Friday, August 14, 2009

Favoring the City of God

“You shall arise and have mercy on Zion,
for the time to favor her,
yes, the set time, has come.
Your servants take pleasure in her stones,
and favor her dust.”
Psalm 102:13-14

There is nothing just “ok” in the kingdom of God. Every situation is designed and perfect. Every doctrine is right and eternal. Every word that is spoken is pure. Every being in that kingdom is holy and is anointed to understand the mind of God and to live forever. There is nothing lacking in God’s kingdom, and there is no need of anything anywhere. Every morsel satisfies completely, and there is no discomfort anywhere, to any degree.

Gods’ servants are wise; they favor the poverty of the kingdom of God over the wealth of this world because they understand that the poverty of God’s kingdom is more precious than all earthly wealth. They trust the nonsense of the gospel over the revered traditions and eloquent philosophies of men because “the foolishness of God is wiser than men.” They trust the puniness of the Spirit over the military might of nations because “the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1Cor. 1:25).

Everything in the kingdom of God is better than anything in this world. If God’s kingdom has dirt in it, a spoonful of that dirt is more valuable than all the wealth of earth combined. That’s why God’s servants “favor the dust of Zion, and take pleasure in her stones.” The grace to stand in that city of God is more precious than any privilege that any earthly government can grant you. And anything of this world that would diminish your desire for that city, whether men consider it good or bad, is to be hated.

This is why Moses, living in the greatest comforts this world had to offer at the time, chose to go down and suffer with the enslaved children of God. He chose to be associated with the enslaved, chosen people of God than to be king of the whole earth. That is the heart of a true servant of God. He favors the worst of God’s kingdom over the best of anything else.

"Of Mercy and Judgment"

“I will sing of mercy and judgment;
unto you, O Lord, will I sing!”
Psalm 101:1

“Behold therefore the goodness and the severity of God.”
Paul, in Romans 11:22

Those who are called into the kingdom of God are always subject to pressures against real spiritual growth and coming to the knowledge of God. Most of the time, in this culture anyway, the pressure is against the confession that God is “a consuming fire”, whose wrath against the wicked is sure and terrible. It was so in ancient time as well. There were many in Israel who insisted that it was wrong to see God as a God of judgment (Mal. 2:17). But David and Paul both knew better. David rejoiced and sang about both the mercy and the judgment of God, and Paul preached them both. They understood that the only way God’s children will come to know their heavenly Father is for them to be taught both that God is love and that He is “a man of war” (Ex. 15:3) and that “He hates the wicked” (Ps. 11:5). Both are true.

In Psalm 101, God expresses His great mercy by saying that He will watch over those who are faithful to Him and that He will allow those who walk in His commandments perfectly to live with Him forever (v. 6).

In that same Psalm (vv. 4, 5, 7), God expresses His terrible judgment against those who are unfaithful and wicked by making it clear that He will not grant them eternal life at the Final Judgment: "A froward heart shall depart from me; I will not know a wicked person. Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him will I cut off; whoever has a high look and a proud heart will I not tolerate. He who works deceit shall not dwell in my house. He who tells lies shall not tarry in my sight."

The Spirit of Christ could sing through David of the terrible judgments of God just as easily as it could sing of the damnation of the wicked. The Spirit could also preach through Paul of the wonderful grace of God as easily as it could preach that God was “a consuming fire”. Until we can speak as easily of one as the other, we have not yet overcome the spirits of this age who cannot rejoice to hear of the horrors that they will someday surely face. They will try to make the children of God feel unmerciful or unkind if they rejoice in the approaching Final Judgment of the wicked. But that judgment is our eternal deliverance from all the pressures in this world, pressures that come from ungodly people who oppose the righteousness and knowledge of God that is ours in Christ Jesus our Lord.