Right Direction

Psalm 67 (ESV)

1 May God be gracious to us and bless us

    and make his face to shine upon us, Selah

2 that your way may be known on earth,

    your saving power among all nations.

3 Let the peoples praise you, O God;

    let all the peoples praise you!

4 Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,

    for you judge the peoples with equity

    and guide the nations upon earth. Selah

5 Let the peoples praise you, O God;

    let all the peoples praise you!

6 The earth has yielded its increase;

    God, our God, shall bless us.

7 God shall bless us;

    let all the ends of the earth fear him!

 

Wow! Can you imagine the whole earth, in unison, praising God?  This is the picture we get here. Not only here but this has been the theme since Genesis.  In Genesis we get to zoom in on one man’s life named Abram (soon to be changed to Abraham).  Abram will be the father of “many nations.”  Through this one man, all nations will come to know God.  God blesses him, so that nations will come to know and glorify God.

Look at this Psalm again.  Selah, means to pause, reflect, meditate on what you just read.  The first one comes at the very beginning of this passage.  He is asking us to meditate on the fact that God wants to bless us, that His face shine upon us, and that the God of the universe would take time to do that.  As we reflect on that and move on to the next verse, he explains why.

            2 that your way may be known on earth,

             your saving power among all nations.

           3 Let the peoples praise you, O God;

            let all the peoples praise you!

So that God may be made known. Not just heard about but known over the entire earth—every tribe, tongue, people group, ethnicity—all people, and they will praise Him!  John Piper says, “The reason missions exist is because worship doesn’t.”  That’s it! The people of the earth do not know Him, therefore they do not praise Him. This is why we must go and tell the world of our great God!

Revelation 7:9-10 says, “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

From Genesis, to the final book of Revelation we see the central theme is this.  That all people groups come to know Him and praise Him.  The central theme of that happening is through His people—the descendants of Abraham.

You may be saying right now, “I’m not Jewish, I am not responsible to go and tell.”  Galatians 3:7-10 says, “Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.”

Faith in Jesus Christ places us in the family of Abraham.  With the inheritance we receive, comes the blessing of God talked about in Psalm 67.  However, with the blessing comes a huge responsibility.  The responsibility to carry it out.

Romans 10:13-17

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?[c] And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:17-21

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.[b] The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling[c] the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

If we claim to be a follower of Jesus, if we claim to know Him, if we claim to be part of “The Way,” then we receive a huge blessing that carries with it the responsibility to bring all the people we can with us.  No matter their race, economic status, their health, their condition, but all people.

For the most part, I think we know this but we either try to ignore it, pretend it is too big of a task, focus on our inadequacies, or we just don’t know how.  There is actually a way that seems right sometimes, even “churchy”, but not be leading us to a path that helps the great commission (Matthew 28:18-20).

Jesus says, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” (Matthew 12:30)

If what we are doing, including church activities, is not helping gather the “nations” to Him, then Jesus is saying we are actually scattering.

A few months back my wife and I were able to go to Greece for my brother’s wedding.  The wedding was going to be on an island off the coast of Greece.  We arrived about five hours later than my brother and were not sure exactly how to get to the area where the wedding would be held.  Our place of stay was in a community that was supposed to be less than a mile from the actual wedding place.  My brother had explained everything to me on the phone.  He told me how close it was to the water, what the area around him looked like, and explained that it should not be far from us, and that we could probably just walk to the destination with no problem.

As my wife and I got everything settled into our room we decided to make our way over to meet them so we would know where the wedding would be the next day.  It was early afternoon and we knew we had plenty of time before dark to make it there, visit a little while, and then walk back to our room.

From our room we could see the water.  It was beautiful!  We saw only one road that led into the direction of the water and we knew all we had to do was follow that road and we would reach our destination.  We began to walk and saw sights that we had never seen before.  We were soaking it in and loving every minute of it.  We saw vineyards, homes hewed out of the side of the mountains, lava rock from past volcano eruptions, donkeys, and all the while other people driving and walking in the same direction.

It was not until we had been walking close to an hour that we noticed we still had not reached the water’s edge and that something was wrong.  If we were supposed to be less than a mile from our destination, we should be there by now.  We decided to track back up the mountain and start over.  By the time we made it back to our room we had spent over two hours walking and it was getting late.  We called my brother and explained to him what happened and told them we would try again the next morning.  In the meantime, my brother got on his maps app on his phone and pinged where they were and sent it to my phone.  From all the travel and the whole walking escapade we were exhausted and went to bed.

The next morning, we begin to follow the ping from the map and it begins to lead us a little higher up the mountain from where our room was.  In about five minutes we reach the top of the mountain and as far as you can see was a beautiful view of the water.  Standing on the top of the cliff at the water’s edge was a breathtaking view of the sea.  You see, from our room we didn’t realize there was water on both sides of us.  We could only see what we knew, and that was the water in front of us, not behind us.  From this point we walked about 15 more minutes and reached our destination.  The wedding feast of the century!

Here’s the deal.  We could have never experienced the wedding and wedding feast if we would have never received the exact spot on the map shown to us.  We thought we knew the way.  It looked like what was described to us.  It seemed like others were going in that direction.  It was the only road (so we thought) to the water’s edge.  We even saw cool things along our journey that had us distracted from lost time.  However, we never reached our destination.

Life, this Christian life, can be very similar to our experience. We can seem like we are going the right way.  It looks like what has been described to us.  It even looks like it may be the only way.  We get to experience some cool stuff along the way.  All the while we are wasting time in the wrong direction and never knew it.  The problem is, if we never realize it, we will never experience the wedding feast of the ages in the proper form if we don’t get the destination correct.

Revelation 7:9 is that “ping” for us.  We need to realize that this is what it is all coming to in the end, and we play a huge part in that gathering process.  We cannot assume that if we casually walk in that direction that it is going to happen.  How devastating it will be to gather with all the nations as the bride of Christ and realize we did nothing to ensure those people were there.  Even worse, what if we assume we are headed in the right direction, we never align ourselves up with the true mark, and we never make it at all.

“Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,

“Hallelujah!
For the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;
it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure”—for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” 10 Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

–Revelation 19:6-10

 

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