September 17, 2013

Psalm 96:13 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.

English and Japanese translations of the Bible often divide verses differently because of different sentence divisions. Here, the Japanese includes “They will sing before the LORD” in verse 12, and focuses entirely on the Lord’s coming in verse 13. We tend to think of Bible passages on the Lord’s coming as being in the New Testament or in specific Old Testament books like Daniel and Ezekiel, but actually, His coming is throughout the Bible. In the Old Testament the references are both to His first coming, when He was born in a barn in Bethlehem, and to His second coming, and that confused the Jews of Jesus’ day and continues to confuse many of them now. This passage, however, is clearly about His second coming, and it is very clear and firm. The Japanese expresses it as “Positively, the Lord is coming. Positively, He is coming to judge the earth.” The Psalmist didn’t want to leave any doubt! Sadly, we tend to lose sight of this promise, this expectation. We get tied in knots over how we perceive things to be, forgetting that God has the last word. There are many “why” questions we can’t answer at this point, and the more we agonize over them, the less peace and joy we have. This is where faith really comes in. Everything is an opportunity to choose to trust God. The more consistently we make that choice, the more peace and joy we will have.

This is an excellent point, when I was just struggling with insomnia! As the old Southern Gospel song says, “We will understand it better by and by.” Just recently I was talking with a woman who has gone through some rough stuff, and she’s not out yet. However, as she was telling me what she had been through and how she had responded, I could see that the Lord had been giving her a crash course (just about literally) in some things she really needed to learn. I’m sure that in not too many years she will be able to look back and say with the Author of Psalm 119, “It was good for me to be afflicted.” (Psalm 119:71) As a pastor, I am frequently called on to help people put things in perspective, to see the temporal as temporal and fix their hearts on the eternal. However, I’m still learning to do that myself! Problems may be “light and momentary,” (2 Corinthians 4:17) but that doesn’t make them any less real in the moment! People see me as a rock of faith, when I am very aware that I am a work in progress. I am not to focus on the negative in any way, but choose faith at every turn, exactly as the Lord preached through me just a few Sundays ago.

Father, thank You for Your faithfulness to teach us the lessons we need to learn. Help me appropriate the lessons for myself, as well as pass them on to others. When You speak truth to me, help me never think “that’s for so-and-so” and fail to apply it in my own life. May I choose trust and obedience constantly and consistently, so that all of Your plans may be fulfilled in and through me, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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