Here we are nearing the end of our Psummer Psalm Pseries. The Psalms is a very interesting collection of poetry authored by several different people. David’s named is on about half of the 150 Psalms, and today we come to the one written by Moses. It seems appropriate to remember a few details about Moses. He was the baby set out in a basket on the Nile watched by his sister, discovered by the Pharaoh’s daughter. At this time boys born to the enslaved Hebrews were to be drowned. Instead, Moses’ own mother is called to nurse him on behalf of Pharaoh’s daughter, and she raises him as her own. For forty years he is raised as a prince, but all that comes crashing down when he kills an Egyptian overseer beating a Jewish slave. He is forced to flee for his life and crosses a desert and is taken in by a Midianite priest after protecting his daughters from some shepherds. 3 times we see his sense of justice, leading him to fight for the one being unjustly treated. After another 40 years he encounters God in the burning bush and his life is led in another direction.
He goes back to Egypt and tells Pharaoh to let God’s people go. After the 10 plagues and that little incident at the Red Sea, the people escape. In the Sinai Desert Moses gets the 10 Commandments. Sin and grumbling and another 40 years is spent wandering in the desert, before Moses is taken to God just before the people of Israel enter the promised Land. Moses was a rather unique man, talking to God face to face as it were on many occasions.
He is also credited with writing the first 5 books of the Old Testament, Genesis to Deuteronomy, also called the Torah, or the Law. This Psalm is Moses way of sharing the rich history of not just his life or his nation’s, but the working of God for deliverance of His people from Creation to the end of time. Indeed, it starts with verses 1-3 are a reflection back to the beginning of it all in Genesis.
We are reminded in these verses of God’s greatness, His awesomeness, if you will. God is everlasting – always was and always will be. The encouragement is certainly to rely on this constancy that is God eternal in our life. He is called our “dwelling place” and it is significant to note that it extends way back to before time, before Creation. Moses even then had a sense of God’s eternal purpose of love and redemption. He recognized God’s creative act in each of our lives personally, and that in death we return to Him. His breath that He breathes in us at Creation is returned to Him.
Do you have this sense of God in your life? How awesome is your God? Do you see god clearly or are you coming to Him with mistrust and doubt. Sometimes “life” conspires against us and seems to push us at every chance to doom. Know this, that there is a force at work in this world that wants our destruction. 2 Corinthians 4 tells us that the “god of this world has blinded the eyes of the unbelieving”. We are involved in a spiritual warfare whether you realize it or not, and whether you believe it or not; but God has given us everything pertaining to life. He calls us and equips us and puts us into His service to “proclaim the kingdom of God is near”. I often refer to God as the Creator of the ends of the earth. I do that to remind us how great and awesome God is. The Bible challenges us to seek Him while He may be found; to cast your cares upon Him for He cares for you; to try Him and see that He is true. If you go home with anything today, go home with a renewed sense of how great is our God.
As we see how great and awesome God is, we come to understand also His holiness. We see references to Noah and to the great damage sin brings. Understand the reference to a thousand years as maybe referring to the life span of people before the flood. Methuselah was just shy of 1,000 years, and it is but a few moments to God. A few verses later Moses references that life is now only 70 or 80 years; how much we have lost. Is it because of our propensity to sin that God shortened our lives? In the days of Noah, sin reigned, and God judged. In the days of slavery in Egypt God judged the Egyptians. In the years following, the fickle Israelites were judged, and so a generation wandered for 40 years until they were gone. I am sure this is in Moses’ thoughts as he writes these words, and yet how applicable to today with our own fickle hearts. It is strange that in spite of our sense of God, of seeing Him work wonders and miracles, of understanding that He is the Creator, that holiness is such a struggle. We don’t have the same sense of sin as they had in Israel. The Law was and is black and white. It was easy to know if you blew it. When they sinned they had specific things to do to show their repentance. There were sacrifices and rituals. We live in the Law of Love today, and it is much harder to know sometimes when we blow it. We read and know about the biggies: Sexual sins, capital crimes reflecting some of the 10 commandments, and physical sins against others; but what about things like gossip and slander; refusal to help those who need it or greed and selfishness. Some of these things are hard to pinpoint in our lives, and so we ask God to search us and try us.
The chorus we just sang talks about “numbering our days”. It says simply whether we experience good or bad in this life, we commit to recognize God is Sovereign and we are His. Have you experienced God’s anger? We see it mostly on a national level, but we see God interacting again and again with personal sin. The sin of Achan was harshly dealt with. David’s sins similarly brought pain. The whole 40 years wandering was a result of sin towards God. We separate sin from punishment today, so we don’t recognize the same anger God still has about sin. We understand that we are in grace now, rather than the Law and that makes a difference. How wonderful it is to experience forgiveness and peace; but we need to know God reacts to sin because sin is anything not found in Him. Sin separates us from God. At salvation Jesus bridged that separation, and we confess acts of sin; but we have to allow God to go deeper into our lives and remove the root of sin. That root goes back to the Fall in the Garden of Eden, and God has offered us graces that change us into Christ-likeness. We are called to be sanctified, to be holy as God is holy, and it is only in the power of the Holy Spirit we can do that as we surrender all of our lives to God, to make us like His Son as He wills.
God, do whatever it takes to make me like Jesus. Show me how to be a man of perfect love, agape love. Do that work in me that changes me. Help me to make the right decisions, the decisions of obedience as I walk in step with the Holy Spirit moment by moment. Help me to immerse myself in you as I number my days.
And so at the end of the Psalm we see Moses calling again for God to come on his behalf, on the nation he is leading. He talks about the morning, when they would daily gather up the manna. He asks for God’s blessing to outdo the evil they have seen, both brought on themselves by their sin as well as the evil visited them by being in the wrong place at the wrong time, namely Egypt. He asks God to again bless them. Sometimes evil is visited upon us. We can be the author of it by pursuing and then struggling with addictions, by engaging in behaviour that goes against the character of God. Sometimes we are the innocent bystander in life and sickness or violence visits us just like the Israelites. We live in a fallen world, and while we have breath we will experience the ravages of sin passed down from the Garden. But God knows, and so we cry out to Him. We know in His time He will answer, and in the waiting we strive to become more like Jesus in our thoughts and words and deeds. Call out to God if you are struggling. Talk to Him if you’re not. Don’t wait for a bad time in your life to get caught up. One of the stories I love in the Old Testament is King Jehoshaphat. When the enemy came he asked God what to do and then went and did it. He didn’t have to repent and get caught up and confess a multitude of sins because he was current with God.Get current and stay current, and God will hear your cry.
The other underlying current here is Messianic. Moses has a sense even way back then, that God was doing something. He asks the question “How long until you return, God?” We ask that question today; especially when life has us low and we feel broken and unable to carry on. We ask in the sense that we need God now – we need His answer today. We also ask that question today because of hope. We know Jesus is returning one day to take us all home. In a spiritual sense home is where God is, and though He resides in us as His children, Jesus said He is preparing for us a place in heaven. What a glorious day that will be when we see Him face to face. And though this thought of His coming again should encourage us to pursue God all that much more, it is also a wonderful exercise to reflect on Heaven itself. Streets of gold, the River of Life flowing from the throne of God, the Tree of Life, the presence of God for all eternity, no more sickness or death and pain, for the ravages of sin will be done away with, true Peace, true Joy with Love Incarnate, the Lion and the Lamb… What a wonderful promise to know that when the roll is called up yonder I’ll be there. Will you? Have you accepted the offer for eternal life through Jesus Christ? Don’t leave today if you haven’t made that choice to follow Jesus and accept His gift of life. You will leave knowing that if you were to die tonight that you would be in the throne room of God because of Jesus’ finished work on the cross.