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The Encircling Foe

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
January 6, 2022 7:00 am

The Encircling Foe

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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January 6, 2022 7:00 am

Christians are not to seek revenge. But can we pray for revenge if the enemy is the enemy of God? In this message, Dr. James Boice will be studying Psalm 83, showing us that even in revenge there can be a divine purpose if judgement is left in the hands of the Lord

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Israel is harassed and encircled enemies threaten on every side, and yet the Lord is silence defeat appears imminent and this almost cries out to the Lord to do something about it to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James boards preparing you to think and act likely in the midst of Israel's looming defeat ASAP calls on the Lord for judgment with his desire for revenge is not for his own satisfaction.

Let's join Dr. Boyce as he examines Psalm 83 and uncovers the real motive behind Asaph's cry that men will turn to the one true God and seek his name Edmund Burke was an Irish bun who served an English House of Commons from 1766 to 1794. It was one of the most brilliant run of his day and it was well known for his keen mind and also for his very effective writing style of the things he wrote that is best known for is his reflection on the Revolution in France which he was critical in a time when many in England were praising what was going on on the continent is also known for another great essay and defense of American liberty called on conciliation with America interesting thing about Burke that the sentence that he is best known for having composed of something that doesn't appear is in his writings, and yet is credited with it by a number of different people so undoubtedly it's genuine what Burke said is this all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing member that I strove course. We have many examples of it in history. One example that immediately comes to mind is the way they Western powers allowed Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler to rearm. Winston Churchill has recorded that well and the first volume of his history of the war called the gathering storm see something like that we so you really is reprehensible. We deplore when good men do nothing and allow evil to trial. But here's an even greater problem. How about when God does nothing.

Certainly a lot of people in the world find when evil seems to go on from strength to strength, triumph many times when it's directed against the people of God and one people of God suffer from it and when they cry out to God for deliverance only say God's name silent do something and God does nothing. Real problem was. I said that's the problem that this form is dealing with Psalm 83 they began by saying to God, oh God, not keep silence remote client from God we not still.

When we are surrounded by our enemy. This is the last Psalm of assets.

Remember we been talking about his Psalms for a time is a writer who had most of the Psalm seems to be troubled by the wicked, and he regularly called on God to do something about Psalms are not all the same.

Of course, some of them are intensely personal. Remember back over some of the Psalms. You may recall that Psalm 50 is a very personal Psalm others are wider in scope. They talk about the problem of evil in the world generally and the Psalm is in that latter category deals particularly with the nations that had surrounded Israel at some point in their history is and what verses to the eight describe after asking God to speak up divide in verse one versus 228 continue this way. See how your enemies are a star out your files rear their heads with cunningly conspire against your people. They plot against those you cherish, let us destroy them as a nation that the name of Israel may be remembered no more than one mind.

They plot together, they form an alliance against you know it is impossible to find this actual conspiracy, and what we know of Israel's history or something like it.

That's in second Chronicles 21.

Jehoshaphat was king were told in that chapter. How a number of the nations to the east conspired against Israel, Edom, Moab and Ammon were the ones and God intervened in the way that it was by causing these allies to fall out among themselves, so they ended up destroying themselves in the was a great deliverance was even profit there one in this line of asset whose name was John Ezio and he's mentioned in that chapter, as having uttered a prophecy that had to do with God's victory on behalf of Israel other some people who assume that that's what the Psalm is referring to. And maybe this man being a descendent of asset was even the actual author simply conjecture. What is significant about the description of these enemies that we have here in the ongoing flow of the Psalm is that they form almost complete circle of entrapment around the small nation of Israel.

For example, the Edomites are mentioned in verse six were descendents of Esau, the twin brother of Jacob Graham's grandson. The Ishmaelites also mentioned in that verse descended from Ishmael, Abraham son by Hagar the Hager rights were six were a tribe against whom the trends Jordanian tribes of Reuben Gatto and Manasseh fought the time of the Jewish conquest of Palestine and these people plus the tribes of Moab also mentioned in verse six and Ammon in verse seven were situated to the east of the Jews territory.

So if you would movies. These are the people you would find on that side of her. Simon mentions Gamal her job all depending on how we pronounce that it's not quite so certain. What this is. Might be a tribal area that was south of the Dead Sea and therefore would have been linked with Edom, Ammon, Moab and Amalek malachite sure mentioned in verse seven, also lived in that area or this town able probably might be a Canaanite and Phoenician ports, about 20 miles north of modern Beirut. The Greeks had a name for it was called Byblos and Greek times in the ancient site of what was Byblos is called today the bile is very end of all our might be.

That's where wise. If that's the case when were talking about enemy to the north. Felicity rose to the South roughly today what we call the Gaza Strip as the Southwest tire was on that coast, but also to the north and the last of these tribal and national powers expansions in Syria. Syria wasn't a strong power in the time of David, the Psalm goes back that far but it became a very formidable power. Later, although it was to the east across the great Arabian desert when the armies so the stereotype is really always made their way north up the river valley across what is called the Fertile Crescent and then down into the holy land from the north. So if you put all this together.

You have enemies on the east, Southwest North as a way of saying that the country surrounded no as far as we know, there was never a time in history when this precise alignment of enemies conspired against Israel… Large alliance.

After all, he could get all these people actually working together since we don't know that he ties it was like that what we probably have here is more or less a generalization of what seemed to be the picture. It's kind of a way of saying that the Jews always seem to be surrounded by their enemies. They were being attacked on the east were being attack on the West didn't come from the South game. Of course that was true. That is what it meant to occupy that particular portion of history is true today or over. I think this is right to the point it is been the condition of Israel. Down through the centuries as many peoples and nations of lined up against. Distinction people of God.

Just think of it a little bit you go back to Egypt.

That's where you have to begin, because that was the birth of what we call anti-Semitism Jews had gone to Egypt and saw a small clan but they had multiplied. They are in accordance with the promise that God made Abraham about 400 years before that audit told Abraham I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you, I might make your name great to 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. The last part of course refers to the Messiah. Earlier part refers to the way the Messiah was an economist to come through this people. It was going to be blessed by God. Now the way that happened when they were in Egypt is a God blessed them by more like them so they literally became like the sand on the seashore or the stars in the sky, which was promised a God-given Abraham here was Pharaoh looking on Pharaoh was incited to fear by this large group of people growing their own the land and so he was incited to hatred against them guy try different kinds of oppression, abuse, and finally that extended even to the murder of all the young male children by the end of course, was not the destruction of the Jews with the destruction of Egypt because God sent Moses through him brought plagues upon the land by which the land itself was destroyed and eventually Pharaoh's house were drowned in the Red Sea when they were trying to pursue. Jews were being let out of it by Moses. So there you have the birth of this kind of persecution.

Now, it continued through their history when the Assyrians attacked and overthrew the northern kingdom in 721 BC, the Jews were deported. Same thing happened in the South when the Judah was overcoming 586 BC. We know from the 18th chapter of acts that the Jews were expelled from Rome under the Emperor Claudius in the time of the apostle Paul and Saul Paul medical and Priscilla Jews were persecuted during the Middle Ages, as was especially true at the time of the Crusades you know that Christian lights went off to drive the Moors out of the holy land, but that was a long way to the holy land in Seoul on the way they attack anyone they found a low point of the Crusades is when they overthrew Christian Constantinople with the Kalamata Jews are saw them as the enemy.

The Jews were murdered in Germany, France and Italy and England in the 15th and 16th centuries. All of this was repeated only with greater intensity in the 15th century, 510 Jewish communities were exterminated in Europe, many more were decimated. The Jews were driven out of Spain in 1492, when Columbus discovered America as all this was happening.

That way the Jews were being driven out of spring. Only thing I could do was relocate other nations. I went Italy, Holland, Egypt, Turkey, but in most of those countries. They weren't allowed to stay longer than a few weeks or months and in others they were confined to a Jewish ghetto or the Jewish quarter happened in Venice and Rome were ghetto came from the area of Venice where the Jews were confined in those days are going to come down.

The more modern times we have that sad spectacle. What happened in Europe under Nazi Germany and the German powers where the Jews were regarded as an enemy and my estimates about 6 million of them killed all of the animals of recorded history, there has never been a people so encircled by flows or persecuted is the Jews a bit surprisingly miraculously Jews thrived in accordance with God's promise to Abraham 1836, the world census indicated that there were then 3 million Jews living in many countries, but a century later, in 1936 at original 3 million in spite of persecutions during that century, above all in Russia had increased to 16 million increase of 13 million and that 100 years. I said the Nazis killed more than 6 million Jews.

But today there are more Jews in the world before the Nazi era! Blood growth is at the hand of God is been up on this people bless them. When I asked the question why is it been so much hatred well. Egyptians feared and hated the Jews because of their numbers European.

So the Middle Ages hated them because they were prosperous would let them do other kinds of business. So they went in the banking and became rich labor resented for that errata because they were different.

They were hated because of what religious sentiments work Christian sentiments hated them because I want to marry in stock because he needed an enemy to focus the hatreds and aggression of his people said all of those things you really haven't quite hit upon you really wouldn't explain this particular hatred. The real answer has to be found in God's words to the serpent way back in the garden of Eden when he said I will put enmity between you and the woman in between your offspring and hers. He will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.

God was promising to do is to send Messiah on the Messiah would come through the Jews, so Satan hated them because of that.

That is why he has stirred up the animosity of the world against these people beginning in Egypt were trying to kill all the young male children, but also in the time of Herod the time of Jesus Christ when he tried to do the same thing and even down the time of Hitler and the fact that the Jews have not only survived but prospered down through the centuries, in spite of all that hatred and persecution is evidence of God's grace and the great mystery of a miracle. I kind of background, I want you to notice in the Psalm after the description of this particular encircled lunch you find of the end of verse eight. The word seal which means applause was always able not always able to tell exactly why Selah occurs where it does some of the Psalms, but it's an appropriate place here is appropriate to say reflect on the terrible persecutions of these ancient people before we go on to the second half, which tells us they are praying for God to judge her enemies the outline of the Psalm is clear. Some of them.

It's a little hard out like this was easier falls into two parts versus the description of the encirclement. The danger and then there's a second half, which is a prayer that God would judge her enemies get fussy. You might want to separate out the first verse, which is a call to God not silent scratch that last verse which is somewhat of a conclusion right to the general thrust of it is in terms of the problem in the prayer now. It's the second part they appeal to God, overthrow and destroy the enemies that bothers us in reason is obvious is because the prayer is vindictive and also because we been thought to forget were not supposed to pray that God will strike down in vengeance on our enemies and yet that's what this prayer is doing now. It's true that anytime. This is what we are praying in our hearts, but we they were not supposed to do that and so we come to something like that in this Allman others that are like at their early Psalms that are so vindictive really bother us.

So what are we to say about it. Well suggest a few things I think are things to be learned in each one. First of all, the first things in observation on the Psalm itself, and that is that God intervened to destroy Israel's enemies in this way from time to time in the past, but this almost seems to be referring to as he moves on in his Prairie saying, in effect, God, you did it in the past and so were looking for you to deliver the same way now to incidents referred to here. The first is a victory over Midian. This recorded in the book of Judges you want to read it you find it there in chapter 6 through eight.

He's referring to this victory in verse nine and then amplifies on it in verse 11 where he mentioned specifically for the Midianite rulers or abs that leaves them in some new not all of whom are mentioned therein. Judges style. This is the victory that took place under getting striking because it was accomplished by so few know the story of Gideon you'll know that the Midianites had been oppressing the people during this time in their history and God raised up Gideon, one of the judges, through whom he was going to drive the medians out deliver the people from the oppression so Gideon raised an army had to do a 32,000 men, and then down in the valley were always Midianites. There were more than the negative number. I had 900 chariots. I would just chariots of the Vanguard and yell the soldiers. Gideon thought to himself. Well, it certainly will require the help of God over to drive them out with only 32,000 men.

And so I brought the matter to God and God said no that's far too many. And so Gideon said, what shall I do, God said, tell everyone is afraid to go home. Gideon carefully turned to the troops and set everyone is afraid go home 22,000 left about the right proportion and he was left with 10,000 so he said while God you really have to do something violent and God said yes first thing were going to do is whittle that down even further.

They went through a little exercise as a result of which will be 300 and God said, now I got something I can work with so what they did was surround the camp of the Midianites by night.

Each of these 300 men had a lamp that was hidden by a clay pot and they had a trumpet and then on a signal from Gideon. They suddenly broke a clay pot which exposed the lights and they blew the trumpets and they shouted at the top of their voices soared for the Lord and for Gideon. The soldiers woke up in the middle of light so startling that they were surrounded by an enormous army. They drew their swords and began to fight anybody was near them with people that were near them with themselves so they slaughtered many of their own man outed and so deliverance came out. That's what the psalmist is referring to say do it again. The second victory is the victory over Sisera, which is also recorded in Judges, chapters right before the ones I mentioned, you find it in chapters 4 and five. Now that people were being harassed by Cicero's armies. He had a very large army and God raised up as an Israelite commander, a man named Barrick Barrick defeated his army had 10,000 troops. On this occasion and the route Sisera had to flee abandon his chariot ran on foot. He was exhausted. He finally came to the tent of a man. His name was Huber and his wife was genteel because it was exhaustively asked if he could go in the rest so I said fine and came in while he was sleeping giant will Huber's wife took a tent bag and a mallet. She wondered where he was sleeping and she took the bag in the mallet and drove the peg through his head into the ground so we died and it was a great victory and it celebrated in the song of Deborah is what really occupies. Judges 5 that's particular song ends this way and it's the sort of thing that the psalmist or is thinking about very last verse of the song of Deborah says so make your enemies perish. The Lord Mayday who love you be like the sun when it shines all the strength that's what the psalmist is referring to the same or you did it in the past you deliver this one. We were surrounded by enemies. When conditions were hard. It's consistent with your nature with your plan and so I appeal to you to do it again. Let's not what we would pray necessarily we can well understand how people who have been persecuted and surrounded in the last order all of the many centuries of their existence might pray that way and if were honest, we have to say, when we perhaps pray for the destruction of our enemies to and such circumstances. Let's first thing we have to notice the second thing we should notice is the way the Psalm handles its desire for judgment on these enemies. Magenta notice is that it doesn't speak of them so much as the Jews enemies as it does the enemies of God, that in mind if you look back in the Psalm you see that that is patently true. Notice first to your enemies your follows is enemies and foes of God, even when it mentions the people themselves, as it does in verse three it is your people. Those you cherish when the plots of the enemies are mentioned as they are in verse five it says these plots are against you is against God and in verse 12 enemies of Israel were cited for trying to steal their land, but again, these lands are called the pasture lands of God is in every case, what the psalmist is concerned about is God's name God's people, and God's makes a tremendous difference when you say something like this, you see what you're thinking about only as yourself. The fact that people have been difficult when you know that if you call out for judgment. What you're really asking for is revenge. They got me. I want somebody to get them God. We need your help.

But on the other hand you're thinking about God, his name and his purposes and what you're really doing is leaving the matter in God's hand you're calling for judgment but that's something that God himself will do trusting him to work it out. You can trust them, you know, because God says it is not indifferent. We often quote this verse from Deuteronomy. It is mine to avenge, I will repay, says the Lord is meaning we shouldn't be vindictive we should just leave it to God. That is also a promise that God will judge. So when we approach things. That way we can say God is really in your hands reminds me of a of a man was being attacked and who was in the habit of saying when things were difficult for him in prayer. He said to God, oh Lord they're attacking your property. You can say that then you really can approach things and quite different way is the final observation on the way. The Psalm handles these encircling dangers and the need for God's intervention in judgment and it's the most important of all, it's the way the Psalm and is calling for judgment.

That's true. But notice, it ends by stating that the purpose for this judgment is so that man will seek your name oh Lord, are 16. One of the last verse, verse 18. It's this let them know that you whose name is the Lord that you alone of the most high over all the earth and the words. Although the psalmist is desiring judgment which will bring the deliverance of his people.

She wants the ultimate desire of the psalmist is the is enemies. All people everywhere for that matter, might actually come to know and obey the true God lets while you and I don't rush to calls for judgment is why we don't do it today. We know that the judgments going to call Jesus talked about it more than anybody going to return as we say in our creed to judge the quick and the dead.

There will be an accounting of all evil will be judged.

The good will be rewarded will pray for that we want that, the reason we don't pray for it to come before God's own time is that today is the day of grace. That judgment had come before God and grace at work in your heart bring you to faith in Jesus Christ, you would perish in the judgment that is postponed upcoming time, the way we count time in order and in his own way in his own time.

He might bring to himself for an innumerable company of those who have repented of their sin come to place their faith in Jesus Christ as Savior.

When God is gathered all of those to himself, then the end will come. Our task today to pray for judgment, but to pray for the lost and present the gospel to them.

Let me end with one last thought.

I want you to go back to the beginning of the Psalm, and as you look at that verse, I want to remind you of the greatest non-answer to that prayer in all of history verse four says all God do not keep silent, be not quiet. Oh God, be not still many centuries after this was written, son of God was in the garden of Gethsemane and he was crying on the Lord that this cop which he was about to drink might pass from the pray for a long time and he didn't get an answer at the end that the angels came and ministered to him. But God did not intervene to take away the cup and shortly after that he was hanging on the cross. One of the things he said what he was hanging on the cross was this my God, my God, why have you forsaken me. God did not intervene to destroy Jesus enemies or save them from the cross, God is at work turned his back upon Islam that he might die there in agony that you see we look back on that we say thank God the God that ought to answer prayer to deliver Jesus by his death.

Silence of God. He died you and I have been delivered from her sins because of that we have a gospel we don't call for judgment. We say this God who is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ God. It was all lies in the God. It is all things well. We were there at the time of the crucifixion, we wouldn't of understood, just as the disciples did not understand why that was happening.

I just thought it was all over when things come into our lives that are bad. We don't understand that either.

We say why is this happening we know the answer to that God does, we look back to the cross we say only does God know what he is doing what he does is good men for our good given us the gospel we have the opportunity to tell people about going to do its gospel, not judgment.

Proclaim prayer father with thankful for the Psalm psalmist removed from us in time and even many cases's inexperience because it deals with ancient people and circumstances that are so different in many ways from our own Dennis tells us something about your character or nature, and how you operate in history and why you do what you doing what you don't always do what we would like to have you do and it draws our minds up to enlarge her thoughts of you and to deepen our trusts. You is the God of all things well father since we know you to be that kind of God give us the power and the strength and compassion actually to tell other people about you.

They might be drawn by your grace, so find salvation Jesus Christ is.

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