Psalm 69:3 “I am weary of my crying: my throat is dried: mine eyes fail while I wait for my God. They that hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of mine head: they that would destroy me, being mine enemies wrongfully, are mighty: then I restored that which I took not away. O God, thou knowest my foolishness; and my sins are not hid from thee.”
There are many places in Scripture that speak of this topic of weariness. Sometimes in Scripture, reference is made to the people of God as those who are weary. Sometimes, because of our many failures and shortcomings, the Lord mentions that we weary him. Also, there is a need to consider texts that comfort and encourage the weary, and to exhort them to live out lives of obedience because of God’s unfailing love shown through his constant acts of mercy for them. We can see clearly that this is a rather broad topic, and I hope that it can be covered in two articles. For this first article regarding the topic of weariness, I plan to write about God’s people as those who are weary.
First of all, we consider the people of God as the “weary ones.” This can be taken from different perspectives. There are three primary ways that God’s people can become weary in well-doing. These ways include the believer’s devotional life, his battle against the enemies of God, and the struggle with his own sinful flesh.
Consider this topic of weariness in regard to the devotional life of the believer. There are many texts in the Scriptures that speak concerning the matter of God’s people becoming weary. Isaiah 43:22 says, “But thou hast not called upon me, O Jacob; but thou hast been weary of me, O Israel.” This verse refers specifically to our lives of constant devotion to God. It can take a large amount of time out of our already busy schedules to spend even a few hours a day meditating on the Word and praying to the Father. We can easily view a life of constant devotion to God as a never ending chore, and we eventually lose interest in spending our time pursuing the heavenly things.
Our text deals more specifically with our struggle with sin, and our battle against our spiritual foes. Sometimes, God’s people become weary because of a constant assault upon them by their adversaries. Often, those outside of the church of Christ as she is manifested on Earth pressure the saints to join them in their rebellion against God, and to pursue a life of covetousness. They question God’s knowledge and strive to get the saints to deny their faith, and to doubt God’s love for them. If the onslaught from those outside isn’t troublesome enough, there are the foes within the church that can often put pressure on the people of God.
Often, a believer can become troubled and weary in a daily struggle against his sinful flesh. Our own sins weary us, so that much time in this life is spent with sorrow and regret. In the consciousness of our sins and misery, we “groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:23). We long for the day when we will experience full and complete deliverance from our sins.
Psalm 6 speaks more of this aspect of weariness with regard to the guilt and sorrow a child of God experiences when he falls into sin, and the fear brought upon his soul because of his spiritual foes. He asks that the Lord will help him and not rebuke him in anger. He realizes how weak and frail he is, and the guilt presses on him so hard that his bones are vexed. The weeping and groaning makes him weary. The pain is so strong that tears pour down, and his eye is consumed with grief. Those who say things like “men don’t cry” are void of understanding. Real men pray that God will make them cry when they feel that they have lost that ability. He desires to cry in genuine sorrow for sin. He desires to cry real tears of joy when he hears that his wicked deeds, and the evil motives of his heart, are forgiven only for the sake of the passion and death of his Savior.
Often, we become weary because we forget that we are equipped with the Spirit of the Lord. Micah 3:8 says, “But truly I am full of power by the spirit of the Lord, and of judgment, and of might, to declare unto Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin.” This is one aspect of how the Spirit moves in the life of the believer. God places his Spirit in his people for rebuking and edifying his church. Also, Christ sends the Spirit as the Comforter to comfort and sustain the weary. This is recorded as “a word in season” in Isaiah 50:4. We, with the prophet Isaiah, testify that “the Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary” (Isaiah 50:4). Since we have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit, let us walk in that Spirit, and look for opportunities to “lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees” (Hebrews 12:12).
My next article, Lord willing, will consider this topic of weariness from the aspect of “Wearying God.” In the meantime, the readers are encouraged to read through the Psalms in their daily devotions to capture more of an understanding of this weary life, and the comfort that these “wearied ones” receive as the Spirit unfolds the Word of Life to comfort and sustain the elect in times of adversity.
1 Peter 2:9-11: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light; Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.”
Many of us are familiar with John Bunyan’s story, The Pilgrims Progress. If you have not read it, it should not be too difficult to find a copy to read this summer before starting school again. In this book, we see a man named Christian, dwelling in his house with his wife and children. One important thing to notice here in the setting of the story is that Christian is carrying a heavy burden on his back. This burden represents the heavy burden of sin that every believer carries, but only when the Spirit of regeneration works in the heart does the Christian realize it as a grievous burden sinking him deeper and deeper. At the very moment when the Spirit gives the conviction of the existence of sin in the sinner, he also gives the feeling of guilt or regret for these sins, and a desire to be rid of that burden of sin. The Spirit then continues to work to bring the guilty sinner to his knees with the earnest, desperate cry, “What must I do to be saved?”
This was exactly the kind of conviction that Christian had, which led him to flee from his house and from the City of Destruction, and seek deliverance. Once he came to the place where the cross stood, and beheld the glorious mystery of the work that was accomplished there, he experienced that deliverance. Finally the burden he had so earnestly wanted to get rid of fell off from him, and rolled down the hill and was buried in the sepulcher at the bottom of the hill. Now that he was free, he had no desire to head back to the city in which he dwelt. He saw that city as Egypt, the spiritual place of bondage. Rather, he looked for a home far away from the vanities of this present world. He continued his journey until he reached the Celestial City, which was a picture of heaven. During the course of this journey, the Word of God was his only rule for faith and life. He turned to this Word whenever he fought against his spiritual foes; through that Word he gained the victory.
Such is the experience of every child that God has called out of this world into his marvelous light. The Spirit gives us a deep awareness of our sin and misery, causing us to seek some way to be delivered from the guilt and power of sin. The Spirit then points to the cross, and draws the elect irresistibly by its power to believe that the sacrifice of the Lamb of God on the cross undoubtedly covers his sins. The believer is granted the assurance that this Lamb of God is his complete Savior, so he knows that in the sight of the holy and just God he is righteous, but only through the death and resurrection of the Lamb.
Because of the victory that Christ has accomplished for us, we are called to be pilgrims and strangers here on earth. A pilgrim is defined as a traveler to a holy place. Our life here on earth is set in that light. We set our eyes toward that goal, and seek to do so without looking to the left or right. With all fervency, we “press toward the mark” of our high calling. We learn that we are those who are set apart from the citizens of the kingdoms of this world.
Is this pilgrim’s life for everyone? Do all men have a desire to flee from sin in all of its forms? Of course not! The Bible is clear that only some people belong in the categories mentioned in the text in 1 Peter 2. In the context of verse 9, Peter refers to a chosen generation and a peculiar people. This means that from the vast multitude of all of the people that have lived or will live, there is a certain remnant that is looking for a city “which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10). These elect are brought to realize the need for a spiritual mindset, “for to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Romans 8:6).
A spiritual mind is crucial for living a Christian life. Romans 8:7 reminds us that we are engaged in spiritual warfare against carnality. The carnal mind is enmity against God! In a materialistic culture, we often lose sight of the fact that we are fighting a battle against earthly-mindedness. In our abundance, we feel pretty comfortable with this world and what it has to offer. Our inclination is to surrender to the enemy, forgetting our victory that we have over the enemy in and through the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Satan uses cunning tactics and military strategies that are designed with all craftiness to allure us to walk after the flesh, and not after the Spirit. One enticing way he does this is by causing us to forget our obligation to be good stewards of our time. Satan uses Hollywood to snare Christians to take their mind off of their heavenly home and to find a life of fun and entertainment here below. How easy it is to spend several hours a day watching the television and very little time praying and meditating on the things of God! We can easily be deceived into thinking that if its behind a TV screen, the filth of this world isn’t really so bad.
The internet is another tool Satan uses to keep the Christian from a pursuit of holiness. We all know the dangers in their vilest forms (pornography, violence, blaspheming God, etc.). Understand that Satan will stop at nothing to make our spiritual senses numb! Some more crafty and cunning ways Satan snares us are through the time we spend on Facebook, YouTube, etc. These things can be used for the spread of the gospel and the edification of the church, but I believe that if most of us are honest with ourselves, we would realize that most of our time online usually is wasted.
Scripture makes it clear that the devil masquerades as an angel of light, causing us to lose sight of the reality that he is a “roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Paul reminds us in Ephesians 6 that we wrestle against principalities and powers, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
If we are those who be of a spiritual mind, we must put on the whole armor of God. Ephesians 6 says that we must be equipped to fight these spiritual foes. We are equipped with truth, righteousness, faith, and the gospel of peace. We wear the helmet of salvation, so that our head is guarded against any carnal doubt that may be instilled in our minds concerning our redemption in Christ. We fight with the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. We fight also by means of prayer. We pray for boldness as we fight to make known the mystery of the gospel. We have the assurance that God’s Word will not return to him void. We must be fervent, and lay down our lives for the sake of that gospel!
May God grant us a deeper knowledge of our salvation, and always cause us to persevere as those who seek a heavenly country that God has prepared for us, where he is not ashamed to be called our God! (Hebrews 11:16).
John 9:39-41, “And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind. And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also? Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.”
Powerful words recorded here by our Lord! Yet, do we ever stop to think that we need to hear these words as well? Although it was the Pharisees that asked the question, “Are we blind also;” I believe that in our present circumstances, this is the question we must ask ourselves. We must take a moment to ponder this as those who are genuinely and sincerely concerned for the future of the church, and the “peace of Jerusalem.”
There is much concern amongst many in our day that we have become a proud people. We seem to have become proud of our traditions, our doctrines, etc. It is our nature to say, “we see, because we are God’s special people who are affiliated with this church group or that denomination.” The point that must be addressed is this: Did our church fathers establish these traditions in pride? Did they not rather establish them in humble submission to God, and in obedience to his Word?
We too need to see this necessity to be humbled before God, who shows such mercy to preserve his truth amongst a people most undeserving. The blind man in John 9 received not only the ability to see with the physical eye, but also with the eye of faith. Just as the blind man, we must make it a constant prayer of ours that we may receive spiritual sight as well; whether it be as individuals, or as those who are members of the body of Christ. The ones who are given sight are those who sit as beggars, confessing their blindness and pleading that God will open their eyes. On the contrary, the ones who point the finger and lay heavy burdens on others are the ones whose sin will remain on them. These remain in darkness!
The well-known parable of the Pharisee and the publican was directed at certain which “trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others.” The true believer is the one who at the end of the day sees all his wretchedness, his depravity, and the sin which he is still inclined to, and comes before the throne of grace trembling in holy fear. This man will only be justified if he looks outside of himself, his traditions, his social status, etc. for righteousness, and sees the blood of Jesus as his only covering, and his only hope for eternal life. His cross may not be replaced by tradition!
When trust is placed in tradition and the commandments of God are neglected, this is bound to cause division in the church. “Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace” (James 3:13-18).
There is definitely a place for traditions in the life of the believer. I also refuse to minimize the countless efforts that our church fathers applied to establish these traditions designed to teach their covenant children in the fear of the Lord. The true focus must remain on God’s establishment of the covenant of grace, and God’s power to preserve his covenant in the line of continued generations. There is an increasing danger prevailing in our day to act as if man establishes this covenant of grace with God, making demands of the covenant that are contrary to the Scriptures’ teaching on the covenant. It’s God’s covenant, and we are exceeding grateful that he does what he will with his own covenant!
We see that the kingdom of God is near with evidence of generations who are not properly taught in God’s fear, but rather are given certain standards to follow and “left to themselves.” Amos 8:11 sets forth what we can see happening in churches around us, and also serves as a warning for us. “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.” I remember a sermon that I heard a while ago on this text by Prof. Decker. One statement he made that sticks in my mind is, “Don’t say, DON’T YOU DARE SAY, that this famine cannot happen to the Protestant Reformed Churches!” He went on to explain that we would still hear the gospel with the physical ear, but the famine would be a lack of understanding or discernment of the Word.
This is the frightful judgment that we can see descending on the church as we approach the end of time. We must take heed that while we are shouting our “Amen’s” when denouncing the wicked errors of the Federal Vision, the Baptists, the Roman Catholics, etc. that we don’t become hardened when this Word of warning and admonition comes at us. As many as Christ loves, he “rebukes and chastens.” All praise be to God for his chastening love!
So we see that we are exhorted to love the commandments of God! What are those commandments? They are summed up by our Lord in this, “Thou shalt love the Lord, thy God, with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy mind. This is the first and the great commandment. And the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself!” If these are obeyed, we will see the blessings of it in our generation. “And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children” (Isaiah 54:13). If we ourselves live in obedience, then teaching our children to obey the law of God will be easier because the testimony of our lives will show them how to live. Great peace will be upon Israel, as generations live in faithfulness to God’s covenant! Man’s additions to God’s established covenant only lead to the “confusion and every evil work” that James spoke of in the passage that was previously quoted.
Whatever church you are affiliated with, consider this your “wake-up call.” As we preach the gospel and instruct our children, we must always point to Christ and his love for us. After his resurrection, Jesus told Peter to feed his sheep. That is our calling as well in the office of believer. When we speak, whether it be for the purpose of rebuking or edifying the church, God’s sheep must hear the voice of their Faithful Shepherd.
Love your God! Love the church of God! Live out your calling to be “ready to give an answer.” As believers we must “preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry” (2 Timothy 4:2-5). Although Paul gave this advice to Timothy in regards to his work as a pastor, we are admonished in this passage as prophets, priests, and kings to be faithful witnesses of the “things that we have seen and heard.” When we heed this call, we will see God’s covenant blessings prevail in the church, and God will not be ashamed to be called our God.
Christ will not have his church, his covenant bride, long for other lovers and “reject the commandment of God, that ye (she) may keep your (her) own tradition” (Mark 7:9). He purchased her! He saved her from the wrath of God and from hell itself, and gave to her eternal life! No man, no institution can frustrate God’s purpose in salvation!
What a comfort!
“Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little” (Luke 7:47).
Beloved, in order to properly understand what this text is saying, we must consider what had just taken place prior to the time that Jesus made this statement. Most of us can probably recall the circumstances that led to this truth proclaimed by our Lord. We will take a brief moment to recall why this statement is recorded in God’s Word, and how it is applied to every believer today. In order to do this, we must first take a look at the setting.
First of all, the story begins with an invitation extended to Jesus by a Pharisee named Simon who desired to have Jesus come and eat at his house. Jesus willingly went to Simon’s house, and ate at his table. While they were eating, a woman in the city came into the house with an alabaster box of very costly ointment. One thing mentioned about this woman is that she was a sinner. She approaches the place at the table where Jesus was, trembling in the deep awareness of her sin and misery. Weeping all the while, she washes Jesus’ feet with her tears and dries his feet with her hair. Worshipping him, she continues by kissing his feet. In spite of the stares from those gathered in the room, she continues to honor Jesus by anointing his feet with this costly ointment.
This she did in the presence of all who were there. Her love for the Lord was so great that none of this attention that she received by the others mattered. The Pharisee himself looks at the sight with disgust. In unbelief, he questions the knowledge and righteousness of Christ. “This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner,” he thought to himself. Surely a righteous man would want nothing to do with such a wretch, and would certainly be quick to rebuke her and send her away!
Jesus knew Simon’s thoughts and proceeds in telling the parable of a creditor which had two debtors; one debtor owing 500 pence, and the other 50 pence. When they had nothing to pay, the creditor cancels their debt, and forgives them both. Jesus then asked Simon which debtor will love the creditor the most. We can rightfully say that Simon was using common sense when he told Jesus that the debtor who would love his creditor most would be the one who had the greatest debt cancelled. Jesus then explained that the situation with this woman was no different. Since her sins were many and her debt to the Lord was great; he gave her the assurance that she had been forgiven for all her sins. Hence, her love for her Lord could no longer be contained.
It would be wise to consider this event figuratively, and focus on the contrast between the characteristics displayed by those who are forgiven much and the characteristics displayed by those who are forgiven little.
Simon’s attitude is clearly portrayed as an attitude of pride and self-righteousness. He displays himself to be one who is “forgiven little” by his lack of love and concern for this godly woman, and ultimately for Christ himself. He represents those who look at the law merely from an external aspect, and will hold to their own “good works” to give them a free ticket to heaven. These people establish their own righteousness as if they are the standard for all to imitate. Matthew 23 goes into great detail explaining the kind of attitude that was characteristic of the Pharisees. In Matthew 23, Jesus confirms that, instead of receiving God’s favor, these people receive God’s judgment. Because Simon held this woman in contempt, refusing to acknowledge her to be forgiven, he testified by his lack of love that his sins were not forgiven.
The woman here represents the people of God in the deep consciousness of their unworthiness. Imagine with me, if you will, a child who has just been chastised by his father for doing something wrong. This child can’t bear the thought of being under his father’s wrath and anger. So with fear and trembling, he timidly approaches his father. With true sorrow in his heart, he pleads with his father to forgive him, and not to be angry. He says, “I’m sorry, Dad. I have sinned against you and I’m sorry. Please forgive me!” The woman, by her actions, displays a genuine sorrow for her sins, and in godly faith seeks Jesus, believing him to be the source of her salvation, and there finding hope for deliverance.
One who is truly righteous must look away from himself to Jesus, the “author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). The people of God will only be drawn to Christ and look to him for forgiveness if the Holy Spirit first convicts them of their sin. They may not look at the law externally, but must go deeper to consider the impossibility of keeping the least of God’s commandments. The Holy Spirit does this by giving them a deep awareness that they have provoked the holy God, and stand exposed to his wrath. The believer must be humbled to truly say from the heart, “Surely, I am the chief of sinners! There is no one on earth that could possibly be less worthy of God’s favor than me.”
This broken, humbled sinner will see himself as naked in God’s sight, and in his shame will approach God’s throne of grace seeking to be the recipient of abounding mercy and love. He comes to Christ in holy fear, by faith believing that he will “in no wise be cast out” from communion with his Savior and Redeemer. He comes to Christ, believing not only that those sins are forgiven, but that he is still loved by God. He finds all of his own righteousness to be filthy rags, and seeks salvation outside of himself. By faith, he looks to the cross of Christ and the work accomplished on that cross.
The church, the true Israel of God, consists of these people who have tasted and seen that the Lord is good. These are they which have heard the voice of their Redeemer saying, “Neither do I condemn thee; go, and sin no more.” The one who has been forgiven much will abound in the work of the Lord, seeking to bring hope to the believer who is under a heavy burden of sin. Paul exhorts the church at Ephesus to be “kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32).
The most striking feature to notice here is that those who are the recipients of an overwhelming amount of forgiveness will seek to show love throughout their lives. This love is shown in obedience to the command of Christ. Jesus says, “This is my commandment that ye love one another; that your joy may be full.” Those who love will live thankful lives, and be full of happiness and joy. They will seek not their own welfare, but will seek to be used by God to bring hope in the life of another.
After Jesus teaches his disciples and us the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6, he says, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (verses 14, 15). This passage brings out the necessity for us to truly forgive from the heart. Others will see our joy and respond by saying, “Truly, this love and joy is a clear testimony that this person has been with Jesus, and he has experienced the forgiveness of sins.”
Psalm 84—How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God. Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O Lord of hosts, my King, and my God. Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee. Selah. Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them. Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools. They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God. O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer: give ear, O God of Jacob. Selah. Behold, O God our shield, and look upon the face of thine anointed. For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. O Lord of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.
The word amiable, according to the Webster’s Dictionary, means “worthy of love or affection.” This is how the psalmist describes the house of God. The tabernacle is the place where God dwelt among his people. He meditates on all of the blessings that he sees and experiences when he is near, or even better, in the house of the Lord. His love for the house of God is so great, that he says his soul longs and faints for the courts of the Lord. His heart cries out desperately yearning just to be near his God. This joy that floods his heart and soul as he stands in God’s dwelling place is far better than any glimmering shadow of carnal happiness he may find in this world.
The psalmist then begins listing the various blessings that he experiences when he is nigh to God’s house. First, he mentions how even the birds find shelter here. Two birds in particular are mentioned. These are the sparrow and the swallow. One striking feature that is necessary to notice about these two birds is that they are relatively small, almost seemingly insignificant. Yet, sheltered in the arms of Almighty God and provided for in his providence, they find rest here as do we.
The psalmist tells us that he is so blessed to be dwelling in God’s house, his heart is filled with praise. He says he would rather have the lowly position of doorkeeper in the house of God, than to claim the highest position in the tents of wickedness apart from God. One day, mind you, as a doorkeeper in God’s house is a far greater blessing than a thousand days in this world of sin.
Those who think that Sunday is just another work day or golf outing (amongst many other forms of entertainment) don’t understand this psalm. They are those who enjoy the tents of wickedness so much that they are blinded to the truth, and stumble at this passage. If one can’t live in obedience to the fourth commandment and keep the Sabbath day holy because he is so driven by a love for money and material pleasure, Christ’s command to him is:
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it” (Exodus 20:11).
(Of course, we know that the first day is the present Sabbath day because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ who is the Lord of the Sabbath.) For those who violate this commandment, the calling is for repentance. Confess your sins to God, and truly find rest for your body and soul in his house! Be fed by the word of life (Christ) who by the power of the Holy Spirit uses the preaching of the gospel to breathe life into us, and to whisper words of sweet forgiveness and hope!
Where is this zeal today? Do we really feel this blessedness and joy for the amazing privilege we have to frequent the house of God, and to hear Christ speak to us? Or do we have a hard time getting out of bed on Sunday morning, not really all that excited to go to church? Perhaps, we struggle to pay attention because we don’t think about the fact that our savior and bridegroom is speaking to us through the mouth of the minister. Do we complain and gripe about the minister as the one who stands equipped with the power of the Holy Spirit to boldly proclaim the gospel with authority, always trying to find some fault in what he says when he presents the truth of the gospel and speaks Christ’s words to his bride, the church? Do we look forward to communing with the saints, edifying one another with that gospel of peace? Maybe in the consciousness of our own sin, the thought of coming into the presence of a holy and just God who hates sin makes us tremble!
May this passage of Holy Scripture truly humble us to the dust in sorrow for this blessed privilege that we take for granted! May we truly delight to dwell in God’s house and there find the assurance that surely goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our lives, and we will dwell in God’s house forever when he takes us to our eternal dwelling place in heaven!
Psalm 122:6-7: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces.”
David, in this text, is speaking of how important it is that prayer is made for the peace of Jerusalem. Why is this peace such a concern for him? We are told in Scripture that there was much war in Israel during David’s reign. The nations about Israel were constantly making war with Israel. David’s strong desire for peace was of a different nature, although the wars were a concern for him. This desire of which he speaks in this psalm was a concern for the church, as he thinks about church life, and the relationship of believers in the church to one another. David understood this need for peace in the church, and the need is ever increasing as we approach the end of time.
Is this peace our experience today? We’ve all heard of that dreadful “grapevine.” Sins of gossip and slander are common to all of us. All of us have used our sharp tongues to spread hurtful news about a brother or sister. Sure, all of God’s people fall into sin. Sometimes, these sins are very dreadful sins. Those who fall dreadfully are often the victims of the slander of the grapevine, which brings another question to mind. How can those who have fallen so far have peace with God, when the latest news going around in their own circles is a reminder of what they have done? On top of that, they are afflicted in their own conscience, and fight against a sinful flesh that loves that sin. These people need to be assured of the forgiveness of sin, just as much as those “who have no sin.” True peace is hard to find when people bite and devour one another with their words.
Perhaps we don’t associate ourselves with this gossip chain. Maybe there is another way that we destroy our brothers and sisters in Christ. One way that comes to mind is the sin of hypocrisy. Perhaps we have that accusatory finger. We can think that we do service to someone by going to them and screaming, “REPENT! REPENT!” at the top of our lungs. We often make that our righteousness before God.
We must be careful in the way that we go to someone who has sinned. We go to them in love, knowing our own depravity, and truly desiring their repentance. The sins of slander and hypocrisy are the most common ways we destroy others with our tongues. This is what James speaks of in Chapter 3 of his book when he says, “the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and is set on fire of hell,” and again, “the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” He also goes on to tell us that there is “confusion and every evil work” where the tongue is used in this way (Verse 16).
Sure, it’s easy for us to long for peace if we are the victims of the gossip and slander, but it is equally important to pray for the peace of Jerusalem even when we have peace in our individual lives. After the words of the text considered, David gave the reason why we must always be fervent in our prayers for peace. We desire peace, not so we can feel good about ourselves and forget the rest, but “for my brethren and companion’s sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee” (Verse 8). That is why it is a deep need of ours as well as it was for Old Testament Israel to dwell in sweet accord.
What is it to have this peace, and who has this peace? This peace is the experience of the child of God whose only comfort is that he belongs to Christ. It is the feeling of joy that overwhelms the prodigal son as he is welcomed home, and embraced by the loving arms of his father. It is the experience of the believer as he stands washed in the blood of the Lamb. Only those whose sins are not imputed to them can experience this peace.
Where do we find this peace? This peace is found in the Prince of Peace, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He alone can give us the wisdom and peace from above. “The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace with them that make peace” (James 3:17-18). It speaks of the blessing of being a peacemaker. In order to make peace, this peace must already dwell in you by God’s sovereign grace.
Does this peace fill your heart today? Perhaps there is unrest in your soul because of your sin. Do you feel crushed underneath the burden of guilt on your shoulders? Does the cloud of doubt and despair hide the light of day? Do you feel unworthy to have the peace and joy of salvation? Be assured that your redemption lies in the cross of Christ, and then with boldness, in the confidence of faith, approach the throne of grace in prayer. Salvation is for those who know their unworthiness, but who confess that the Lamb is worthy. His righteousness is imputed to us, because He took our sins and nailed it to His cross. Living in this assurance, we dwell in unity in the church, and “there the Lord commands His blessing, even life for evermore” (Psalm 133:3).
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