Psalm 96 Praise and Proclamation
When two-year-old Hakani did not walk or talk, the leaders of her tribe ordered her parents to kill her.
The leaders’ decision reflected a belief common among several Indian tribes in the Amazon that children with physical defects have no soul and should be put down as a deformed or sick animal would be.
Rather than murder their daughter, Hakani’s mother and father committed suicide.
Hakani’s teenage brother inherited the leaders’ brutal order and attempted to follow it, knocking his sister out with a machete. But she woke up as she was being buried, and he couldn’t bring himself to try again.
Hakani’s grandfather shot his granddaughter with an arrow, then was so grieved that he tried to kill himself.
Wounded by her grandfather’s arrow, Hakani escaped to the jungle, where she lived like an animal for three years, with her brother smuggling her food.
Ultimately adopted by Marcia and Edson Suzuki, Hakani still was not safe. Authorities in Brazil wanted to prevent the Suzukis, a Brazilian couple who have worked with the tribe for twenty years, from seeking help for the five-year-old out of “respect” for tribal culture.
The official policy of Brazil’s health department has been to “respect the culture of the people,” meaning that children are allowed to be killed with the full knowledge of the government.
Dozens of children in the Amazon are killed each year, children like Hakani as well as twins and triplets, who are believed to be cursed.
Activists like the Suzukis are working to counter not only deadly tribal beliefs but also the deadly views of bureaucrats and academics.
Echoing the official government response, one anthropology professor at a university in the Amazon epitomizes the view common among anthropologists: “This is their way of life and we should not judge them on the basis of our values. The difference between the cultures should be respected.”
*Is culture morally neutral? Is there truly no objective reality against which to measure a culture’s beliefs and practices?
*Hakani’s mother and father knew better…they took their own lives rather than accept the demands of their own culture.
*Hakani’s brother and grandfather judged their culture’s way of life and came to their own conclusion.
*To do so they did not have to consult an outside culture’s values, and as outsiders we are not meant to judge their people on the basis of our values.
*Rather they and we can make a judgment based on the values that flow from Reality itself.
Miller, Darrow; Newton, Marit (2012-10-11). LifeWork: A Biblical Theology for What You Do Every Day (Kindle Locations 1986-1991). YWAM Publishing. Kindle Edition.
*So does it matter who or what is ultimate reality…does epistemology (how we know what is real and true?) matter?
Culture: Henry Van Till said that “Culture is religion externalized.”
*At its heart, a culture is a product of a people’s civic religion. It is a reflection of the god they worship.
*Augustine said that culture is not a reflection of a people’s race, ethnicity, politics, language or heritage. Rather it is an outworking of a people’s creed (worldview). In other words, culture is a temporary manifestation of a people’s faith.
*If a culture begins to change, its not primarily because of fads, fashions, or the passing of time…it is because of a shift in worldview…a change of faith.
*Augustine recognized that a people’s dominate worldview shapes the world they have in view (we see out there, what we are seeing in here)
*We can easily see this in our modern-day world. The Taliban in Afghanistan created a society that reflected their worship.
*Likewise, the USA’s popular culture is a reflection of the materialistic ideals of a secular belief system…we worship pleasure, stuff, health, and self.
*If you proclaim the good news of the gospel.
*What is it, exactly you are claiming?
*That your particular culture is best or better than another?
*That a certain way of life is preferential?
*That you are better than them?
*That they primarily need to change their activities and behavior?…read different spiritual literature, attend worship services, stop cussing, drinking, etc.
*What exactly is the good news we are proclaiming?
What are the implications?
*Christianity is not a proclamation of western civilization…even through Western Civilization is rooted in a Christian worldview.
*The gospel took root in the Middle East…spread by the Holy Spirit, using human proclamation throughout the world.
*This month we are looking at Proclamation from the Psalms…listen to Ps 96
Psa. 96:1 Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth. 2 Sing to the LORD, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. 3 Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. 4 For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. 5 For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens. 6 Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary. 7 Ascribe to the LORD, O families of nations, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. 8 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering and come into his courts. 9 Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth. 10 Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns.” The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity. 11 Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it; 12 let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy; 13 they will sing before the LORD, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his truth.
*Here is where we are going to today…our map
- The Bible (the human history it explains ) is a single story…the Gospel story
- The Gospel is for all people, everywhere
- The Gospel is the righteousness of God
The Bible (Human history) is a single story…the Gospel
The “new song” the Psalmist writes about is a fresh declaration of God’s character and activity.
*Not a new religion, or new worldview…not even a new idea.
*But a fresh expression of an ancient worldview.
- Praise his name (bless…his (name) character…his moral beauty)
- Proclaim his salvation (“announce good news” of his saving work)
- Declare his glory (Tell of his power, his activity, holiness)
*The “new song” is not “my experience” vs. “your experience”…it is a personal proclamation of who God is and what he has done…an always fresh expression of salvation.
*The gospel is a specific claim based on events that happened in space and time…on a certain day in a certain place…Jesus died on a cross.
*Another day, in another place…Jesus rose from the dead.
*That is what happened…we could have seen that with our eyes.
*But what it means…God had to tell us.
*It means…that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.
*The Psalms…full of emotion, personal experience…are rooted in historical space and time…not merely someone’s subjective experience.
*I saw Matt Damon (aka Jason Bourne) being interviewed about a conversation with Prince, who died earlier this year.
*Damon “Do you still live in Minnesota?”
*Prince “I live inside my mind Matt Damon.”
*Damon thought it was the coolest answer possible.
*But as cool as it sounds…how did it work out for Prince to live that way?
*Prince lived in his own mind…but he died alone of a drug overdose in large house in Minn.
*Living entirely in the land of subjectivity is deadening for our souls.
*What we feel, think, want to be true is not as important as what is actually real.
*The Psalmist are full of personal laments, praise, questions, confessions…but they are tied to God’s works (activities) in human history as he interprets them through his spoken and written word that leads us to a specific way of living in his world.
*Interpreted in God’s word
*That are meant to be fleshed out by us in God’s world.
*The whole Christian faith rests not on our collective feelings, experiences, or moral sentiments but on the public announcement that God has acted in history to save us from sin and death. Horton, Michael
*It is important that we see how the Bible is a single story…this is important in order to inspire confidence in its validity and to demonstrate how it has the authority of God to speak to culture…all cultures.
*What we proclaim…speak of…is rooted in the flow of God’s activity in human history.
*If we see the Bible as a collection of religiously themed hero stories, or “how to live life principles”, or a devotional guide that is supposed to make us feel a certain way…we will miss the point.
*I grew up hearing Bible stories and sermons but I had no idea how it fit together.
*Much of what I heard of the OT was character sketches…learning life lessons from OT heroes and villains.
*The Bible is the story of Jesus…the gospel…all of it.
“After his resurrection, Jesus met two dejected disciples walking along a road. “He said to them, ‘How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself” (Luke 24: 25– 27). Horton, Michael
*Let’s do an Olympic sprint through the single story of the Bible.
- Adam & Eve:
*God set up a covenant, a treaty, between himself and humanity at creation. He gave Adam only one stipulation of the treaty…don’t eat from that tree.
*The treaty was violated…but even as they paid the penalty…he promised a seed who would one day crush the serpent’s head.
*This seed was Jesus…the gospel was in the first chapters of the Bible.
- Generations pass, depravity multiplies. God starts afresh with a single family. Noah’s
*After the judgment…God swears he will never again bring such a flood.
*This covenant, with Noah, didn’t promise redemption from sin, but rather a stay of execution for humanity.
*Noah’s family, humanity is saved by the Ark…pointing forward to Jesus.
- Years go by, God calls a man named Abram out of moon-worshipping family in Iraq.
*He makes a covenant with him. (Gen 12-17)
*He promises to give him an inheritance…children as numerous as the stars.
*God alone then swore the oath and assumed the sanctions…he was the maker and guarantor of this covenant.
*Years later God provided Isaac as a fulfillment of the promise…then tested Abraham’s loyalty by commanding him to sacrifice Isaac the child of promise.
*At the last minute God provided a ram for the sacrifice…the ram points forward to Jesus.
- God’s promise is passed from Abraham to Isaac and from Isaac to his son Jacob (Gen 28)
- Jacobs 11th son, Joseph is sold into slavery in amazing story…eventually all the family of promise end up in Egypt…they multiply in numbers…and a new King comes to power who doesn’t remember the story of Joseph.
*Now the people of God are slaves
- Hundred of years later the story picks up…Pharaoh (animated by Satan) tries to slow the growth of the people by killing the male children.
*Moses is rescued and grows up to lead the people out of Egypt.
*The people of God are saved on the night of Passover by spreading the blood of a lamb over their doorpost…the symbolism is obvious.
*Moses leads them through the Sinai desert…there God makes a covenant with the nation…Moses is the mediator between God and the people.
*Besides the Ten Commandments…God delivers detailed commands on Israel’s life in the land he was giving them.
*In this Sinai covenant they hear of blood sacrifices, the tabernacle, the danger of God’s holiness…and the need for a mediator greater than Moses…Jesus will be that mediator.
*This covenant promises a land, but it relies on their ability to obey.
*God said “If you…then I”
- Skip ahead to the conquest of Canaan…God’s people inherit the promise given to the Abraham regarding the Land.
*But they fail the Sinai covenant…they break the covenant because they fail to obey and follow God.
*Joshua, the successor of Moses had warned them…that they were not going to be able to keep the covenant…they didn’t have what it takes.
*This, also points forward to the need for the gospel.
- Let’s hit fast forward…
*The Judges are God’s representatives during Israel’s cycles of repentance and rebellion.
- The last judge Samuel…gives them the King they want…Saul, who is a failure, David follows.
*David wanted to build the Temple, the plans of which had been designed and delivered by God to Moses….but he was not allowed.
*Every detail of the Temple collectively pointed to Jesus, the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
*God didn’t allow David to build the Temple…but he gave him something greater…a promise.
*2 Sam. 7:12-16…David’s throne would endure forever..
*David was a mess and his family and personal life was messy…yet God again was gracious.
*Like the promise made to Abraham…God’s oath to David was unbreakable…nothing and no one was going to stop it.
*Abraham…a people as numerous as the stars…reaching all peoples.
*David…his seed would sit on an eternal throne.
*The story of Israel’s Kings is a long story of failure…even the best of the kings failed in the end.
- God’s judgment eventually fell on Israel and the people were sent into exile by the Assyrians.
*About 200 years later the southern Kingdom fell to Babylon
*They had violated the rules of the Sinai covenant…and they lost the land.
*But their ultimate hope was in covenants based entirely on God’s faithfulness not theirs…the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants.
*These held the promise of a new future for God’s people.
- During this time (pre-exile, exile, post-exile) the prophets are the ones who have prominence.
*They speak of God’s judgment as well as God’s new covenant he is initiating.
Jer. 31:31 “The time is coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. 32 It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. 33 “This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34 No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the LORD. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
*This new covenant was not conditional and based on obedience like the Sinai covenant.
*This one was like the one made to Adam and Eve, Abraham, David…its fulfillment depended on God not us.
*Then after the last prophet had spoken and died…there was what is called 400 years of silence.
*Then…The angels break the silence when they proclaim the Savior is coming.
*Gal 4:4 But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, 5 to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. 6 Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.
*Heir to what? The promise…the covenant.
*The Psalms, the Scriptures, human history….are a single story…the Gospel story.
*In Next…our children spend several years going through the Bible learning the single story…its called the Gospel Project.
*They are not learning disconnected hero and villain stories…they are learning the single story of God…how he wants to write them into that story.
*Next year we are going through Romans together…it is the greatest letter ever written…the most comprehensive discussion of the Gospel.
*I’m writing some daily devotions that you can use to follow along as we go…in addition small groups we will be working through Romans together.
*We will immerse ourselves in the greatest, most important story ever told…the one story that makes sense out of all of our stories.
*Let’s move on in our Psalm.
The Gospel is for everyone, everywhere.
*There are lots of gods out there: but one is real.
*The Psalmist said that…
- All the gods of the nations are idols (not real gods)
*There are many religions…there is only one ultimate truth…one God.
- The Lord (Yahweh: Covenant God…promise maker) made the universe…he is the one real God
*Again…The heart of Christianity is a gospel…an announcement of good news.
*The faith comes before our faith.
*The Faith…is Christ has come, Christ has died, Christ has risen.
*At the core of the faith is the objective, historical realities that secure our faith
*The reason for proclamation of his praise…he alone is God, others are fakes…he made the universe…he has redeemed us.
*We do not mock people, cultures, religions…that is wrong…unkind.
*But false gods do not save…they are not real…they have no power.
*So we are not kind to people when we fail to proclaim the one true God.
Jer. 10:2 This is what the LORD says: “Do not learn the ways of the nations or be terrified by signs in the sky, though the nations are terrified by them. 3 For the customs of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. 4 They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter. 5 Like a scarecrow in a melon patch, their idols cannot speak; they must be carried because they cannot walk. Do not fear them; they can do no harm nor can they do any good.” 6 No one is like you, O LORD; you are great, and your name is mighty in power.
*Some say religion is something man invented to explain what he can’t explain or is afraid of.
*Freud said religion is a mental disorder.
*Marx said it’s the drug of the people.
*Here…God says…”don’t learn the ways of those who are terrified by signs in sky.”
*Don’t be superstitious…don’t let your fear drive you to folly…
*The nations make their own gods, dress them up…nail them down so they won’t fall over.
*They are like scarecrows in a melon patch…don’t fear them…they can’t hurt you.
*But don’t rely on them…they can’t help you either.
*Only the Lord, Yahweh…the covenant Lord is great.
*We are not pitting our culture, our religion, our heritage against another’s.
*He is God everywhere, for everyone…he is not on anyone’s side…we can only be on his.
Josh. 5:13 Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” 14 “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?” 15 The commander of the LORD’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.
*Maybe this was the pre-incarnate Jesus…Joshua was told to do what Moses did in the presence of God…take off your sandals.
*Joshua asked “Are you for us or for our enemies?” Good question in that situation.
*The response was…”neither…now pay attention and I’ll tell you what I have decided to do…your job is not to get me on your side…it is to be careful be on my side.”
The Gospel is the righteousness of God.
*The Psalmist ends with the judgment of God and how that is cause for rejoicing.
*Ps 96:10…he will judge the peoples with equity. (no one is going to get ripped off)
*Let the created world rejoice…all that is in it…including people.
13 He will judge the world in righteousness (according to his character and nature…do what is right) and the peoples in his truth.
*How could the Psalmist put judgment and rejoicing together?
*Because God’s judgment is an expression of his character, his nature…we long for justice, we long for moral beauty and clarity.
*This does not mean we rejoice that sinners are going to get what’s coming to them.
Ezek. 18:23 Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?
*So what is the connection between God’s justice and rejoicing?
Is. 53:5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
*We rejoice because Jesus has borne God’s justice for us.
*Martin Luther lived with despair over his own sin and his inability to obey God.
*Then the Spirit opened his eyes as he read Romans 1:17… For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
*How could the righteousness of God be good news?
*It would seem to be bad news that God would judge every sin and sinner…when you see that you are a sinner unable to obey.
*He realized that the “righteousness of God” was not about God’s justice here but his gift.
*The good news is not an agenda to fulfill but an announcement of God’s victory in his Son.
*We have the message that Jesus has taken the judgment of God…this is the cause for singing, rejoicing.
*We live in the already/not yet kingdom of God.
*We live in the flow of history…scripture is complete…the story is not.
*So what should we do in the meantime…the time between advents?
*M. Horton says there have been three answers to this question.
- The first answer is triumphalistic. We are to transform the world into the kingdom of Christ, using all of our wisdom, resources, and efforts to work to make this world a better place, fit for Christ’s return.
- The second answer is defeatist. We are to save souls from the late, great planet earth. The world is going to hell in a hand-basket, so we just need to hang on, grab who we can save, and wait for the end.
- The third answer puts us in a tougher spot, the place of witness. We are to witness to Christ, suffer for that witness, and love and serve our neighbors in our worldly callings…our work a day lives.
*We live a single-story life…we have been written into the single story that is the Gospel…God’s activity throughout human history…activity that is ongoing…around you, around me.
*He has invited to us to be a part…believe, live, proclaim…in the mess that is your life, in the mess that is this world.
*I don’t have time, energy, capacity for anything else.
*There is not room to add activities to my life…I am overwhelmed.
*That is two-story thinking…this is not adding to your life…this is seeing what God is doing and joining him in the activities of your life.
*The mundane, the dull, the overwhelming, the futile…needs to be transformed by seeing where God is at work where you live and join him there.
*Brutal boss, sick kids, mowing grass, working a spreadsheet…this is part of the flow of God in human history…may God help us live awake to him.