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When Righteousness and Peace Meet

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
January 10, 2022 7:00 am

When Righteousness and Peace Meet

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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January 10, 2022 7:00 am

John Wesley once asked, Where is the joy I knew when I first saw the Lord? Maybe you’ve asked the same question. In this message, Dr. James Boice will be looking at Psalm 85 where the psalmist asks, Will you not revive us again?

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Have you lost the joy of the Lord has discouragement with the Christian life overtaken you.

It happened to the Israelites and it happens to believers today, but now like them. There is a solution in the word of God and welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act biblically in today's studies. Dr. Boyce lays out a four step plan from Psalm 85 to deal with the discouragement that sometimes overtakes us all. Let's listen as Dr. Boyce shares the recipe for restoration like to talk about discouragement/morning and again by asking whether you ever been discouraged sure you have but I'm not thinking just about the kind of discouragements that come because life isn't going exactly the way you'd like it to that sort of thing that comes it was all the time. Things don't go real well at work for the sales don't go all have problems with people. It's not so much that I'm talking about. As the Christian life. Ever feel discouraged about the Christian life that you don't seem to be experiencing the kind of joy Lessing deliverance strength now that you had when you first became a Christian that might be helpful to know that other people have felt that as well. One of them was John Wesley.

Great evangelist. He wrote a verse that I asked where is the joy I knew when first I saw the Lord. Apparently he went through downtime very good question is what we want to deal with people like that and had problems is not surprising that we do our prayer in times like that is a God would restore us, they would restore the blessing we once had.

And I begin this way because that's exactly what our song was talking about prayer and it's precisely this kind of prayer now is nothing in the Psalm that gives us a clue as to exactly the circumstances under which it was written to another one of songs of the sons of Cora we been looking at those we came to a bunch of them at the beginning of book 2 Psalms 4244 through 49 and now are in the midst of another group 8480 587 and 88, but that doesn't help us an awful lot did when we were studying the early Earth song sons of Cora where the janitors here was a Psalm of the janitors great blessing, but we don't really get much of a clue here. One speculation is that it was written shortly after the return of the Jews from their Babylonian captivity that might not be the right setting for this all to read the commentators, some think it is man others advanced perfectly good reasons why it is smart but there it is the right setting are not that.

In Israel's history certainly becomes an illustration of the kind of disappointment and discouragement that this home reflects the situation is this, the Jews who return to their homeland.

First, did so under the blessing of Cyrus the king of Persia in the year 538 BC get the account of Adam, the book of Ezra in the Old Testament. The first six chapters tell about it when they got back first thing I did was lay the foundations of the temple I work for a long time trying to get the temp allotment was finally completed between years 520 and 515 BC to judge from the prophecies of Haggai and Zechariah sort of reconstruct some of that history that seems to be what happened. They also tried to rebuild the city's walls somewhere along the way but that was a much harder task than building the temple, and that some points face stopped at probably because their enemies made it impossible for them to continue the of my own first chapter seems to indicate that some time in this. Their enemies actually were successful enough to come to the city and burn down the gates city without walls without gates wasn't any good. So they undoubtedly entered into a period of real discouragement here in the beginning I would've been filled with joy, a were returning to their homeland. God seem to be blessing, but Emily entered into this really difficult time of discouragement and despair set in. According to the opening chapters of Nehemiah which reflect what was going on there in the homeland.

The people were in great trouble and disgrace. The question is if we could use that as an illustration, what do we do in circumstances like that.

What you do answer is that you pray and you wait for God to answer now, I repeat, I don't know whether this is the background of the Psalm are not, but is certainly what the Psalm does and if it is the background of this was written to reflect that situation. In the early years of the return of the exiles and it significant to know the God did answer the prayer answered it by Nehemiah because Nehemiah was one of God to return to Jerusalem and with able administration and blessed by God enable those walls to be erected in a very short time saw what I like to do is look at the Psalm. That way, assuming that it sprang out of a situation like this and searching it to see what it actually tells us about how we should deal with disappointments of discouragements. Now it actually gives us four steps and their mark by the four stanzas of the new international version. I I don't like formulas. As a rule and are here for things you should do if you do these four things will be all right because generally their superficial. What I work for is understanding understand the ways of God understand what it is to be a Christian because again the understanding that works in a great variety of circumstances. But all that aside, you do have certain principles or steps here and they are very useful. And that's what I would like to look at the place we have to start overcome discouragement is by reflecting on the goodness of God toward us in the past, mess with verses 1 to 3 now that's part of the problem, of course, the way I began.

I said do you ever feel discouraged because you don't have in the presence kind of joy strengthen happiness in all that you had shortly after you became a Christian.

So when you look to the past and you remember the good days. That's part of the problem now, but at the same time. It's also part of the solution because if you look to the past into your sensitivity to the goodness of God in the past, nothing else.

You are reminding yourself.

The God really is good. That's nothing to be treated lightly. We serve a good God we serve a gracious God, we serve a hardening, and if you become a Christian you know by looking at the pass. And that's exactly the way God has dealt with you. Now the first verse of the song deals with the land and with the people's reversal of fortune why we think that this might possibly have to do with the.

Following the exile, but what is striking about that opening stanza as it doesn't go on dwell about restoration but rather talks about the forgiveness of sins and the removal of the wrath of God's way. It reads you forgave the iniquity of your people and covered all their sins. You set aside all your wrath and turn fierce anger, to the greatest of all the mercies that we can receive from God is the forgiveness of sins that we often think that way. This is foundational experience in the Christian life.

But we don't value it, and the reason we don't value letter value it is we should as we are so wrapped up in the affairs of this life, and we think so much in terms of material things that we have the material things we think we are blessed, and if even for a short period of time. The material things are taken away from us and we think were not blessing we get discouraged while I am some people the best thing that could happen to that would be to lose some of their material possessions. Then they begin to think about spiritual things of God in their desperation might actually get through to them, but they float along in a sea of comfort and very solemn. Consider their relationship to God you see here in the song this psalmist or some S more than one really appreciates the fact that God has forgiven the people sins. Some of the strongest salvation language in scriptures present in those verses you may have noticed it about that phrase covered their sentence in verse two describes what is meant by the atonement of the atonement means covering of sin. How about the next verse that speaks about setting aside all your wrath theological term for that is propitiation, as do turning aside the wrath of God so we really have a very rich stanza here. Now if some of us would do that we would even have to go on to step two.

Talking about principles here steps formula. Whatever you choose to call it. You might not have to do that at all. It would make a difference in many of our lives. It will be just stop thinking about the material things begin to think about the spiritual because remember everything material is going to pass away, says that in the New Testament the things that are invisible. Let's say the spiritual things and the things remain so just to begin to think spiritually about the forgiveness of sin escape from the wrath of God that we have by his grace through Jesus Christ might actually change you so much that you would soon be praising God instead of complaining to them. However, remembering the past doesn't always provide victory in the presence and so in the second stanza of the Psalm.

The writer moves to direct petition as verses four through seven, as he moves to prayer, spraying it out for himself and also on behalf of the people. He includes himself with the many praised for two things. First of all that God would restore the people restore us again verse four.

And then secondly, revive us again.

Verse six. I say there's some question as to how that first phrase should be translated because the Hebrew word simply means turn and they can be thought of in at least three ways.

It can refer to the people, which by the way, is what the new international version suggests means it can be understood as turn so turn us back which, as with it the idea restoration of rights translated that way. Secondly, it can refer to God when the idea of God being asked to turn away from his wrath. That's the case, it's a repeat for the present of what was said in verse 40 turn from your wrath. In the past, we ask you to do it in the present, or, thirdly, it can refer to God with a sense that he's being asked to turn back to his people again seems to have turned away from them in his displeasure and are asking him to turn back again while all three of those are true, but that this translation is probably what the new international version gives because the other two ideas are redundant and because this prayer restore us again is matched to verses later by revive us again. So he seems to be talking about two aspects of what God really needs to do to bless the people now can restore us. Not only can he restore a secret restore to us the things that we have lost we think here of the book of Joel book that deals with this very problem. Joel speaks of God restoring the years that the locusts of Eden comes out of the imagery of the data or denigrate locust plague and Joel explains it as being an expression of the judgment of God on his people, but also as a warning on the even greater judgment to call you said you think it's bad that the locus of calm in the beaten everything around that you could possibly have to survive on what are you going to do in the final judgment comes is even worse than what he senses is where the grace of the gospel comes through in this minor property says if you will repent of your sin and return to God is able to restore what you lost in the race classic versus I will repay you for the years the locusts of Eden. Great locust of the young locusts the other locusts in locust swarm just breeze with the vitality of the actual destruction by great army that I sent among you will have plenty to eat until your full and you will praised the name of the Lord your God, who has worked wonders for you. Sin causes us to lose blessings causes us to lose many blessings of the blessings we lose themselves.

He restore God is able to start again with you and provide blessings if new opportunities that come along so let me apply it this way. If your life has been ruined by the locus of sin that you are called upon to do is repent of the sin return to the Lord and find that he'll return to you. Secondly, the psalmist prays revive us again revive means to resurrect or make a life and it implies that the people as a people are alive once spiritually speaking late of the items are what they need to do is live again. The church always needs that's what revivals are all about that is coming to life once again of the alleged people of God, so that the church actually becomes the church. When we think of revivals, we tend to think of them taking place in the world as part of the self righteousness or hypocrisy of Christians.

I look out at the world and say the world's a terrible place.

God really needs revive the world needs to convert the world through the witness and life of Christian people, but the revivals take place in the church. You know they go through three stages. Historically speaking, also studied revivals of noticed it in the first stage is when in a local congregation under the powerful preaching of men like Martin Luther and John Calvin Jonathan Edwards Gilbert tenant George Whitfield or somebody like that the people of God is the word is explained to them the alleged people of God wake up to the fact they're not really Christians. That is why this country in the time of the early revivals in the days of Jonathan Edwards. They spoke a lot of revivals. What is the great awakening because what impress these preachers is that the alleged people of God are waking up to the fact that they really were Christians in the second stage of the revivals revival itself. It's one please awaken people the same preaching in the hearing of the gospel of God's grace in Christ actually come to trust Jesus Christ as Savior and are born again. So being born again life is present and that's what revival refers to in the first stage of the revival is when the world outside sees what's going on in the church was so impressed with what's happening among the people of God that the world actually comes to the church is one of the world is happening here. Something's happening is important to find out what it is and then they come under conviction and are converted as well that we live in an age is quite different from that anything like a revival and so we are making efforts to go out and reach people is good. We should say, but what is the basic need is the reviving of the people of God now and is what the psalmist is asking for is asking to be revive. We haven't had a revival in this country for many many decades, hundreds of years much and is one more thing about the stanza. And that's the reference to God's unfailing love in verse seven is used as an argument for the two prayers say he's asking God to restore the people and revive the people, but he doesn't plead the people's goodness or even their intentions to reform on the contrary, he acknowledges the justice of God's displeasure. What he does say is nevertheless God you are a loving God and you are endless in your love and so that's what I plead for I plead for your mercy, the justice of God. We need the mercy of God. We need to ask for it and ask for it. Sincerely. Thirdly, having reminded himself of God's past mercies and having prayed for a removal of those mercies and his undying medicine psalmist do next while. It's what I alluded to earlier.

What he does is get quiet and wait for God to answer. That's what verses eight and nine talk about the text says I will listen to what God, the Lord will say give you an illustration of this from another one of the minor prophets. His name was Habakkuk and in the early chapters of his book, you find that what he has been doing has been praying for revival God to restore the people is exactly the prayer we have here in the Psalm, and God doesn't do it, what God says is that he's going to send it judgment instead. Quite interesting when you compare Habakkuk with Jonah Habakkuk prayed for revival and didn't get it. Jonah got a revival and he didn't want which is a way of saying that God is sovereign in the matter of salvation, but at any rate.

Habakkuk was playing for God to send a revival. And God said no. Instead I'm going to send the Babylonians that great and terrible people in their going to overrun the land and at that point Habakkuk began to tremble because that certainly was not what he wanted and he feared it is anybody what and he you know what to do. So he got quiet and he said I'll stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts. I will look to see what he will say to me on what answer I am to get to this complaint. So express the problem.

He waited for God answering God did when God answered what God said was this, he said I am going to judge the Babylonians to so don't confront me with a moral problem saying I using the ungodly to judge those were more godly than themselves, not Babylonians will be judged in time. Judge my people first and then he gave that great revelation which had to do with what Habakkuk in the godly of his day would need to do during the time of judgment. It went like this.

In the meantime, the just shall live by faith.

Habakkuk 24. That's verse six carried over into the book of Romans Romans 117, Martin Luther rented it became the key verse. The cornerstone of the Protestant Reformation, the just shall live by faith.

Well, let me say it's never foolish to wait upon God because God is not slow to answer our problem is that we're impatient with them and that we hardly waited all of your following the flow of thought here. First of all you've got. Remembering remembering the blessing of past days takes your mind off yourself and get your mind thinking about God, how great he is, how good he is. Secondly, praying perfectly right to express the discouragement you feel and ask for a renewal Lord. I don't want to be like this. I beat lifted up again. I want to be restored. I want to be revive then because the prayer was serious wait upon God to answer and to actually do it and that's what the third stanza is about.

No one is waiting for God to answer one other thing occurs during something else he can do the waiting. But it's not an utterly passive waiting.

And so what you find in the last stanza is that he looks ahead to the future, anticipating what God is going to do the work. She's prayed a prayer of faith, please ask God to do something in really. He believes that God is going to do it and so while he's waiting for God to do it. Think ahead to what is going to be like when God doesn't. If you want to talk about the power of positive thinking that is missing is grounded in the character of he remembered that God had promised peace to his people say great Hebrew word shalom. He reminded himself that the Lord salvation is near those who fear him. His glory may dwell in the land and and so he looked ahead to see what this would be for you come to this last stanza and it's really bright up lifting joyful stanza.

It's the great poetic sections of the Psalms, verse 10 alone is mentioned many many times by people love and faithfulness. Beat together righteousness and peace kiss each other. We probably know it best in the King James version which says mercy and truth are met together righteousness and peace of kissed each other on that is generally understood as a promise of the way salvation comes through Jesus Christ. So you have conflict as it were in the character of God, where sinners are concerned by the righteous God must judge sin got a submersible daughter wishes to save them. So how is that resolved well hence resolved by the atonement. When Jesus died for sin. So it's at the cross, righteousness and mercy come together now. That of course is true, but I don't think that's primarily what the stanza is about to be part of the stanza is much bigger and broader and what is actually doing is looking forward to an ideal state in time when the harmony that is in God himself will also pervade and dominate the creation. Kidner, one of the commentators says that the stanza of the climax is one of the most satisfying descriptions of Concorde, spiritual, moral and material to be found anywhere in Scripture. Let's remember as a background that the devil is the great disruptor. That's what sin Dotson disrupts, produces barriers between people and it messes up the harmony of God's creation. Satan can never put anything back together again.

I can only break it up. God is a great restorer, and the reason he is able to do that is that he has everything in harmony within himself and he has the power to do that in us as well. Now the stanza.

As I look at it suggests three harmonies. First of all there's a harmony in God. Remember I said a moment ago that when we speak of righteousness and mercy in God, and we think of the cross and sinners week, sometimes picture that is if that is a struggle within the nature of the Godhead there is God, the righteous God, trying to figure out I was going to save sinners he wants to save them but he can't save them is always wrestling with this and he finally comes up with the atonement now may be helpful as a way of explaining what the atonement is all about, but it's a misrepresentation of God.

God is never in disharmony.

God is perfect harmony within himself and that's what the verses say these great attributes, all of them love and faithfulness and righteousness and peace there always at home in God and it's from harmony that all the other harmonies, the second harmonies between heaven and earth, that's a way of saying there's a harmony between God and man. Verse 11 suggests speaks of faithfulness springing from the earth and righteousness. Looking down from heaven we can see this is God's gift of righteousness which comes to us received on our part by faith as we open our hands to God's gift versus probably best thing is pointing to a state in which God's people live in faithful obedience to him and are blessed by him. The chief blessing of which is righteousness. That's what happens when salvation really comes to a people and people in large numbers. Seek God the glory of God dwells in their land. And thirdly it speaks of a harmony. A man man himself.

See these qualities, love, faithfulness, righteousness and peace are not among the incommunicable attributes of God. That is, those that belong to the very essence of deity that God can't share with lost things like omniscience regarding all all things omnipotence were never going to be all powerful eternity ever going to be eternal self-sufficiency were never going to be self-sufficient.

Most things are in God and can't be shared. These are not those quality seasonings. It can be shared their communicable qualities and, therefore, not only can they be shared with the people of God. They must be shared with the people of God. If they really are the people of God. In other words, if we really are at peace with God ourselves. Peace having been made with us by the blood of Christ cross that we will become peacemakers because we will be at peace and therefore we will help bring peace in an otherwise cruel warring and determinists world. I tell you something about Oliver Cromwell.

Sometimes the Psalms are reflected in incidents from the past. He was the Lord protector of England between execution of Charles I restoration of the monarchy under Charles II, and he love the Psalms is one of them in 16 September 1656 he was reading this Psalm in Whitehall in London the day before the meeting of the second Parliament of the protectorate was a Tuesday. Parliament open on Wednesday the next day and when it did Cromwell address the assembly and he based his talk in part on the song began by saying yesterday I read a Psalm which truly may not on become both me to tell you love and you to observe the 85th Psalm and is very instructive and significant, although I'm only going to touch a little bit apartment I ask you to pay attention clearly and then he expounded on the Psalm is an expression of his vision of hope that by their faithfulness, he was speaking out of people who profess to be followers of Jesus Christ there faithfulness to God's righteousness the righteousness itself may begin to reign in England and a better finer happier and more harmonious age might come. Well, I was never perfectly achieved. Of course, but it wasn't part and it still is. Wherever the people of God really repent of their sin and seek his face. See that's what it says in second Chronicles 714.

The key verse written of the world to the people of God says my people are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, and I will hear from heaven and give their sin and heal our land, God will hear, forgive our sin and then begin the process of healing may never been a period in the history of our country where that is more needed than it is today. See how that works. We begin with our discouragement. We got our eyes on God, we begin to pray.

We wait for his answer. We have a vision of a better age to come, and by the time we get to the end only our minds off ourselves on the bottom of the work to be done. God's blessing and glorious to his name is prayer.

Father, we are thankful that we had time to study is important. Psalm it's not one that is perhaps best known in its entirety. It's an important song deals with an important problem when we wrestle with our lives frequently, and it points us to something which is far greater, bigger than ourselves blessing on the world for the sake of Christian people who know you and have turn from sin to follow after righteousness or father sense of pride or arrogance. Pray that you would revive us again in order that we might be that kind of a blessing for the sake of other people and for the praise and honor of our Savior. Thank you for listening to this message from the Bible study our listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance is a coalition of pastors, scholars and churchmen who hold to the historic creeds and confessions of the reformed faith and who proclaim biblical doctrine in order to foster a reformed awakening in today's church. To learn more about the alliance visit alliance net.org and while you're there, visit our online store reformed resources. You can find messages and books from Dr. Boyce and other outstanding teachers and theologians, or ask for a free reformed resources catalog by calling 1-800-488-1888.

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