Saturday, August 25, 2007

Praise the Lord!

Psalm 98 says:

Oh sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done marvelous things!
His right hand and his holy arm
have worked salvation for him.
The LORD has made known his salvation;
he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations.
He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness
to the house of Israel.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation of our God.
Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth;
break forth into joyous song and sing praises!
Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre,
with the lyre and the sound of melody!
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD!
Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
the world and those who dwell in it!
Let the rivers clap their hands;
let the hills sing for joy together
before the LORD, for he comes
to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
and the peoples with equity.

The Lord acts first, and we respond as a result. The Lord brings salvation and we respond in jubilant praising. In the person and work of Jesus Christ, God made known His salvation and revealed His righteousness. At the birth of Jesus Christ, Mary, the Mother of God said: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior...He has shown strength with his arm…He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever” (Luke 1:46, 51, 54, 55). Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist said:

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people, And has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of David His servant-As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old--Salvation from our enemies, And from the hand of all who hate us; to show mercy toward our fathers, And to remember His holy covenant, The oath which He swore to Abraham our father, to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days” (Luke 1:68-75).

Holding Jesus in his arms, Simeon, the righteous man said:

Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel” (Luke 2:29-32).

Mary, Zechariah, and Simeon echo Psalm 98:2-3 which says: “The Lord has made known his salvation; He has revealed His righteousness in the sight of all the nations. He has remembered His loving kindness and His faithfulness to the house of Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.”

Mary, Zechariah, and Simeon recognized the person of Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of the promise He made long ago to Abraham, their father (Gen. 15:5). Jesus, whose Name means “God saves,” said concerning Abraham: “Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad” (John 8:56). Abraham rejoiced that salvation would be found in God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Quoting Isaiah 49:8, the Apostle Paul said: “'In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.’ Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2).

Not only have the saved seen the salvation of our God, but all the ends of the earth have seen it as well. Quoting Isaiah 40:5, John the Baptist said: “…all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” And the Apostle Paul writes:

“For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him….But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for ‘Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world’” (Rom. 10:12, 18).

God’s saving acts also reveal His righteousness. In the gospel of Jesus Christ, the righteousness of God is revealed and the one who is just lives by faith. God put forward Jesus Christ as a propitiation to make atonement for the sins of the whole world. This was to demonstrate God’s righteousness since the sins committed beforehand could not go unpunished (Rom. 3:25). The one who has faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ is counted righteous and saved. The Lord has made known His salvation and righteousness in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

The Lord acts first, and we respond as a result. We respond as Christians today as a spiritual nation, declaring the praises of Him who brought us out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Pet. 2:9). As Christians who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb we are called to shout joyfully to the Lord and to break forth with singing. With all kinds of instruments, we are to shout joyfully before the King who is our Savior. So often, Lutheran services are dominated by dirges to the sound of a pipe organ suitable for funerals. But Jesus Christ did not stay in the tomb. There was no funeral for Him. He has risen from the grave and death no longer has dominion over Him. He has redeemed us and promises us eternal life with Him forever! This is cause for loud and jubilant praising. And the people of God praise in anticipation of the second coming when he will come to judge the earth. In the new heaven and earth, we will praise the Lamb forever and ever.

The creation also eagerly awaits the second coming of Jesus Christ. But this will not happen until the creation is set free. The Apostle Paul says of this:

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now (Rom. 8:19-22).

At the second coming of Jesus Christ the sea will roar and all it contains. The rivers will clap their hands. The mountains will sing together for joy before the Lord (Ps. 98:7-8).

At the second coming, he will make known His salvation, and will judge the world with righteousness. “Behold, he is coming…” (Rev. 1:7) and He will deal with the people in uprightness: “From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty” (Rev. 19:15). Sin requires justice. And the Lord will judge the world “with righteousness and the peoples with equity” (Ps. 98:9).

On the other hand, the redeemed will sing to the Lord a new song (Ps. 33:3; 40:4; 96:1; 98:1; 144:9; 149:1; Isa. 42:10), and they will say: “He has done a wonderful thing.”