Living Life From the Heart – Part 3
By: The John Ankerberg Show
|By: Dr. Michael Easley; ©2007|
|In Psalm 110 we learn that we have nothing to fear as a believer in Christ. So we comfort and encourage one another and we live in Christ according to His righteousness.|
This message was recorded at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove in Asheville, North Carolina. Through the ministry of The Cove we’re training people in God’s Word to win others to Christ. It’s our goal to develop Christians who experience God through knowing Him better, knowing His Word, building godly relationships and helping others know Him. We trust that this message will strengthen your walk with God and help you experience Him right where you are.
To do a little shameless wife promotion, Cindy has written a book called What’s Submission Got to Do with It? And if you were married to me you would understand the title of that book. Actually Cindy and I spoke with the Family Life Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference for 12 or 13 years, just an extraordinary privilege to co-labor with Dennis Rainey and that phenomenal ministry. And one of the things Cindy faced was after there were breakout sessions where she addressed the women and she would talk to them about being a Christian mom and a Christian wife and of course we would talk about submission. And after the session she would have a line of women saying, okay wait a minute. You probably have an okay good husband who, you know, from what we’ve heard at least, we believe some of it. But my husband’s not like that. My husband’s not a believer. I make more money than my husband. My husband’s chronically ill. My husband is not like that. What am I supposed to do?
And out of 12-13 years of trying to answer that she put together a book. And I’m so thrilled for what she’s done. And it’s not so much that Cindy wrote the book, which is huge, but she interviewed about a dozen women who live in marriages that are less than what you’d call a biblical marriage of a great husband and a great wife. So there are women in here who fit those descriptions: more powerful than their husbands, make more money than their husbands, have chronically ill husbands. And if you want to try to help some young women or not so young women, who are really wrestling with the idea. “How in the world? I don’t like this submission gig,” I think this is one of the freshest resources. But if you’re involved in the Women’s Ministry or something, I think it’s an extraordinary book, and so those will tell you a little bit about it.
All right, Psalm 110. Psalm 110 is one of the most fascinating psalms in the psalter as we know it. You have the outline in your handbook so I won’t repeat it. This is the most frequently cited psalm in the New Testament. Each of the synoptics record Jesus using this psalm. And so it has layers upon layers of meaning, and I hope I can get you started in a study of it because it’s an extraordinary passage.
The royal psalms focus on the King. Classifications are always disputed by scholars and people who are smarter than me, but this one is pretty hard to escape when it’s talking about the King, the royal psalm. The phrase, how could David say;… let’s just look at it right away here, Psalm 110, verse 1, “The LORD says to my Lord: ‘Sit at My right hand.’” How can you say this? And this will be the question Jesus will pose to some of His more contentious examiners. “The LORD said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand.’” How can David say this? How could Yahweh say this, if this is the person of Yahweh speaking?
Now this is going to take us back to the Levitical priesthood a little bit. You know Aaron, of course, is the first priest. And from him and the tribe of Levi comes the priesthood. And those priests were the ones who were the only ones who could offer sacrifice. You remember the story of Saul where Saul is waiting on Samuel to come and the people are getting impatient and they’re starting to leave and so Saul takes his hand and initiates a sacrifice. This was not the role of a king. And this psalm will explain some of the reasons why.
The context of this psalm is like many of them: It’s hard to nail it down. Dr. Allen Ross who I was so privileged to have as a Hebrew professor back in my seminary days, one of the toughest professors I ever had, brilliant man, he would argue that this was probably after some battle. We can’t pin it on time stamp like we’d like to, but it’s probably after some battle. The reference to the Mount of Olives, Zion, of course when Jesus returns, this is the area He will come back to establish His royal reign over all.
David identifies the Lord here as exalted to the right hand of God. Again, authors Keil and Delitzsch believe this may have been one of the last things David wrote. So when you read 2 Timothy and you have sort of this nostalgic thought of the elder statesman Paul in the last letter he wrote, it may well be this was one of the later poems, songs, prose that David under the inspiration of the Spirit wrote. It may parallel with some of 2 Samuel 23 stories, but we just don’t know for sure. David is talking about some covenant promises that are not at play in reality, but they will come true in the eschaton, in the end times.
And God is telling the psalmist here that his descendant will be God. So God is telling David in his particular world there will come someone from your line that will be Lord. So when we think of these Old Testament figures, please do not think of them as thickheaded dumb Jews. I believe they understood far more of the theology than we give them credit for typically. And I think David, of course, understood this far better. I think David probably anticipated the Messiah more than most evangelical Christians. I think he understood as being the King of Israel what was at stake, and he knew the consequences of his own actions and the consequences of Israel’s sin and stubbornness.
Well, let’s look at the psalm in some detail. First of all the King is enthroned in heaven, verse 1. Let me read it again. “The Lord says to my Lord: ‘Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.’” Again, each of the three Gospels, the Synoptics, talks about this. The first word here, “says,” is an unusual word. It’s really the word “oracle.” I doubt any of your English Bibles have that word. It’s a very rare word. And this is not just, it’s not to say other Scriptures and other psalms aren’t as important, but the word “oracle” has a little more authority to it. It has a little more of a pronouncement, a proclamation and anticipation. We might read it something cumbersome like “Yahweh gave an oracle to my Lord that You will sit at My right hand.”
The right hand, of course, is the place of power. It’s a place of dominion. It’s a place reserved for one person, and the Scripture often talks about the right hand of God being power. And my friend Bob Tilson would say, “And His left hand ain’t too bad either.” But the right hand is the place of exalted dominion. It’s the place that establishes the King. And the King is enthroned in heaven. When you have dominion over something, and this again goes back to God giving Adam dominion over the earth, you rule over it. It’s yours. You are dispatched to be “the buck stops here”. You have great authority and power. And the psalmist is writing about the strange relationship, how does the Lord say to His Lord, who can tell a person, sit here in this place? So all the rabbis are scratching their heads. All the New Testament scribes and Pharisees are scratching their heads about this particular passage, how does this play out for this future King?
An integral part of this psalm is the word “Lord.” You know the word Adonai. Adonai would be a word for “lord,” for “master,” for “sir.” And we have the word, Yahweh. The pious Jews of course did not say the word Yahweh, because roughly translated it would be saying, “I AM.” So there’s a little axiom: What is written, what is read. What would be written many times in the Old Testament would be Yahweh and the pious rabbi would read Adonai, because you didn’t say “I AM.” I don’t know if any of you are fans of Chiam Potok. Any Chiam Potok fans in here? I love Chiam Potok. He’s a Jewish guy out of New York that writes these wonderful fictions, but teaches a lot of historical fiction about the life of different Jews in New York and different times. And in one of his books he writes, whenever the rabbi speaks he’ll say, “Adonai, bless be His name. Adonai, bless be His name.”
And even though it’s not in the text, because just saying the word caused the rabbis to pause, this was a sacred thing to them. And they didn’t say, Yahweh and they would, if you will, put vowels around the word that weren’t part of Yahweh and made up the word Adonai. Now it’s not a made up word, but it wasn’t there in the verse because they didn’t want to say “I AM.” This particular word here is adon without the plural ending. So the Hebrew writer, the Hebrew reader if you grew up in a synagogue and learned your Hebrew lessons, you scratch your head on this right away going, adon; no, it’s supposed to be Adonai.” And it makes a complicated beginning.
You could really render the psalm “Yahweh says to my Lord.” But they don’t want to read it that way. None of our Bibles will translate it that way. They just put “My Lord.” Some of your Bibles have the small caps “LORD” and others have a lower case “Lord.” Do you know what I’m speaking of? Okay if it has capital “L” small “o-r-d” that’s typically Adonai. If it has small caps, “L-O-R-D” that’s usually a reference to the word Yahweh in the text. So your Bible might have that, but more than likely it’s glossed over it. “Yahweh is my Lord.”
The exalted king or the future king is to “Sit at My right hand,” to have authority, and the way this is demonstrated is, “Your enemies will be a footstool for Your feet.” When you subjugate your enemies they’re at your feet. The imagery here goes clear back to Genesis 3:15. When you crush your enemy the metaphor is you put your foot on their neck. You’ve driven them to the dirt. And so this unusual psalm, God says to Christ, “Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies subjugated to Your authority.” So when the Jews would hear Jesus talk about this; and, by the way, if you want the reference, if you look at Matthew 22:44 you can cross-reference the other three Synoptics, but that’s where Jesus brings this up and causes His audience to be somewhat upset.
Now there are a sequence of prophecies here that the best way to explain it before we go too far in the psalm is to run in your mind to the book of Hebrews. I’m going to give you a real high flyover of the book of Hebrews. Jesus Christ as the resurrection and the ascension and the coronation. That’s what the author of Hebrews tells us. Psalm 2 parallels this as well. And so we’re going to dip in and out of some of the theology of the book of Hebrews while we’re going through this psalm.
God’s going to defeat His enemies. Now notice a little word “until.” It’s an important future concept here. It marks something happening ahead of time. And we’re looking down at time for this enemy. “Enemy” is also a fun word because, if you know;… in fact, turn over to Genesis 3:15. I want to show you the word. It’s not a word we use in our English language very often. This is when Adam and the woman have eaten, the one prohibition in the garden; you can eat anything you want but just one, don’t touch this one, and of course they do. And as a result God curses the serpent and He curses the ground. Please note He does not curse the woman and the man: Their environment, their context, their life is cursed, but they are not cursed, because they are corem deo; they’re an image of God and He didn’t curse imago dei; He did not curse the image of God.
Verse 14: “The Lord said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this cursed are you more than all cattle and more than every beast of the field. On your belly you will go and you will eat dust all the days of your life. I will put enmity,…” That’s the same word we have in this passage of Psalm 110:1 where He’s going to make His enemies a footstool. So right away the good Jewish student would run in their brain, going, wait a minute. That’s the same enmity, that’s the same enemy that began at the fall. And that’s intentional. That’s deliberate. That’s not just happenstance that it happens to be the same stem word.
The word “footstool” occurs six times in our Old Testaments and it has to do, again, with those subjugated, with those who are conquered. Joshua 10:24, for example, when you conquer them you are over them and you subjugate them.
The sharing of the Father’s heaven is a hard concept. How does Yahweh let somebody sit beside Him? So right away we have a theological collision. Who is this individual? And the rabbis would wrestle with this. It must be Messiah, but David is the one penning this, so it gives a lot of them great fodder to think about. Number 1: the King is enthroned in heaven. “The Lord says to my Lord: ‘Sit at My right hand.’” This is celestial. This is in heaven. This is not on earth; “until” some future time when we’re going to subjugate Your enemies and You will crush them. So that’s the opening line of the psalm.
Another feature you find in the Psalms, sometimes the opening strophes are the outline or the theology for the entire psalm. And that’s really what you have here. This little phrase encapsulates all that we’re going to see, and the psalmist is going to explain it. Number 1: He’s enthroned in heaven; number 2: The King will have power and authority to establish rule on earth. So we’re moving from the celestial heaven to earth.
Look at verse 2: “The Lord will stretch forth Your strong scepter from Zion, saying, ‘Rule in the midst of Your enemies.’ Your people will volunteer freely in the day of Your power; in holy array, from the womb of the dawn,” beautiful picture, “from the womb of the dawn, Your youth are to You as the dew.” Let’s take it apart a little bit at a time. God’s going to give Him a kingdom. I’m in heaven now. You’re going to sit here for the time being, but there will come a time that You’re going to rule in on earth. “You will stretch forth Your scepter from Zion.”
Don’t think this is imagery here. He’s talking about the holy city. We talked about the temple, tabernacle complex, the temple complex, the city of David, Solomon’s expansion of this, the Herodian wall. Today if you see a picture of the so-called Dome of the Rock, that’s in proximity to where the worship center of Israel was and will be at some future point. And all this is happening. God’s telling Jesus, “One day You’re going to go back there and You’re going to stretch forth Your strong scepter.” Many word-plays going on here. What did Moses do with a scepter, a staff many times? He stretched it forth. When did he do that? Do you remember? Obviously the Sea of Reeds, the Red Sea. When else? The water, water out of the rock. Where else? Do you remember? A battle and somebody’s having to hold up his arms because his arms are heavy. The same words are used in the text about stretching forth. So what’s the picture? You have power.
And this scepter was also a word; stick is what it means. But there were 12 tribes, remember. Each of the 12 tribes had a unique staff. It’s the same stem word. They had some type of identify. We think about flags. You see a picture of say, the movie Braveheart or something like that, you’ll see flags that represented different armies, different groups. So envision that, envision a group of Jews under the tribe of Judah, the tribe of Benjamin, and each of the 12 tribes had a staff. Well, this is the one; this is the one over all the other staffs, and that’s the one the Messiah, verse 2, “will stretch forth Your strong scepter from the worship center of Zion.” God’s chosen people, God’s covenant promises.
And “You will rule,” look at this, “in the midst of Your enemies.” You’re not going to rule over Your enemies, You’re going to rule in the midst of them. So you see the eschatology starting to unfold in this psalm. A lot pieces come in together with what David was writing. How much of it he understood, I don’t know what you think; I’m pretty convinced he got it. I think he knew a lot more than we give him credit for.
Zion, of course, is the whole city of Jews. It will be comforted in Isaiah 30. Psalm 2 talks about the city of Zion. It’ll be holy. Nations will go to Zion to learn about Yahweh in Isaiah. Zion will never be troubled again Isaiah says. There’ll be a day; I particularly believe Zion/Israel plays a part. I don’t pretend to believe the people that are there today who necessarily are called Jews, are Jews. But I do believe there are Jews, estimates 3-4% of the world’s population claim to be Jewish. I think that counts for a remnant somehow. Deuteronomy 30 is hard for me to get around. You may have different views of eschatology, but I kind of like W.A. Criswell’s comment about why in the world are the Israelites still there? Everybody else, the Ninevites, the Perizzite, the Amalekites, you know, go down the list, they’re all gone. They’re all gone. And there’s dubious discussions who the Palestinians are. Maybe they have some right. That’s for better minds than mine to debate, but I believe God cares about that piece of dirt. Why else would it still be hanging on?
I mean, you can’t go but one direction, the Mediterranean Sea to the right and you’re going to fight to the east. You can’t go anywhere. So the Jordan River forms a natural boundary land. You’ve got the Sea of Galilee. You’ve got the Dead Sea at the bottom. You go down as far as the south area, almost all the way to Egypt. It’s not a big piece of land. And you’re surrounded by enemies. An interesting piece of geography as you study it.
This prophecy says that this King is going to be in the midst of His enemies. He’s going to subjugate them, but He’s going to rule when they are there in His midst, verse 2. Listen to Paul writing in 1 Corinthians 15: “The end will come when He hands over the kingdom to God the Father after He has destroyed all the dominion, power and authority.” Listen again. “Then the end will come,” 1 Corinthians 15:24, “Then the end will come when He hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after He has destroyed all dominion, authority and power; for He must reign until He has put His enemies under His feet; the last enemy to be destroyed is death.” So here’s the student of Gamaliel; here’s Paul the apostle. Here’s a brilliant Jewish rabbi mind who gets this. And he looks back at eschatology, he looks back at prophecy, and he sees it fulfilling. And the way God leads him to write the passages the Bible’s remarkably consistent.
The people will offer themselves willingly into holy service. This is every pastor’s misapplied verse that he dreams about. Pastor’s fanaticize people will volunteer freely. I can’t believe freely they would volunteer until the day of Your power. The word is a little bit cumbersome to define. We’re not real sure precisely. “Volunteer” does create some questions. But the rest of the verse fills in the problems. In the day when Jesus comes to have this scepter in the midst of His enemy, His people will come and rally to His side. Did that happen when Christ was here the first time? Of course not. They scattered like bugs when the light went on, as would have we. But there will be a day when God the Father from heaven will say, “Okay, Jesus, it’s time for You to enter that realm again, and when You go down there, there will be a bunch of people who will freely volunteer to come be with You.” Pretty exciting assembly of the future.
Now the “volunteer freely” does have language of sacrifice in it. It’s a complicated Hebrew word that probably means a volitional offering. This will make sense; as we unpack the psalm a little more you’ll see it. But you remember we talked this morning about five different types of sacrifices, two which were mandatory for sin, three which for the most part were voluntary. Two of them were really voluntary. One sometimes were a sin and a guilt offering, but the Jewish worshiper didn’t have to do them. And the play here is we’re coming out of the priesthood, out of the line of Aaron and Levi, but these people aren’t coming to sacrifice for sin and guilt. They’re “freely volunteering on the day of Your power.” The love and devotion of the worshiper comes to follow Messiah.
“In holy array, from the womb of dawn, Your youth are to You as the dew.” The image is very rich here. “Holy array” and the “womb of the dawn” are two prepositional phrases that describe this group of volunteers. “Holy array” is a metaphor that gives us a picture of clean linen, of clean worshipers. “Array” almost always has a ring of military tone to it. The military language comes in the psalm as well. And so we picture this huge group of, really they’re priests; they’re servants who are coming to help this Messiah in the day He returns to Zion in the midst of His enemies.
The “youth of dew” is a beautiful metaphor. And if you’ve lived in a place that has a very dry climate, Arizona, some parts of California and Nevada, when you wake up in the morning and there’s a dew on everything it’s really refreshing. And as soon as it evaporates, of course, the heat of the day comes. Dew was a metaphor for God sort of bathing and blessing His land in the dry arid months if there was a dew in the morning. And this picture is the womb; it’s a birth.
So we see these two phrase explaining this group of volunteers. They’re holy in they’re array. I think it’s military; they’re holy in their array. And it’ll be like dew. It’ll be like a birth. It’ll be like a beautiful thing in the morning. It’ll be amazing. It’ll be refreshing to see this thing happen. When Messiah comes there will be a company of followers who will be a holy assembly who will come to help Him. I don’t know about you, but that gets me pretty juiced up.
Now, this isn’t going to be some political leader who comes on the scene and gets a little bit of coverage on CNN and a lot of coverage on FOX. This is going to be a person when He comes on the scene there will be a lot of people that will go to Zion and there’ll be a gathering and they will be holy, and they will be like a birth. I don’t know if you watch some of these world leaders, if you watch Chavez or Ahmadinejad; they command an extraordinary power over people that is really hard for me to understand; how malevolent leaders intent on evil can do what they do. And if it confounds us why people would follow them, it should not surprise us why people would follow a good leader. We live in an interesting time politically, and this psalm will even speak to that a little bit. But I look forward to this King. I look forward to this leader because when He comes it will be a holy array and there’ll be a refreshing thing that we have not seen before, the dawning of a new day.
The prepositional phrases “in the beauty of holiness” some of your versions read that. I’m sure you know the song we sing, “In the beauty of Your holiness.” This comes from a number of words that mean splendor, beauty and adornment. It’s a plural phrase. In other words, this is going to be a beautiful experience, beautiful garments that priests would wear. Jot down in your notes if you’d like 1 Chronicles 16:29, 2 Chronicles 20:21. There are many more. The holiness is a modifier for these beautiful adornments. Again, we think back to the tribes. We think back to the ephod. We think back to the scepters. All this language is coming together. The King will appear. He will put down His enemies. He will have an earthly reign and He will be adorned by this holy array that are set apart for Him.
Number 1: the King is enthroned in heaven; number 2: the King rules on earth; number 3: the King will be a high priest forever. Verse 4, “The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind, You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” Yahweh has sworn and He won’t relent. Melchizedek, of course, is a complicated and mysterious person. I mentioned earlier the word melek. Melek is the word “King” in Hebrew. And tsedeq is righteousness. We talked a little bit about righteousness, that God always does the right thing in the right way. No injustice escapes His mind. There will be a reckoning.
I was talking to someone today; a great injustice occurred to them. How many of you have had an injustice occur to you in your life and you, as much as you can say, “I was innocent,” this shouldn’t have happened, it was unfair? And the results of that wound us deeply. And some of us have a hard, hard time letting go. Cindy and I have had a couple of injustices in our life and if I think about it very long I get very depressed. I’m not so much angry at God or ask God why, I just don’t know why it happened and I have a hard time forgiving people that did certain things to us at particular times in our lives. I’m not sort of a, “I can’t wait to see God get even,” but I do put my hope on a righteous King.
Melchizedek is a complicated idea and a real person. Melek, the king, tsedeq. He’s the king of righteousness we might say. He’s a king who embodies righteousness. He’s a righteous person who happened to be a king. It’s a complicated idea. You know the story. Abram, this is before he’s Abraham, is in the area of Salem and it’s in Genesis 13-14 if memory serves. And Melchizedek comes on the scene. Abram has won a battle and for whatever reason, the text doesn’t tell us, Abraham recognizes Melchizedek as a person having authority over him and he gives him a tithe. He gives him a tenth of all that he has.
Now who’s Abram? He’s the chosen man of God to be the father of the Jewish people. Who’s over him? So we all scratch our head and Bible students, you know, we make up stuff who we think Melchizedek is. Some great Bible scholars make up some great stuff. We just don’t know. Some really good traction is people think he might be a theophany, a Christophany, that he was the Christ. Jesus occurs in the Old Testament a number of times. Maybe not, maybe so; but whatever he was he was a type of Christ. He’s a king, “Malkiy-tsedeq” he’s righteous. And Abram, the man God picked to be the father of a multitude of countless people who will be His chosen people, he gives him a tenth. It’s a picture of worship. He recognizes him as the word play of Melchizedek the king. You can’t miss the language, and this of course will come back in the book of Hebrews. “The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind, You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”
Now, let’s stretch your brain a little bit. Aaron is the priest. The Levites are the priests who carry out the sacrifices we’ve talked about. They’ve bloodied their hands. The temple shepherds, when Jesus comes on the scene, are tending sheep that are more likely than not the sheep used for the tabernacle and temple complex sacrifices. That’s why they got it when the star came and they heard about this baby born. They’ve been shepherding those paschal lambs for their entire life. They understood it. And so they put these pieces together. And here you have this scene coming on where they’re starting to connect the dots.
As Levitical priests their job is to butcher animals. Now do we need the Levites any more? We don’t need experts in knowing how to sacrifice. The order of the Levitical priest ended. Got to have a new priest. He can’t come through Aaron. He’s got to come through Judah, the Lion of the tribe of Judah. God, in His super-intention plan, says I’m not going to have a bloody priest come through the Aaronic priesthood. I’m going to do something different. I’m going to pull Him out of the lion of the tribe of Judah. So the Levitical priesthood has ended and the Aaronic priesthood, which is still recognized, but now we have a new priest. “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” Wait, wait, wait. What’s the order of Melchizedek? We’ve never heard about this guy. We have a couple of cryptic passages about him. What does that mean? It means that this king comes from a line of righteousness, not a line of sacrifice.
If you’ve been to Israel—and I hope I’ve guilted you into going, if you haven’t—if you’ve been to Israel you will go to a number of places that are owned by the government or the Ministry of Tourism wants you to see. And one of them you go to is the Jerusalem Institute in the Old City. And they show you a little video and they show you a few of the implements and they’re raising money to rebuild the shovels, the altar, the basins, everything according to the rabbinic specs that they have in secret hiding. And they don’t really push it, but they want you to give them money. And they have a big Plexiglas box and behind there they have one of the shovels that they have recreated. And they’re trying to get the right materials, the right gold. It’s beautiful ornate stuff. It’s made out of bronze, the ones they have on display.
And I asked one of the curates there, I said, “How do they know all this great detail?” because as I read the Bible it doesn’t say anything about all these details. Now we get some details for the temple, but nothing like this. And they go, “Oh, the rabbis know.” Well, how do they know? “Oh, well, they know.” Maybe they do. One of the greatest theories I’ve heard over there is that the Ark of the Covenant is probably a few hundred feet away from where it used to be, which kind of makes sense. When Titus, 70 AD, came and destroyed and pillaged and burned the city to the ground, do you think the rabbis would just sit there and let all the implements of the tabernacle complex be trampled upon by these Romans, by these godless pagans, by Titus and his armies? No, they weren’t stupid religious weirdoes. They were brilliant men. And the so-called rabbi’s tunnels may very well be. That’s a good Indiana Jones movie in my opinion. You know it could very well be in a box in Washington DC too. I mean, that sort of makes sense in God’s sense of humor. I kind of like that.
But this priesthood will not come from the Levitical priests. Notice again, verse 4, God’s sworn He’s not going to change His mind, You’re a priest forever. You don’t need Levitical priests forever, because the sacrificial system is over. You need a new priest. And this one has to come from the order of Melchizedek.
“The Lord,” verse 5, “is at Your right hand; He will shatter kings in the day of His wrath.” God the Father has declared a solemn oath. When God the Father declares an oath just as He did with His covenant promise and chosen people, He doesn’t change. The character of Yahweh Elohim is if He says something you can stake your life on it. That’s what it means to trust in His word. And here we have the language stacking up on top of it. We don’t need this old form of sacrifice.
By the way, did you see verse 1? He sat at His right hand. And you know the old song about there’s no chair in the holy of holies. I think that misses the point. The point is the priest had a job and the job never ended because sacrifice never ended. But now there’s no more sacrifice. You can sit down, Jesus; the priesthood has rested. We don’t need You to be butchering hundreds of thousands of bulls and goats and sheep and turtledoves and all these bloody sacrifices because You also happen to be the One who fulfilled it according to God’s solemn oath.
The phrase, “He will not relent, He does not change His mind,” the emotional aspect of this is that He doesn’t regret or He’s not grieved by promises He makes. Jot down Exodus 13:17, that God does not change His mind in the way volitionally we think of a person. Once He makes up His plan He won’t alter the plan. You’re a priest forever. This is My plan. I chose You. You’re the chosen Son. You have an eternal ministry. It’s completed now and You will sit until a future time when You will come to earth. Verse 4, one more time: “The Lord has sworn, not change His mind, You’re a priest forever according to” this righteous king order.
“The Lord is at Your right hand; He will shatter kings in the day of His wrath. He will judge among the nations,” verse 6, “He will fill them with corpses, He will shatter the chief men over a broad country. He will drink from the brook by the wayside; therefore He will lift up His head.” Fourthly, the King will crush the opposition. He will judge the nations. The language becomes military. It becomes clearly victorious. It’s convincing. It’s devastating and this person, this King is going to wreak some havoc.
Now in the New Testament we have a full revelation. We know the King is the divine Son Jesus Christ. We know that the Godhead is at work in this Trinitarian doctrine we hold dear. All persons of the Godhead are present and the language is very cumbersome in verses 4 and 5, when “the Lord is at Your right hand.” Now, who are we talking about? You can’t say, David, the Lord is at Your right hand, capital Your, as most of your Bibles correctly do. So most of the conservative scholars believe the role has changed a tiny bit here.
In other words, Yahweh is now at the right hand of Jesus. You don’t want to take this one to the theological bank, but if it’s true, if that’s what the psalm is saying, it’s saying there’s an inseparable ministry of Christ and the Father. And there will come a time in the dispatch when the Father will say, go to earth and go to Zion and let’s continue the program I’ve set from eternity past. And if verse 5 is interpreted this way then the Lord is now at the right hand. The role is not reduced; it’s that they’re together. Makes some pretty good traction. I wouldn’t take it to the bull-dogmatic bank, but nevertheless this is part of what drives those Hebrews scholars smarter than me crazy. God is at the right hand.
It’s a place of service. It’s a place of dominion. It’s a place of great power. And in order for Him to be victorious the Lord is at Your right hand. The effect of this will be that God shatters the enemies of Jesus, the enemies of Yahweh Elohim. It’s a graphic illustration. It’s a fatal blow. The language is very visceral.
If you remember the story of Judges 5 and Sisera, remember how Jael drives the tent peg through the skull. That’s a great story for junior high boys if you teach a Sunday School class. Teach them stories like this. They will be entertained and interested in the Bible. Teach them about Eglon and Ehud, the guy with the sword that went all the way in. And they love these stories. That’s how you interest them in the Bible. It’s a very gross story, but it’s the same word. These images aren’t just there for literary brilliance. These images are there because Yahweh Elohim and His kingdom will crush His enemies and He will destroy them.
The Lord will have bodies filling the valley. If you go—and some would dispute the concept of Armageddon—when you go to Israel there are basically state parks. And you buy a big parks pass and if you drive in a car or go on a bus or a tour you go to these parks and you park your car—and it’s very safe by the way; the worst part is just the flight over there. It’s miserable, and coming home is worse. But you take Ambien and you live—and you go to these state parks. It’s very safe. It’s just wonderful. And go in March; that’s my recommendation. And you go to Mt. Carmel and there’s a picture of Jerome, and a little church, a Catholic church there, and you go up and then there’s the Mt. Carmel Church and there’s this statue of a guy with a knife who would be Elijah.
And you go to the top of this little Catholic Church and there’s a little, oh, I don’t know, probably about from that wall to here and maybe 40 feet wide and a little area with parapets and walk over there and on a clear day you can see clear across the Valley of Megiddo. And if you’re of the military persuasion you will notice on the ground an airstrip, two of them like a skinny X. There’s an entire wing of American fighter planes that the Jews own underground right there. And the observant eye will see the runways. And you might even see them doing touch and goes, depending on the day. That’s where they base out of. It’s not a huge area. It’s big enough to have two airstrips in it.
But Megiddo, Har-Megiddo, the Valley of Megiddo becomes Armageddon in Revelation. And it’s probably some scholars debate whether there will actually be a battle there. Some believe this just the stand, but there’s no battle at this place because it’s taken care of. But it does give you a picture of a valley full of nations that come against Yahweh and His Servant Jesus Christ and try to destroy Him. And it will take months to bury the dead, Ezekiel 39:12.
Cindy and I know Gary Haugen, the founder of IJM, and he went to Rwanda after the Rwandan massacres had been uncovered. He was the lead investigator for the United States government on the Rwandan massacres. If you’ve heard Gary, he tells a story about, he says, “How do you investigate a crime?” He says, “Well, first you go to the crime scene.” So they took this little United States entourage to these shallow graves, as far as the eye can see bodies decomposing at various levels with shallow dirt over them. They estimate 800,000 people were murdered in the Rwandan massacres. And to give you a picture of that he says that’s three 9/11’s a day for six weeks. And he was the lead investigator.
He says, “So after you traipse around shallow graves for several days the next thing you do as an investigator is you talk to the survivors.” And the first survivor was a young Rwandan girl about 13 years old. They had shaved her head because of the lice and bugs and problems she had, and they had a little wobbly wooden table with two little makeshift chairs on a dirt ground under a tarped area. And he sits down and says, “Hi, my name’s Gary.” What would you ask her? She has machete scars on her neck and shoulder and she was left four days among the decomposing bodies before someone found her alive. And if you haven’t been around this type of thing or talked to these type of people,…
My mind runs to the eschatology. Rwanda will look like a small field. And there will be armies that will rise up against Jesus Christ. I don’t think this is figurative language to be ignored, to be somehow “that’s figurative of what’s going to happen in the heavenlies.” I think this is a literal concept. “He will judge among the nations, He will fill them with corpses.” This is the Messiah we don’t talk about. “He will shatter the chief men over a broad country.” A broad country probably means Israel. It’s euphemism for the idea of Israel.
The word here “chief” is a singular word and it causes people who believe in prophecy and eschatology to run to the book of Revelation to favor the idea that, yes, there’ll be many who will come against Messiah, but there will be a leader. If so, that fulfills the prophecy very neatly. “He will shatter the chief men over this broad country.” The leaders and the leaders of leaders, Revelation 19:20-20:2. And again this goes back to the imagery of the enmity in Genesis 3:15.
Verse 7, the psalm concludes this man, this leader, this King “will drink from the brook by the wayside; therefore He will lift up His head.” You know the phrase, “wadi?” A wadi, if, when you go to Israel—got it now? You’re going to go to Israel at some point in your life—you will learn about wadis. You’ll be riding along in this air-conditioned, nice luxury tour coach, aka a bus, and you’ll be riding along and you’ll see all these little ravines that are just like low-lying areas and they’re just dirt barren desert, not a green stitch of plant life as far as the eye can see. And it’s wadi this and wadi that, and you say “Well, what is that difference?”
When you get a rain in Israel the earth doesn’t absorb water well. And if you get two or three inches of rain it can cause a flood in a wadi because it’ll just roll down like water off blacktop, if you will, and just rush through. And there are accounts in the 70’s and 80’s of people losing their lives in floods in the Judean wilderness because the watershed comes off so quickly. And those wadis, that look like just they’ve never had a drop of water in them, become these raging rivers and drown people. And that’s the image here of the brook by the wayside. It’s the word “wadi.”
This conquering King will drink from what was once a barren dry gulch, and it’s a picture of the blessing of the land. It’s a picture of the conquering King. Remember the number one thing you need in Israel? Water. You’ve got to have water. And the image says He’ll drink water. Life comes from death. What is the Judean wilderness will no longer be so because of the blessing of God. A nice touch of Scripture that reminds us of the glory the King.
He will therefore lift up His head. We know many expressions about He’s a lifter of our head. It’s the idea that Messiah has won. Messiah is King. It goes back to verse 1, our chiastic devices again, “The Lord says to My Lord.” And here in verse 7 He’s going to lift up His head. He’s the victor. He’s the last man standing because He’s the God King. The King will be filled with honor. He will be exalted in eternal heavens. He’s enthroned in heaven. He rules on earth for a time. He becomes the priest forever, fulfilling the Aaronic Levitical priesthood that could not fulfill its mission. And then He will judge the nations forever.
Passages like this, for those of us that like them, are fun and interesting. For those of us who don’t, you say, “Michael, why did you pick that psalm?” I picked it because this is the one Jesus talked about. This is the most quoted one in the New Testament, and it speaks very specifically about the coming of Jesus Christ the Messiah. So it should give us hope and comfort. I am not optimistic about our country. I’m not optimistic about our world. I’m not optimistic about government bailing out financial institutions. I’m not optimistic about these programs. I hope they work. I would love to be proved wrong. I would love to be proved wrong. And America will once again become the great shining city on a hill.
I’m sorry, I’m a cynic. I think Korea and China have taken our place. That’s good. It’s sad for us, but I have hope and comfort in a different outcome. A political leader that you and I vote for or against is probably not going to do much significance unless God uses him or her. If He does, wonderful. I’ll be excited and I’ll be ready to bless God.
But you know what? We have nothing to fear. I’ve been afraid since 9/11. And when I talk to people that do this for a living I’m more afraid. I have a friend whose job was to oversee all of the shipping cartons. If you go to California or Baltimore inner harbor you’ll see shipping cartons as far as the eye can see, these enormous things that come off boats. We don’t know what’s in them. He was telling me about, you know how you walk through the airport with the magnetometers and all that stuff now? He said, “We’re trying to design those for shipping cartons.” He said, “Number 1, you know how hard it is to see inside something that big and deep?” He said, “Number 2, it would take us years to just look at what we’ve got on the shore.” You want to be afraid? He said, “Next time you see a bunch of 18 wheelers going down the street, just imagine they’re full of fertilizer. Send 50 of those to the Pentagon one day and see if you can stop half of them with all the devices we’ve got running around Washington D.C. in the sky. It wouldn’t take many to make a big dent.”
There are so many ways the enemy can get at us. Am I getting you scared? You don’t have to be afraid. I don’t have to be afraid. I know men and women that do this for a living. I’m glad they do it for a living. God bless them. Tap my phone all you want; I don’t care. I’ve got nothing to hide. You want to look at it? Go right ahead. My hope and comfort does not come from my friends on the hill and my friends who swore and oath to God and this country. My hope comes from this passage. I have a King. One day He’s going to come down here and He’s going to set it right. There’ll be nobody to stop Him. There’ll be no Ahmadinejad who will be successful. There’ll be no al-Qaeda terrorist who will die a foolish martyr’s death for some cause they don’t understand, because we have a King. We have nothing to fear as a believer in Christ. So we comfort and encourage one another and we live in Christ according to His righteousness, and that’s what we’re called to do.
Prayer: Our Father in heaven, we do well to remember You. Let us not read these stories with a tired or jaded eye of prophecy that seems old and out of place, but to realize Your word is true. Messiah’s coming. We look forward to the day. If it would be in our lifetime it would be thrilling. If You take us off the scene first we’d be glad. But nevertheless You’re the King. Help us to be extraordinary servants in Christ and by Your Spirit. In Jesus’ name, amen.