Archives for posts with tag: God’s character

“But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me;
my Lord has forgotten me.”
“Can a woman forget her nursing child,
that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget,
yet I will not forget you. ”
https://ref.ly/Is49.14-15;esv

  • The Problem: God’s people were afraid that God had forsaken them. This is a lament and it is set forth in honesty and despair.  Will God forsake his people?  Has he forsaken them?  It’s an all too common issue and anyone who has read a missionary biography or understands church history knows that this is an issue that comes up again and again. God, for purposes that we don’t fully understand, seems to appear to abandon his own people from time to time, to danger and difficulty.  Israel was going to be judged for her idolatry, would God abandon his people forever?
  • The Response from God:  I will not forget you. God’s response is given in a solemn promise and both God’s character and history itself demonstrate that what God promises here is true and he will do it.  He will not forget his people. The ESV Study Bible entitles this section: “Human despair is more than offset by divine grace.”

    Sit back in your chair and breathe in that truth for a minute.  God will not forget his people. This is his promise.  This is his oath. This is his character.  Kings will not cause him to abandon his promise. Time will not cause him to abandon his people.  Opposition, danger, and difficulty are hand maidens to our sovereign God and no more stand in the way of his promise here than a bunny rabbit could block an elephant.  God has done what he promised in the past; he will do what he has promised in the future.  He will not forget his own people.

 

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Clouds and thick darkness surround Him; Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.” (Psalm 97:2, NASB95)

The psalmist here explains what we know and what we don’t know about God.

What we know:

  1. Yahweh reigns (vs. 1) – “Here is a simple proposition, which is a self-evident axiom, and requires no proof: JEHOVAH is infinite and eternal; is possessed of unlimited power and unerring wisdom; as he is the Maker, so he must be the Governor, of all things. His authority is absolute, and his government therefore universal. In all places, on all occasions, and in all times, Jehovah reigns.” [Adam Clarke]
  2. Righteousness and Justice are the foundation of his throne. This is huge!  It means that we can trust the Lord even when we do not understand what he is up to.  We may not be able to comprehend his ways, but we can hang on to the fact that what he does is fundamentally just and righteous.  We can know that the Judge of the whole earth will do right.

What we do not know:

  1. Clouds and thick darkness surround him. What we do not know is pretty much everything else.  God does not explain himself to us, nor does he need to, he is God.  His ways are not our ways and his thoughts not our thoughts.  Adam Clarke:

It is granted that this is a subject which cannot be comprehended. And why? Because God is infinite; he acts from his own counsels, which are infinite; in reference to ends which are also infinite: therefore, the reasons of his government cannot be comprehended by the feeble, limited powers of man. There must be clouds and darkness-an impenetrable obscurity, round about him; and we can no more comprehend him in what is called aeternitas a parte ante-the eternity that passed before time commenced, than we can in the aeternitas a parte post-the eternity that is to come, when time shall be no more.

 

Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love [hesed] from me!” (Psalm 66:20, ESV)

The psalmist knows himself well which is exactly why he finishes the 66th Psalm the way that he does.  Why does he speak in the negative using words like “rejected” and “removed?”  Because he is a sinner and prone to sin and apt to wander away from the Lord [are you going to throw stones at him, dear reader?].

If we are honest, if we were God and had subjects that acted like we did, we would reject and remove them and seek subjects who were, to put it frankly, more reliable subjects than we are.

This is why the good news is, despite our weaknesses and propensity to fail and wander and rebel, God does not reject our prayers, nor does he remove his hesed from us.  His willingness to listen to our prayers and keep his covenant love (hesed) on us is not based upon our behavior, but on his character.

To put it frankly, dear reader, his character is more reliable than ours, and that is a good thing.

 

Lord, our crimes against you are many. Our sins accuse us. We are well aware of them all. We have rebelled against you, rejected you, and refused to follow you. We have oppressed others and turned away from you. Our thoughts are false; our words are lies. Justice is driven away, and right cannot come near. Truth stumbles in the public square, and honesty finds no place there.” (Isaiah 59:12–14, GNB)

This is a stinging indictment of God’s own people and notice that Isaiah writes it all in the first person plural form “we.”  He fully understood that there was such a thing as collective corporate guilt and that Israel was guilty of the same.  Justice was no longer done in the courts, and things were so bad that honesty could find no place in the public square.  I like the way the NLT translates this verse: “Our courts oppose the righteous, and justice is nowhere to be found. Truth stumbles in the streets, and honesty has been outlawed.” (Isaiah 59:14, NLT).

Calvin:

It must be regarded as monstrous, that men, who have been chastised and almost crushed by the hand of God, are still proud, and so obstinate that they cannot bend or be humbled by a conviction of their sin.

They have therefore received a just reward, because no justice of God has shone forth to render assistance, when they have banished far from them justice and equity; for in vain do we expect from God what we have refused to others and cast away from ourselves.

  Revelation 14:19

So the angel swung his sickle across the earth and gathered the grape harvest of the earth and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.

Like it or not—and most people do not—God’s wrath is real, here symbolically, an angel gathers the grape harvest and throws it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. This is the summing up of God’s wrath against sin and evil at the end of time, a great and frightening day of reckoning.  The pouring out of  God’s wrath will be a frightening thing to see, unbelieving man’s mockery notwithstanding.  

There is a day coming when God’s wrath upon the world and its embrace of sin will be plain and evident to all.  At that time we followers of Christ ought to look up, because our redemption draws near.

Expositors Bible CommentaryThe reference to the “great winepress of God’s wrath” in v.19 should clarify the imagery and leave no doubt that it denotes God’s judgment on the rebellious world and not the wrath of the beast on the followers of the Lamb.
               Daniel 2.20-23

Daniel’s prayer of thanksgiving after God revealed to him the nature and interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream—and saved his life in the process.  This is a beautiful revelation of our great God.
He knows all, does all – Omniscient, omnipotent God
He changes the seasons and guides history – Sorry deists, our God is active in history, changing it and guiding it according to his sovereign will, hope you guys aren’t too disappointed.
He raises up kings and also brings them down – Sorry Nebuchadnezzar and every other king, prince, prime minister, tyrant and president in history. You think you gained power according to your great abilities. You didn’t. It was God.
He provides both intelligence and discernment – Sorry Mr. Dawkins, Einstein, and every other person in history who has become arrogant due to the gifts with which they were born (given). It wasn’t you; it was God.
He opens up the depths, tells secrets, sees in the dark—light spills out of him – All that stuff you thought was secret? God knows.
Daniel’s response?  Daniel 2:23
God of all my ancestors, all thanks! all praise!
You made me wise and strong.
And now you’ve shown us what we asked for.
You’ve solved the king’s mystery. “
What is your response?