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January 21, 2022 7:00 am
While it's true that we serve a powerful God he doesn't ruled by power alone.
His reign is one of laws and is marked by holiness, and unlike the kings of the earth's administration is unchangeable and his dynasty, eternal and welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act biblically in a world of perpetual change in constant turmoil, our God reigns from heaven and keeps all things in order. Let's join Dr. Boyce as he examines Psalm 93 and God's kingship from the theocracy of the Old Testament through the future kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ is an interesting feature of the Psalms that they tend to develop themes or emphases as they go along. So, to some extent the character of the Psalms changes all of them are hymns of praise. In one sense, but as we move on toward the end of the Psalter more and more of them had to do with direct pricing the very end same almost that.
That's all they're saying we have a special group here, beginning with Psalm 93 there were going to study today that deals with the kingly reign of God. In other words, with the theocracy.
So I will begin by asking two questions about that word theocracy first. Where did it come from, what was the first person would use the word adjuster note historical interest, and then secondly, what does theocracy mean while it might interest you to know that that word theocracy was coined by Josephus way ancient Jewish historian long after the birth, death, then resurrection of Jesus Christ used it to describe what was unique about the government of Israel, about which he was writing over against the governments of the nation's roundabout fiber either said Josephus monarchies, oligarchies or democracies, but said Israel is a theocracy.
Now a monarchy RK has to do with a ruler and mono means one monarchy. As a rule by one individual is my King by an Emperor word or loss only glass as do with the elite few. So when oligarchy is ruled by an elite few uppercrust as we would say and and of course democracy is based on the word Demos refers to the people and so that's ruled by the people, but said Josephus Israel is that theocracy that lost means God so this is ruled by goddesses. That's what makes it unique. Now there's a sense in which that's what the Psalms are describing here through Psalm 100 with different variations, friends, deluges 10 is given us a good solid biblical definition of theocracy. So let me just tell you what he said theocracy is a reciprocal relation between God and man exalted above all these intermediate reforms he means monarchies and democracies and such things said it had its first beginning when Jehovah became Israel's king but it's going to have its final breakthrough when the king of Israel becomes King of the whole world referring to the return of Jesus Christ. So when we talk about theocracy were talking about it today in a different sense that you had an actual rule of God, of an earthly people today, Jesus rules, but he rules in his church and eventually as he returns to rule over the whole world, so this is sort of the thing that St. Augustine was talking about years ago when he wrote his book on the two cities is the city of this world that operates by all the governments of this world parallel to it and also within it is the rule of Jesus Christ over his people on the point I'm making is that that's what Psalm 93 is describing them so Psalms with following the keynote of the Psalms you find it again and again of the two Hebrew words, malloc relic means king or rule so that phrase what you find in all of the Psalms exec 94 that in time all have that phrase Jehovah rains are Jehovah's king, they mean however more than Josephus meant because here it's not talking dearly of the reign of God.
The Jewish people, but over the whole of the universe and is very apparent in Psalm 93. McLaren says this short song is the overture to the whole referring all the ones that follow Luitpold says this brief Psalm is mighty in utterance, colorful in language and a strong incentive to faith has three parts, and you see that even in the divisions in the new international version 1st part has to do with the reign of the sovereign God verses one and two. Then there is the discussion of the turmoil of the world over which God reigns verses three and four and then finally in this last verse, verse five, you have to additional characteristics of God's kingdom.
So if you outline that in your Bible. Some people do as we go along. That's the best outline the reign of the sovereign God turmoil of the world over which God reigns and then to characteristics of God's kingdom. Now, as I said these first two verses describe God's reign, and they do it by exhibiting four characteristics of God's writing which are at the same time for great attributes of God are stated in poetic language with Hebrew parallelism actually very strong parallelism and will find that as we go along here, sometimes three parallel lines altogether and makes the point very strongly now. These four characteristics. First of all, the majesty of God's universe. One the Lord reigns, he is rubbing majesty then repeats it in the the Lord is robed in majesty, majesties a bit hard to define. It has to do with dignity, a ruler with the authority of sovereign power, stapling us with grandeur.
That's a proper characteristic of earthly monarchs and sometimes earthly rulers go to great lengths to enhance the impression of their magistrate. We call it the trappings of power and so when you're brought into the company of a high government official, especially if it would be a president queen or king or some I figure like the actor are all these trappings of power that impress you with how important this person is not God's need any of that earthly monarchs do because I have to, buttress themselves up.
After all, they're only people like we are God you see is the high and mighty. The exalted one. This idea majesty is something that occurs in the Bible. Frequently, whenever a human being is given an insight into heaven or has a vision of God and his glory.
Example there is a great example of Isaiah 6. Chapter when he describes being taken up into the very throne room of God. He writes of the year that King Uzziah died or saw the Lord seated on the throne, high and exalted train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were serifs, each with six wings with two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, with two they were flying and they were calling to one another only holy, holy is the Lord Almighty. The whole earth is full of his glory, and he continues with the sound of their voices the door posts in the thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. When Isaiah was so overcome where that impression of the majesty of God, that he cried out woe to me.
I'm a man of unclean lips. I live among a people of unclean lips of my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty is in that vision. The majesty of God is linked to the holiness of God and Isaiah was very aware both of his sin and also his littleness now.
The second characteristic is the power of God that comes in in these parallel lines is verse one Lord Ranges Raymond Grogan majesty to what is robed majesty. And then, as if that isn't quite enough. Psalms puts in one more line yes and is armed with strength what he saying here is that the majesty of God is also majesty of power numbers and it's not a mere show of sovereignty, which might be true of some earthly person who thinks he or she is important. This is an actual sovereignty as Psalm is going to show the neck stands in other words when he says the Lord reigns immensity actually does reign such as that he appears to actually does reign and he sovereign third, the immutability of God.
That's the proper term for what he means by that word established verses one and two second part of verse one says the world is firmly established, cannot be movies dying about the world.
But then he explains the reason it can't be moved is because God can't be moved. So verse two says your throne is established long ago your from all eternity.
This is quality that separates God from even the highest of these creatures because you and I are not immovable. We are very movable vacillating is a matter of fact and what's true of us as human beings is true of the whole created order. Every thing is changing is not merely changing in the cyclical sense that the Greeks had in mind when they talk about the wheel of history so that in time everything returns being exactly what it was before repeats that over and over and over again, which is sort of change in the midst of that which is unchangeable is not that at all.
Actually the universe is running down happens over a long period of time. So it's not so observable to us, but that's what happening. The sun is cooling eventually is going to go out energy is dissipating at is becoming less and less useful as a dissipates throughout the universe. Species become extinct. And as far as human beings.we are born we mature we grow old, and eventually we die Jude in his letter emphasizes the mutability especially of the wicked uses an abundance of images to describe what he speaks of them as being clouds without rain is useless clouds being blown across the sky. Autumn wins without fruit, often autumn trees without fruit and uprooted wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame wandering stars a whole collection of images to say that's really what world is like ecstasy, but God is not like that God is absolutely unchangeable in the characteristics of his kingdom. No change either sometimes say what I'm talking about the attributes of God that we would be glad in our sin to have God change in regard to his other attributes. He sovereign, but we don't like that and so we be glad in front of him little less often and so we could get away with doing what we want to do or we talk about is holiness and say well maybe next week you will be quite as holy as he is now or we talk about his omniscience, he knows everything and you begin to forget as time goes by. Forget some of the things I've done is a God is immutable unchangeable.
He's the one with whom we have to do. And finally, the eternity of God and is closely linked with his immutability and you say comes in in the last phrase you are from all eternity. I lets another work this kind of difficult for us to get a handle on because we are not eternal beings and we don't know quite how to even explain something that extends our categories beyond their boundaries. What it means is that not only is God existing, but that he has always been, and that he will always be, and that is everywhere the same in his eternal being, you find that throughout the Bible.
For example, Abraham called God the eternal God, way back in Genesis 2133 just a few Psalms before this Moses gave a classic expression of it. Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God and I said it goes all the way through the Bible you find in the book of Revelation because there God is described as the Alpha and Omega. That is the first and the last letters of the Greek alphabet, the beginning and the end the Angels are before his throne cry out, holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty or was it is, is the, statement of his eternity.
What is that mean for us what it means two things.
First of all, it means that God can be trusted to remain as he is. So if God has revealed himself to be a God of love and mercy to you, and Jesus Christ which he has. If you've come to understand that Jesus died for you and trust them as your Savior that you can count on God always to remain that way I can become less merciful as time goes on his attributes are going to change you can count on that. Secondly, it means is a God is inescapable.
They might try to ignore them think that maybe we turn our backs on him him turn his back on us but we really can't do that. It's God's universe, and sooner or later we have to face it, on the one hand, when we talk about immutability and eternity in all of those things were speaking words of comfort to those who have come to God through Christ Jesus the same time were speaking words of warning to those who will not because sooner or later you're going to stand before the eternal and immutable righteous just like God of the universe. How are you going to do that unless you stand clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
Now when the psalmist was introducing the idea of God's immutability in verse one. He said the world is firmly established because the throne of God is established might well want to pause at that point and say is that really the case is the world really established. Is it a solid as that statement seems to indicate talk about God being immutable.
We mentioned that, by contrast, none of us are immutable is the truth of the world is not established that is running down like that must've occurred. The psalmist to so in this next stanza, beginning with verse two he writes about the surging pounding changing character of the world uses an image for the image of the sea seat, which is always in a state of fluctuation sees lifted up our Lord sees lifted up their voice sees lifted up their pounding waves. Now that's been understood in different ways by scholars today.
A lot of the scholars are impressed by what they perceive as parallels between the Hebrew Psalms and some of the literature from the ancient world, from New Britain, Babylon, and Dedan some of the Ugaritic literature, especially, there is a mythology that involves a struggle between God and that cosmic powers of the deep, often pictured as a sea goddess or something of that nature are Duke or Tiamat are the ones that struggle and so they suggest that what is going on here is the statement that God is the one who was overcome the sea goddess. It's a problem with that of course is nothing like that in Jewish literature may be in the Ugaritic and Babylonia limited mean that it's in Jewish literature as a matter fact we have to process an entirely different way now. In all probability that stanza has to do with one of two things that really are possibilities. The good had to do with God's sovereignty over nature itself is likely about the seas God controls the seasonal and and everything else.
Or it could have to do with his power over the Gentile nations which often pictured that way. Now, if it's the first miss talking about God's power over nature, then it follows from what was said in verse one or spoke of the world being firmly established would be a way of saying that the world of nature is indeed in constant turmoil that the gods in charge of course I would be the Bible's answer to the question. The plague Greek philosophy breaks all this change, and they said if everything is changing all the time why is everything in a state of constant chaos and answer they gave is because there was a word or a low gloss or low-cost means word word of God, that sort of stood behind it and ordered it all in capital in line when Heraclitus some of the other Greeks came up with all that would be the equivalent that only what the psalmist would be saying is that that word of God is actually God actually to God of the Old Testament as perfectly good theology.
On the other hand, and in my judgment. This is best is hard to think that this is all the psalmist has in mind, especially when you remember that this idea of the sea surging sea is often used in the Old Testament is an image for the nations of the world which are always searching in a one powerful and another one in the people's back and forth and so forth to give you some examples. Isaiah 1712 oh the raging of many nations late rage like a raging sea. See how that works or Jeremiah 623 they sound like the roaring CEOs they ride on their horses. I mentioned delegates earlier. The great commentators.
It's what he thinks. He says the sea with its mighty massive waters and with the constant unrest of its waves with its ceaseless pressing against the solid land informing against the rocks is an emblem of the Gentile world alienated from an enmity with God. I think that's probably what is getting at here in poetic language and if you need an additional reason for it. If the threefold repetition of the idea lifted up noticed anniversary season lifted up the season lifted up the sees lifted up. Usually that phrase when its use lifted up, that verb has to do with lifting up our hearts or hands against God sometimes phrases lifted up Horton symbol of power against God, or in a positive sense of Lord you have lifted up my horn is exalted me and are equivalent would be lift up your fist sink shaken God's face. That sort of what it's saying in the psalmist. In that case would be saying God is in charge of history. All of this is going on around us, the nations rise and fall. There are wars and rumors of wars won't be troubled because God has his hands on the wall in the midst of all the turmoil God takes care of his people well. The last verse interesting things about the Bible is just when you think something is about to end, or you think you got it all figured out to get a surprise.
That's what happens here in verse five what you would expect me to get the first five is maybe an encouragement to the believer to stand firm. The way we finish up the sermon you say you talk about the immutability of God and the changing surging sea of the nations, and then you'd say the people don't be troubled by that I said in a moment ago. Stand firm, God's in charge expect something like that. Or maybe we go back to praising God is King started out that way with the king about all this surging nations around about here, but you're still King of God inspected and up that way but it doesn't. What we find here instead is to unanticipated characteristics of God's kingly rule, namely that the kingdom of law is the first thing and secondly that it's a kingdom of holiness or justice. Now up to this point we've been thinking of this theocratic rule of God. As a rule of power because that's what he said in the first verse, God is majestic and he's majestic in his power, but what we are reminded of here is that God's rule is not a rule of power alone Greek word for it is cry toss which is where the words democracy rule by the people power in the hands of the people and theocracy come from what he saying here is that this rule of God is also a rule of law which is what that important word statutes in verse five refers to God statutes are his decrease find that word all the way throughout Psalm 119. For example, one example. Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart now asked this question. Where do we find God statutes that's a word that is used when we find his laws answer is in the Bible written down you say got a law you have to write it down somehow you have to write it down through a few mamas and it's true the divine laws as well so you have it in the Bible. And if you understand that then you ask, well then what are we to do an answer is where to stand firm on those statutes. In other words were to obey them.
Psalmist is saying that those of us who profess to know God and confess them as our God must know and obey his statutes to if we really are ruled by him.
Let me put this in other terms and assess question. How does the Lord Jesus Christ our King and Lord.
How does the Lord Jesus Christ rule his church well does it by guiding it sovereignly.
Of course, he orders the events of history.
Nothing surprises him guides everything sorted in the way that doesn't touch us directly, or that were not directly aware of that is true, but more importantly he does it through his word words he rules this church by the Scriptures. Revelation says 11 chapter verse 15 the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and they will reign forever and ever bought. There's also the specific rule of Jesus over his people, which has to do with his direct commands of us give you an example of that. When the apostle Paul was reached by God on the road to Damascus and the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to him. First of all he wanted to know who he was. Who are you, Lord's asked the question he was acknowledging of the answer is Jesus Christ is God, then the next question was, what would you have me do say and then the Lord spoke the word said I'm going to use you as my servant to go and reach Gentile nations. That's what we have to do. Also we can't claim to be ruled by Jesus Christ unless we know what he is told us to do in the Bible and are actually doing it in the final thing.
It's also a rule of justice were disused here is holiness. That's important because there are two obvious ways. That rule can be perverted it can be provided by coming the mere whim of those who are in power looking does what he wants to do and say in a against it be stronger than you are.
Or it can even be by those who have law to establish unjust laws can be empowering rule by law, by establishing laws that give you all the power and oppress the poor sap and get it again in world history what the final verses is a God's rule is not like that. It's a rule of power.
It's a rule of law, but it's also rule of holiness or justice, holiness adorns your house for endless days.
Lord, everything associated with God is holy and from us. It follows that we have to be holy to if we are not holy.
How can we adorn the house of God's word he uses holiness, adorns your house answers. We can't we do the exact opposite. We dishonor it in the God we profess to serve. But if we live holy lives, as we must and we honor God and prove that he's indeed ruling us as his holy people. There's a verse in which Dan first Peter 29 you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, people belonging to God that you may declare the praises of him called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. That's a great privilege also great duty. May we do it and do it well its prey and father were thankful for this song with its instructions of who you are expand our minds and lift our eyes to see something of your glory and majesty. Also what that means to us. We as your people are to be ruled by you and are to obey what we find in Scripture that we might be holy disgrace to do just that for the sake of Jesus Christ our Savior. 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 that our website alliance net.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 Ruse Hills Dr., Scarborough, ON. In one scene, 299. Thanks for your continued parents, and for listening to Bible study. Our preparing you to think and act