Monday, May 25, 2009

Let those who persecute the church, "Beware!"

6 Set a wicked man over him, And let an accuser stand at his right hand. 7 When he is judged, let him be found guilty, And let his prayer become sin. 8 Let his days be few, And let another take his office. 9 Let his children be fatherless, And his wife a widow. 10 Let his children continually be vagabonds, and beg; Let them seek their bread also from their desolate places. 11 Let the creditor seize all that he has, And let strangers plunder his labour. 12 Let there be none to extend mercy to him, Nor let there be any to favour his fatherless children. 13 Let his posterity be cut off, And in the generation following let their name be blotted out. 14 Let the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the LORD, And let not the sin of his mother be blotted out. 15 Let them be continually before the LORD, That He may cut off the memory of them from the earth; 16 Because he did not remember to show mercy, But persecuted the poor and needy man, That he might even slay the broken in heart. 17 As he loved cursing, so let it come to him; As he did not delight in blessing, so let it be far from him. 18 As he clothed himself with cursing as with his garment, So let it enter his body like water, And like oil into his bones. 19 Let it be to him like the garment which covers him, And for a belt with which he girds himself continually. 20 Let this be the LORD’s reward to my accusers, And to those who speak evil against my person. (Psalm 109: 6-20)

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God. Let those who persecute the Church be warned, both from without and from within her ranks, for the Church is the apple of her Beloved's eye, and He is a jealous Lover.

This string of curses was acknowledged as the just and proper end of Judas, the betrayer of Jesus (Acts 1:15-20). However, Andrew A. Bonar made this comment:

"We may consider Judas, at the same time, as the virtual head of the Jewish nation in their daring attempt to dethrone the Son of God. The doom pronounced, and the reasons for it, apply to the Jews as a nation, as well as to the leader of the band who took Jesus."

Benjamin Davies (1814-1875) further notes:

"... the feeling expressed in these psalms may well be considered as virtuous anger, such as Bishop Butler explains and justifies in his sermons on "Resentment and the Forgiveness of Injuries" and such as Paul teaches in Ephesians iv. 26, "Be ye angry, and sin not." Anger against sin and a desire that evildoers may be punished, are not opposed to the spirit of the gospel, or to that love of enemies which our Lord both enjoined and exemplified. If the emotion or its utterance were essentially sinful, how could Paul wish the enemy of Christ and the perverter of the gospel to be accursed (........, 1 Cor. xvi. 22; Gal. i. 8); and especially , how could the spirit of the martyred saints in heaven call on God for vengeance (Rev. vi. 10), and join to celebrate its final execution (Rev. xix. 1-6)? Yea, resentment against the wicked is so far from being necessarily sinful, that we find it manifested by the Holy and Just One himself, when in the days of his flesh he looked around on his hearers "with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts" (Mark iii. 5); and when in "the great day of his wrath" (Rev. vi. 17), he shall say to "all workers of iniquity" (Luke xii. 27), "Depart from me, ye cursed" (Matt. xxv. 41)."

And furthermore, Joseph Francis Thrupp wrote:

"Imprecations of judgement on the wicked on the hypothesis of their continued impenitence are not inconsistent with simultaneous efforts to bring them to repentance; and Christian charity itself can do no more than labour for the sinner's conversion. The law of holiness requires us to pray for the fires of divine retribution: the law of love to seek meanwhile to rescue the brand from the burning. The last prayer of the martyr Stephen was answered not by any general averting of doom from a guilty nation, but by the conversion of an individual persecutor to the service of God."

Therefore, this Psalm, Psalm 109, has a triple application: it applied to Judas, it applied to the Apostate Jewish Nation, and finally it applies to all who wilfully refuse to acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. God's general judgements shall smite the nations:

1 The LORD said to my Lord,
“Sit at My right hand,
Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”
5 The Lord is at Your right hand;
He shall execute kings in the day of His wrath.
6 He shall judge among the nations,
He shall fill the places with dead bodies,
He shall execute the heads of many countries.
(Psalm 110:1, 5-6)

Yet, in the midst of God's judgements, He shall rescue all those Whom He has chosen from before the foundation of the World.

God's judgements are loosened in our nation of Australia: economic downturn, floods, fire, an imminent pandemic (swine flu), and such like. And these things will increase in number and intensity until there is either general repentance or there is general destruction (Deuteronomy 28:15-68; Leviticus 26:14-45). However, despite the general outcome, God will show His specific loving kindness to all who truly trust in His Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, out of a pure heart.

1 comment:

Steve from the Alice said...

Whew! Perhaps you should be preaching! Since this morning I have been wrestling with the implications of Galatians 6:10, just what is meant by 'especially to the household of faith.' Is this not an implicit acknowledgement by Paul that our charity, good works, etc should be manifested primarily within an ever-expanding Kingdom of God on earth? That there comes a time when the Church concentrates its blessedness within the family of God, even at the expense of those outside the Kingdom, while at the same time, presenting to those outside the urgent necessity of coming into the fold through faith in Christ?