PSALM 118 – THE MESSIAH

Resurrection Faith
Resurrection (Image source: PostBarthian)

 

Psalm 118:22-24 (New Living Translation) – The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone. This is the LORD’s doing, and it is wonderful to see. This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.

 

In Bibles commonly used by Protestant Christians, there are 594 chapters before Psalm 118, and 594 chapters after it. Psalm 118 is considered to be at the middle of Protestant versions of the Bible. The shortest Psalm is Psalm 117, and the longest is Psalm 119. What has Psalm 118 got to say to us that is unique?

The crowd chanted verse 26 “Bless the one who comes in the name of the LORD”, when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey (see Matthew 21:9); and shortly after Jesus quotes verse 22 “The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone”, to the Pharisees in defence of his ministry (see Matthew 21:42).

Verse 24 says “This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.” It is a prophetic verse that looked forward to the coming of the Messiah, and the impact this will have on all humanity. Throughout the Old Testament, God promised believers that a day will come when they will live again in a new better world.

The death and RESURRECTION of Jesus is PROOF that God will keep this promise of a new and better life to all who believe in him. The coming of Jesus to earth is therefore “the day the LORD made for us to rejoice and be glad”, because it is the day God’s promised salvation went from a mere promise to a true fact.

Psalm 118 unique message when it was written in Old Testament times, was that the Messiah will come; the New Testament is proof that the Messiah has come. Let us therefore join the writer of Psalm 118:1 in declaring “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever”, Amen!

 

 

GOODNESS WILL TRIUMPH…

Goodness Triumph
A new earth (Image source: Time Line Bible)

 

Revelation 21:1 (New Living Translation)
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone.

 

In the book of Revelation, Apostle John was given glimpses into the long history of humanity from God’s side or view of things. John saw the great battle between good and evil that started in heaven long long time ago, and continues on the earth today. The end of the book shows God overcoming evil at long last.

Wars leave behind destruction, and at the end of every war there is a need for reconstruction. It is the same with this great war of spirits, being fought in heaven and on the earth. Its caused destruction in heaven and on earth.

We see this destruction on earth through our sick and broken bodies, sick and broken relationships among people, and the many uncaring ways we use resources on earth, leaving our planet sick and broken on land, sea and air.

At the end of the book of Revelation, Apostle John saw God bring total restoration to heaven and earth by creating them anew. Its like a resurrection of not just our bodies but also of our world. The sea, the symbol of the great divisions among people, is gone; this is going to be a new united world; united in love, united in purpose.

We live in an era of war of spirits, with negative consequences on our bodies, relationships, and our world – but the war will come to an expected end; and we will enter into a new day when goodness wins and rule the world.

May we all be blessed to see the day goodness triumphs, and be part of humanity that will live and enjoy the new earth, Amen!     

 

OUR STRONG TOWER IN SEASONS OF MISFORTUNE

Scrabo Tower Northern Ireland (2)
Scrabo Tower Northern Ireland (Image source: Guliolopez)

 

Ecclesiastes 9:11 (King James Bible)
I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

Ecclesiastes 9:11 (Contemporary English Version)
Here is something else I have learned: The fastest runners and the greatest heroes don’t always win races and battles. Wisdom, intelligence, and skill don’t always make you healthy, rich, or popular. We each have our own share of misfortune.

 

Our skills, talents and gifts, will bring opportunities our way, but are not assurances that at the end of the day we will have successful careers or successful lives. We all will go through seasons of troubles, seasons of misfortune. How then can we travel through life such that seasons of misfortune don’t destroy all that we have worked for?

We can be like the ant that never fails to store food in the summer in preparation for winter (see Proverbs 6:6-8); in addition we should never fail to pray against misfortune that would be too much for us to cope with (see Luke 11:4).

Above all, our confidence to live successful lives should not be anchored in our talents and gifts, but in Yahweh because: Proverbs 18:10 (Contemporary English Version) – The LORD is a mighty tower where his people can run for safety.

May the Lord protect and bless us, such that our ‘time and chance’ are more about opportunities and progress, rather than misfortune and loss, Amen!

EAT, DRINK AND ENJOY LIFE!

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Ndolé Camerounais – delicacy prepared with Vernonia bitter leaves (Image: PRA Wikimedia)

 

Ecclesiastes 8:15 (New Living Translation) – So I recommend having fun, because there is nothing better for people in this world than to eat, drink, and enjoy life. That way they will experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives them under the sun.

 

King Solomon gave us the book of Proverbs and the book of Ecclesiastes. While Proverbs is full of wisdom for success in work and relationships written in a warm and enthusiastic style, Ecclesiastes on the other hand seems cold, a bit harsh and dismissive, of the value of strong desires to do or achieve things.

In Ecclesiastes, Solomon counsels readers, and especially super-ambitious people, that all our efforts are ‘vanity’ or ‘meaningless’ (as used in some Bible translations) ‘under the sun’ – meaning in the long span of time and history of the earth.

Proverbs inspires strong focus on work, strategic thinking, and very careful planning, Ecclesiastes inspires thinking about what is the most meaningful (the opposite of vanity or meaningless) thing to do while on earth. Thus Solomon encourages us to enjoy the simple things like food and drink and laughter.

Solomon’s answer to what is the most meaningful thing to do while on earth, his capstone message out of the fullness of his wisdom, are his very last words in Ecclesiastes 12:13-14: “That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty. God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.”

As we enjoy our work, our relationships, our money, our travels and adventures, our food and drink, let’s not forget that the most meaningful thing is our relationship with Yahweh. This is the only thing that is not ‘under the sun’, its the only investment that yields a good return when our time on earth is over.

Lord, help us to have and enjoy our daily portion of food and drink, but most importantly teach us to know you for real, Amen!  

SUPPLICATION – KEY TO PRAYER

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Pray with humility (Image source: PEXELS)  

 

Philippians 4:6 (King James Bible) – Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

Philippians 4:6 (Weymouth New Testament Bible) – Do not be over-anxious about anything, but by prayer and earnest pleading, together with thanksgiving, let your request be unreservedly made known in the presence of God.

 

Google online dictionary explains supplication to mean ‘the action of asking or begging for something earnestly or humbly.’ It goes on to show other words like ‘petition‘ which may have similar meaning. Thus in many Bible translations they prefer to use ‘petition‘ in the place of ‘supplication‘ in Philippians 4:6.

However, in many places, people commonly understand ‘petition’ to mean to complain about something, or to demand that those in authority take action to correct a problem. ‘Petition’ to many people, does not mean to ask humbly; so the full understanding of Philippians 4:6, to pray earnestly and humbly to God, is lost.

We see a great example of earnest humble pleading in the case of the roadside blind beggar Bartimaeus, in Mark 10:46-52. When he heard that Jesus was passing the Jericho road, he started screaming “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Even when the crowd told him to shut up, he persisted, Jesus heard, and mercifully healed him.

As we pray to God, earnestly – persistently, and with sincere humility, may he be merciful, and answer us generously, in Jesus name, Amen!

GOD’S TRACK RECORD OF CARE AND COMFORT

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God Cares (Image source: Gayle McMillan)

Psalm 46:1-3 (New Living Translation)

God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge!

 

It is no news that life is tough for everyone in different ways; for both rich and poor; and for all groups of people no matter where they come from. Thus, the sons of Korah who wrote Psalm 46 proclaim that God is ‘always ready to help… [even] when earthquakes come’; even when unforeseen big big troubles come our way.

This Psalm is believed to have been written when Israel’s neighbors (and blood cousins) Moab, Ammon, and Edom ganged up to utterly destroy Israel as documented in 2 Chronicles 20:1-30, during the reign of Jehoshaphat king of Judah. Israel was deeply afraid of this vast army but God intervened in power and gave them victory.

There are many episodes like this in the history of Israel. Why are they reported in the Bible? They are in scripture as a testimony, as a track record of God’s powerful care and comfort to all who call on him in faith and hope.

Troubles will not go away, neither will the God who cares quit caring. I pray that Yahweh, the God of heaven and earth, will speedily help you in times of trouble, be it an earthquake or a flood, in Jesus name, Amen!    

HOPE FOR A BETTER LIFE

Swords to Plowshares
Swords into Plowshares (Image slide: Published by Edgar Henry)

 

Matthew 6:10 (New Living Translation) – May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.

 

In teaching his followers how to pray, Jesus asked them to begin not with their physical needs, but with a request to God to come and rule the earth. Jesus therefore asked his followers to pray ‘May your kingdom come soon.’

As Jews, the kingdom of God was good news, because the book of the Prophet Isaiah explains that the rule of God on earth, will bring peace on earth, will bring prosperity and abundance for everyone, and will bring justice and fairness.

We read for example in Isaiah 9:6 (New Living Translation) – For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

We also read about how life will be when God rules the earth in Isaiah 11:8 (New Living Translation) – The baby will play safely near the hole of a cobra. Yes, a little child will put its hand in a nest of deadly snakes without harm.

While there have been many outstanding men and women leaders on earth from the past to the present, there have also been many brutal dictators. While life on earth has been excellent for a few, it has been a struggle for the greater majority of people. The Biblical solution is – may your Kingdom O God come soon.

As we work hard in our daily jobs, as we responsibly care for our families, and extend a helping hand to our friends, neighbors and communities, lets also pray often – may your Kingdom come soon, merciful and gracious God, Amen!