September 23, 2013

Psalm 105:1-2 Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name;
make known among the nations what he has done.
Sing to him, sing praise to him;
tell of all his wonderful acts.

Reading this passage in English and Japanese, it strikes me that the Japanese specifies “the peoples of the nations.” That’s because Japanese lacks the idea of “nation” apart from “territory,” whereas in Hebrew those are two separate ideas, with the nation being the people who inhabit the territory. In English, “nation” carries both meanings, primarily because of the influence of Hebrew, I would think. That can be an important thing to keep in mind. We speak today of “people groups,” but that seems a little awkward if you try to plug it into Old Testament passages about nations! However, we must never think that because the Gospel has been proclaimed within a particular geopolitical entity that Jesus’ words in Matthew 24:15 have been fulfilled. “A testimony to all nations” means, “to all people groups.” That is of course essentially what this passage is saying. If we are indeed giving God thanks and calling on Him, we will be doing so in a way that lets the people around us know what we are doing. However, this isn’t just a matter of words, despite the NIV rendering of “tell of all his wonderful acts.” The Japanese gives that as “steep your thoughts in His wonderful acts.” The image is of dying cloth, letting it soak in the coloring liquid so that it acquires that color. This fits with what Paul told the Philippians in Philippians 4:8, that we are to think about good stuff. What fits that prescription better than the wonderful works of God?

As a pastor, I try to communicate these two truths to others, and particularly to those in my church. I desire that they let those around them know how wonderful God is, and I desire that they let the truth of who and what God is sink deeply into their minds and hearts, to color every thought. Actually, those two things are personal goals as well, because as long as I am on this earth I won’t run out of opportunities to tell people about God, and I’m certainly not completely “God colored” yet. The more I steep myself in thinking about God, the more open I will be for His Spirit to use me in word and action, and in consequence, the more people will see that He is real and personal right here right now. That’s what I desire for myself, and it is what I desire, really, for everyone.

Father, thank You for putting things into such sharp focus. Thank You for the people who have seen me as I have been writing this. Their greetings were irritating distractions to me, until I realized that my being here with an open Bible was a testimony to them. May I not be so self-centered that I resent being a testimony to others! I pray that every impact You have had through me on each person in this conference would be sealed by Your Holy Spirit, drawing them to seek You for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

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