Episode 18: Thanksgiving in 2020? A Message from a Psalmist Who Wondered, Too

Episode 18 November 26, 2020 00:24:35
Episode 18: Thanksgiving in 2020? A Message from a Psalmist Who Wondered, Too
Thinking Christian
Episode 18: Thanksgiving in 2020? A Message from a Psalmist Who Wondered, Too

Nov 26 2020 | 00:24:35


Show Notes

Thanksgiving in 2020? You're not the first to wonder about that! I'm right there with you. And without using the year 2020 as the reason, one of the psalmists was, too. Psalm 89 begins with praise and promise, recalling gladly God's covenant to keep the seed of David on the throne of Israel. A great opening! But then takes an abrupt turn to, "But You have cast off and abhorred, You have been furious with your anointed. You have renounced the covenant of Your servant; You have profaned his crown by casting it to the ground." The psalmist is actually charging God with breaking his own promises — and he keeps that charge going all the way to the end of the psalm. No return to praise there. Maybe that was the end of it all? But no, it wasn't. The psalmist asked (vs. 46-48), "how long, Lord?" He even reminded God he was running out of time, as if he were saying, "Look God, if you're going to keep your promise, you'd better start soon!" Sounds familiar, if you ask me. It's hard to hold on, even to the end of 2020, much less until we see God fulfill all we're praying for. How long until we can really give him thanks? The answer, of course, is you can give thanks as soon as you're convinced he's still a faithful God. We see how God answered this psalmist's prayer: Not during the author's lifetime, but that's okay: He knew what he was doing, and the answer he gave is truly magnificent. The Covenant Song snippet in this podcast episode came from a YouTube video by Dale's Bible Week. The song was written by Karen Barrie. If you like the podcast, you'll love A Christian Mind: Thoughts on Life and Truth in Jesus Christ, by Tom Gilson.
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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:08 Welcome to the thinking Christian podcast, your weekly guide to solid Christian thinking on culture science, faith, and Christian confidence hosted by Tom Gilson. Speaker 1 00:00:22 Hello, I'm Tom Gilson for the thinking Christian podcast, recording this on Thanksgiving afternoon. My wife, Sarah works in retail, so she is working this afternoon. We had our main Thanksgiving celebration on Sunday. We had some more similar time together. Last night, we had a great Thanksgiving breakfast and thankfulness prayer remembrance time this morning before she got ready for work. And so now it's my opportunity to talk about Thanksgiving with you. And so thank you for tuning in this is 2020. Oh my goodness. There there've been people wondering, I've seen it. If, if we're even going to have Thanksgiving this year, this is what a year it's, it's been a kick in the teeth for some of us. I know probably some who are listening, have lost family members to COVID or to other diseases or injuries or whatever this year. And what a hard year that has been for you. Speaker 1 00:01:23 Some of you have been sick. Some of you have had really serious financial setbacks and then there's politics. There's an election that's being contested. There's so much unknown, both sides, fear the other winning. And we have no idea what the future's going to hold because we don't know who's going to be leading us in America. At least we don't know what's going to happen with this pandemic. We have hopes for a vaccine. We hope it's safe. We think it is. It'll take a long time before we know if it's safe for the long-term. There's so many questions by colleague of mine, Johns [email protected], where I work at my day job. He wrote an article at the end of January this year saying this has been a rough year. Can we just call it off and start over with 2021? Right now he did that at the end of January. Speaker 1 00:02:16 At the time he was thinking primarily of bushfires, ravaging, Australia, and the impeachment hearings in Washington against president Trump. Think there was one or two other things going on too then, but we had no idea. Then what 2020 was really going to mean at that time he was saying, can we call it off already? What a kick in the teeth this year has been, even for people who haven't suffered incredible loss. My job is a home job. I work from my office at home. My job has not been material effected by this, but I've been isolated. It's been a lonely year. So much less people contact, especially at church. Is there anything to thank God for the answer? Of course is yes, God is always at work, but I want to illustrate this. I want to talk about it from the pages of scripture, from another case, another situation, another person who was experiencing a strong kick in the teeth. Speaker 1 00:03:23 If you haven't read Psalm 89 recently, you're in for kind of a, a shock. There is an incredible shock in the middle of this song. It's a longer song. It's a 52 verses long. The 52nd verse was probably added after the Psalm was written as a close off to book, three of the book of Psalms that's my guests, the first 37 verses are just praise to God and reminding and remembering and enjoying his promises. Especially as promises spoken to King David, it's a marvelous beginning. In fact, when I was a very, very young Christian back in 1975 in campus crusade for Christ student meetings in 100 engineering room at Michigan state university. And we went there once a week for what they call it leadership training classes, but they always started with a worship time. And I remember one song called the covenant song up. I'll play you a snippet of it. Speaker 2 00:04:27 I have made a covenant with my chosen, given my servant my word major and named the last forever. Last call time. I will celebrate your love forever. Yahweh. My words it's built to last and it continues in that vein. This came from a 1981 recording at Dales Bible week, by the way, Speaker 1 00:05:20 Joyful song. It's a song of praise and I was a very young Christian at first. I didn't know it came from Psalm 89. And when I'd started to read, I thought, wow, this just really fits what a celebratory message this is. But then I read the rest of the song. Let me set it up for you in Psalm 89. I'm reading from new King James version. This is my favorite version for the old Testament. I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever with my mouth. While I make known your faithfulness to all generations for, I have said, mercy shall be built up forever. Your faithfulness, you shall establish in the very heavens that's the Psalmist remembering God's mercies and praising him for them. And knowing that his mercy is forever, then he speaks the words of God. These come from basically second, Samuel chapter seven, where God makes a covenant, a charter with David that says, well, here we go. Speaker 1 00:06:20 Verse three of Psalm, 89. God says I have made a covenant with my chosen. I have sworn to my servant, David, your seed. I will establish forever and build up your throne to all generations goes on in the heavens will praise your wonders. A Lord, your faithfulness also in the assembly of the saints, for who in the heavens can be compared to the Lord who among the sons of the mighty can be likened to the Lord. God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints and to be held in reverence by all those around him. And then from there Casandra speak of God's power. Oh Lord, God of hosts who is mighty like you will Lord. Your faithfulness also surrounds you. You rule the raging of the sea when it's waves her eyes, you still them. You have broken rehab in pieces as one who is slain. Speaker 1 00:07:09 You have scattered your enemies with your mighty arm. Oh, it goes on to talk about the strength of his arm and his righteousness and his justice and his mercy and his truth in verse 15, bless it are the people who know the joyful sound. They walk, Oh Lord. In the light of your countenance, there is nothing here, but glorious praise. He goes on. And in verse 19 to, to repeat the promise that God had made to David, and it continues verse 24, my faithfulness and my mercy shall be with them. And in my name, his horn shall be exalted. Also, I will set his hand over the sea and his right-hand over the rivers. He's promising here, or this almost is recalling God's promise to David that David is going to have a kingdom, but not just David in verse 28. Again, as we saw earlier, my mercy, I will keep for him forever. Speaker 1 00:08:07 And my covenant shall stand from within his seed, his seed, his descendants also I will make to endure forever. And his throne is the days of heaven. The Somas does. Remember God said, and here he's speaking. As for God, if David's sons forsake my law and do not walk in my judgments. If they break my statutes and do not keep my commandments, then I will punish their transgression with a rod and their iniquity with stripes. That's almost as aware that there's a condition here, but he's going to remind God that the condition does not overcome the actual promise. I'm looking at verse 33. Now speaking for God, it goes on. Nevertheless, my loving kindness. I will not underly from him nor allow my faithfulness to fail my covenant. I will not break nor will I alter the word that has gone out of my lips. Speaker 1 00:09:04 Once I have sworn by my holiness, I will not lie to David. His seed shall endure forever. And his throne as the sun, before me, it shall be established forever. Like the moon, even like the faithful witness in the sky. Wow. What faith? What joy, what confident assurance in God's promise, right? Let's go on and see what else he has to say. What we're going to find is that this was the Psalmus setting God up, setting himself up to ask God a very, very hard question and really what the samosa is going to say. Yeah, you promised, you promised, you promised, but you're not coming through. That's what the message of this song is the rest of it all the way to the end. I'm not, I'm not kidding you. That's what this Psalm is about. You promised God, but you're not coming through. Look at verse 38, no warning, no transition. Speaker 1 00:10:06 But you speaking to God, this is an accusation. If you ask me, but you have cast off and up hoard, you have been furious with your anointed. You have renounced the covenant of your servant. He's saying God has renounced his covenant. He's saying, God, isn't keeping his promise. You have renounced the covenant of your servant. You have profaned his crown by casting it to the ground. You have broken down all his hedges. You have broadest strongholds to ruin and all who passed by the way, plunder him. He is a reproach to his neighbors. You have exalted the right hand of his adversaries. You have made all his enemies. Rejoice. You have turned back the edge of the sword and you have not sustained them in battle. You have made his glory. Season cast is thrown down to the ground. The days of his youth, you have shortened. Speaker 1 00:10:56 You have covered him with shame, the Psalm and the accusations in it. Continue in exactly that tone all the way to the end. And so what we have here is God, you promised you are not coming through. This is a calling on God, where are you? And where is your promise? I thought we could trust you. That's how I read it. Now I don't, I don't forget that the Psalmus said what he did in the beginning about the mercies of God. I don't forget that. I don't think that the Psalmist was faithless. In other words, I don't think the Psalmist was giving up at this point, but there was serious bewilderment. There was serious confusion. God, what are you doing? What are you doing? God, why? Now at this point, I think it's worth throwing in some history. David was the first of the great Kings of the line of Judah followed by Solomon. Speaker 1 00:11:59 His son. After that, the kingdom was broken up between the Northern and Southern kingdoms between Solomon's sons Rehoboam and Jeroboam. And God had made this incredible covenant with David and with his seed, his descendants for ever. But God had also said, as it says in Psalm 89 30, if his sons forsake my law and do not walk in my judgments, if they break my statutes and do not keep my commandments and I will punish their transgression with the rod in their Nicco tea with stripes. Well, God did that. He did in both the Northern and the Southern kingdom. After they split in both kingdoms, there was an awful lot of iniquity, especially in the North, in the South, there was a rhythm of back and forth between good Kings and bad Kings and good Kings and bad Kings. And there were times when they were threatened by enemies and the threat was washed away. Speaker 1 00:12:58 As in the case of King Jehoshaphat, where the enemy just up and left in the middle of the night, when there was a bad King, someone who was encouraging the worship of idols, someone who is encouraging theft and graft and oppression of the week, then the nation suffered as God, let them be punished. There came a time when their iniquity, their sin, their idolatry had piled up so far that God had to just say enough, enough enough. In seven 22, the Northern kingdom was taken off in exile to a Syria in five 86, BC, the Southern kingdom was taken off in exile to Babylon. Before that happened, they were subjected, especially in the South. I'm thinking now they were subjected to a horrendous siege. Siege means they surround the city and they don't let anything in or out, especially food. And if you want to know how bad it got, I'm not going to read this out loud for you. Speaker 1 00:14:03 I don't want to actually read it out loud, but you can look up landing stations, chapter four and verse 10 on your own. That'll tell you how awful this siege and this hunger were. I don't know when this song was written. If it was written during one of the earlier conflicts with enemies, or if it was written, when this horrendous, terrible siege was underway, the final one before they were taken to Babylon, or if it was even after they went to Babylon, I do not know the date of the song. I do know that it was at a time when it looked like God was giving up on his covenant. This is a song that like 20, 20, it's a kick in the teeth because you're in the middle of this glorious, glorious praise. And all of a sudden, the Sama says, but you have cast off, you have a port and he stays there to the end of the song, just calling and God saying, I don't get it. Speaker 1 00:15:03 I don't get it. Where is your promise? Where's your covenant. We're not done yet though. We're not done yet. This is rough stuff that because life is rough. This is real 2020 has been rough. This is real, but it's not the whole of reality. There is more reality than meets the eye. There's more reality than we can experience this year. There's more reality than this almost good experience. Let me read back in Psalm 89, starting in verse 46, he says, how long Lord will you hide yourself? Forever. Will your wrath burn like fire? Remember how short my time is for, for what futility have you created? All the children of men, what man can live and Nazi death. Kenny deliver his life from the power of the grave. How long Lord will you hide yourself? Forever. This Psalmist knew that he wasn't going to live forever. Speaker 1 00:16:02 God had better answer quicker. He wasn't going to see it. The gut answer. Did God keep his promise to God knew what he was doing? Did he covenant? Was he Facebook? Is he Facebook? Yeah. Yes. God is faithful. Even to those of us who don't live to see the full fruit of his faithfulness, I'm sure from new Testament teaching, I'm sure that the Psalmus is glorifying God in heaven right now for his faithfulness for he says, what man can live and not see death. Well, you saw death, but then he saw life a new after that, meanwhile, on earth, God was doing something through this exile. That was really important. I mean, incredibly important and really strongly powerfully curative. The sickness that needed curing was idolatry. The Israelites were worshiping the bales, the Asherah, the fertility gods and goddesses. And by the way, the worship of a fertility, God or goddess is not G-rated. Speaker 1 00:17:07 They were a sinful nation. Following the ways of the nations around them into the worship of false gods. We know the first commandment, you shall have no other God before me. He says, and they were breaking that commandment right and left. What happened though? When they went into exile, what happened when they came back? When they returned, there is no hint of idolatry in the Hebrew or Jewish nation from then on, I say Hebrew word Jewish before the exile, they were pretty much called Hebrews. And after the exile, they began to be called by the name of Jews. The Hebrew idolatry was cured, cured for a very long time. I mean, this was two and a half millennia ago. And when's the last time you heard of a Jewish synagogue, even a Jewish individual worshiping idols were cured. It was over God did what he needed to do. Speaker 1 00:18:05 And in the process, in that process, he was paving the way for the real fulfillment of the covenant that he had made with David, that his seed would last forever. And you know what that fulfillment is that fulfillment is in Jesus Christ. The son of David, who came to earth to take away our sins, to take away our sins. What a, what a glorious thing he did for us. We have forgiveness. We have relationship with God, even though he did not appear as King on his first coming, he was the King, but he held that back for the purpose of being able to teach us model for us and then suffer and die for us. That was the fulfillment, knowing not quite the full fruit of the fulfillment required the next glorious, incredibly great step. The fulfillment of all of God's promises, the resurrection of Jesus, the firstborn from the dead, the one who leads us who've believe in him, into our own resurrection. After that, he ascended to heaven sits at the right hand of God. The father from thence, as it says in the apostles creed, he shall come to judge the living and the dead. He will come as judge. He will come as King. He will be on the throne. God's promise to David is fulfilled. This Psalmist. Didn't see it. The Psalmist didn't see it, but God hadn't forgotten it. Speaker 3 00:19:31 God hasn't forgotten you. He hasn't forgotten me. He hasn't forgotten any of us, even in this year, Speaker 1 00:19:36 COVID he hasn't forgotten any of us. We have the shore promise of his Providence, of his care of his covenant this year. Even if, yeah, I know some of us have fallen ill. And as I said earlier, probably some of you have lost family members to COVID. Some of us will not see the fulfillment of the promise on earth. Any more than this almost did this. Psalmus didn't see the fulfillment. You and I might not. There is every possibility that it could get worse before it gets better. I just need to let you know that because the political and cultural situation is tending to turn more and more hostile towards Christian, just a little bit at a time, but there's a very visible trend that I can say. Looking back from my 64 years of life, very, very definite trend. If it continues, it's going to get worse in many ways before it gets better. Speaker 1 00:20:37 And we might again, when it's no longer 2020, we might again be looking to God and sing. But God you promised, where is the, where is the fulfillment? The fulfillment is in Jesus Christ. Our present experience of that fulfillment comes as God answers prayer. As we have fellowship with God through his Holy spirit, as his spirit lives in us directs us, empowers us, gives us the joy of fellowship with God. Apart from any circumstances in which we are living, God will do that. The true fulfillment comes in the return of Jesus as King. When God's promise to David will be fully accomplished. He hadn't forgotten the promise when the Psalmist accused him of it. No, he hadn't forgotten at all. He hadn't left this man bit raft. He hadn't abandoned him. He hadn't forsaken him. He fulfilled his promise in all of the old Testament believers lives. Speaker 1 00:21:39 If not on earth, then after they pass into meeting God in heaven, he will do the same for us. Whether it gets better on earth or whether it gets worse, God is still King. Jesus is still on the throne. The promise is still fulfilled. If you find yourself praying the way this almost did in Psalm 89, let me encourage you from this Psalm. That that's an okay prayer to pray. You can say to God, where are you? I thought you promised I am waiting. God, you can pray a prayer like that. It's okay. It's in the Bible. You can read it right out of the pages of scripture. And God's okay with that. He wouldn't have put into the Bible if he wasn't okay with it. So pray that prayer. But as you pray, it don't forget the history. Don't forget that Jesus died for you. Speaker 1 00:22:24 Don't forget his faithfulness proven by his death and his resurrection. Don't forget. The promise is still as certain as it always was, this is my Thanksgiving message for us in this crazy year of 2020, we have so much to make us wonder. We have so much to make us question whether God's keeping his promise, but we have so much to thank God for, because he's proved it in Jesus Christ. He's proved it in Jesus Christ. And we can have every confidence that he has not forgotten his promise that he is going to fulfill it in our lives. He's going to fulfill it in the lives of our family. He's going to fulfill it in the life of our nation, whatever that might mean. I, I don't know. He's going to fulfill his promise in the destiny of the entire world. We have that as a sure promise. Speaker 1 00:23:18 And I thank God for that. I have so many things to thank God for. I won't go through them all. They're my Thanksgivings and you have your own. But the one that we have in common is the sure promise of God that even if we're in the midst of praying a prayer like this almost prayed in Psalm 89. Even if we're in the midst of a year, like 20, 20, God is still our God who loves us, who saved us, who will take up the throne and all will be fulfilled. Thank God for that. I thank God for you. I'm so grateful for you listening. I'm so grateful that you are a part of this. I hope you have a very, very happy Thanksgiving if you're getting this a day afterwards or a week afterwards, whenever it is, I hope you can have a very glorious season of thanks. Speaker 0 00:24:09 This is Tom Gelson for the thinking Christian podcast. I appreciate your listening. The thinking Christian podcast is copyright by Thomas Gilson for more information, visit the thinking Christian [email protected].

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