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The Fear of the Lord is the Beginning

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
December 28, 2021 7:00 am

The Fear of the Lord is the Beginning

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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December 28, 2021 7:00 am

In Old Testament times, God dwelt in Israel, and was known there. But today, God is known in Jesus, and His grace is available to all who are called and yield to His lordship. In this message, Dr. Boice examines Psalm 76, with a focus on God’s intervention for His people and where God can be found today.

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Just who is God, and where can he be found in this almost time God was to be found in Judah with his chosen people. That was where God lived and where his name was honored to find God, the nations would need to look to Israel. Welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act biblically in Old Testament times, God dwelt in Israel and was known there. But today God is known in Jesus and his grace is available to all who are called, and yield to his Lordship. Let's listen as Dr. Boyce examined Psalm 76, with a focus on God's intervention for his people, and where he can be found today is not always easy to tell why Psalms are placed where they are in the solar anymore than we can give justification for the placement of every him in our hymnals. Often their sections shorten hymns that under certain sections in certain Psalms that into certain sections of the shoulder bonded together by a common theme, and always easy to tell why they are exactly where they are. In this case, however, these Psalms follow one another in an interesting way.

Psalm 76 certainly on Psalm 75 and there's even a sequence that involves Psalm 74. Think back to our study of the earlier Psalms. You may remember that Psalm 74 looked on the violence and injustice that the psalmist saw in the world and ask God to intervene. We got there the next Psalm Psalm 75.

God is speaking himself. There's a Oracle their revelation from God, in which God says it is going to do that is going to do it in his appointed time.

You can wait for that is going to happen and I will get to Psalm 76 we find an historical example of when God did exactly that, intervene, he destroyed Israel's enemies on some significant occasion question what occasion it really was certainly what the Psalm is speaking about and so we we reach a triumphant note now and all three of these Psalms, God is presented as the judge, the righteous judge who is not a passive judge way we think of justice that is man sitting at the bench, sort of waiting for all of the evidence to be heard on both sides and making sure that the trial is conducted judiciously, but rather in the ancient world, that judge was also the king who not only prescribed over the court of justice, but actually establish justice, establish justice by meting out judgment. That's what these Psalms are about Charles Haddon Spurgeon wrote of the connection between these two Psalms that is 75 and six saying faith in the 75th Psalms song of victories to come. And here it sings of triumphs achieved the present Psalm is a jubilant war song pay on the King of Kings to him of a theocratic nation to its divine ruler Bally's fighting Psalms always a field of fighting people.

That is, Christians who were engaged in combat, especially in past ages. For example, the Huguenots sign this as they marched in the battle and more than one occasion the Covenanters in Scotland that the same there's a particularly famous story about time and they were meeting and hidden area and suddenly Amanda was called blotting clabber house fell upon them with his troops. They were English of course talking on mobile Scots and Scotsman were ready for this and we girded on their swords. They marched out to meet the English as they did they sign the soul. Psalm 76 was sung by the English after the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 was a favorite song of the Puritans who didn't fight so much. At least once again to this country but it was a favorite of theirs, and is from this Psalm that they dried the name of one of the earliest communities in America, Salem, Massachusetts, because you notice in that second verse it says his tent is in Salem Is Dwelling Pl. in Zion so they called their child in Massachusetts Salem as a way of saying they wanted God to dwell there. They wanted to be a godly city. Now the opening stanza of this Psalm in which that name occurs versus one through three sounds that most people today. The narrowest kind of provincialism because what the Psalm says is that if you want to know God, you're gonna have to get to know him in Israel. That's the only place is known and not only does it say it repeats it, you can't miss it. Can you in Judah is God known his name is great and Israel is denizens Salem.

Another name for Jerusalem is dwelling places in Zion so I got to know God, here's where got to get to know it now as I say, that sounds like a narrow line of religious provincialism but doesn't know the Bible are going though. I say yes, but that is true. That is where God was known before the coming of Jesus Christ. If you want to get to know God, you had to get to know them and Israel. Furthermore, we are Christians with a knowledge day that we say exactly the same kind of thing. When we say God is revealed in the unique and Exclusive Way in Jesus Christ want to get to know what God's personality is like you find it in Jesus Christ, brothers, that kind of narrowness both about Judaism and Christianity. Now think about that a little bit. First of all, the Psalm says in Judah is God known no one until relatively recent times when communist communism swept is that philosophy over much of the world. The nations of the world and the people of those nations for the most part confessed that there was a God and others were very few atheists and those who were certainly in the minority, and didn't dominate a nation of the velocity in any way. The problem of course is everybody had their own ideas about God and so I had various names in various characteristics and in some places. Even today there more than one God, and the questions are who is the true God if it really is a true God, and if there is, how do you really get to know him when I want to suggest is that if it's left up to us.

That is really to human beings is no way to answer the question because you and I don't have a perspective from which we can get the answer. God isn't here to be examined know if you want to say what is the truth or falsehood of the scientific proposition you can put into the test, you can see this reticular theory works which can't do that with God is over us, beyond us and above us invisible to us and he just doesn't subject himself to that kind of analysis so if you are approaching the question from a merely human point of view.

There's no way of getting an answer. There is that is less God himself makes himself known and that courses what Judaism and Christianity declare that God has made himself known in the Old Testament times he did that revelation of himself to the patriarch so Abraham because of the revelation of God to Abraham came to know the true God and so did his son and his son after him and their children and need to Jewish people as God continued this kind of revelation. One of the revelations of God was on Mount Sinai at the burning bush to Moses where God initiated the revelation attracting Moses to the Bush what he approached God revealed himself in God gave Moses his name is that I am what I am great name for God and Jehovah are Yahweh on the Old Testament means that God is self existent that self effecting that he's eternal that is holy and many other things beside so we turn to the Old Testament we say yes God revealed himself in Israel.

And so he wanted to find out who the true God was. That's where you had to go. Jesus himself said the same thing when he was talking to the woman of Samaria. You may recall, she wanted to raise the discussion about spiritual things and so brought up the traditions of her people and she sucked them over against the traditions of the Jews, and she said you know here we say on my garrison is a place where you worship with you Jews say well Jerusalem is a place, got apportionments right. I believe we know anyhow.

And Jesus replied in a most politically correct statement is said to her. Salvation is of the Jews revealed himself to Israel dismiss the Samaritan claim, but did go on to say that the time is coming when the people of God are not going to worship either on terrorism or Jerusalem are going to worship in spirit and truth.

That is because of the change that he was bringing in the world, he himself being the son of God. Now we start with that second thing we want to say because you're speaking of the same point. From our perspective and not from the Old Testament perspective is that not only in Judah is gone no but in Jesus is God known because these is that speaking of himself. I am the father are one. He said he was seen me has seen the father even his disciples didn't quite understand that he had to explain it to him what he was saying is I am the revelation of the very personal God want to know what God is like probably things that we operate. Holiness is defined that by looking to me by the result that is that for those of us in the church we don't preach philosophy but we preach Jesus preach Jesus Christ. That's the one that we present to the world. Paul did that in Athens when Paul came to Athens is very sophisticated Greek city capital of the Empire, not only politically but also religiously and philosophically began to talk about Jesus and people heard that the got interested in so a group of the Epicureans and Stoics called them. The people together and brought them to the Areopagus, which was the meeting place of the philosophers and they said I would like to hear what you come to teach us and so he began by saying is I was passing through your city. I noticed that you're very religious because you have ever shared all kinds of thoughts was that Paul did mention it, but it was said by the ancients themselves that there were more gods in Athens of the work people follow everywhere you went there was an idol and Paul set as a matter fact I was walking around among those various folders. I noticed one that bore an interesting inscription was to the unknown God. They were afraid they might miss a God so was the unknown God. And maybe they gods they had been worshiping the true God of all he ever really Shirley was what he said now the one that is unknown to you. I have come to proclaim. So he began talking about God as the creator who had made not only the universe themselves as individuals. God, who had determined the placing of the destiny of nations including the great nation of Greece, and the God it was going to hold everyone accountable in the day of final judgment began to get through the that point and they began to talk about Jesus who would be the judge and whom God proved to be the judge.

By raising him from the dead. So Paul and this ancient capital began by reaching that's exactly what we do today or at least we have to do it today.

The church of Jesus Christ to do with the we have a message and as philosophical over talk.

Sometimes I talk about that.

I say our philosophy is the sleep opposite of the secularism of the materialism of the relativism bar day. We have answers to all of those various philosophies that have coalesced and are very secular society, but we don't preach philosophy. We preach Jesus. What we say is that if you would know what God is like, you have to come to know Jesus. That's exactly the same thing for us today as the Jews meant when they said in Jerusalem or in Judea as God known. Furthermore, what we maintain is that it is the knowledge of God is the beginning of all wisdom and we go back to the Old Testament for a statement of that as well. In Proverbs 960.

In spite of everything I've been saying here about the knowledge of God. We must get the idea. Certainly not from the Psalm that were being theoretical Burgess doing is raising kind of a speculative question. Is there a God who I don't know you think this is a lament doesn't think Jesus can be known who think again.

The began by giving reasons for that.

This is not a speculative matter at all because in the context of the song. The importance of knowing the true God is because the true God acts in the ax in certain ways we ask is, according to righteousness and was own standards of holiness and justice. We have to come to terms with that.so is a very serious matter.

And that's the way the Psalm proceeds.

The theme of the Psalm is more apparent in the opening stanza in the Hebrew than it is in English because it's always possible in the translation to capture the overtones.

Every word is used, but let me explain that that word that is translated can't. In verse two, his tent is in Salem is actually that word for layer.

The attempt was a dwelling place. So the word was sort of broader worded attendance sort of thing. The kids pitch in the backyard the office but tense what people lived in Serbia are equivalent of the house, but in this particular case it has to do with the dwelling place of an animal, particularly a lien so it is also translated, and rightly layer it occurs that way. Psalm 10 verse nine where I version renders a cover place where the animals stay, but that's what's involved same way and some 104 verse 22. It's translated dwelling that is use of a dandelion of the reason I point out is to say in his very first stanza the way God is introduced as as a lien crouching in Judah on Mount Zion, ready to pounce is the image that comes across Alibris as a way of saying this is a God to be reckoned with bodily fear around with God is with us almost say this is led to elevate commentators on the Psalm. The title it various Psalms have different titles. Commentators with two of them call Psalm 76 lion of Judah. One of them does that. The other recalls that the mighty God of judgment is picked up in the second stanza of the Psalms is it easy Psalm to break down and that stands that you have in the new international version are perfectly valid first reverses this introduction we been studying in the main body of the Psalm. Verses four through 10 and after that is an application of the very end. Now, his main body of the Psalm describes a great victory in which God judge a the powerful YM God, ready to pounce on his enemies has in fact bounced so it describes this and you find two themes here that are interlinked.

One is a description of the actual historical victory whenever that may be the end. Then, secondly, are what we would probably call theological reflection upon the very characteristic of the Old Testament is a God acts in history and then that the writers reflect on the meaning of that always done it that mean anything for us today, and I say yes of course it dies because God is a God of judgment. We have to reckon with them in the judgment and so interspersed with the description of the historical description are the statements about judgment. Now that's what we want to look at these verses obviously describe the battle.

Valiant men lie plundered. They sleep their last sleep, but one of the warriors could lift his hands at your rebuke, O God of Jacob. Both horse and chariot life still I read that and we say well what great battle was that who was defeated in this way, the way the protected Israel is nothing in the Psalm that is something off. Enable us to say it certainly was this battle and not another.

But there is an incident in the Old Testament about which we know the doesn't fit circumstances.

I sigh same campy absolutely sure, because nothing in the Psalm that makes it clear beyond any doubt in the near 701 BC, the Assyrian king. Sigh. Karen marched against Jerusalem. He had defeated many of the cities city states, nations round about he encircled Jerusalem and he sent a letter to the king of Jerusalem was Hezekiah at the time identity boasted about the victories that he had already achieved. He said we have already defeated goes and has written an rec.on the people of Eden.

All of fallen out their gods and protect them. Why should your God protect you what you want to do is surrender before I tear your city down.

Hezekiah was a believing man. This was a serious matter and so were: the story you find at several places in the Old Testament and second Kings, chapters 1920 and Isaiah to chapters layer 36 and seven.

What you find Hezekiah doing and in those chapters is going into the temple and spreading this letter from the Assyrian king before the Lord way of saying here it is. Look what I'm dealing with now I bring it to you began by acknowledging that what selectmen said is true, quote it means that it is Lord. The Assyrian kings tightly waste these nations and their lands. They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them. Here's where the faith comes and goes on to say because they were not gods but only wood and stone fashion by men's hand. Now all Lord our God delivered us from his hand so that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone.

Oh Lord our God, as I said I was a very believing prayer and very desperate situations. And God heard it answered the story tells us that that night the angel of the Lord went through the Assyrian camp until the hundred and 85,000 of the Syrians old.

When I woke up in the morning. There they were all dead and selected a figure that that was a good place to leave so he backed up with the hiring marched his troops down the road back to Syria where Peter that year he was assassinated by his own sons as I say there's nothing in this Psalm to prove that's exactly what it's referring to, but it certainly does fit the situation and there's at least dissidents favor the translators of the Old Testament into the Greek language that is the Septuagint thought that this is what it referred to because they added title to the salt you look at our Psalm it says for the director of music with stringed instruments Psalm of acyl song what the Septuagint translators added was concerning the Assyrian Valley Assyrian is inaccurate, so they obviously thought that's what referred to another person about it referred to that as well and that is George Gort, George Gordon. This makes real English major to know who George Gordon is that's Lord Byron sort of very attractive rate of England among the romantic poets who actually had leaving them because some of the things you Donnie. Very little thing verse and he wrote about this particular defeated.

It's the one that begins the Assyrian came down like a sheep, like a wolf on the old.

His clothes were all garnished with silver and gold to know how that one goes what he describes as any borrows language of Psalm 76 in order to do it is a pretty good description of what was the result. After Angela gone through the camp. Here's Byron's verse for the angel of death spread his wings on the blast and breathed in the face of the followers they passed the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly chill in their hearts, but once he and forever were still in there lay the speed with his nostril all wine but through it. There rolled not the breath of his pride and the home of his gasping lay white on the turf as cold as the spray of the rock beatings serve there lay the writer distorted pale with the dew on his brow and the rust on his mail and the tents were all silent banners alone glances up lifted the trumpets on below. Now I don't know if you like that kind of writing is pretty good and have any rate, it's a description of the scene is Lord Byron sort now I said that it's a natural practice of the psalmist after they describe an historical event to reflect on it. If I that throughout the Old Testament. And this is exactly what you find here what you find mingled in with this description. In this middle stanza are reflections only on judgment but perhaps on the final judgment yet to come. Derek Kidner, who is one of the commentators a good one on the Psalms calls this a vision of the end time in which God is first seen striking the final blow against evil everywhere judge so now we want to do with seen historical setting like they will go back and look at the solvency what it actually says about the final judgment.

So over 7000 is God alone is to be feared.

Verse seven and stand before you. When you're angry.

Let's reflect on that people hear all kinds of things people are afraid of failing. People are afraid of ridicule deprive nation lacking life's necessities, sickness, accident, danger, and most of all, they fear death or dying. Now those are legitimate fears but what particular verse is saying is that compared to having to face God in the final judgment.

All of those things on the fadeaway of the virtual say when psalmist says God alone is to be feared is not denying the fact that when the Syrians around the city. The people were afraid for quite a right and fearing the Assyrians but says that's nothing compared having to face Almighty God. The book of Revelation describes that you know a great picture of the judgments from the ninth chapter, verses 16 and 17 is talking about the people of that day when God finally does unleashes judgment and it says they called to the mountains and the rocks, they called fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb for the great day of their wrath is, who can stand think of Jesus Lamb of God being the instrument of God's judgment. That's described in Revelation Revelation as well as other passages such as the site of something to be feared as a second reflection on the nature of God's judgment and it's what you have in verse eight. It's that every mouth is going to be silenced by God's judgment. All are going to get client on the most objectionable characteristics of people who have done something wrong is that they'll never shut up about it. There always making excuses for themselves and finally you want to say some of the lawyers did say back in Watergate to the people that were always introducing reasons to produce extenuating circumstances. Why, what they did wasn't so bad they said forget that self serving way of speaking always on certain always have the last word.

They want to get him what the psalmist is telling us here is that in the game day of God's judgment will be the last words, everyone's going to be silent. God speaks, you know, Paul writes about that in Romans third chapter verse 19 says whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. One day you're going to stand before God, you're not going to have anything to say defense. The third principle here is in verse nine and this is the good news of the bow has been much good news. But the good news is this God mingles mercy with wrath for the afflicted is a one sided his wrath. The other side is mercy and what this Psalm tells us is that the mercy of God will be shown to the beak and the afflicted of the earth, and the historical judgment that's described in the Psalm that was mercilessly to Israel. They were that the afflicted. They knew God, they call upon him humbly as Hezekiah led the way and God responded he delivered them from their enemy in our case as we look ahead to the judgment of the last days. It's going to be mercy to those who have trusted in Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord is on this earlier.

You know what we were looking at a previous long-sought by reference to Hanna's song when she presented her son at the temple we sought in reference to Mary's Magnificat says in one place and that well-known him.

He has brought down rulers from their thrones. What is lifted up the humble person was humbled yourself before God is filled the hungry with good things, but sent the rich empty away are you hungry for the spiritual blessings that only God could give his helped his servant Israel remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendents forever. You really servant of the most high God is the fourth point that we find in verse 10 it is that God is glorified even in his wrath see shortly your wrath against man brings you praise and the survivors of your wrath are restrained. This is Paul's answer and the ninth chapter of Romans as to why God doesn't save everyone know that's a great puzzle to Babel of God is all-powerful and is loving, why doesn't he save everyone. People get out of it by saying well God gives everybody a chance. Some of them say no well all God did was give you a chance everyone would say no back that some are saved or because God doesn't take no for an answer and so he gets in there and regenerates them as a result of which they say yes, but then that introduces the question one. Why doesn't he do that for everybody an answer. Paul gives us a very hard answer for people today to accept because we know very little about God's ways are not our ways are ways are quite different from his answer, Paul gives is this all else God wants to be glorified as God is in all his attributes. He wants to be known as God, and not only does God want to do that. That is right right the God be so no so God is known in his grace, mercy, compassion and love to those in the essay Savior Jesus Christ demonstrates his love their God is known in his wrath and his judgments in passing by those passersby all brings in a great example from the Old Testament's electorate would have been a good example. But the example Paul mentions in that chapter is Pharaoh comes from the Old Testament. What he says is that I'm not making this up on getting it God's book is what it says the Scripture says to Pharaoh I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth. Therefore God has mercy on me wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden God harden Seneca revenue judge Jim was glorified in the judgment. God's not in the heart of Hezekiah people of his day save them at. He was glorified in his salvation our people are always angry with God in his judgment, and they always have been. They are day when you talk along these lines, people get very angry with God and write the God that why should God do that I could never believe in a God that does like I hated God like that make any difference when you get angry with them until your anger upsets got a dozen terrifying at all is what God is and the part of wisdom is to come to terms with that you do that you come to terms with the God it was a God of judgment. Well, last stanza all this all makes two suggestions. First of all, he speaks to the Jews of Israel who alone can claim that God is there God and he says make vows the Lord your God and fulfill them point context of the deliverances this because God is deliver them from the Assyrians they all in their allegiance, the following need to obey him is exactly what you find at the beginning of the 10 Commandments were the laws are laid out. God begins by reminding him that he brought about a out of Egypt, delivering them from Pharaoh and bondage by a mighty hand.

Therefore he says you shall have no other gods before me. I was exactly the same thing for us. If you profess to know God through Jesus Christ you believe on him as your Lord and Savior. Then remember that he is your Lord as well as your Savior. Jesus said to the people of his day. Why do you bother to call me Lord to do what I say, your Lord, you have to obey me. That's what he said why do you call me Lord, Lord, and don't do what I say.

What does he say one thing he says that a man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me way of saying my way is the way of the cross, you would go with me.

That's the way you have to go you come to Jesus Christ fulfill those files and secondly the turns to the nations round about the true God is not there God they have other gods what he says to them as this little all the neighboring lambs bring gifts. The one to be feared. It's a way of saying that even though they haven't been worshiping the true God are answerable to them anyway and select they had better do is submit to his rule and indicate that by bringing gifts is exactly the way Psalm two. Remember Psalm two on two deals with all of the arrogance of the nations shake their fist in God's face and it tells us that the one in heaven laughs is ludicrous that think that man objected God that I concludes it says kiss the son while before he's angry before your destroyed your way. That's what it's saying here that applies to you if you've not yet bowed in faith and obedience to Jesus Christ. But the psalmist says.

At the very end. Is this God breaks the spirit of the rulers in order to be feared by a judge of the earth to break YouTube unless you yield to them the part of wisdom is to yield to him now do that, seek mercy, his hand will find nobody ever came God asking for mercy. They didn't find the public in God be merciful to me a sinner.

What Jesus said about tax collectors that that's the man went home justified God's sight through each of us as well. Pray father. We're thankful that we have had some time here tonight to study this important Psalm dealing with this important theme of judgment. We don't like to think about that what we actually do is try to push lots of judgment from our minds.

We don't have to reckon with.

Get it again Bible you remind us of it because it is something to be feared thing to be considered and dealt with and avoided through Jesus Christ we will come to you through faith in him. We pray that you will use this study in the lives of many accomplish exactly that and so bring glory to your name we pray in Jesus's holy lesson. 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. 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. You can do so@ourwebsitealliancenet.org over the phone at 1-800-488-1888 or send a check to 600 Eden Rd., Lancaster, PA 176014 Canadian gifts mail those to 237 Hills Dr., Scarborough, ON M one, scene two, line 9. Thanks for your continued parents, and for listening to Bible study.

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