Monday, May 14, 2012


Exalt the Lord our God; bow in worship at His holy mountain, for the Lord our God is holy.” (Psalm 99:9 HCSB)

Today’s reading calls on us to worship the King of kings and Lord of lords.  We bow at His throne and rejoice in His righteous reign.  Psalms 97-99 focus our attention on the kingdom of God—His past sufficiency, His present sovereignty and His promised supremacy.  We are reminded that there has never been a time when God did not reign.  Although His dominion is challenged today, it has never been credibly threatened.  We need that reminder, since we are often overwhelmed by the evil which seems so strong.  God isn’t worried—and we shouldn’t be either!  There is coming a glorious day when all who defy Him will be crushed, and His will shall be done on earth, at it is in heaven!

Psalm 97 calls us to worship THE KING IN HIS GLORY.

“The heavens proclaim His righteousness; all the peoples see His glory.” (Psalm 97:6)

The sovereignty of God is a fundamental tenet of true faith.  The ninety-seventh Psalm begins with this dogmatic declaration, “The Lord reigns! Let the earth rejoice;
let the many coasts and islands be glad.”  (Ps.97:1)  No matter our circumstances, we can rejoice today that our God reigns.  It is an unalterable fact.

So, why does it sometimes seem that things are out of control, if He is in control?  With that sovereignty, there is an element of mystery, “Clouds and thick darkness surround Him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.” (Ps.97:2)  

There are dimensions of His decisions that lie beyond the realm of our understanding.  When we try to neatly package all that God decrees and all that he does in a tidy little box, we find it won’t fit.  God transcends our thinking.  But, while we do not always understand His ways, we are assured they are always righteous and just.  These are foundational pillars of His kingdom.

While there is a degree of mystery concerning God’s sovereignty, we can affirm His majesty. 

Fire goes before Him and burns up His foes on every side.  His lightning lights up the world; the earth sees and trembles.  The mountains melt like wax at the presence of the Lord--at the presence of the Lord of all the earth.” (Ps.97:3-5)   

In the song, “How Great Thou Art,” there is a line, “When I look out on lofty, mountain grandeur…” and having lived in these North Carolina mountains for most of my life, I know what that means.  The views can be breath-taking—yet, those massive peaks melt away before the majesty of our great God!

The sovereignty of God speaks of mystery, majesty and authority.

“The heavens proclaim His righteousness; all the peoples see His glory.  All who serve carved images, those who boast in idols, will be put to shame.  All the gods must worship Him.  Zion hears and is glad, and the towns of Judah rejoice because of Your judgments, Lord.  For You, Lord, are the Most High over all the earth; You are exalted above all the gods.  You who love the Lord, hate evil!  He protects the lives of His godly ones;  He rescues them from the power of the wicked.  Light dawns for the righteous, gladness for the upright in heart.  Be glad in Yahweh, you righteous ones, and praise His holy name.” (Ps.97:6-12). 
The glory which fills the heavens will one day flood the earth.  His authority will be absolute; His dominion universal.  We are ever to live in expectation of this coming Kingdom.
Have you ever heard the expression, “They are so heavenly-minded, they are of no earthly good”?  The statement is nonsense.  Those who are most fervent in serving God on earth are driven by their accountability in eternity before the Great Judge.  Far from being an exercise in theological debate, it is an inspiring principle with practical implications.  Peter makes this moral connection clear:

“But the Day of the Lord will come like a thief; on that [day] the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, the elements will burn and be dissolved, and the earth and the works on it will be disclosed.  Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, [it is clear] what sort of people you should be in holy conduct and godliness as you wait for and earnestly desire the coming of the day of God. The heavens will be on fire and be dissolved because of it, and the elements will melt with the heat.  But based on His promise, we wait for the new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness will dwell. Therefore, dear friends, while you wait for these things, make every effort to be found at peace with Him without spot or blemish.” (2 Peter 3:10-14 HCSB)

Psalm 98 calls us to worship THE KING IN HIS VICTORY.

Sing a new song to the Lord, for He has performed wonders; His right hand and holy arm have won Him victory. The Lord has made His victory known; He has revealed His righteousness in the sight of the nations.  He has remembered His love and faithfulness to the house of Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen our God's victory.” (Ps.98:1-3)

Our songs today express faith in the Kingdom to come, but our songs that Day will exclaim fulfillment of the Kingdom that has come.  The covenant-making God will be seen as the covenant-keeping God, faithful to His promise.  In the end, we win!  Neither will it be much of a fight.  Jesus will ride down from the clouds with heaven’s legions at His command.  He will open His mouth, and with that, all His foes will perish by the sword that proceeds from His mouth—His powerful word (see Revelation 19:11-21).

Our songs today are often tinged with sorrow, in a creation under the curse of sin and death, but our music when Christ returns will be unrestrained joy, in a new creation where the curse is reversed, and death is swallowed up by life.

“Shout to the Lord, all the earth; be jubilant, shout for joy, and sing.  Sing to the Lord with the lyre, with the lyre and melodious song.  With trumpets and the blast of the ram's horn shout triumphantly in the presence of the Lord, our King.  Let the sea and all that fills it, the world and those who live in it, resound.  Let the rivers clap their hands; let the mountains shout together for joy before the Lord, for He is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world righteously and the peoples fairly.” (Ps.98:4-9)

Psalm 99 calls us to worship THE KING IN HIS PURITY.

“Exalt the Lord our God; bow in worship at His holy mountain, for the Lord our God is holy.” (Ps.99:9)

Our current world is marked by injustice and unrighteousness.  Yet, Scripture assures us, this is an aberration.  God’s intention is that the coming world be characterized by justice and righteousness.  That is God’s very nature and will be seen in His Kingdom.  We have many complaints about human government today—and rightly so.  But, there is a future fixed where God governs and all will be perfect and pure.  Three times, the command is given for the people of God to exalt Him.

We exalt the Lord, for even in this current age, He is exerting His will. 

“The Lord reigns! Let the peoples tremble.  He is enthroned above the cherubim.  Let the earth quake.  Yahweh is great in Zion; He is exalted above all the peoples.” (Ps.99:1-2). 

There is evil in this world—who can deny it?  But, it is comforting to know that Satan can do no more than God allows and if He allows the Wicked One freedom to pursue his malicious acts, the Sovereign God turns it ultimately to His glory and our good.  Irrespective of the one who sits in the White House, remember the One who sits on the White Throne!  All things are moving inexorably to His eternal purpose.

We exalt the Lord for His greatness as we humbly bow before Him.

“Let them praise Your great and awe-inspiring name.  He is holy.  The mighty King loves justice.  You have established fairness; You have administered justice and righteousness in Jacob.  Exalt the Lord our God; bow in worship at His footstool.  He is holy.”  (Ps.99:3-5).

Paradise was lost when the first Adam decided he wanted to be in charge.  Paradise will be restored when the last Adam—Jesus Christ—takes the reins. Paul speaks of this in 1 Corinthians 15:

But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also comes through a man.  For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.  But each in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits; afterward, at His coming, those who belong to Christ.  Then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to God the Father, when He abolishes all rule and all authority and power.  For He must reign until He puts all His enemies under His feet.  The last enemy to be abolished is death.  For God has put everything under His feet. But when it says ‘everything’ is put under Him, it is obvious that He who puts everything under Him is the exception.  And when everything is subject to Christ, then the Son Himself will also be subject to the One who subjected everything to Him, so that God may be all in all….So it is written: The first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam became a life-giving Spirit.   However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, then the spiritual.  The first man was from the earth and made of dust; the second man is from heaven.  Like the man made of dust, so are those who are made of dust; like the heavenly man, so are those who are heavenly.  And just as we have borne the image of the man made of dust, we will also bear the image of the heavenly man.” (v.20-28, 45-49)

We exalt the Lord for His righteous deeds and dominion.

“Moses and Aaron were among His priests; Samuel also was among those calling on His name.  They called to Yahweh and He answered them.  He spoke to them in a pillar of cloud; they kept His decrees and the statutes He gave them.  Lord our God, You answered them. You were a forgiving God to them, an avenger of their sinful actions. Exalt the Lord our God; bow in worship at His holy mountain, for the Lord our God is holy.” (99:6-9).

Bow before Him; worship His majesty!

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