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Choosing to Praise God

December 29, 2023

Today we continue with the second half of Psalm 148 – verses 7-14. In this section, the Psalmist summons earthly praise from all who dwell here in the earthly realm. In the same way that “the sun, moon, and shining stars” exalt and honor their Creator from the “highest heavens” (cf., verses 3-4), all creatures bound to this planet are given the imperative to “praise the LORD” (verse 7). Notice: “sea creatures; the ocean depths; lightning, hail, snow, and clouds; stormy winds, mountains, hills, trees, wild animals, birds … and kings, princes, rulers … young men and maidens; old men and children” – all – “Let them praise the LORD” (verses 7-14). Nothing is omitted, thus everything in God’s creation has the natural capacity to glorify its Creator. If we possess that ability, then let us choose to praise God and fulfill the purpose for which we exist.

In Revelation 19:11-21, we come to the end of the tribulation and the end of time as we know it here on earth. With verse 11, we see the unmistakable second coming of Christ – “the rider on a white horse whose name is Faithful and True – THE KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS” (cf., verses 11-16). Thus begins the culmination of all things (cf., Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21; Romans 10:4; 1 Corinthians 10:11; 1 Peter 4:7; Revelation 21). In verses 17-21, we see the last futile attempt of the Antichrist and the false prophet “to make war against” Jesus Christ, but the two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur” (verses 19-20), followed by the Lord’s destruction “by sword” [i.e., His Word] of “the rest of them” (i.e., their armies]; (cf., verse 21). In the next chapter, we will see the capture and incarceration of Satan.

In Nehemiah 9:1-37, we see the “gathering together” of the exiles, both Israelites and foreigners, to “praise the LORD” and to “confess their sins” (verses 1-5) – for “two quarters of a day.” Shebaniah and Pethahiah, two Levites, called upon the people “to stand,” while they prayed - one of the most incredible prayers recorded in Scripture. This prayer creatively exemplifies how we can praise God - even through our trials and difficulties. It summarizes the entire history of Israel and its national sins up to the time of Nehemiah. Moreover, it reveals by confession the predicament in which the nation still found itself at that point in time. Notice the summary of verses 36-37: “We are slaves today … because of our sins … we are in great distress.” From this summary, we should follow the rationale and learn the heavy price that sin exacts from us – it enslaves us and places us in great distress.

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