PSALMS 112:1 – 114:8 and EPHESIANS 1:1–23
This Psalm is a celebration of the upright; the blessings that come to those who walk in the Fear of the Lord. We see similar blessings mentioned in Deu 28:1-14 at the time when the Lord was speaking through Moses concerning the keeping of His laws. We do well to take note of these exhortations and seek not to make the same mistakes that Israel made at their defining moment. In verse 1 we see the foundations of what constitutes a close walk with the Lord; the walking in the Fear of the Lord. It is the foundation of wisdom, understanding and knowledge. These are the qualities that Daniel and his three friends had at the time of their defining moment. They each had purposeful intent of heart in seeking the Lord while abstaining from the rudiments of the world (Dan 1:8,12). This is one of the keys in coming into this level of relationship with God. They had something that no one else had and it was required due to the pressures and challenges of their day. It is no different today. It is not only pleasing the Lord with our actions but it includes our words and thoughts as well. This will help to keep us in alignment with His will and purposes.
In verses 2-3 we see the blessing that comes upon both the natural and spiritual seed of those who walk in obedience. It is a blessing that carries through unto eternity. It is to those who delight in His Word and seek to walk in His ways. This was the cry of Moses as he came into a deeper and more intimate relationship with God. As the days pass by we will either grow in our love for God or become casual and indifferent. This results from making allowances for other loves to enter into our heart. If God is not the primary focus in our life the result will be a heart that seeks co-existence with other loves. These other loves will serve as a breeding ground that will attract the attention of the antichrist spirit. We need to cry out to be apprehended by the Fear of the Lord. One of the added blessings of the righteous will be the light that comes their way in the darkness. The Bible speaks of gross darkness covering the earth in the last days but there will be a light that shines forth upon God’s people. This light will help to bring perspective to others who are wallowing in the unknown. Let’s consider what Daniel had to say on this matter:
“And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.” (Dan 12:3)
In verse 5 the blessings that come upon those who give is highlighted. The Apostle Paul spoke in how the Lord takes delight in those who give with cheerfulness. God promises throughout His Word that those who give and bless others will be taken care of. The generous of heart are also those who receive promotions from the Lord. A cheerful heart that looks to meet the needs of others is something that God highly esteems and takes note of. It is not just the giving of finance but can also be time given to help or serve the needs of others. This is the nature of God and He marks those who seek to emulate this attribute.
There are times when the righteous go through shakings and trials but there is an appointed end. It is important that we seek God’s help in maintaining a steadfast heart. It is also at such times when one can experience the Peace of God. It is such a precious treasure especially when everything around us may be crumbling and falling apart. The Lord exhorts us to call unto Him and He will answer; He will reveal unto His own the abundance of Peace and Truth in time of need. (Jer 33:3, 6)
The Lord emphasizes through this psalm that the end of the matter will always be good to those who seek after Him. Our walk with God will experience times of testing and it will require an ability of fixing our heart and minds upon Him. We need to develop a proactive approach in anticipating enemy attacks upon our minds and spirit. This was one of the keys to success for Nehemiah. He knew God’s Word; its history and prophetic course. He understood the tactics of the enemy and positioned himself accordingly. At the same time he carried on with the work in undaunted fashion. He is a model leader for the days in which we live.
This Psalm as well as Psalms 114-118 have come to be known as the Hallelujah Psalms. The word Hallelujah can be translated “Praise the Lord” and it is a term that is used periodically through the above mentioned Psalms. At the time of the Passover there were songs that Jesus and the disciples sang in the upper room. In actuality these songs were Psalms (This event is referred to in Mt. 26:30, Mk 14:26). It is believed that Psalm 113 and 114 were sung before the meal at the Passover while Psalm 115-118 were Psalms that were sung afterwards. If true it is then interesting to note these Psalms so as to catch the mood of Jesus as He was drawing nearer to the Cross. This Psalm has been divided into 3 sets of stanzas each comprised of 3 verses. They can be broken down as follows:
1) The four-fold call to praise
2) The exalted Lord
3) God exalts the lowly
In verses 1-3 there is a triple command to praise the Lord. Yes, I have to say it again but here is another old charismatic song that we used to sing. In fact, there are two different versions in which this song was song. There is meaning to praising the Lord from the rising of the sun to its setting down; it says something about the way we live and how we view God. This was a mind-set that no doubt helped to prepare the Lord for what was to come. It is not a selective form of worship but one that has the Lord front and center in all areas of life. This thought of continual praise is repeated in Malachi (Mal 1:11).
In verses 4-6 we see the Lord high and lifted up above the earth and His glory filling the heavens. It almost sounds like the testimony of Stephen as he was about to be stoned for his testimony (Acts 7). Stephen looked up and saw the Lord seated at the right hand of the Father as he was about to be executed. As believers in the last days it will be critical in being able to see the Lord above all things. The opening words of the Lord’s Prayer are an acknowledging that we come before a God who is in heaven above all things. Jesus and His disciples sang songs that placed God high and exulted above all things. This is comforting to know for those who are going through extreme pain and suffering; it is a perspective that will help hold many steady in times of trial. Jesus as the Son of man had the ability to place the will of His Father above His own (Lk 22:42). The result was the fulfilment of Jesus being the sacrificial lamb for sin; the plan that the Father authored before the foundations of the world (Rev 13:8).
In verses 7-9 we see the Lord’s concern for those who are poor and destitute. Some of the greatest men and women of scripture as well as ordinary people from life have become powerful witnesses and testimonies of God’s favour after coming from “dunghill” type backgrounds. Consider the birth of Christ and His upbringing as the Son of man. This is the greatness of God in how He can take someone from such poor circumstances to positions of prominence. We have seen this in small measures involving some of the Indian children we have had the privilege of overseeing through the years. The children came from the poorest of districts in one of the most backward of Indian states. The Lord began to move and touch them at a young age and through the years helped to position them to have influence that went far beyond their surroundings. We believe in the days to come that several of them will make their mark on the kingdom on a much larger scale to the glory of God. These three points of note from this Psalm help to give a well-rounded approach in serving the Lord in these last days.
This Psalm is a reflection of what happened to nature at the time when God brought forth Israel from Egypt. We see many instances in scripture where the earth is affected by significant events that take place. The earth reels like a drunkard when sin and iniquity abound. When sin is released in its fullness it throws the earth out of balance due to the prescribed order that God has given to it. Perhaps this is why there are increases of earthquakes and volcanic activity. We also see significant changes in weather activity as well as changes in the oceanic temperatures. When God brought forth His people out of Egypt there was an effect upon nature.
In verse 1-2 Israel came forth from a people they had served under for a number of years. They were a people of a different language and culture. The Lord knows the difficulties associated with such experiences and is able to minister to those who go through them. It is a time when one can draw very near to the Lord.
In verses 3-8 we see a powerful demonstration of the power of God. We hear of such accounts but have yet to see anything resembling its grandeur. God spoke the worlds into existence so it should be little wonder that the earth would respond when He moves in power. We see a similar description of God’s power through His voice in Psalm 29. When Moses stretched forth His Rod to part the Red Sea he was responding to the “faith” that was appropriated for its parting. Moses was an instrument of obedience to God’s ordained deliverance. It is a picture and foretaste of what it will be like in the last days. The Bible is explicit in its detail as to what will happen when the Lord places His feet upon Mt. Sinai at the time of the 2nd coming. The mountains will give way while the waters gush forth out of Jerusalem.
Zec 14:4 And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.
Remember, this was one of the Psalms sung just prior to the time of Jesus death at the Cross. His death certainly caused all of nature to respond in unique ways. God is providing the church of the last days with an awesome responsibility and privilege. It is imperative that we align ourselves with God and with what He is doing otherwise we will end up on the wrong side of history. The Church of God is moving and is about to pick up added momentum. Are we on-board?
The city of Ephesus was strategically located about 4 miles from the Aegean Sea. Its location afforded Ephesus a prestige and influence in its early years. The 7 churches of Revelation were all in proximity to this region. The Book of Ephesians was one of the prison epistles written by Paul during his first Roman imprisonment. He also penned the epistles of Colossians, Philippians and Philemon at this time as well. The Ephesian Epistle has the themes of grace, love and power flowing throughout its pages. It depicts Christ as the warrior king while at the same time providing insights as to how we can become His warrior bride. This epistle has much to say concerning the foundations of strong marriages which help to equip couples to be strong in their homes and communities. This church had considerable revelation seeing that the Apostle Paul spent about three years in their midst (Acts 19). Can you imagine what it would be like to sit under a man like Paul for several years? That is the kind of Bible School I would like to attend.
Paul introduces himself as an Apostle by the will of God. This was not a title he assumed; he knew that God had called him to his work and mission. We must never forget that it is God who created us and it is only through coming to know and doing His will that we can find true pleasure and satisfaction. One of the more significant problems seen in today’s world is that we allow society and culture to define us. This causes people to pursue and run after things that God did not intend for them. It is a tragedy to strive for and obtain something that in the end does not bring fulfilment. It is far worse coming to the end of one’s life only to discover that all that was achieved has no eternal significance, if it has been done outside the will of God. The ultimate tragedy is coming to the end of life and never accepting Jesus as Lord and Saviour into one’s life. There is order to God’s creation and His purposes. Paul knew his calling and could state boldly his authority as an apostle; unlike many today who presume titles and calling that God has not given or that they have not qualified for. God called the Lord Jesus before the foundation of the world and it is true of us (Rev 13:8). The Lord foreknew each of us before the worlds were created. The key is having an intimate relationship with Jesus so that we can come more and more into that place of discovery as to who we are in Him. This is when the satisfaction and fulfilment comes. What has He called us to and what is it we are to do? He has called us to holiness and to live blameless lives before Him. It is a high calling and one that requires a price. There is a provision of grace made available but it must be appropriated. This is what is required of us. God brings forth the grace; it is His enablement but we must choose to come to its throne (Heb 4:16). This is why it is essential that we can properly define what grace is and what it is not. This is the problem we see in much of Christianity today. We see grace being totally misrepresented resulting in the propagating of dangerous false teaching.
Paul continues to speak on the theme of grace in verse 6-7. It is by the grace of God that we are saved and by grace that we are forgiven of sins through His shed blood. It is not just a once for all appropriation but one obtained as we learn to walk in light (1 John 1:7). In learning and desiring to walk in the light we grow in wisdom and prudence. The Lord reveals his truths in accordance to our level of comprehension. As we seek to know more of Him we grow in our ability to receive wisdom. The reverse is also true; in lightly regarding the things of God we will find ourselves deficient in many areas. Grace is available but it must be appropriated as we learn to walk in the light.
In verses 11-12 Paul emphasizes that we have been predestinated according to His purpose and will. We are created for His praise and glory and we enter into this blessing as we learn to come into His aligned plan for our lives. There is available grace to fulfil all that God has predestinated for us to do. Our part is to come into that place of intimacy so that we can discover who we are and what God has called for us to do. The sequence for learning to come into this place of discovery is revealed in verse 13. First it is to hear the Word of Truth, Second it is to Trust Christ for salvation and third is to be born again and filled with the Spirit. If we learn to walk in these practical steps it will result in our ability to be led of the Spirit into all Truth (Joh 16:13).
Another practical truth that often gets overlooked is in being thankful (vs 16). A consistent attitude of thanksgiving does something to the heart. It also communicates something precious to the Lord as well. It recognizes God as being sovereign in all things. It should also be noted as to what happens when there is unthankfulness. It too affects the heart but in an adverse way. Unthankfulness is often the first step taken on the road to backsliding (Rom 1:21). A thankful and joyous spirit is one of the best medicines for our heart. It keeps our heart tender and pliable and able to receive the sown seeds of God’s Word.
In verse 17 we see Paul’s desire in wanting to see the Ephesian church grow in wisdom and knowledge. This is one of the desires of the Lord for the church of the last days. Wisdom and knowledge are to be the stability of our times (Isa 33:6). It is the kind of wisdom that sustained nations during the time of Joseph and the manner of wisdom that was required in the days of Daniel. If it was needed at those times then how much more are they needed today? The Lord Jesus Christ defeated the enemy at the Cross and yet he still exists some 2000 years later. Why is this? Is it possible that God is affording the church the same opportunity to do the same to the works of the enemy? Is it possible that the warrior king depicted in this epistle is a picture of what the church is called to; to be a warrior bride that will conquer the works of the devil in the last days? Is it possible that the wisdom, knowledge and empowerment that Jesus came to know through the Spirit is also being made available to the last day church? I would say a hearty YES to all questions but the questions still remains; will we hear and will we appropriate the grace that God has made available? The balance of this letter will help to show us how.