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December 1, 2021 7:00 am
The problem is not that the imprecatory Psalms are in the Bible with their cries for justice and the cries that God would deal with the ungodly. That's not the problem.
Problem is that there's not more of the imprecatory Psalms DNS when King David and others in the Bible, hold down the power of God as a means of exacting justice, or even to vanquish their enemies. It was never with evil or selfish intent.
In fact, the exact opposite was true hello and welcome again to the truth pulpit with Don Greene, founding pastor of truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. I'm Bill Wright and today is Don brings us part two of a message called an introduction to imprecatory Psalm. He'll show us that the people in the Bible who practiced this sort of appeal to heaven were actually calling on a holy God to exact his justice not on some nameless, faceless, idle or wicked spirit.
Let's join Don right now as he delivers today's fascinating lesson from God's holy word in the truthful so Leviticus chapter 19 in verse 17 says this and this is in the foundational book of Moses book of Moses being the first five books of the Bible in Leviticus 19, verse 17, the law of Moses, which David would have been steeped in as the king of Israel.
He knew what this text said he says in verse 17 you shall not hate your fellow countrymen in your heart you may surely reprove your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him, you shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself.
I am the Lord that was written prior to David by some 400 years go to the Proverbs in Proverbs chapter 24 for something written after the time of David. Proverbs 24 in verses 17 and 18 Proverbs 24 verses 17 and 18 says do not rejoice when your enemy falls and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles. This is Proverbs 24 verse 17 verse 18, or the Lord will see it and be displeased and turn his anger away from him and here's the thing that I want you to see as we look at those passages, beloved is that both before and after the time of David functioning like bookends.
The Old Testament warned God's people against vengeance and a bitter spirit. Now if all of Scripture is God's word and it is, then it cannot contradict itself and somehow therefore these imprecatory Psalms are informed by these warnings against a vengeful spirit. Somehow these imprecatory Psalms fit with the overall spirit of the Old Testament. We can think about it is the colors of the rainbow. There are seven callers on a rainbow. Not every passage of Scripture has to be painted with the same shade of color does it when that make for boring rainbow if it was all just one color. Well, the Scriptures can speak in different colors to different situations and still be consistent with the overall one greater whole.
Justice seven. Callers don't contradict each other in the rainbow.
Beloved is rethinking about these things. We must realize that these imprecatory Psalms are God's eternal word and even within their own context. In the Old Testament there are warnings against vengeance. There are warnings against taking out your own judgment and that means that we look at this and we say here these difficult imprecatory Psalms.
Here's what the Old Testament says about these somehow somehow these are in balance with one another.
They are not in contradiction with one another so that we see even in the Old Testament. A caution against a vengeful spirit that informs the way that we look at it.
So here's here's the here's the framework of thought they were putting together as we consider this all Scripture is God's word God's holy God is true. He could never speak wrongly, there's going to be an internal consistency to his word. Yes, we understand that these imprecatory Psalms. At first glance at a superficial reading seem to be in conflict with a biblical ethic but that couldn't be the case. As soon as we think that way we correct ourselves and say no, that couldn't be the case.
I know that from the Old Testament that there are conditions and qualifications that should inform the way I think about these things.
So the Old Testament warns against sinful vengeance and there's another side to it that the critics don't always acknowledge. Which brings us to point number three. The New Testament has its own imprecations. New Testament has its own imprecations.
Now, the idea that informs some of the criticism of these imprecatory Psalms is that is that some people will say will the Old Testament had a different ethic.
The Old Testament engages in vengeance and is marked by thirsty bloodshed in and in war and all of that. So on the one hand you have the Old Testament engaging in vengeance but but the New Testament calls us to forgiveness and calls us to love and so these two things these two. These two books, the old and new Testaments are just presenting different ethics to us and that out and they use that as though that would explain away the problem. Well, we've already seen that that doesn't hold water with the Old Testament because there are these calls to moderation and and and love and against grudges in the Old Testament, but then when you read the New Testament, you realize that argument will get you very far at all.
If you actually read all of it and not simply focus on two or three famous passages from the Lord that were addressing different concepts.
Anyway, look over Matthew chapter 23. For example, Matthew 23. I originally thought that I might read this entire passage of Matthew 23. But it's just a little bit too long for our purposes, but in Matthew 23. Look at verse 13 and how Jesus addresses the Pharisees and and keep in mind this idea that all the New Testament is only about love and forgiveness. That's kind of hard to square with everything that you find in what Jesus says in verse 13 of Matthew 23 where he says, but woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people for you. Do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows, houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers. Therefore, you will receive greater condemnation.
Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he becomes one you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.
Verse 16 woe to you blind guides who say whoever swears by the Temple that is nothing but whoever swears by the gold of the temple is obligated you fools and blind men which is more important, the gold or the temple that sanctified the gold goes on repeating.
Well, after well after 108 times in this chapter's article verse 29 he says woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites for you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous and say if we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets. So you testify against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets fill up then the measure of the guilt of your father's you serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell. This is Jesus talking one writer said this about Matthew 23 and Jesus's words and condemnations of the Pharisees, and I quote he says there is no hint of sympathy.
No proposal of clemency. No trace of kindness. No effort on Jesus part to be nice to the Pharisees. Indeed, with these words. Jesus formally and resoundingly pronounced their doom by today's standards. Jesus's words about the Pharisees and his treatment of them are breathtakingly severe." You remember, don't you, that in Galatians chapter 1, the apostle Paul pronounced curses on false teachers. Galatians chapter 1 turned there with me.
Galatians chapter 1 in verse eight says even if we or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed. As we have said before, so I say again now if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received. He is to be accursed in the book of Revelation. God vindicates the martyrs cry for vengeance for the Revelation chapter 6 Revelation chapter 6 beginning in verse nine, Revelation 6 verse nine says when the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God because of the testimony which they had maintained and they cried out with a loud voice saying how long those board, holy and true, will you refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth crying out for vengeance, crying out for justice, God, look what they have done to your people. How long will you let this justice go unsatisfied. How long we let I should say how long will you let this injustice go unsatisfied unaddressed. And if you turn to chapter 19 of Revelation, we find that God answers in Revelation chapter 19 verse one.
His answer becomes a ground for great praise after these things I heard something like a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying hallelujah, salvation and glory and power belong to our God because his judgments are true and righteous, for he has judged the great harlot who was corrupting the earth with her immorality, and he has avenged the blood of his bond servants on her and a second time they said hallelujah her smoke rises up forever and ever. And the 24 elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sits on the throne saying amen hallelujah see what to those. What do these passages show us from Matthew from Galatians from Revelation as we think about the imprecatory Psalms. What the what does it show us. It shows us this, you cannot hit the New Testament against these imprecatory Psalms because the New Testament contains its own vengeance and and curses of well and so and so let's step back and just kind of take this all in his word again were just introducing things all of the Bible is God's word and we expect an internal consistency to what we read in when it comes to these imprecatory Psalms. We say this is this is hard. This is difficult.
I'm not quite sure what to do with this. So let me let me remember a couple of early things on. First of all I find warnings against excessive vengeance. In the Old Testament itself.
And so I should understand Old Testament passages with a sympathetic ear in light of that, and I also realize I can't just say the New Testament out loud condemns judgments and prayers for judgment against God's enemies, because I see Jesus declaring judgment. I see Paul declaring judgment.
I see Revelation carrying out judgment and so I may not know just yet.
Speaking as a student of Scripture I know where I'm going with this myself. Even though were not going to get all the way to the station. I may not know myself how to how to put all of these things together but there's something going on here. That means that I need to be careful about how I speak. I need to be careful about speaking against God's word are being critical of the Salus as if they were riding sinful things that I should not be paying attention to. Here is a preview of coming attractions. Beloved. This is important. The imprecatory Psalms remind us of something very, very critical to easily forgotten in our flabby age.
God is not just a God of grace and forgiveness. God is a holy God of justice, God is a God. Psalm seven says God is a righteous judge who has indignation every day.
God says in Exodus 15 just immediately after he married the Egyptian army and the sea.
God is a warrior. God is a warrior God as a judge.
God is holy God does not bear lightly with sinners, but us meaning us in our day and age, not in this room. What about our day and age. Let's be honest truth and holiness are not a priority for our refined age are they ours is an age of false tolerance and moral equivalence at best our age. The spirit of our age sees good and evil, simply as varying shades of gray. Simply seeing it is different different shades on a continuum with no sharp distinction between the sea, beloved, there is there is a problem. There is a real problem with the imprecatory Psalms, but it is not where the critics of Scripture think they are. See the problem is not that the imprecatory Psalms are in the Bible. That's not the problem.
That couldn't be the problem that's impossible. That's foolish to think that way is ungodly to think that way.
Now the problem is not that the imprecatory Psalms are in the Bible with their cries for justice and their cries, that God would deal with the ungodly. That's not the problem. The problem is that there's not more of the imprecatory Psalms in us. I said that I believe that to be absolutely true. The problem is not that the imprecatory Psalms are in the Bible.
The problem is that there's not more of the imprecatory Psalms in us.
What do I mean by that our world, we can be more particular the evangelical church in general.
Needs more holy zeal. He needs more righteous indignation. He needs that more than anything right now.
Haven't we had enough of the saccharine coded messages of the past 50 years that of condition people to simply think that God only loves them and only has a good plan for their lives.
Haven't we had enough of the sugarcoated ministry that is promised to so-called seekers that God simply wants to bless them and help them in their along in their earthly lives, haven't we had enough of the men with goofy hair, promising us health and wealth and prosperity in performing phony miracles in order to captivate a people and empty the wallets of destitute widows, desperate for help and we had enough of that.
Haven't we had enough of the dripping blood on the hands of abortionists and on our culture killing millions of babies year after year after year simply for the sake of personal convenience. Haven't we had enough of the distortion of marriage wrought upon us by people who hate God and want nothing to do with him. Haven't we had enough of these things in a thousand other like them, all of which is an offense against God, haven't we had enough of the attacks on Scripture.
Haven't we had enough of the denials of Christ. Haven't we had enough of the false religions perverting the gospel of grace with their man-made traditions, haven't we had enough of false teachers, blind guides, leading the blind into a pit. Haven't we had enough of the corruption in Catholic leadership. The sexual abuse scandals that they perpetrated on decades of those who trusted them. Where is the holy zeal that would rise up and protest before the throne of God.
God, this is not right God. This is a perversion of everything you've declared to be holy and true God. This is a violation of your truth God. This is a violation of your holiness and we had enough CR problem isn't that there is judgment spoken in the Bible are problem in our age are problem in the church at large is that there's just not zeal and the righteous indignation against these things which God's word clearly declares a thousand others like them to be an offense to his good and holy name. That's the problem that's the problem. The problem is is that CS Lewis and others like him are as of such flabby disposition, spiritually speaking, that they can't recognize black and white so clearly to realize that we need to be on the side of white and against the side of black I'm using those of scholars, not as races. You see, beloved, if we had a sense for the zeal and the indignation. The concern for the glory of God. The zeal for his glory for his righteousness for his truth.
We had something of that seal within us, we would understand why the psalmist speaks at such extremes. When his glory is so violated. We would rather than sitting in judgment of God's word and rather than and rather than than sitting as armchair quarterbacks critiquing what God's men wrote thousands of years ago and which will stand long after our lives are gone.
If we knew something of holy zeal and righteous indignation, we would realize that that perhaps now know, perhaps, to we would realize that the fear of God would be the beginning of wisdom to revere his holiness to learn to hate what he hates wood and provoke within our hearts some kind of response against it. Rather than settling into a lukewarm compromise with all that evil, that is around us.
The fear of God would be the beginning of wisdom.
The zeal of the psalmist would become our own zeal and we would more gladly, and more fearlessly align ourselves with the holy purposes of God. That's what I mean when I say the problem is that there's not enough of the imprecatory Psalms in us now all of that doesn't solve the dilemma doesn't solve every question that even what we've raised here.
All that we've done all we wanted to accomplish.
I trust we have accomplished what we seen from Scripture has cautioned us to approach these Psalms with a sense of humility. And as we approach them with humility for us to be in a position then to sit and say speak, Lord, teach me, help me to understand what it is that you would have me take from these passages of Scripture that are so contrary to the spirit of the age in which I live. Even when you say it like that shouldn't be obvious to asses in this room is Bible believing Christians should be obvious when we frame it that way, Lord. These Psalms are contrary to this tolerant spirit of our age simply saying that shouldn't click in our minds. The problem is the tolerant spirit of our age.
These imprecatory Psalms will influence us will have a sanctifying impact on us as we study them in future weeks, I invite you to come back next. As we resume our study of them in the days to come. Let's pray together. Father we've only opened the door to peek inside to what you would have us learn from these imprecatory Psalms from their place in the canon of Scripture. Father, we we want to be aligned with you. We realize that we are all in danger of wrongful vengeful spirit. We all get out of sorts with people who crosses and father so often there is sin in our reaction to those situations so fathers we look at these things in the days to come. Would you give us grace to understand father, may you strengthen us that we would stand with you and against the wicked spirit of our age and we thank you for this time together in Jesus name, amen at Stone Green wrapping up a message called an introduction to imprecatory Psalms, a part of this series, a cry for justice here on the truth pulpit will friend if you'd like to hear this message again. We'd like to share it with a friend or loved one.
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Pulpit.com by Bill Wright, inviting you back next time. When Don Greene presents more from the truth.
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