The US election is now over. Some people will be elated that Obama is the President for four more years, others will be gutted. Perhaps many others are just glad that the election and all the campaigning is over.
We often measure our lives in Presidential terms or royal reigns or papal elections. (“I was born when Johnson was President.”) We often measure humanity by civilisations. Scientists measure the earth in creation periods. In so doing we try to put our lives into a greater perspective to see where we ‘fit’ in the great scheme of things.
Psalm 90 gives us the ultimate perspective of life in its opening two verses.
(Today we will look at parts of two Psalms from the fourth book of the Psalms, the first Ps 90, the second, Ps 103.)
Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.
2 Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
We try with our minds to grasp the beginning of the universe and the creation of the world, so long ago. We also try to grasp with our minds the end times, the judgement, heaven and hell with what has been revealed to us. Yet God is so much bigger than all that has been revealed to us through creation and the written Word. He is “from everlasting to everlasting”.
Though fiction, C.S.Lewis captured a little of this in his Narnia series with the worlds he describes before the creation of our own and apart from our own, worlds which we would do best to consider in heavenly realms. The fall of Satan, the “mighty ones of old” – we know so little of the created world outside our own. Yet God assures us that beyond our Presidential terms and civilisations and creation periods, before the whole world was brought forth, He is God, from everlasting to everlasting.
This should be enormously comforting to us. このことは私たちには大きな慰めとなるべきことです。
Having established His position of ultimate authority in the universe and beyond, God then, in verses 7-12, puts our lives and our ways into a proper and holy perspective:
We are consumed by your anger and terrified by your indignation.
8 You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence.
9 All our days pass away under your wrath; we finish our years with a moan.
10 Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures;
yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.
11 If only we knew the power of your anger! Your wrath is as great as the fear that is your due. 12 Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Let’s be honest, this is not what we want to hear. We don’t want to be told that God is angry with us. We don’t want to hear about our secret sins being exposed and finishing our years with a moan. I wonder how many of you if you had a remote control on Biblical teaching would flick now to another Bible teaching channel.
Something about grace and forgiveness and love: I tell you, if that’s all you listened to, you would not know what grace and forgiveness and love are. 正直に言うなら、これは私たちが聞きたいことではないのです。恵み、赦し、愛について。それらだけを聞くのであれば、恵み、赦し、愛が何であるか知ることはないでしょう。
God is speaking. And He is angry – not just a little annoyed or slightly bothered – but furious with the sins of humanity. We can stick our heads in the sand and ignore it or we can listen and do something about it. 神が語っておられるのです。そして神は怒っておられます。
Let’s talk about anger for a minute. Firstly, our own anger. It seems to me that many of us do not understand or have righteous anger. We get angry over things that are not terribly important – spilt coffee, a traffic jam, a thoughtless remark; and we fail to get angry over things that are very important – issues of social justice, media filth that our children are constantly exposed to, blasphemy, idolatry etc. I suspect one of the reasons we have our anger issues back to front is because we are, ultimately, short-sighted and selfish. We only get angry over the things that affect us now, and we tend to become numb to the things that affect all of society, however devastating they might be, in the long run.
And we subconsciously apply this short-sighted misunderstanding of anger to God. But God’s anger is always righteous and at least while this world is in existence, it is always remedial.
(Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live? Ezekiel 18:23)
Psalm 90 is as much about the dismal state of man as it is about God’s anger. In Psalm 90, God is holding up His mirror to us and we don’t like what we see. We assume the mirror must be faulty, or bent, like one of those carnival mirrors that give us funny head and body shapes. In reality, those carnival mirrors are the ones we hold up for ourselves, distorting our image to something that we think is acceptable or even good. And we convince ourselves that that is reality. But it’s not. Psalm 90 presents are much more accurate reflection of our image. 詩篇90は人間の陰鬱な状態についてであると同時に神の怒りについてでもあります。詩篇90は神が鏡を私たちに向けていて、そこに見えるものは私たちの好むことではないのです。
Psalm 103 gives us a fuller picture of the nature of God and complements the teaching of Psalm 90.詩篇103は神のご性質をより完全に写し出し、詩篇90の教えを補足しています。
The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
This beautiful, wonderful passage of the Word will only have a light superficial meaning for us if we only read such passages. When we have read and understood other passages like that in Psalm 90, we gain a much fuller understanding and develop a much greater love and appreciation for the ways and the love of God, when we read passages like this one.
And this is an OT understanding of God’s love. The Psalmist has not yet known the love of God as manifest in Christ. When we add a NT perspective to this, we can see how this great love was worked and how exactly our sins have been so far removed from us.
The OT model of love and forgiveness (in particular) was incomplete and temporary (that’s why the temple sacrifices had to be made so regularly as sin offerings and peace offerings and fellowship offerings etc.) In the NT, through Christ, the love and forgiveness of God were made complete in the one great act of redemption on the cross.
The fulfillment of these verses from Psalm 103 is now complete and we can enjoy them today when we fear God and put our trust in His Son, Jesus Christ and live by the Holy Spirit who lives in us. 新約聖書ではキリストを通して神の愛と赦しが十字架上で、ひとつの大きな購いの行いのうちに成し遂げられました。詩篇103のこれらの節の成就がなされ、今日、私たちが神を恐れ、御子、イエス・キリストに信頼し、私たちのうちに住んでくださる聖霊によって生きるなら、この詩篇の御言葉を楽しみことができるのです。
There’s a special word theologians use. Propitiation. God’s love (through Christ on the cross) propitiates His anger. In simpler words, God’s love turns away His anger. This doesn’t lessen or trivialise the anger or God that we read about in Psalm 90, it simply teaches us the enormity of His love that we begin to see in Psalm 103. 神の愛は神の怒りを退けます。
Let me use scripture to further illustrate this relationship between God’s anger, mankind’s sad condition and God’s love.
All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags. Isaiah 64:6
But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Luke 15:22
If our righteous acts are as filthy rags then the life of the prodigal son was despicable beyond description. And yet when he returns to his father, humble and ashamed and repentant, he is greeted with the words we have just read. Words of acceptance and joy and celebration. Words of love that turn away and overcome any anger. 私たちの義が不潔な着物のようであるなら、放蕩息子の人生は言葉では言い表せないほど卑劣なものでしょう。それなのに彼がへりくだり、恥じて、悔い改めて父のもとに戻ってくると、先ほど読んだ言葉でもって迎え入れられるのです。受け入れと喜びと祝いの言葉。どんな怒りでも退け、打ち勝つ愛の言葉をもって。
That’s how it is when we come to God humbly, repentant and by faith receive the means of forgiveness that God Himself has provided through His Son. He accepts us with joy and with celebration. He receives us with a love that turns away and overcomes His righteous anger 私たちがへりくだって、悔い改めて神のみもとに行き、信仰によって御子を通して供えてくださった赦しを受け入れるなら、このようになるのです。神は私たちを喜びと祝いをもって受け入れてくれるのです。神の正しい怒りを退け、打ち勝つ愛をもって神は私たちを受け入れてくださるのです。
And so later in Psalm 103, we return to some familiar words – remarkably similar to those we read at the beginning of Psalm 90:
But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children—
18 with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.
I would like to finish today with a question for you and I’ll give you a little time to meditate on this:
Given the enormity of God’s love in your life, in what practical way can you respond to that love to show your love and appreciation to Him? これほど大きな神の愛を与えられて、あなたが神を愛し、神に感謝していることを示すために、具体的にどのように神の愛に反応することができますか？