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Prayer Amid the Ruins of Jerusalem

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
December 24, 2021 7:00 am

Prayer Amid the Ruins of Jerusalem

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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December 24, 2021 7:00 am

We feel a sense of loss as we watch our country turn from the godly principles on which it was founded. But can we imagine how it would feel to have our nation overrun and our places of worship destroyed? In this message, Dr. James Boice will be studying Psalm 74, a lament for the loss of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple. Psalm 74 is also a psalm of faith, and Asaph "reminds" God of His promises and His covenant with His people.

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We feel a sense of loss as we watch our country turn from the godly principles on which it was founded, but can you imagine how it would feel to have our nation overrun in our places of worship destroyed. As the psalmist grieves for Israel.

He makes a plea for God to restore his people. But God has been silence. So what do we do when all seems lost, and it appears God cannot be found. No Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act biblically. Psalm 74 is a Psalm of faith as well as a solemn tragedy is the psalmist ASAP reminds God of his promises and his covenant with his people. Let's join Dr. Boyce as he examines Psalm 74 and explains how we can boldly approach the throne of God. When we find ourselves in a hopeless situation from time to time in our study of the songs I've had opportunity to point out how important Psalm singing was that the juveniles those were those persecuted Protestants that were driven out of France in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, and they songs were a great source of encouragement and stability to this is recognizing by their enemies because under Louis XIII and Louis XIV. There were scores of edicts passed that forbid the Huguenots to use their shoulders.

Imagine that in bottom of much course they knew the songs by heart does hid their inbox and then they went out of the forest caves where they could sing with impunity and excitement.

Songs while in the year 1686, one year after revocation of the edict of Napa took away their civil rights and a number of these you that I was in the province of the following were dispossessed of their homes and their possessions were confiscated. I did the only thing they could do. They made their way overland on foot through the mountains to Geneva which even then was the city of refuge, but many of them died on the way. It was very difficult journey for them and when they arrived they arrived, exhausted and emaciated, but as they came into the city, they began to sing Psalm 74 in Geneva. There were lots of other persecuted people who had got there before the French-speaking and so as the Huguenots came in singing Psalms 74. The others joined in. Together this great song went up to heaven, why have you rejected us forever. Oh God, why does your anger smoldered against the sheep of your pastor, remember the people you purchased. Of all the tribes redeemed as your inheritance, Mount Zion, where you dwelt.

God did remember them in different ways from time to time because three years later, in 1686 the same song was sung in triumph by 700 of these survivors who returned to their homes, led by their pastor only are no and when they had last met in their own cities in their own churches. This was solemnly signed again. I one of the problems we have when we turn to the Psalms. We faced it before it's trying to find an historical setting for the or being sure what the historical setting is that sometimes difficult, even when there is a notation in the title line to tell you what the historical setting is the song doesn't have any title line to tell us where it happened. It gives us the author, but it doesn't tell us the historical setting. Inevitably, very little doubt what this Psalm is really about her concerns the fall of Jerusalem to King Nebuchadnezzar and his armies in 586 BC.

Important point is the destruction of Jerusalem and it's described again and again.

That's why I say weekend data from that.

Maybe 10 or 15 years after the fall of the city should point out that there are scholars would suggest another setting for it. They placed it later. There's a whole body of scholarship at once to move the Old Testament material is late in time as possible for a variety of reasons, and some of them placed the Psalm as well as others in the time of the Maccabees. That is when Antioch is epiphanies defiled the temple, one of the arguments they give in behalf of that, you can wait for what it's worth, is that verse nine of the Psalm says that no profits or laughter. None of us knows how long this will be the scholars point out that there were prophets who were left, Jeremiah and Ezekiel.

For example, in Jeremiah and one of his passages to actually in the 25th chapter. Also, the 29th chapter said that the captivity would last for 70 years only say that concern the fall of Jerusalem to Nebuchadnezzar must be later. Now I don't find those arguments persuasive.

Ezekiel was prophesying and babbling.

Jeremiah was carried away to Babylon.

You might ask the question Jeremiah 3rd novel in his writing that is probably how many of the people really knew what Jeremiah had written many many newspapers to say Jeremiah prophesies of the last 70 years I have any of that. I imagine this is the kind of thing that could easily have been sent in that. Hope prophets laughed last Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and they're gone and how do we know how long this is going to last. That's the way it's given the really decisive thing of my judgment is that Antioch is epiphanies didn't destroy the temple but he only proclaimed and what the Psalm is describing is the destruction very poignant and powerful, gripping, moving language something puzzling about that title, however, and that is that it's called a Psalm of assets asset we know, was a contemporary of David, because David appointed him as one of the temple musicians and this man might live a long time, but he did live this long as through all of the periods of the king's down to the final destruction of the city's audio explained that while might be another man by the same name. Nothing surprising amount as it was known as a musician.

Here, people that are musicians.

I might very well name their children are so hoping that they might be as good as he asked. That was the founder of the order would be one possible explanation might also be that the Psalm us in that day rather than calling attention to themselves and thinks that name of the well-known old ass of their own composition.

At any rate, whoever this man was he grieved for this fallen city, and he cries out passionately the godly men and moved to reestablish his relationship with his fall and the covenant people.

I was a very passionate song, read it earlier and you must be aware of how passionate it is. It's direct and honest as all these Psalms last 10 debate but at the same time. It's also respectful of God lives truly a model for how we are to pray when things are going well.

When tragedies come into our lives when it seems like the results of the tragedy are going on and on how to pray in a situation like that is on the gives us an answer.

Charles and Spurgeon wrote treasury of David Wright masterful study of the Psalm says we have here before us a model of pleading, a very rapture of prayer is humble, very bold, eager sexual heart of God is always moved by such entreaties outline that I think the best way is simply to treat it as stanzas appear in the new international version. They follow the flow of the thought that's what I like to do versus one and to form the first stanza, and once they strike the small stone. It's sad wailing tone. It's a lament. Jerusalem is been destroyed.

Temple is in ruins and the psalmists doesn't see any end of this says things to him that it's going to last forever. That's a recurring word. If you look for everlasting forever you find it occurring again and again throughout the song. Only one other Psalm is quite like there's not. Psalm 79, which is also identified as a Psalm of massive I don't know as I said exactly who this is with these two assets must be the same person because of two Psalms are very much like to use the same imagery and they both Laskin very forceful language.

God is is really going to last forever or other Psalm's a deal with the fall of Jerusalem. Psalm 137 is one and then there are parts of lamentations that do the same first stanzas grim is a grim situation.

This man's being honest is not pretending the things are nice when things are nice but at the same time. It's also a Psalm of faith and is indicated from the beginning, just as Psalm 73 indicated faith absent from the beginning to recall that is raising this question of why the wicked prosper in the godly don't do so well, and he says that his space and Pete had while Mike slept as he contemplated the prosperity of the wicked at the very beginning of the Psalm. He tells you where he comes out so you don't doubt that he says God is good Israel now have the same sort of thing here. Psalm 74 God is asked to remember his purchased and redeemed people. That is, those who he has set apart to himself.

Although the psalmist is ascribing bad times. He still understands that he belongs to the elect people of God as it is purchased for himself and so whatever the problems are. He's operating from within that framework. That's the way we auto approach God. God is in mind is asking what questions we may have wants us to come believing knowing that he's our God is purchased is in Jesus Christ and in that context, they look this is the problem that I have the second stanza is versus three to H and it's presenting a description of his ruined city blessing God to take a long hard look at what's happened. What is chiefly concerning the psalmist here is that the enemies of God destroyed the temple. That is the place where God is worshiped. I mentioned that in Psalm 79. There is also a description of the destruction of the city in the land, but in Psalm 79 asked of seems to be worrying more about the people that is the people that were scattered everywhere are being harassed or poor here in the psalmist so much that people that concerns them as the fact that the house of God has been destroyed is a very vivid poetry think to get into it using very lively language and when asked if he is doing. You can think of it this way is taken God by the hand and leading them through the ruins of the city and asking them to look at as he was actually happy saying something like this.there's where they broke in a hole in the wall over there and over.

There is where they set up their military standard is a desecration of the holy place, but they did it and that is where they attacked the car paneling and they did if they were like men wielding acts coming their way through a forest of trees like this came in here and on a beautiful stop they just hacked to pieces and then they parted down the ashes of the ashes of the of the temple, and furthermore, when they were done with that they said were to crush them completely. So they went out of the make sure that they destroyed all the worshiping places of you are going throughout the land, you see that you care. That's what he's doing those versus well that's pretty bold. It's bordering almost on impropriety in the way he talks to Bob and she's talking to God is a you and I do a lot of complaining that we complain and very seldom is to God usually complain ourselves. We complain to one another anybody listen to us, but here is asset. At least he brings his complaints to God is an interesting question here that a little bit of a problem for people and that is that in verse eight.

This man uses the plural to refer to all the assemblies are assembling places that new international version translates that every place where God was worshiped and that is been used as an argument for dating the Psalm in the time of the Maccabees rather than after the fall of the city to Nebuchadnezzar because the synagogues became so characteristic of the Jewish dispersion didn't develop until that time of Ezra Nehemiah was later there's probably a variety of explanations. Some have said well when it says places of assembly is referring to the various parts of the temple because you could assemble in different places like area and assemble in the main sanctuary in someone's basement of the building and so forth. Well it temple had courts and storehouses in chambers and so forth.

I don't think either of those arguments are really necessary, although there weren't formal synagogues. That I think that Psalm refers to leisurely at places they meant to worship and of the Jews went up to Jerusalem regularly every year several times for the feast of her prescribed peace when they were supposed to do that.

But everybody couldn't do what I can do it all the time. You can recall their families places where they worshiped and what the psalmist is saying here is that you spamming's enemy soldiers were content merely maturing on your temple actually went throughout the land, and they destroyed every place that it was customary for us to get together and worship yourself to do about it.

There is no place left for us to worship God throughout land really leads us to the next stanza, verses nine through 11, where this lament reaches its lowest point is an expression of utter abandonment. Clarendon, one of the commentators says this is the kernel of the song around which all the rest of it is folded systematically seems to happen here is that the Psalm descendents to this point and then from this point begins to move upward again is exactly what we saw in the preceding song always begin spelling words.

They came out that he describes his downhill path and he says I got turned around when I went in the church I went into the synagogue and then it starts back up again and ends where it began well have something like that here. This is the lowest point is I will what is this low point. What is it that passive is really complaining about. After all, city has been overrun.

Temple is destroyed all of the worshiping places for God throughout the land or nonexistent. The people are poor and impoverished. What is it that really bothers him the most is what he says we are given no miraculous signs of profits or left anonymous knows how long this will be. That's what really bothers him. There's no word of God in the land.

I was hard to read that without remembering the book of Amos because Amos prophesied that that's what would happen member in the eighth chapter of that minor profit Amos as the days are coming, declares the Sovereign Lord, when I will send famine through the land of the famine food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord say that's the bad thing. That's what makes it it's it's a terrible thing, no longer have a word from God. I don't think we can say that in America, I do think reaching in America is at an abysmal. What passes for preaching is hardly a word of God.

It all still attempts to entertain stories dramatic and kind of things that appeal to people in kind of mindless age in which we live. That's not good, but you can't say that there's no word of God available in land, maybe a lot of trashy books out there with a lot of good books to might be a lot of disgraceful television and radio programs with a lot of good programs to her baby. Churches that have virtually abandoned the evangelical gospel, but there are others, many of them, which the gospel is really breach our problem is not that we don't have the word of God are problems we don't care about the word of God and of course that's why we begin to lose don't care about enough to study and how many Christians also call themselves evangelicals born again people regularly study the Bible I was supposed to.

I suppose it is a group of Christians together now say oh yes you know was that a quiet time. We don't do it.

I don't think the church in America is composed of people who were doing that and not only studying the Bible how many memorize the Bible and were told in the Bible itself to lay up these words in your heart.

David says that in the Psalms, and we might not sin against God.

But we don't do that they would treat the Bible lightly and we allow countless other things, a far lesser value things like television but just commenting the Bible's place know the average family has television on 7 1/2 hours a day every person watches it several hours a day. Percentage of that spent in Bible study would revolutionize our age, but we don't do it. We really don't value us a questionnaire to place will apply at this is the low point of the Psalm is what's bothering asset we have the word of God. Do you really spend time in it. Your attitude should be that of John Wesley, the great Methodist evangelist who said his journal give me that book at any price give me the word of God well at the end of the previous stanza low point. The psalmist addressed himself to God, protesting that the offenses he saw were not directed against him so much against people so much for they were directed against God is a point in their wanton destruction of the temple, the enemies of God were actually just honoring God and so that led him to think of how great this true God, his God really is. Now, at this point he asked not only his enemies to remember God, but he begins to remember God himself. This is where the Psalm starts up in the commentaries are several ways of looking at these verses and referring to verses 12 through 17 the owner commentators see that imagery is referring to the deliverance of the Jews from Egypt and poetic language. This matter of dividing the water. Sounds like parting of the Red Sea, so forth.

This Leviathan is understood by some of them to be a crocodile and as a symbol for Egypt and so forth. They handled that way. Modern commentators influenced by a lot of comparative religious studies, especially the kind of things that were believed by the Canaanites say that Leviathan is actually a mythical monster, one that was overcome by bailing the Canaanite worship and so what the psalmist is saying here is that it's Jehovah my bail was actually conquered Leviathan that much sympathy with that point of view, but I'm not sure you really have to take the other view in that kind of interpreting the verses either. I think what you have here is something very similar to what you have and those great chapters of Job, where God is confronting job with this power to do everything in his ability to do everything in heaven and on earth is a shorter doesn't go on for chapter after chapter. But if that sort of thing.

You just take these references here, not trying to find some mystical meaning for the majestic face value what they say they seem to indicate that God works in history and is saving actually delivers for miraculous interventions. He provides life-giving water governs the light in the day and that seasons and the bottom line of all of this is that God is powerful and it's simply for us to do what Job did when at the end of that interrogation. He said in 42nd chapter verse two. I know that you can do all things, no plan of yours can be thwarted. That's where comes out is what the psalmist essay saying God can do all things are not only can God do all things he does is in charge.

EE ordains as the confession says whatsoever comes to pass. Usually Christians really know that they know that God is in charge of all of life. Therefore, even when they go through the most discouraging things in life and suffer.

Sometimes the greatest tragedies they take confidence in the sovereignty of a benevolent as I got I don't understand what you're going, but I know that you're the God who makes day and night. I know you're the God.

It makes the seasons.

I know your God, it was delivered your people in the past. I know you're the goddess of Jesus Christ the Savior so you know I don't know what's going on.

I know you're in charge of this is accidental and so I rest in you have to rest in you.

What else can I rest in.

That's what believers know that's what gets them through hard times.

Christians suffer. Things like everybody else, but they do it in the light of the knowledge of the power and goodness of Almighty God.

Now the last section, having now reviewed all that God is able to do and does is actually a plea for God intervenes. Expects almost end up verses 18 through 23. He does it in a variety of ways with the new and very powerful idea here is the covenant of covenant is an agreement we signed a covenant with somebody they redo something we agree to do something a sort of formal and you ratify a formal white now in the Bible. The covenants are sometimes like that but mostly they're an agreement that is established and entered into by God as it doesn't depend on our reciprocal response to it. The words God says I'm to make a covenant with you. I'm in a choose you to be my people. This is what I meant to do for you.

You have to live for me. Now that's the way it is usually used great example of course is Abraham established this covenant with Abraham to be his God and makeup in the great people through whom the Messiah would come read about the words of the covenant in Genesis 12 and you find God negotiating with Abraham. No grandma do this for you if you do this for me that's not the way it said it all. God simply says that Abraham leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you, I will make your name great and you will be a blessing I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse. And all peoples on earth will be blessed through you. Now that's a biblical covenant and here in this last stanza is almost as appealing to God on the basis of his covenant. Why is such a good appeal well because it's lateral something of God's promise that he himself is made if it was conditional, depending upon something that were going to do would be a basis for an appeal at all.

People disobeyed God.

God destroyed their city.

That's the possible appeal. Could you, but the psalmist says we failed all right, no doubt about that and you judge does no doubt about that. Look around is all the rubble but nevertheless you're the God of the covenant. You made a covenant with us to be our people remember how I began the people whom you have redeemed and purchased for your own possession.

You've done that we belong to you and so my question is how long is this going to go on before you actually intervene begin work with this again and reestablish us as we pray, we might be reestablished. That brings me to what I want to say in conclusion, I mentioned Spurgeon earlier one of the interesting things that Spurgeon writes about your familiar with his writings is prayer, and in particular praying to God with arguments. Spurgeon was very big on that we sometimes get edgy there. We say you don't argue with God well know, that's right, you don't argue with God. But when you pray, pray, with arguments because really it's only a way of saying or praying rationally out of it is not a good God is good for you, but they rate Spurgeon said that's what you want to pray your mighty reasons and with that in mind, I want to go back and just look at pictures that man in the midst of a ruined nation with the ruined city and a ruined temple things seem to be going on on personal intervention by God is asking God intervene and why does he ask him to do it well. Here are the reasons number one God should act because the people who are suffering from his harsh but righteous judgment are only sheep how he begins their poor silly defenseless things just shape the sheep of his pasture, have pity on legacy all their sinful and their wayward associate have pity on us what he say number two budget act because he's already purchased these poor silly defenseless people for himself, that is already spent a great deal of effort on them and they know better now than when he first redeemed them. Solvay redeemed them when they were just poor silly defenseless things I tell because that's what they are. Number three budget act, not merely because the people of suffered because his temple has been destroyed and so that prescribed formal worship of God by his people to cease is good for God to be pray, but I can't do it is no temple so the psalmist once God actually can get the worship of God going again number four God should act because the people's case is hopeless.

Otherwise, see this disturbed and are no miraculous signs or no profit where they got a company can come from human beings at the Cumberland.we can help ourselves running things over to get any help at all has to come from you. Number five God should act because the mocking by Israel's enemies is really a mocking of God's not that our name is being discredited without any name in all its God's name is being discredited choices for your own sake. Your name might be honored. Number six God should act because he is acted powerfully and wonderfully in the past is nature make his greatness knowledge done it in the past. Why shouldn't he do it again. That's what you're like now that I'm back what he said. Number seven God should act because he has entered into an everlasting covenant with his people and the terms of that covenant call for God to be with them forever truly been unfaithful call Romans 331 if some did not have faith about their lack of faith nullify God's faithfulness. God be true and every man a liar. Spurgeon calls that verse the master key Nasser's pleading because whatever happens, God does not break his covenants only appeal is covenants we have a forceful argument.

Indeed, number eight God should act because it is fitting that his enemies be rebuked the poor and the needy praises nine will happen in the acts fitting that it be done. Finally, number nine budget act because it is his cause, not a mere man's because it is in jeopardy God's purposes are being opposed by Israel's enemies be worth taking down we were using this pattern model a check board for your own prayers ever pray like that suggests that if you're struggling with something important in your life. If you have a difficulty of God doesn't seem to be answering why don't you just do a massive does make a list of the reasons why God should answer your prayers to make a list like this well might be getting somewhere. You certainly be learning something about God and God will answer.

God doesn't answer. Well, you probably find that your prayer in such a good prayer. Anyway, arguments really don't hold up. Maybe God will use it to lead you to pray for something even better pray father were thankful for this lawman for the way it bears the soul. This honest man asked were not usually that honest, we put on with other people because well we have an idea of how Christians are to behave and how they are to speak of Alioto pray quite want to let out what's really in our hearts with yours Amanda did it and get who did it.

Recognizing that you are his God and what he really needs to do is come to terms with you and Zoe. Please let his righteousness himself doesn't have anybody plead your character, your power, your confidence in your nature or other teachers to do that. We are so self centered teachers what it really is to be God centered and so actually have a Christian world in life you we pray in Jesus, 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.

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