Thursday, June 23, 2016

Thoughts on Psalm 119:53

53 Indignation has taken hold of me
Because of the wicked, who forsake Your law.
Indignation. Anger. “A burning heat.”

Have you ever thought that the God of the Old Testament is a God of wrath and anger?

I have. And I’ve had conversations with people who have thought the same.

But anyone who thinks the Old Testament presents God  this way has not carefully read the Old Testament.

Let’s consider God’s dealings with Adam. He messed it up for all of us! Through him, sin entered the world (Rom 5:12) And according to an internet post I saw the other day, “Sin separates God and Man.”

But that’s not exactly true. What it does is separate man from God. But not God from man. That is so important, and it is evident right from the beginning of the Bible.

First, God didn’t say, “in the day you eat of it, I will reject you, strike you with a lightning bolt, and kill you.” What He said was:

“In the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die.” Gen 2:17

This may sound silly, but it’s as if the ocean told a fish, “In the day that you leave me, you shall surely die.” The ocean doesn’t want to punish the fish for leaving it. But the fish cannot survive out of water. It’s simply the consequence for leaving the environment in which it was designed to survive.

In the same way, when Adam disobeyed God, he rebelled and rejected God’s Presence. And that day, he spiritually died. He knew fear for the first time, and hid Himself from the God that he once walked and talked with.

Now let’s consider God’s response. Was God holding a lightning bolt over Adam’s head, just waiting for him to mess up? No. He sought out Adam! God called out to him.

Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid… and I hid myself.” Gen 3:9-10

Why did God ask “Where are you?” Was He unaware that Adam had sinned? Could He honestly not find him?

No. He knew he sinned. He knew where he was. But He also knew that Adam was afraid.

If you’ve ever approached a dog that is afraid, you know you can’t just walk up to it. You crouch down, stick out your hand, and let it come to you. Otherwise it will run away and never come near you. In a sense, that’s how God was dealing with Adam. He was approaching him very gently.

So God wasn’t holding a lightning bolt over Adam’s head, waiting for him to mess up so He could blast him. And He’s not doing that with you or with me.

Sin causes us to be afraid. But God approaches us. Even in the Old Testament.

It was in the pages of the Old Testament that God spoke to me and told me:
-- how Jesus acts as a High Priest in my life
-- that He wanted me to marry
-- how I would recognize my wife
-- that He has called me to be a psalmist
-- His plans for my parents
-- His plans for my children
-- to leave Oregon last year

And many, many other things God has spoken to me from the pages of the Old Testament.

So I would encourage you, don’t discount the Old Testament. Under grace, we’re not required to “keep all the rules” as means of pleasing God, but it is still God’s Word. It has hundreds of revelations of Jesus, and is still “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim 3:16-17)

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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