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City of Our God

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
November 15, 2021 7:00 am

City of Our God

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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November 15, 2021 7:00 am

How often do we stop and really think about the presence of God? Today on The Bible Study Hour with Dr. James Boice, we’ll continue our study of the Psalms with Psalm 48, which speaks of the splendor and beauty of Jerusalem, a shining city on a hill. But what’s so great about Jerusalem? Is it location, buildings, or maybe even the people?

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Nothing is ever going to shake God's kingdom today on the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce will continue our study of the Psalms with Psalm 48, which speaks of the splendor and beauty of Jerusalem, a shining city on a hill. But what's so great about Jerusalem is that location buildings or maybe even the people are welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act biblically in Psalm 48, Jerusalem was described as a strong walled city with towers, ramparts and citadels God protected and delivered Jerusalem.

How is God shown himself to be our fortress. If you have your Bible turn to Psalm 48. Let's find out together. Most of us know that when you're studying poetry you deal with symbolism and is hard relate to, imagine a palm or salt flat matter because the Psalms are portraying that is not involve a great deal of symbolism. That's true in virtually all the Psalms we have studied we find something unusual.

When we come to Psalm 48 and that is that the theme of the Psalm itself is symbolism which means virtually the whole Psalm is this is one of the Psalms of Zion Psalms of Zion or Psalms in which the city of Jerusalem and Zion, the mountain within the city upon which the temple was built is that focal point of the Psalm are number of them, not just these three here also Psalm 7684 and 87 and Psalm 122. Now some of them we know very well. Psalm 84 begins. How lovely is your dwelling place of the Lord Almighty. We know that because we have one of our hymns were singing very often again. Psalm 122 that begins I rejoiced with those who said to me let us go into the house of the Lord, we know that because often that's used the beginning of service says that call to worship by preachers now are many of them. If ever there was a Psalm of Zion, however, is this one.

I pointed out when I introduced the theme of Psalm 46 has that phrase, the city of God in that you find it verse four Psalm 47 is actually mentioned, the city of God by what seems to fit the pattern, but when we come to Psalm 48 we find it three times its merits equivalent verse one mentioned again in verse till you find it in verse eight, a little further on, and the whole thing really revolves around Jerusalem when we study and we find that it does however carry us beyond Jerusalem and I for several reasons. For one thing Jerusalem is according to this Psalm praised by all the people on the earth and so it's already seen as something that people from every nation and scattered across the face of the globe are aware of and praise because of the God of Zion. Moreover, it may very well be, as one of the very good students of the Psalms Derek Kidner), a varsity says that what we have here already in the book of Psalms is a foretaste of the way Jerusalem is going to be treated later on in the Bible, particularly in the book of Revelation. Revelation Jerusalem becomes more than the mere earthly city of heavenly Jerusalem, and it may well be that here in this Psalm we have a foretaste of that because Jerusalem seems to take on Collins that go beyond any mere earthly city is the dwelling place of God and the only true dwelling place of God is habit now when I read it. I'm not absolutely certain that Psalm is the one who wrote this was actually thinking in those terms, but he may well have been certainly true that they didn't view God as merely being localized in the city late spoke of him dwelling there in a certain sense and is a symbolic presence.

God on earth within the most holy place of the temple, but they knew the God welding helmet. So although it's not always explicitly have to always think probably they're beginning to think along those terms something else about the Psalm when it talks about Jerusalem is really talking about God because God city of God dwells in the city and is symbolized by you find that as early as verse one. Notice how verse one reads great is the Lord and most worthy of praise is what we would expect, but it continues in the city of our God is holy mount one of you find the same thing at the very end.

Go to verse 14 we find that the Psalm ends by praising God for this God is our God forever and ever. He will be our guide even to the end. That's a political device that scholars call includes the Latin words means roughly what it sounds flat which includes or embraces something else. It refers to the way in which in the Psalms.

Often you will have a Psalm or a section of the Psalm set off by something at the beginning that reoccurs at the end, it's a way of bracketing everything in between.

Best example of that that I know I was the sole it Psalms by creation of the way it begins is this our Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth, and it is exactly the same way all Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth. It's a way of saying that all of the body of the Psalm is going to talk about creation talks about man being made a little lower than the angels being given dominion over all the animals that are beneath him, although it's talking about creation is nevertheless putting that within the framework of the praise of God. And it's a way of saying when you talk about creation.

Make sure you get it in that frame because God is the one it was created all things and everything that exists, owes its allegiance and praise to him in the sampling about human nature is we don't do that in our fallen state.

Instead of looking up to God would look down the animals would become like them and we forget about God. Now that's includes the slightly fine here Sam is going to talk about Jerusalem that's the back of the Psalm but it is bracketed by aversive says praise to God, and by a verse that says this God is our God's way of saying that although were talking about Jerusalem will be really want to talk about is gone because it's his city. Peter Craig is one of the scholars studies of Psalms well says that the substance of the songs of Zion is saying it's true of all of them may appear superficially to be the praise of Mount Zion in the holy city but at a deeper level. It is the praise of God's presence and protection is symbolized by the holy mountain sanctuary. Now that's the way we have to look at it samples into a number of parts after that introductory verse which parallels the verse that concludes it.

We have the section that begins to talk about Jerusalem. It goes from verse two, verse eight, and then we have the same thing happening again, we come to that later. That first section falls into three parts were smothers the praise of the city itself is what you have there in verse two carries over to some extent in the verse three.

Interesting thing about Jerusalem that it is not the highest point of that whole central area of Palestine, but it gives the impression of being that when you approach if you come to Jerusalem from the South from Hebron. You actually have to go down a little bit to get to Jerusalem but around the city there valets and therefore when you approach Jerusalem from almost any direction. Jerusalem seems to be high and lifted up.

That's why in the Psalm. Jerusalem is praise for its loftiness is beautiful in its loftiness. The Psalms when they speak about going to Jerusalem only speak about going up to Jerusalem because that's the impression left when anybody came, certainly from the West or from the north and from the east, from the Kedron Valley but even from the South you brought from the immediate area of Jerusalem by the effective that's praising that city for its loftiness is something similar to the way we might praise the skyline of the city. We think of the tall buildings when we look at the city. What strikes us right away as the loftiness of the buildings in New York. Of course, for a long time city of skyscrapers. Everybody thought of New York and those terms in Chicago built those buildings that were even taller than the Empire State building in New York.

The New York put up the tree and powers and now in Philadelphia weeks, we have our tall buildings and some of them are still going up and when you think of the city you think in those terms. And that's that loftiness of the buildings which express the beauty is however great differences when we think about skyscrapers were thinking about something man may so we set a and we say look at this mighty Philadelphia that I built just like that, as are most of the bow babbling. That's not the way they thought about Jerusalem and they talked about its loftiness is its loftiness came from natural settings.

The fact that it was on the ridge there and that was something that God and when they say Jerusalem is beautiful in its loftiness. They never had in mind is beautiful because we built walls and we put lovely buildings there. That's with the policies that they were thinking in those terms.

Of all they say isn't it wonderful how God is put Jerusalem on for quite a different thing. Now although Jerusalem is beautiful for itself. Psalms well understands what really makes it beautiful is the presence of God. So that's where verse three takes us talking about Jerusalem beautiful in its loftiness. But, he says, verse three is because God is in her citadels and shown himself to be our fortress. So that's the framework with which the section begins. I was soon as he says in verse three God has shown himself to be our fortress that suggests the question you want to say well how has God shown himself to be our fortress.

And so that statement leaves in naturally to what is going to talk about in verses four through seven what you have here is the remembrance of a great deliverance and is because of this description, coupled with the similar descriptions are defined in Psalms 46 and 47 that most scholars tidy Psalms together seem to be written about the same mighty act of God to deliver the city from some foreign enemy. I don't know exactly who that is talked about it before the two possibilities might be that this is referring to the deliverance of Jerusalem from the armies of Ammon and Moab and Msgr. in the days of Jehoshaphat is talked about second Chronicles 20, or again it might be the better known deliverance of Jerusalem from the armies of selector in the days of Hezekiah. That's talked about second Kings 18 and 19. We really don't know this on the seems to be something that might be a clue.

It talks in verse four, about the Kings joining forces met on the surface at least, seem to fit better.

The armies of Ammon and Moab, and Mount Sierra three Kings three nations joining forces than it does a single army of selector rep from Syria. You might say, here's the close of the settles in all.

The problem with that is that these verses talk about them being confounded when they saw Jerusalem and in the case of the defeat of those armies I just mentioned. They didn't actually get that close to the city. They were turned back by fighting among themselves before they got there so it's inconclusive you say that's why I say could be either one. Whatever it is is a great deliverance. Verse five is an interesting verse, and it is somewhat hidden effect of a somewhat hidden our translation in the Hebrew really are just four verbs in a very pungent baked tonic capture the effect of what happened is God move powerfully against these kings. The closest equivalent we have, we might know about is Caesar's description of his victories in Gaul. We use three Latin words to describe anybody's studied Latin, knows that he said the knee be the key or we need weedy wiki however you choose to pronounce the laptop and that all that means is I came, I saw, I conquered was a simple as that was away had a bright on our have the same thing here. You have four verbs. Only in this case the Kings didn't conquer. They were conquered as a little bit hidden in the translation as I say, but what it actually says in the Hebrew something like this. They saw Jerusalem is implied doesn't actually mention Jerusalem.

They saw they were dumbfounded. They were overwhelmed they fled away in terror is what happens when God operated against this language.

You see, captures the effect what happened. Now Sam is at this point frozen to images because this must've been a rather astounding deliverance and they were spending some time to reflect on that one He said using these images so that they were seized with trembling like a woman in labor is overtaken by the birth pangs. That's a first image of men. The second number seven destroy them like ships of Tarshish shattered by any swim first image says that when God moved against him was inescapable.

As labor is labor, there's nothing that can be done to delay it. There is what happened to them. And when he says that they were destroyed like the ships of Tarshish what he saying is the biggest things we know. Moving about on the face of the earth. These mighty ships. Tarshish was known as a center for shipping these great great ships impressive is that Argos were scattered by the window. That's the way God scattered these powerful armies Ezekiel as the same kind of comment in his prophecy talking about Tarshish and those great ships your oarsmen take you out to the high seas, but the East wind will break you to pieces in the heart of the city is exactly the same kind of image O relationship between the two. As far as I can tell, but you see their casting around for something big to say that in the face of God is not big at all. He just scatters there is an interesting historical illustration about in the Spanish Armada came against England in the year 1588 of the story of the Armada. The Spanish Navy was the greatest in the world at the time and under King Philip of Spain. I wanted to conquer England and so the outfit is great Armada was called the invincible Armada and 130 great galleons supply ships or were 7000 sailors and more than 17,000 soldiers. Because the duty of the sailors transport soldiers to England where they were going to conquer the land on a sale in the summer in July they were delayed for a while but they finally set sail and the English Navy under command of Sir Francis Drake method in the English Channel battle and on for quite some time on and off about seven days. They couldn't just sale easily.

They depended on the window, especially the great galleons dead and is a great galleons were making their way up the channel to the coast of England. Ships under the command of Drake Attacking them repeatedly from the windward side, they had more maneuverability even though the Spanish galleons were greater in seem to be more fearsome.

The battle is going back and forth. Eventually, the English prevailed.

But what really brought a victory for the English and the battle was that when which eventually drove the galleons on the English Channel and as they were losing the battle.

They decided the best thing to do is to escape, so they tried to make their way across the North Sea around Ireland and come back down in the ocean see and got home, but the wind drove them on the rocks.

They had terrible destruction.

When the ships floundered in the sea sailors drowned when they ran up on the ground that were massacred by inhabitants of the islands and finally in the end only half of the ship made their way back to Spain was the end really of the Spanish dominion of the ocean. See how you would say, under the circumstances. Well English Navy certainly fought well and won a great victory is not the way the English looked that reason we know that is because they struck the claimant to commemorate the defeat of the Armada on the coin, there was this inscription, God blew up on them and they were scattered. Now that's what Sam is to say here of these armies of the moved against the cities using a naval image involving the ships to say that's just what it was like when the armies came against Jerusalem Lake came the great galleons moving against our city. But God just went in there God whether that refers to the armies of Ammon and Moab amount sear the armies of select. That is exactly what happened. What you do after you have a delivery like that. Well you do what the psalmist does in verse eight, you give your own testimony to what has happened is an interesting way it's written as we have heard so have we seen in the city of the Lord Almighty in the city of our God is a corporate testimony rendered by that generation saw the deliverance letter saying you say is this visibly have the whole Old Testament behind us a great deal of it at that time and so we have a long history and we know because of our history, how God is operated for us in the past we have the stories. What he did with the patriarchs and how they delivered our people out of Egypt, defeating that great armies of the Egyptians when they tried to cross the Red Sea process. The land I would drive out the Canaanites before as we heard all about our fathers told us all about. As part of our heritage. Now we seen it ourselves happened in her own lifetime as well suggest something like that should be true of Christians see when we become Christians. A lot of it has to do with what God has done in the past. It would be impossible for us to become Christians in any other way because you do in becoming a Christian is to believe in the gospel as you hear in the gospel involves content we hear how God sent Jesus Christ died on the cross for us in our place and how God by his power raised him from the dead's atonement was accepted and in a demonstration of his power made available to those who believe we have heard those things. We believe that when we become Christians by that and then we begin to hear about all the things of God is done in history.

First people to church with stories of the early church of the Reformation revivals and perhaps it comes up even to recent times is is important is that it can't be a Christian without knowing at least the gospel content of lab that really is not where it should stop. We ought to be able to say us. The psalmist does hear people do is they sing the song. What we have heard, we have now found to be true for ourselves as well. This God is our God just as he is operated for others in the past, we heard the story so as the operator for us in our own time was Christians who live for any length of time to give their own personal testimony of just that way was the conclusion of it.

Well, the last line in verse eight God makes her secure forever in a security Jerusalem had had because God gave it to her in any security you and I have because God gives it As we talk about the eternal security of the believer is a great doctrine and reflect on that. That's what we're encouraged to do by the song. You notice that at one point in the song you have that word Selah over in the margin probably means stop and reflect.

This is the point which were called upon to stop and reflect. We have this praise of God, followed by the praise of Jerusalem and statement of why God is being praised for his deliverance of Jerusalem and any others personal testimony that point you have the word it says stop and reflect on that that out of the year experience to now beginning in verse nine we have asked another section and as I said we probably also have another section of verse 12 and what is happening something like this verse one we have the praise of God to set the tone and then we have the praise of Jerusalem. Now the pattern repeats itself because beginning in verse nine we have rejoicing in God and then beginning in verse 12 we have rejoicing in Jerusalem, the same pattern is repeating at the very end. You have a verse that takes us back to God again. Now the praise of God has this going. It says that God is to be praised because his praise is spreading in two ways. First way is spatial. That's the say of spreading across the earth is with referred to in verse 10, like your name of God, your praise reaches to the ends of the earth. We are carrying on exactly that when we engage in world missions. We have a spatial concern where not concerned merely that godly worship here where we gather together on Sundays when we want other people and other places to worship our God to insult. We send our people to tell them about the gospel we do that in our own city would more broadly in our country and we do it abroad spatially. We want the praise of God to spread also wanted to happen temporally to say from generation to generation. And that's what you have in verse 13 people are to walk around Zion counter towers. Remember, ramparts, fewer citadels in order that they may tell it to the next generation. You said yourself without next generation comes along.

Isn't Jerusalem going to be there for them to see it for themselves. Why do you have to count the towers to tell it to the next generation of the toddlers are going to be there longer than you are on the reason has to do with his deliverance. You see the Army stay up against Jerusalem, but I didn't even touch the city after the thing was over the great battle was one. They walked around and there was Jerusalem just as it had been before.

That's what the going to testify up there going to say to the next generation so that as we have already seen that generation and it's time to also experience the grace and power and glory of God until the next generation and so on.

Jesus comes again.

I think this last section is one of the best in the song. At least it appeals to me where the people are told to walk about Zion go around or counter towers consider well her ramparts view her citadels. I can see them doing it wasn't a very big city for most of its history, you could circle the city.

I suppose an hour, but there they are said to do it there to go out actually look at the walls look at those towers say. Isn't it wonderful how God has preserved the city as a place where his name is known and honored and where we worship him: great Puritan like the section of the Psalm, and he reflected on at this. What he didn't have the and IV the new international version of the work from the King James of the authorized version and in the authorized version of the word for ramparts was bullocks and the text actually said marquee well her bullocks so and began to deal with that is I guess that's what we ought to do. Mark well her bullocks, but when he said that he was thinking not overtly Jerusalem. He was thinking of the church of Jesus Christ of the bullocks that is the tolerance of sin, of all the fortresses that God is throwing up around his people. So the world will never triumph over his church now.

He named a few of them share with you what he said. He said there are five great bullocks and here's the first designation and Constitution of Jesus Christ to be king of the church, King of Zion all kinds of kings and all kinds of kings throughout history, some have been cruel and cunning like Richard the second of England model that King. Some have been very magnanimous like Cyrus of Persia, and within a very gracious man, been weak, Claudius overall was a weak man when guard of the Emperor came to find him to make him the new Emperor after the death of the former. When he hid behind a curtain, and they want to become the king some of them have been very strong, and so on. But all kings of Barry this way all down through history has never been a king like in Jesus is everything a king should be is also offering all wise, all loving, compassionate, and all of that. At the same time and what is more, this is a kingdom that endures forever. Nothing to shake his kingdom come to the book of Revelation, where a number of these themes in the Old Testament come to culmination we read the kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ and he will reign forever and ever.

Stroke and so that's the first great work of the church and secondly says when we have a bulwark which is the promises of God, and they are innumerable Bible teacher some years ago was teaching a group of children. He said to the children I give you $10 and you can think of a promise for our good.

God is not given us, and then he said he might as well of offered them $1 million because God promises to give his all good things in the be all our needs according to his riches in glory.

Now the promises of God have that kind of scope and so when John Owen says the promises of God are great and innumerable. He was enunciating another great truth. Another great bulwark of the church, we should say when we begin to think about this promise is what the psalmist says Mark well those promises. Consider well those blessings impress them on your mind so you can pass them on to the next generation as are the truths upon which the church of Jesus Christ fees by which to grow strong in the joy that has the past other people.

The great malarkey of the church. According to John Owen is his watchful providence. God's watchful providence over the church. Now if you and I care for something, we generally keep a watchful eye on its true possession seem more true people have children.

For example, you keep an eye on them so they don't get into trouble sometimes you might take your eye off of and then you do have trouble, they may run out into the street. For instance, or they might get into trouble that you can prevent but you try to do the best you can. Now when were talking about God and his watchful providence.

That means he keeps an eye on his people.

He keeps his eye on the church is not forgetful and he doesn't miss any is not impotent. He can accomplish anything he wants and he sees all things, and he knows what's best. We talk about that is God's omnipotence is omniscience and his omnipresence all those things which are true God improved. A lot of this is our God and we talk about watchful providence. We don't say what God must've been asleep when a terrible thing happened know God has his eye upon us all in the directing all of those things for our good Owen is right when he says that's another great bulwark of the church mentions 43 God's special presence in his church.

These ancient Jews were very impressed with the way in which God resided symbolically in Jerusalem and that was true symbolic sense. It was a focus there for the worship of God. But we don't have anything like that. We can claim that God is present in our buildings in the same way in our cities when our country. We don't have that but we do have something better what we have is the presence of God within us by the Holy Spirit. Jesus self talk about it.

Did it in John 14 talk about the Holy Spirit. A great deal there in those chapters, and what he says in John 14 is that I will ask the father and he will give you another comforter to be with you forever spirit of truth.

The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him.

He lives with you and will be in you, the presence of the Holy Spirit in us accompanies the providence of God that surrounds us the kingship of Jesus over us and they promises and blessings of God which direct us as we go along our way. There's 1/5 thing and this is the last that I would mentions and he calls it the greatest of all, and to which all the others he says may be reduced, and this is the covenant of God that is arrangement that God is made with his people. The sacred obligation which he is entered to say that you will be my people and I will be your God and obey that forever never includes everything else you know when you begin to think that way for thinking of Jerusalem and the presence of God in the covenant. Thinking ahead, because obviously Owen is thinking about God's covenant with the church that transcends his covenant with the earthly city carried on to the New Testament to where those themes are developed in a very powerful way. In the developed in the book of Hebrews, the author of Hebrews is by telling us that Christians today are not coming to Mount Sinai were the ancient Jews gamer God gave the law that was a place of darkness and before which even Moses himself trembled.

He said know rather you've come to Mount Zion to the heavenly Jerusalem see how he is developing that this identical imagery you have in the song, and he continues this way you have come to Mount Zion to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God.

You've come the thousands upon thousands of angels and joyful assembly. We are part of that heavenly kingdom. The church of the firstborn's names are written in heaven. You will come to God judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect in Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel values. See all that is picking up on these themes from the Solomon he included, he concludes that section of Hebrews very aptly in view of Psalm 48. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken is be thankful and so worship God acceptably with reference at all unless with the Solomon's to last verse says this is our God forever and ever and he will be our guide even to the end. Sometimes I get impatient with the scholars, the scholars don't like that. They say that's an inappropriate ending to a Psalms in praise of Zion nurse talked about the security of Zion, the glories of Zion and now it says God is our God, and is good to be with us forever never actually says of the Hebrew even on the death of a salesman inappropriate and well what a scholars know anyway they really miss the whole point is a most appropriate and saw Mrs. Magnus as God is established Zion and doesn't establish me on his promise to be the eternal security of Zion. What about my eternal security. And what about definitely going to be with me, even on the death of his answer is all yes he is reason is as of the God of Jerusalem, the God of Zion the earthly Jerusalem and the heavenly Jerusalem is our God, and is our God forever and ever.

So I praise him for you say it the way the psalmist doesn't see concludes this great song Zion you say should be able to as God. Let's leave our out and make it my list. God is my God forever and ever and he will be my God, and God even the very end. So we will pray our father were thankful that you don't change, we change we changed not only from year to year. We change from moment to moment some little thing comes into our lives. It gets us thinking a different way. Our entire mood changes we act differently than we did this a short time before, you are not like that you are the eternal God, and you are all wise and faithful you can always be counted on.

And you are the ultimate security of your people studied assault here about earthly Jerusalem.

We recognize that it's a picture of heavenly Jerusalem, but even heavenly Jerusalem is only a reflection of yourself.

So we actually look to you we praise you in your glory.

We rejoice that were secure and you we would make this our testimony even testimony of the psalmist is EM's as we say this God yourself are my God, our God is a company of people forever and ever. So let 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 proclaimed 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 vascular 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.

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