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Standing on Shaky Ground

December 16, 2023

Today we come to Psalm 143 - a prayer - in which David cries out to the LORD on the singular basis of His divine nature (i.e., His faithfulness, His righteousness, and His unfailing love). The Psalmist cries out for God’s “mercy and relief from [the] judgment of his enemies” (verses 1-3). David recognizes and confesses that “no one living is righteous.” Apart from God’s own unique characteristics, no salvation could ever be obtained by anyone. David’s enemies have “pursued him, crushed him, and made him to dwell in darkness” (verse 3), but David has placed “his trust in the LORD.” David trusts in the One Who, “for the sake of His name, His faithfulness, His righteousness, His unfailing love, and His promises, rescues and preserves the life of His servants” (verses 2-12). When “our spirits fail” and we find ourselves “in trouble,” we need to do what David did - “cry out” to the LORD for “His mercy and relief.” God desires to deliver us from our troubles and to lift our spirits.

We come to Revelation 6, where we see the “Lamb opens” the first six of the seven seals. Here, as the first four seals are opened, we see the respective emergence of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse and the general events that relate to their appearing - conquest, war, economic disaster, and death in the form of sword, famine, and plague. These events do not represent a pleasant future for unregenerate man. The fifth seal is associated with the saints who have previously been martyred for Christ and their call for justice - which the Lord will mete out “after a little longer” (verse 11) - in His proper time. The sixth seal relates to cataclysmic disasters in both the heavens and the earth. These disasters will fundamentally alter everything recognizable to human beings. Until now, God has been merciful toward man’s sinful disposition, but the full unleashing of God’s wrath, as expressed through these initial tribulation seals, will come fast and furious - to such an extent - that people will be overcome by them and pray “to the mountains and the rocks to fall on them and hide them from God’s face” (verse 16). Sin is so deeply rooted in human nature that, under God’s direct judgment, mankind will still – like Adam and Eve - run and hide from God rather than receive His tender loving forgiveness.

In Malachi 1-2:16, we see here in the last book of the Old Testament, God’s exhortation to the people of Israel to recognize His unfailing love for them and to see their ongoing contempt for His love and His laws. By now, Israel should have learned from Esau’s example. Esau was faithless and godless (cf., Heb 12:16-17). After all God had done historically for Israel – the exile is over and now they are back in their land – the people have become as guilty of the same sins as Esau - contempt, complacency, pride, scorn, and breaking God’s covenant. We notice Israel’s audacious and arrogant response – reminiscent of Esau - to the Lord upon His claim to love Israel: They say, “How have you loved us?” The statement is so absurd, and God is so offended by it that He tells them, “Why don’t you just close the temple doors?” (verse 10). No nation has ever enjoyed so much of the Lord’s favor while standing on such shaky and dangerous ground.

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