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The Awesome God

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
January 27, 2022 7:00 am

The Awesome God

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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January 27, 2022 7:00 am

Our God is a loving God. He's a God who cares for His people as a shepherd cares for his flock. But He’s also a God of power and might, and throughout history He has, at times, displayed that power in awesome and frightening ways.

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God is a loving God. The God who cares for his people as a shepherd cares for his flock.

But he's also a God of power and might and throughout history.

He has at times displayed their power and awesome and frightening ways and welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act biblically the book of Hebrews says that our God is a consuming fire while his grace and mercy are long-suffering, we would do well to remember that he administers perfect justice and although his power is formidable.

Its righteous application should ultimately cause us to rejoice with joy. Dr. Boyce as he examines Psalm 97 and shows us that while God's awesome power might cause us to fear him.

It should also be a source of comfort and strength to the believer, I worked during the last few weeks. This congregation has been blessed by our study of the Psalms, and I hope that's true of you personally. I know that's the case of money because of the comments I received were dealing with a section of the Psalms in which God is brought before our attention as the great King Lord of the universe ruling over all testifies to his sovereignty and the Psalms have been cashed in the form of instruction and example about how we should worship such a God, is a block of them go together.

Psalms 93 to hundred that had to do with the kingly reign of God and many of these are explicit instructions how we should worship him.

I was looking at Psalm 97. Today, and we see at once that it's tied to the previous Psalm Psalm 96 because it begins with two phrases that are found their board rains burst tenant let the earth be glad from verse 11's way of saying that they belong together and as a matter of fact that all of the Psalms in this block do. He's they do go together. Now they have different emphases of course.

And although they're all talking about the of God.

They get to our attention in different ways to look at this immediate context. Psalms 96, 97 and 98 each hail God's coming is the world's King, Psalms 96 and 98. That is the one that comes immediate lay before the one were studying and the one that comes immediately afterwards sore with delight at what is in store for the world when God returns they are exuberant praise songs will 97 a somewhat different 97 is talking about the same thing, but it is stressing the frightening, even awesome side of God's kingly rule rule is still something to be joyful about us where the soul man's but we are reminded, as we go into at that God's rule will mean the confounding and judgment of all evil and the establishment of perfect righteousness, and to be confronted with such a glorious God is an awesome thing in the the Psalm as outlined in different ways find when I study the commentary.

Sometimes they all more or less agree. The outlines are similar.

Sometimes downlines are very very different. That's the case here. Very very different. Marvin Tate divides it into two sections, splitting and after verse nine Derek Kidner that I often quote divides it into three sections that last section is the same but he splits up. The first type sections verses 1 to 5 and six through nine JJ Stewart Perrone see Luitpold owner commentators have four sections friends deluge one of the greatest of all the commentators has five sections. The new international version has five sections, but they're not the same as damages section so look at those outlined you have a great variety to choose from.

We work from the new international version. It's a good way of handling it so that sort of the way I'm going to go today.

One reason I have for following the new international version is that I think it's right and setting verse one off by itself, but is more as a theme verse for the entire Psalm.

It might even be looked upon as a theme verse for this entire block of Psalms 93 to 100.

Says the Lord rains, let the earth be glad let the distant shores rejoice when we talk about the rain of God. What you're really doing is talking about his sovereignty and his sovereignty is the greatest of all his attributes this coming week I'm going to be in Orlando for the legionnaire conference of the legionnaire ministries, but proceeding that there is a conference part of a seminar is being held with Russian pastors and leaders of been brought over from that country are going to be introducing the new Geneva study Bible, which will appear in a Russian version eventually and were taking time to teach some of the Russian pastors about the gospel in the teaching of the Scriptures. What I'm speaking about is the sovereignty of God because that's the key doctrine of all the other doctrines I was surprised also. When I finally got a print out of the list.

I find that the same evening after I teach in the morning there's a banquet in Dr. Joseph taunting me know very well is going to be present at the banquet. He's going to speak on the same thing as the sovereignty of God because sovereignty doctrine. God really isn't God and God is not in charge of his universe is not determined.

All things according to the counsel of his perfect will is no God at all.

Something else is God. Whatever it is actually determining what he does now somebody includes a lot of other doctrine but are to be sovereign God has to be all-knowing as to be all-powerful as to be absolutely free. Obviously has to be all-knowing in order to determine whatever comes to pass has to be all-powerful because even if he knew what was going on he could make it turn out the way he wanted to turn out of the was all-powerful and has to be absolutely free because it means it is not under compulsion to do anything other than that which arises out of his own nature. When you talk about the sovereignty of God you're talking about a very great doctrine. Indeed me and illustrate why that's so important. There are other attributes of God that we might prefer to think about his love for example. Certainly, that's a very great thing to know about God that God is a God of lobbies demonstrated it by sending the Lord Jesus Christ his son to die for our sin, required an infinite love to do that yet the sovereignty of God is greater even than his love. Because if God were loving but not sovereign, you might very well out of his loving nature desire to save a large number of perishing sinners, but be unable to do so. Lacking the power the sovereignty to do it.

So the sovereignty is that which gives substance and effectiveness to the love like a matter of justice. We talk a lot about justice today need the Psalm is going to talk about justice.

We say well that's an important thing that God is just, he's going to do what is right, but you see might have a sense of justice and desire to do what is right, but he lacks sovereignty that is we didn't rule over his own universe, he wouldn't be able to bring justice up and bring sin down somebody really is the important thing to talk about Arthur Pink said that he gives substance to all the other doctrines is what he set the foundation of Christian theology, the center of gravity in the system of Christian truth, the sun around which all the lesser orbs are grouped is sovereignty over going to see in the Psalm is that it also gives comfort and strength to the believer in every aspect of his life.

We tell your story to show how that goes right at the beginning was a man to work for Oliver Cromwell back in the days of Cromwell's rule of England. His name was pulse screwed Whitlock and he was an envoy to Sweden in the year 1653 he was resting at the village of Harwich in England before he was to sail to Sweden and he was very distracted at the time because of all the terrible things that were going on in the country.

He really was distressed for what was happening in England, so much so that he wasn't able to sleep yet his servant was traveling with him sort of a valet. This man realized that Whitlock was not able to sleep in, so he said to insert you mind if I ask you a question and Whitlock said no course not. Go ahead well. He said certainly you think that God govern the world very well before you came into it and Whitlock had to acknowledge that the answer to that was yes and he continued to. You think he will govern it quite as well.

When you are got out of it that he said certainly.

Well then sorry excuse me but do you not think that you might trust them to govern it quite as well. While you were still living. But like didn't have any answer to that but were told in the story that he rolled over quietly in his bed and went to sleep. You and I look out of this worldly site. Things are just terrible out there but God is managed very well so far, and he will manage after we are gone.

And certainly he is managing now the great reformer and friend of Martin Luther, Frederick Mike Linnaeus once wrote a letter to Calvin in which he was talking about the church's enemies and he said I'm glad that Christ is Lord of all, for otherwise. I should utterly have been out of hope. But that's just it. You say we look at the world out of hope is exactly where we would be when we take our eyes from the world and look to God. The awesome God is portrayed for us so vividly in the Bible then our hearts find rest we say we may not understand everything that God is doing. Certainly we don't. Why should we were not God. We can trust him because he sovereign and the Lord indeed reigns now let's look at the second stanza, verses two through six. This is the most unique feature of Islam in comparison with the other salt. What I mean by that is that the phrases that occur elsewhere in the Psalm are echoed in the other Psalms. We've already seen that about first one but we have in the stanza, beginning with verse two is unique to the Psalm. It is not, however, unique biblical language goes elsewhere in the Bible where we have an account of the theophany or a visible manifestation of God.

This is the very language that occurs to give you some examples. First of all, when God appeared to the people of Israel at Mount Sinai, he did so in such a awesome display of his power and majesty that they were terrified. Even Moses was trembling as it says in Hebrews, there's a way book of Exodus describes what happened in chapter 19 on the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning with a thick cloud over the mountain a very loud trumpet blast everyone in the camp trembled. Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was covered with smoke because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace. All mountain trembled violently.

The sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder. I well I been terrified at manifestation of the awesome majesty of God in the same phenomenon occurred later when Moses asked to know her see God we find it in the description of God's appearance to Isaiah 6.

Chapter other prophets such as Ezekiel chapter Ezekiel or Daniel chapter 7 or Micah chapter 1 and the other Psalms. Find similar language in Psalm 18 and Psalm 50 and it's there in the back at three last chapter 315 now the point of all those passages is that a manifestation of the true God to people is awe-inspiring, even to the point of bone shattering fear and trembling when God appeared to people at Mount Sinai were told they trembled.

Moses said, I am trembling with fear. Isaiah cried when God appeared to him what was me.

I'm undone. I'm a man of unclean lips, and I dropped in the midst of the people of unclean lips and mine eyes have seen the Lord God Almighty. Ezekiel were told, fell face down. Daniel turned pale and `minor prophet road I heard in my heart pounded my lips quivered at the sound decay crept into my bones in my legs trembled.

We forget about that aspect of Almighty God today because were so glib and so superficial in all of life including our Christianity says in Hebrews. Our God is a consuming fire. Yet it doesn't seem to impress us all.

That's the God with whom we have to do is say what I want to say here is that the common likeness of many Christians today in approaching God is not a sign of their deep acquaintance with MO. They probably think it has been actually of the fact that they hardly know God at all, and to treat God to some great heavenly body are parallel is true that is a God of love, but it's a holy majestic love. It's true that is a God of compassion, but it's a holy compassion. You see the two songs before this call upon us to fall down and worship God say that we are to bow down and worship and deal before the Lord our maker because is a great, great God now the next stanza in the new international version is again just a single verse, verse seven. I think again that our translators were wise in doing this because this verse again is something of a theme all the other Psalms and something that deserves to stand by itself. It really says in effect that if God. This God is glorious God these manifestations that have been given to people show him to be then he's the only God and he deserves our exclusive worship reads all the worship images are put to shame. Those who boast in idols worship him, all you gods understand how that works of God really is that glorious thinking of that analogy of something that would come closer to our experience of the best I can think of is this. If you have an opportunity as most of us don't to visit and spend any time with the president of the United States you go through some very impressive screening for symbolic check your passport to make sure your who you claim to be that you're not the criminals have no adverse record against you and then you meet you assemble in a waiting room and then you are escorted at the proper time through the hallways of the West Wing of the White House into the Oval Office and their awesome setting. As you look through the window and can see the White House behind to be the president. I've never actually met the present. I didn't in the Oval Office, but I've never actually been there. But now, imagine going through all of that step-by-step. Finally coming after all that awesome preparation and detection into the presence of the President of the United States and say are you the only president of the United States or is there another one around here that we should meet somewhere and now it's the awesomeness of the office conveys the uniqueness of the role.

That's exactly what the Psalm is saying here when you think about the awesome majestic holy character of our God say worship the Lord and him only shall you serve is a problem with verse seven and it's this.

How can the psalmist call upon the gods of the heathen. The idols presumably to worship God was really says worship remove you gods idols are nothing.

I can't worship and even if the psalmist is thinking of the demon gods and goddesses stood behind the pagan idols probably suppose that way the demons never praise God, against whom they rebelled.

Some interesting question is one that is discussed at some length by John Owen, the great Puritan theologian, and he suggests three options. First of all, the appeal could be to the nations that worship idols with this meaning, worship him, all you who serve idols turn from these false gods to the true God.

That's the interpretation of the verse is given to it by the rabbis who sought to preserve the Jewish targums.

They understood that the gods of the heathen were nothing, and therefore they reinterpreted the Psalm to have a missionary meaning is a second possibility, the appeal could be to the magistrates of the rulers of the people and that's because the word Elohim, which means God explore all sometimes has that meaning.

That's the way Jesus interpreted Psalm 82. Six.

For example, they were attacking him because he claimed to be the son of God. They said it's blasted by any subtle having to read Psalm 82, six, where the word God is used of the magistrates if he called them gods, to whom the word of God came in the Scripture can't be broken about the one whom the father set apart as his very own and sent into the world what you accuse me of blasphemy simply because I said I'm God's son. Let's second possibility. The third which Owen preferred and I think probably the new international version prefers to just because it gives us a straightforward translation is that God's here refer to the Angels is makes good sense and it might even be the case that this is the verse is referred to in the better-known passage in Hebrews chapter 1 verse six which says when God brings his firstborn into the world.

He says that all God's angels worship him angels do worship God. Of course it would constantly the holy angels day and night. Problem isn't there. The problem is with us. We who are worshiping idols of one sort or another are our idols well idols of self today.

Probably that's the greatest Bible of all idols of power. Some people sell their souls for back pain or sex for money.

The people of the world sell their souls. These idols constantly say thing of course is that at times it seems that Christian people do the same worry is that we do. We appear to serve these lesser gods suppose it's because we know so little of the true God.

We have so little sense of the awesome majesty of God, the very thing that the psalmist talking about and the reason we have such little knowledge of the true God.

As we have such little knowledge of the Bible Bible is where you find out about God and the same thing today is that people are biblically illiterate. Psalm 119 says I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

Fourth. Of these five stances returns to the theme of the preceding Psalm one that we looked at several times already. That is the righteous judgment of God, as I am in the surrounding villages are rejoicing and the reason they are rejoicing is that God is intervened in history to establish his righteous kingdom in some special way of presumably when the song was written that refers to some part to cure intervention of God in history for the deliverance of his people. Some people think of faith regarding Psalms as being like that that may have been the return of the Jews from their Babylonian exile. We don't have enough information here to say what it was but it was something historical we have to say is we look at it from our perspective today is that although there may have been particular historical manifestations of the power and the righteousness of God.

This world nevertheless is a very wicked place. So what we look for is the return of Jesus Christ in glorying and his millennial kingdom to be established at the end of the age is no such thing as perfect justice now have justice as much as possible. We work for justice, but we don't find it, those who are strong always oppress the weak, that they will continue to oppress the weekly unscrupulous will cheat the innocent murderers will go free perpetrators of horrible acts will go unpunished. But when Jesus returns there will be perfect righteousness the helpless will be defendant liars will be confounded and the guilty judged. This will be a great cause rejoicing by God's people. That's what the Psalm says lion. Here's an rejoices and the villages of Judah are glad because of your judgments. Lord I talked several times about the joy that the Psalms show in the righteous judgment of God. We cannot think of judgment that way because we see ourselves as those were standing in the dock were on trial. What we plead for his mercy to find Christ Psalms approach it differently. Psalms look at the injustice of evil in the world they're looking for God to come and judge it.

I suppose it's worth pointing out that that is the vision that we have given at the very end of the Bible and the book of Revelation when the Saints are gathered in heaven look down on mystery Babylon, which is judged for her many sins and rejoice in God's glory. They literally swell in praise of God's glory in judgment. That's one of the great passages in the Bible chapter. The only chapter in the New Testament where the word hallelujah occurs you mentioned earlier in this service today that the session had a retreat this weekend. We had a time in which the elders of the wives and staff people shared got to know one another and very prepared questions that we were supposed answer to facilitate that kind of sharing one of the groups I was and we had this question and said what do you want Col. Winton to say at your funeral and I I said, first thing that occurs to me as I wanted to say were all surprised Along with Kara Cora Hoag was in my particular group and that was far more serious. She said she already worked out her funeral arrangements. Every time she goes to a funeral. She takes notes and puts that the things that are valuable and that the she said she wants her her funeral to focus on the word hallelujah I pointed out the only place in the New Testament the word hallelujah occurs is in Revelation 19 and it's hallelujah over the judgment of mystery Babylon and as a matter of fact I said one of my favorite verses in all the Bible is in that particular chapter. And that's the one I will choose for the text it goes like this.

Hallelujah, the smoke from her goes up forever and ever. I said that I think will have to have a cremation and she said I'm going to add a codicil to my will and it's going to say Jim Boyce is still living which I sincerely hope he will not be.

I don't want them to have anything to do with my funeral. Well Saints. In Revelation, rejoice in the judgment of God that includes us when they were going to be that we may not think about it that way when they were going to look at the holy, awesome, righteous God ever going to say hallelujah he is put down people Lord our God reigns well what we come to the last stanza of the Psalms have a way of getting very practical limits with this last stanza does it's an encouragement to those were still living in bad times to hold fast to their profession as is one thing to say, the Lord reigns is quite another thing to look out the world and say doesn't seem to be doing it very well understand what is doing evil is out there and here's a song that says look hang on to two things.

First 10, first of all, hate evil is put yourself on the side of God and number two. Rejoice in the Lord.

Verse 12 and the sequence.

If we do hate evil. God will provide us with.

According to these verses number one protection number two deliverance number three light on our pathway number four joy so the hatred of evil leads to rejoicing which we are also told to do and we will do both. If we really know and love God is less question. Do you know God you love God so you're going to hate evil will naturally hate evil. Actually, the opposite is the case we love it were fascinated with it and we love sand and so we are increasingly drawn into it.

That's the case, how do you know whether you really are responding in a right way godly way to the evil you see in the world they Puritans were very concerned about that type of question one of the Richard Simmons wrote an interesting study was connected with the Psalm. One of the great Puritan divines. He pointed out that hating sin is a proof of our conversion and is very important for us to know whether we actually are. We converted the Bible says make your calling and election sure so he says how do we know if we really do hate sin in the Christian way gives evidence not of it.

Just kind of self-righteousness that we might have. We like people doing bad things. But whether we have that God-given hatred of that which is supposed to his own nature because a number of interesting points. Goes like this. Number one, we will know that we evil our hatred of sin is universal remains is the one who hates sin truly will hate all kinds of sin, but merely be selective, but some things but on others. Number two.

If our hatred of sin is fixed shouldn't be any appeasing of center compromise with it, but rather in abolishing of the thing that's hated number three, or hatred of sin is a more rooted affection than mere anger. Anger can be appeased, he says, but hatred remains and opposes hated objects before if we hate sin wherever it's found. We must hate evil and others in the world but most of all we have to hated and ourselves.

Sibs said anybody who hates a toad would hated most in his own bosom. Some of us are severe and censuring others.

We excuse things in ourselves. Number five if we hate the greatest sin in the greatest measure is our hatred of sin should be proportionate great sin should be hated even more than lesser ones and finally number six if we can be reproved for sin and not get angry say we truly hate sin then will welcome whatever help we may get in dealing with it driving up from our lives. Puritan divines said those who swell against reproof do not appear to hate sin.

Well, we look at the very last verse is what it says rejoice in the Lord, you who are righteous.

That is you who hates sin and praises. Holy names where the Psalm ends began by calling upon the people of the whole earth, to rejoice in God's rule and ends by calling upon us who know him and hate evil to lead the way in this worship, so I asked the question. Shall we not do which we don't praise God joyfully who will we don't do it now. When will prayer father were thankful for these passages points so much to your nature and link our worship to that which we know you to be run deed sovereign, holy, majestic, righteous God, and we are none of those things we are weak and sinful and not at all majestic, so we bow before you and we worship you. We desire the knowledge of yourself as the true God might be spread abroad in the earth ready to make us faithful as we try to fulfill our part in doing that because of our love for you which we have through Jesus Christ. His name is.

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 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. Please take the time to write to us and share how the Bible study our has impacted you. We love to hear from you and pray for you. Our address is 600 Eden Rd., Lancaster, PA 17601. Please consider giving financially to help keep the Bible study our impacting people for decades to come.

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In one scene, 299.

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