, and 19:4-15) illustrates their compromise. It meant that Jesus was not merely expendable; they now needed to kill Him. Rushdoony’s comments here are helpful:

The cleansing of the Temple was predicted in Malachi 3:1. The Temple was the house of God, His appointed dwelling place. God speaks throughout the Old Testament of the tabernacle and the Temple as “My house.” Our Lord in Matthew 16:18 speaks of “My church.” As against this, in Matthew 23:38, our Lord refers to the Temple as “your house.” When the sanctuary or church becomes man’s, it is doomed, because God will move against it. At the beginning and at the end of His ministry, our Lord cleansed the Temple (Mat.21:12-13). He cleansed it because it was properly His house, required to serve Him and not itself.[1]

Once again, the temple is in serious need of cleansing. Like any house, it’s actually in need of regular cleansing, due to all the traffic of people in and out. That means we’ll need some new theological brooms, along with strong, determined men with hot water, mops and buckets. All the accumulated refuse that’s built up over time and doesn’t belong, needs to be removed and cast out.

That will mean a lot. The fact is, the church has forgotten to keep money in its proper perspective, which is a terrible mistake. This means that the church becomes susceptible to monetary inducements. And when thirty pieces of silver moves people much more than God’s law, you know we have a problem that won’t go away easily.

So we in God’s house will continue to feel some pain and public humiliation, until the church gets the message to “…seek first His kingdom and His righteousness…” (Mat.6:33), and becomes faithful to scripture again.

Conclusion:

The promise of God and plan of God is that His people become predominant in the world, and “make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you…” (Mat.28:19-20).

This plan has never been abandoned, despite the fact that the church in history has frequently fallen far short. Thus believers must take His Word seriously, and continually apply it to themselves, their family, their church and their nation.

And the ultimate outcome?

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom He has chosen for His inheritance (Ps.33:12).

 

 

 

[1] Rousas Rushdoony, “The Gospel of John,” 2000, p.23.

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