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"Where is Their God?"

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
December 31, 2021 7:00 am

"Where is Their God?"

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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December 31, 2021 7:00 am

Imagine the feeling of having lost everything: your home, your family, even your place of worship. As we study the response of the Israelites to the destruction of all they hold dear, we might wonder how we would cope when our world crumbles and there’s no hope on the horizon.

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Imagine the feeling of having lost everything your home, your family, even your place of worship as we study the response of the Israelites to the destruction of all they hold dear. We might wonder how we would cope when our world crumbles and there is no hope on the horizon. Welcome to the Bible study on radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act biblically in this Psalm, the author is not searching for an answer to solve itself is the answer. Let's join Dr. Boyce says he examines Psalm 79 where Asaph concludes there is only one solution to that very difficult question.

Just this morning I was talking with one of our elders that the elders prayer meeting before the morning service. He said he was looking forward to the continuation of these studies on the Psalms because they had always had trouble finding a historical context for one to come later on in the Psalter asked me about a number of them. I forget the exact 100 and 1314 something like that. I said I have no idea what a historical setting a low Psalms as I study them yet. Unfortunately, sometimes even when you do study them. You're not sure because the scholars disagree on the evidence is always there, I disagree about Psalm 70 921 were going to study now.

It's obviously describing the destruction of Jerusalem and you would think that would be obvious. The night think it is fairly obvious, but scholars disagree even with the obvious destruction of Jerusalem that we know about and think about most readily is what happened when it was destroyed by the armies of Nebuchadnezzar and 587 BC, but there is some problem with that. Some scholars see difficulties with it. Some of the problems are ones we discussed when I was looking at Psalm 74 because that's describing the destruction of the city as well and saw a look at it say no it doesn't quite what we know about that time of Nebuchadnezzar in Salt Lake tend to put in later in the time of the Maccabees and the destruction that there thinking about in that connection is what was brought upon the city by Antioch as epiphanies one of the kings and did a great deal of destruction. Now I want to repeat all those arguments rebuilt with them already, but there are two points that concern. This Psalm that have bearing upon it and is citations of verses six and seven in Jeremiah look at Jeremiah 1025 you see that there seems to be some connection between verses six and seven verse and the 10th chapter and then what you can't look up because you don't have it in your Bible, but that is a parent citation of the third verse of this Psalm in the apocryphal book of first Maccabees found in the seventh chapter verse 16 of that book. Now people make a great deal of that site well at which the Psalm later. Obviously, after Jeremiah quoting Jeremiah in the time of the Maccabees because that's the same language either. Those arguments hold up very well in my judgment far as Jeremiah goes one of the characteristics of Jeremiah is that he seems quite free imploding earlier portions of the Old Testament find that in many places in Jeremiah's writing and as a matter fact 10th chapter where he seems to be quoting this all Islamist quoting him just before that equals another verse from the salt from Psalm 79 from the six Psalm is already seems to be doing is just picking up phrases, verses out of the Psalms and and using them in the context of his prophecy.

In other words, Jeremiah things to be quoting the song rather than it being the other way around. The Psalm is the original one want to come for his time.

Therefore, going back at the time of the fall of Nebuchadnezzar, then as far as the quotation in first Maccabees is concerned that quotation errors introduced by very interesting phrase that Maccabees says according to the word that has been written and then it quotes the song well.

The author Maccabees generally speaks that way when he is referring to something that's in Scripture that which has been written and is what is come from God by revelation, and I would mean that if he's referring to this on the Psalm must've been in existence for a long enough time beforehand to be regarded to Scripture are to be part of the Canon of the Old Testament Scriptures. By the time of the Maccabees. Other words it predates the time of Antioch as epiphanies and probably this does refer to the destruction by Nebuchadnezzar. That's really the Jews taken anyway.

You may be interested to know that even today the Wailing Wall on Fridays. This is the Psalm as recited still do that. Furthermore, it's written into the liturgy.

One of the days in the Jewish calendar for the ninth of the month of and that's a day that celebrates the temples destruction so at least the juicier that way and probably we should see it that way as well, the outline of the song number writers see it as having two parts. Verses one through four sort of an initial lament describing what's wrong than the whole rest of the Psalm is verses five through the end. Verse 13 that are this almost prayer describe what's wrong is complaining and then he makes a prayer to God is possible to divided very well. According to the stanzas of the new international version. What most of us use. Certainly they divided it up thematically slightly different idea in those two middle stanzas the only correction I would make it. That's what we follow is a verse 12 along with the third stanza in verse 13 really should stand by itself, because verse 12 as part of the prayer assessing God to do something and then verse at the end of looks toward the future and anticipating God's answer to the prayers as is what it's going to be in the future everyone outline of that's the way I would handle it now. I've already commented on this man assess distress at the destruction of Jerusalem.

When we were considering Psalm 74. You can think back to that. You may recall that in that Psalm massive as it were God by the hand and walked them through the ruins and he said look I want you to see what's happened here right over there in a hole in the wall. That's where they broke through and right over there is where the temple was use the ashes now, but that's where all the wonderful paneling was not cracked away at it like they would've been hiking through a thicket with axes and the work content without they went through the whole land in order. This really everyplace in the land where you are worshiped and they were successful in doing all those places are gone. Look at it you can see the ruins. That's the last of talks and Psalm 74 notes a bit different here are some similarities over the Psalms asked God how long this terrible status to continue use the word forever is to go on forever. Psalms asked that both asked God to rise up and destroy those who have destroyed Judah as the enemies the Babylonians. Look forward to a day when the people of God will be able to praise him for his mighty acts of deliverance. Once again the Reason for that now, because everything is in ruins. But one day. Looking ahead to that's always Psalms are alike and it really makes us think that they must be by the same author's got the same mindset is thinking the same way. But there are differences in the chief difference is what is bothering Islamist met earlier saw what really was bothering the small muscles of the temple was destroyed all stands in which he talked about that is the one where he asked God to walk through the ashes look at the ruins Was your temple is where we used to come and worship you. That's what is distressed about and Psalm 79, when looking at now what he seems to be chiefly concerned about is the people what happened to them is concerned about those who have been killed because their bodies are lying in the street there's nobody there to bury them. He is concerned for those were taken prisoner. Many were carried off to Babylon number of the leaders were taken away that way and and then for those were left behind decile early some people to go get reported and so here they are stragglers scattered around in this impoverished Lamb is concerned for all these people. That's the way the first stanza reads look at it talked about the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. God the nations of invaded your inheritance nations means the Gentiles. Of course they defiled your holy temple.

They reduce Jerusalem to rebel. That's what he said in the earlier Psalm not notice where he goes now they have given the dead bodies of your servants as food. The birds of the air, the flesh of your saints, the beasts of the field. They poured out blood like water all around Jerusalem and there's no one to bury the dead where the objects of reproach to our neighbors. Scorn and derision for those around us. Jeremiah had described terrible days. It would, in one of the things he had said.

Jeremiah 733 is that there would be so many dead and so few survivors that would be no one to bury the dead terrible thing was a disgrace not to be able to bury the dead. It would be bad enough in our culture, with particularly bad for them was disrespectful black and Jeremiah said, the situation is going to be so bad that that's what is going to be like another Psalms is yes, that's exactly what it's like Jeremiah had prophesied it actually come true now. None of us there been part of a disaster of this magnitude. I don't believe there are people go through it in other parts of the world to be very surprised if there's any one among us is ever gone through anything quite like this because this was the literal destruction of everything they have everything they knew.

The destruction was political. First of all, because the nation no longer existed as any king or any Nobles was in the Army was any government. All that was blocked. This everybody was on their own nation was gone and destruction was economic because the land was devastated. Nobody could make a living. Props were all gone, all the little houses of the artisans were destroyed, and even the artisans were there. The houses were intact would be nobody with any money to buy any of the things they produce all economically Lamb was devastated.

The instruction was social because entire families were wiped out. The family and the Lamb, which is not lost a husband or a wife for grandfather or the children. There was destruction of the families. Many were carried away as prisoners and the destruction was religious because the religion of the people was centered in Jerusalem and its temple, and the sacrifices in the priesthood. All that was going use can imagine a greater destruction than that. Melissa been through that. As I said, and yet you and I have losses. Things come into our lives. It really hurt.

So the question we ask what you want to learn from the Psalms, how the psalmist deals with the question is how do we cope when bad things come. Psalm is not searching for an answer whether been Psalms were doing that 73rd salt did acid is describing how when he looked around at the ungodly.

The wickedly saw them prospering and he saw that the righteous were doing as well. He says almost like Gomez lost his faith really went into the temple began to perceive the end of the wicked. God just hasn't finished with things. Yet there's a judge rejected, but he searching for an answer. He finds it is not searching for an answer. The song is the answer and you say that point. What is the answer that answer is hanging on to God even in the most terrible times giving up your hold on God is hanging on by faith, not notice you find it at the very beginning, don't you here is describing this terrible destruction. But notice he speaks of these enemies is having invaded. What your inheritance is God's inheritance is AZT still in touch with God and is having defiled your holy temple of God's temple is been defiled and having given the bodies of your servants as food to the birds of the air in the flesh of your saints to the beasts of the earth was what he saying at the very beginning is even though the people suffered a great calamity, they are nevertheless the people of the living God. So the song begins with that and it ends with that at all throughout what it's really doing is hanging on to God. So the question for us. We want to measure ourselves by the experience of the faith of this almost is simply this. Do we have that kind of confidence in God. Bad things come into our lives.

Did all of us sooner or later when the comedy sort of lose everything off your hand in the spare or behind on the God. That's what the psalmist does the next two stanzas. If we follow the division of the new international version really describe how he does that and in my judgment, there best taken together because they really contain the substance of this almost prayer asked different questions which is why the new international version divides among the first.

When asked how long the Lord will you be angry never. How long will your jealousy burn like fire. That's the same question that was asking Psalm 74 verse 10 then the second stanza next one. I asked Berg one of the Psalm asked why should the nation say where is their God. Different question about the same thing, really because what they're doing is asking God for help. Psalmist is describe how bad things are temples gone. People were deported. Many of them are dead. How long this is going to go on. Won't you help us.that's what he's trying to say and these next two stanzas the rest of the Psalm really does that. I think the way to do is look at the points they make wish for personal there's the question that I mentioned how long will this punishment last often asked by God's persecuted people, people of God. Don't complain about their punishment being unjustly know their sinners and they continue to sin and thought, word and deed, and so there shaking their this the face of God say all God, why have you let this happen to us if it's not a question about a law they are hurting, say, so I'll are not complaining or saying to God how long is it going to go on. I just human. You know that you know my praying. You know, I just got how long this is going to go on. I'm not sure I'm able to handle it much longer. We find that question throughout the Bible you find it in Revelation 610 here the redeemed in heaven are looking at the martyrs in there saying how long will God are you going to tolerate what your martyrs are being treated. When you going to avenge the question. St. Augustine ask of God before his conversion, he knew the truth of Christianity, and he was persuaded but but he couldn't quite abandon his past life of sin actually embraced Jesus Christ and follow him and he was in two minds he was struggling with this for a long time and was great anguish about the confession. See has a description of his conversion. Now he was in the garden of a friend's estate of Malan Italy. He went off to accordant corner of the garden because he was so upset he was crying over his condition. He says very.

I prayed he said, not indeed, in these exact words get to this purpose.

I said about all Lord, how long, how long will you be angry forever quoting from the soul say while he was praying that he heard the child singing on the other side of the garden wall God was singing the Latin words told a lie.

Get all the Lego means take up and read Augustine said he never ever heard a child song like that before, so he took it as a word from God. Went over to a table in the garden where they had a copy of the Scripture. He opened up at random and he came upon Romans 1313 and 14 let us behave decently as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness goes on the say and put on the Lord Jesus Christ.

That's what he did.

It was converted sailor times even before conversion when were asking the question, how long will how long this is going to go on to acknowledge that the hand of God often does seem heavy upon us and is working most of our lives. Slow is not going to go on forever support. Remember that Adam will never be more than you can bear prognosis lease but going to tempt us about what were able to bear, so the messages trust God Bible, you'll be able to praise him again. The second point is this, you can't miss it in those verses psalmist is saying it's time for you to punish those who punished us really read anything like that bothers us because it sounds vindictive wrong. After all, Jesus Christ taught us to forgive those who persecute us. Even turn the other cheek and so what is likely to be troubled by because he's a did teach us to forget to remember two things. First of all, in our culture today. If we air in any direction we do it is not on the side of being too harsh on the side of being too lax in our culture today. We hardly have any sense of right and wrong at all and so we we we just got a pull back everybody can come to do their own thing so it's not so much that we are forgiving set where we just don't care one way or the other. And we forget that more people should hate the evil desire that it be restrained and punished. On the one hand also love the good desire that it should be rewarded and held up regulation RR problem in a sense is worse than that of these ancient Jews that there may have been a vindictive note. Some of this, we don't want that. You see we air the other direction and then certainly we need to remember is that regardless of the attitude we take toward evil justice is going to be gone and evil is going to be punished. That's what we are talking about when we talk about the final judgment. Jesus talked about the final judgment to prepare for get ready for Sunday. You're going to have to face God. Don't forget the last book of the Bible book of Revelation has more Internet about judgment in hell suffering and punishment than any other book of the Bible is God's final word to us as a warning. See, we may not be terribly concerned about punishment, but God is going to do the right thing justice will be done. So what do we do really love people.

What we should do is not simply turn aside and not care what they're doing but we should warn them of the judgment to come and tell them about the forgiveness that is to be found in Jesus Christ as he made atonement for sin. Salvation is through faith in him leads to the next point that we find in the stances and that is the forgiveness of sins every prayer every true prayer should have within it a confession of sin. One way you can know whether you really praying while you're doing is asking God to give you things that's really not prayer your comparing yourself to other people and thinking how much better you are than they are. That's not really prairie. That prayer of the Pharisee and the tax collector Jesus story Pharisee was one that stood up to pray everybody asking the prayer after all he was a Pharisee, is the religious man Pharisee pray please for us want to say a word, and he began what seemed to be the right way on lifting up his eyes to heaven, but from that point, all he did was talk about himself and all, but better. He was not tax collector, standing over there everybody would agree with but Jesus said he wasn't really praying Jesus, I said Pharisee pray to himself I was Jesus evaluation over there. You had the tax collector.

What he said. He said God be merciful to me a sinner.

Jesus said, that's a real prayer not only as a real prayer to pray that God hears of that man when unjustified because he didn't say to God, become righteous I am is a God I'm a sinner and I need your mercy is provided through the atonement on the altar boy prayed in that way this is bearing on Psalm 79 because one of its most striking features as an acknowledgment of sin knowledges that in two ways. First of all the sins of the fathers father sin.

We are descended from sinful human beings. And it's because of their sin, but the judgment is come upon us. I was patently true God and one generation after generation is going to destroy their city and their culture. And he did another looking at the destruction and they acknowledge the sins of the fathers that something in itself, but this almost of those on from that point and acknowledges the people sins in the present because what they're really saying at that point is and we are no different than our father. They send and we send to select the Psalm is really doing is asking for mercy is verse nine deliver us and atone for our sins for your names, say they went through all those things I described earlier, the political, economic, social and religious destruction of their entire community in their lives and their nation and there is not a suggestion. In the Psalm out of breath anywhere that they didn't deserve to acknowledge whatever happened to them. They deserve but now they commonly asked for mercy by the atonement of God is an interesting word is near the middle of the Psalm make atonement for our sins, not psalmist thinking when he said make atonement for our sins only upon many new was the atonement that was made by the high priest through the sacrifices, particularly on the day of atonement for the high priest. It was taken animal. He confessed over the animal the sins of the people in that animal was killed in the blood was taken into the most holy place and sprinkle on the mercy seat on the ark of the covenant. It came between holy presence of God in the wall with the people at broken represented by tables of the law that was Within the ark, so that's how atonement was made that that's why the covering of the ark was called the atonement seat of the mercy seat because of making atonement for the shedding of the blood that the people could be forgiven for their sins. Now that's interesting that this almost would say that is because in these circumstances there is no temple right Jerusalem is no temple is no priesthood, no sacrifice, thinking of. I must be going beyond it. You must be saying we can't go through the pipes. That's what we need. Anyhow say forgive us our sins, he says make atonement for ourselves.

I don't know how strong his faith was or how much insight he had, by revelation, but I do know how God did make atonement for our sins, and that was through Jesus Christ because time was coming when God would send his son die upon the cross).

Jerusalem shedding his blood, giving his life as an atonement for the sins of his people in order that they might not die and go to hell, but rather die and go to heaven. That is why on on the day of Christ's death when he actually expired upon the cross were told in Luke's gospel that that great veil of the temple that divided the holy place of the most holy place was torn in two from top to bottom, because it was God's way of saying the atonement is now been made all these other atonement's adjustment types. Looking forward to the great atonement, and now Jesus is done that.

Now the way is open into the presence of God the holy presence of God for all the will come through faith in him as 1/4 point and it's a God might glorify his name to Campbell Morgan in one of his comments says this of the great passion of the salt in the glory of the divine name and God's appeal to a net basis. Verse nine. Help us, O God, our Savior for glory of your name. I suggest that is the strongest appeal you can ever make the God God himself says I am the Lord. That is my name. I will not give my glory to another. Isaiah 42 verse eight, you begin to pray with the glory of God and not your glory. Not your comfort, but your desires, but the glory of God. But vanity or prayer. That's what you really are concerned about is that God might be known as the God he is glorified in you and your circumstances. That is a very strong appeal and other things fall into place after that is not praying so selfishly after that. Praying for yourself so much. Or just for material things. You begin to see it from the perspective of God is not why the Lord's prayer begins at way our father who art in heaven, hallowed be your name means that your name be glorified. That's where it starts. After that, it talks about the kingdom and our needs. All of that when he gets to the end goes back to the same thing again and it says yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory go wrong if you begin with the glory of God and with the glory of God as well. I said earlier that the last verse of the Psalm stands by itself because his last verse is no longer a part of the petition. The prayers really ended with verse 12 what this is is a faith filled anticipation of a brighter future day when God's people will again praise him with full hearts and with fresh memories. What is done for is how it reads then we hear people sheep of your pastor will praise you forever generation to generation. We will recount your praise you think I'll let Psalm began.

It's really remarkable that it should end with praises and begins with the destruction of the city.

Ruling of the temple.

The death of scattering of the people. That's the lament. Just after he praised God lays all these things before and this man is such confidence in God that he can actually end anticipating a day when the people praise God's blessings. Once again, what is a come from the kind of confidence comes from the very theme that you had at the beginning that is going that these people are God's people or to use the theme that you have at the very end of the sheep of his possibilities, the divine ship pray to our shepherd, our great Shepherd and help that that's what you say God is our shepherd that we are his sheep where his people.

We belong to his flock and he is not going to allow his sheep to perish really links the Psalm of the two that came before and it links it with the one that comes afterwards. Each one of them has the shepherd.

The minute member at the end of 77 yeah this picture of God shepherding the people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron that takes us back to God shepherding role of the time of the Exodus wandering in the wilderness and then Psalm 78 the next one looks forward to God shepherding his flock by the hands of David that is during the time of the monarchy and I would get to Psalm 79 and hear the shepherding work of God is been extended into the present and even beyond. Because this almost as anticipating a kind of shepherding in the days of Whitehead's way of saying that God is our shepherd and God will always be our ship. The question is, is he your shepherd come to know him belonged to his flock. Jesus Christ said I'm the good Shepherd. I give my life for the sheep.

Given his life for you trust him. Is that one of David's life for you said when he was speaking and I Jewish context.

I have other sheep that are not obvious will have to bring them to talk about the Gentiles. Are you one of those Gentiles is been brought by Jesus Christ. Faith in him, not you need to come to flock to belong to. That's the only place security can be found because troubles are going to come in, not going to die of the goals are you going to do that are going to die passing into the hands of your great Shepherd or with no Shepherd at all. User. Shepherd then draw close to trust. One of them find that he will be to you even more than you could possibly imagine not only now future days like this almost be able to give God praise father. We are thankful for your blessing in our lives and most of all that work by which you call us to faith in Jesus Christ and what he's done for us what you doing calling us to him, and how you keep us all these things study her tinnitus Psalm in which a man is gone through the destruction of everything you know and yet he still hanging on to you and finding you adequate. Looking forward to a day future blessing. I've said not gone through things like that troubles come by your grace, review of us that same kind of faith we might hang on to you finding you adequate if all things, be able to speak about you to other people to Jesus.

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