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So let's turn to Psalm 91 that we might begin our Bible study this evening.
Psalm 91 brings up the question of just where are you living? There is a place that you might live that is surely the most glorious place to live in all the world.
He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty (Psa 91:1).
There's a place that you and I can live, in Christ Jesus. A place of glorious safety, a place of glorious peace, of joy, where I experience God's power and God's protection, God's goodness.
I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge, my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. For surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence (Psa 91:2-3).
Now in days gone by, bird trapping was quite an art. Without guns to shoot your quail or your dove or your ducks, you'd have to trap them. And so the traps that were set for the birds were called the snares of the fowler. The trap for various game fowl in different types of traps. When you're bringing this over to a spiritual connotation, Satan has set a lot of traps for us. And in a spiritual connotation here, the fowler is actually Satan and you're the one that he's seeking to trap. But surely He will deliver you from every snare that Satan may set for you. "Surely He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the noisome pestilence."
For he shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler (Psa 91:4).
In the New Testament, in the book of Ephesians we are told concerning putting on the full armor of God. Here in the Old Testament, we find the armor of the Lord, His truth, is a shield to us, a buckler.
Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. Now because (Psa 91:5-9)
Going back, "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High,"
Because you have made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the Most High, your habitation (Psa 91:9);
Or your place of dwelling. If you will but just dwell in Him,
There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone (Psa 91:10-12).
Now when Jesus was being tempted by Satan, Satan quoted this particular passage of scripture to Him, as he took Him up to the pinnacle of the temple and he suggested that He jump off. For Satan said, "It is written, 'He shall give His angels charge over thee: to keep thee in thy ways, to bear thee up, lest at any time you dash your foot against a stone.' So why don't You jump? See if the angels will hold you up." Jesus said, "It is written again, 'Thou shalt not tempt, or test, the Lord thy God'" (Matthew 4:6-7). You are not to put yourself deliberately in a place of jeopardy just to test the scriptures. It is tragic that every once in a while we read how down in the mountains of Kentucky the cult that is down there that handles rattlesnakes because it says if they take up serpents, they shall not harm them.
Or they test their faith every once in a while by drinking strychnine. But that is not what God means in Mark's gospel when He said, "If they drink any deadly thing it shall not harm them" (Mark 16:18). God never intended for us to just go around and test our faith by deliberately putting ourselves in jeopardy. If the cultist people down there would only read the full body of scripture, rather than taking isolated verses, they would never follow... they would never fall into those kind of unscriptural practices. God has promised that His angels will have charge over thee to keep thee in all thy ways.
In the book of Hebrews, talking of angels, it said, "Are they not all ministering spirits, who have been sent forth to minister unto you who are heirs of salvation?" (Hebrews 1:14) Now there is a vast number of heavenly hosts that are known as angels. These angels have different rankings, categories. There are cherubim, a special class of angels. There is a mention in the scripture of archangels, which seem to be the highest form of angelic being. Michael being an archangel. It is also thought that Gabriel is an archangel, though I do not know that the scripture gives to him that title. But angels of great authority and power. Then there are angels, it would seem, that rank under them in authority.
The New Testament does rank the heavenly beings as principalities, powers, mights, dominions, thrones and authorities. Various rankings of the angelic beings. It's more or less like saying, lieutenants and sergeants and corporals and privates, as far as their having rankings in the angelic realm. Just when the angels were created is not specified in the scriptures. But the angels were created as servants of God, and their duty is that of serving the Lord and of serving those who are following after the Lord. "He shall give His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy way. To bear thee up lest at any time you would dash your foot against a stone."
Angels seem to be spirits that are capable of taking on a bodily form. In the Old Testament, many times we find angels taking on a human form. In the New Testament we also found angels taking on human form. When Peter was in prison, the angel came to him and said, "Put your shoes on and follow me." And Peter tied on his sandals and followed the angels as the prison doors opened of their own accord, until the angel let him out into the street. And then the angel left him. And suddenly Peter woke up to the fact that he was free. He thought he was having a vision. But all of a sudden, he feels the chill night air and he says, "Wow, it's not a vision. I'm actually out of that place, you know." And so he headed for the place where the church was meeting and praying for him. Paul the apostle spoke about, "Last night, an angel of the Lord stood by me and he assured me that though the ship is going to be destroyed, there will be no loss of life" (Acts 27:22-24). And he spoke about how the angel had visited him and ministered to him. Of course, we read of the angels ministering to Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. And we are told in Hebrews that we ought to be careful to entertain strangers, for it's very possible that you might be entertaining angels without knowing it.
Now there has been a book written recently concerning angels on assignment. And though I do not doubt that angels do visit, can visit; yet there are certain aspects to that book that I find very troubling. I don't want to be guilty of limiting God or judging another man's experiences, except as they measure up to the scriptures. And let the scripture judge. And there are certain things that the angel Gabriel supposedly told Pastor Buck that I do not feel are scriptural. And thus, I have to question in my own mind the validity of the story. I think that Pastor Buck was a very dear man of God, a true servant of the Lord. I do not know but what maybe in his latter years, because of his heart problems that he wasn't getting enough oxygen to the brain. I do not know, but as I say, I have to question a part of the story of the visitation of the angels.
Now, the angels were created by God; they are a created being of God, and it would seem, well not seem, it is true that they were created with a free will, just as you have been created with a free will. And one of the angels exercised his will against God. And in the fourteenth chapter of Isaiah, we read how that Satan, in exercising his will against God, exalting himself over against God, declaring that he would be like God, was cast forth. A fallen angel. There is a hint in the twelfth chapter of the book of Revelation that one-third of the angels went with Satan when he rebelled against the Lord. "The dragon cast forth out of heaven and with his tail, he drew a third part of the stars" (Revelation 12:3-4). And the word stars is a word that is often used for angels.
We do know that there are evil spirits in the world under Satan's guidance and control, as well as the good spirits, the angels of God that are obedient to their first estate. Yet, there are "angels which kept not their first estate, which are reserved in chains awaiting the day of judgment" (Jude 1:6).
Just what are the full characteristics and all of angels, we do not know. It would appear that before the flood, the angels were coming down and involving themselves in physical relationships with women so that giants were born. And these could be the angels to which the scripture refers, those which kept not their first estate and are now being reserved in the chains awaiting the day of judgment.
I am convinced that there are angels that God has assigned to watch over us. I've never seen, to my knowledge, an angel, outside of my wife. I would be less than honest if I would say I wouldn't like to see an angel. I think it'd be a very exciting experience. I think it'd be quite exciting to meet an angel and to know that they were an angel, and to... well, I'd like to meet the angel that's supposed to be guarding me. I'd like to know where he was a few times.
Now let me tell you something. There have been some times when I knew he was there. There were times when there was no way I could have gotten out of it unless the angel of the Lord just had his hand upon my life or upon my car and all. And there are times when I know that the only thing that kept me was the angel of the Lord. I've had some very interesting experiences where I am sure the angel of the Lord was involved in keeping me from things where I was innocently being drawn into some very dangerous areas. Where the angel of the Lord intervened in a marvelous way to keep me from getting into some real trouble.
When I was in high school here in Santa Ana, I saw my dream car on South Main Street. Smitty mufflers, fog lights, dual spots, Buick skirts, little three-window '36 Ford Coupe. Oh man, black, was that thing beautiful. I lusted after that car. And I had a buddy that I was running around with at the time and I had half the money and we were going to go into a partnership on a car. It never would have worked, but we were going to... you know, you want something bad enough you dream all ways to get it. And he had a '36 Ford, but it was, you know, one of those longer kind of things. It just wasn't a pretty one. So he said, "Well, my dad lives up in Glendale, and I have at my dad's house some adding machines and typewriters and I can sell them for enough to get my half for the car. Let's go up to my dad's house." So we went by and saw my mom and I said, "We're going to go up and spend the night in Glendale and at his dad's house. We'll be home tomorrow." And so we took off in his car for Glendale. At that time, Firestone Boulevard was the way into Los Angeles, the three-lane highway. And during the war, gas rationing, and just very few cars on the road at night. You can't... living here now you can't believe how it was then.
We were way out in the country near Buena Park when the motor died on his car. And so we pushed, popped the clutch and everything else. Tried to get the thing going. Pushed it for, oh I guess four or five blocks, and there was a little gas station that was there. And so he said, "I think it's the coil." I mean, "I think it's the condenser or something," and he didn't know anything about mechanics. But anyhow, we went into this service station. Old man in there, and he had a big mean police dog and he wasn't very friendly and didn't have any parts or anything. So we were tired of pushing and so we decided we'd turn the car around, head it back towards Santa Ana. And then we'd wait for a car to come along and we'd flag it and ask him, we'd tell him we're having a hard time getting it started, would they give us a shove? We figured we'd just leave it in neutral; let them shove till they got tired. And then we wait for the next car to come. And there we were, way out in the country, and there was no way to get home.
So we were sitting there, talking and all, talking about how we'd get this car and all this kind of stuff and all excited about the prospects of buying this hot little Ford, and so after a while, five minutes or so, a car was coming down the road. And so he jumped out so he could flag the car and just out of... I just slipped over to the driver's side and I hit the starter once more, and the thing fired up. So he ran around and got in on the passenger side, he says, "Well, you got it going, so let's go." So we took off for Santa Ana. Got back to Lee's Drive-In out there on Manchester and stopped and got a Coke and hamburger, saw a bunch of kids from high school.
So we started on then down to my house, and as we turned off on Flower Street, we were getting near Santa Clara, and he said, "Hey, your parents aren't expecting you home." I said, "Nope." He said, "My dad doesn't know we're coming." He said, "So why don't we just turn around and go back up to Glendale, because it doesn't matter what time we get to my dad's house, you know. Your mom's not expecting you home anyhow." So I said, "Why not." So he started to pull a U-turn there on Santa Clara and the car died again, and simultaneously three tires blew out. Just pop, pop, pop. I mean, we were dead.
I lived up on North Broadway at the time, so we just walked down to my house and got on my bike and I rode him on my bike over to his house and got home. And before we could go up to Glendale again, we had sort of parted company and given up on the little Ford idea and just let it pass.
About a year later, there was a knock on our door. I answered it. The guy introduced himself and showed me an ID and he said, "I'm with the FBI. I'd like to talk to you." I said, "Sure." He said, "What do you know about some typewriters up in Glendale? Adding machines." I said, "Well, all I know is that I was headed up there one night to get some with this fellow," and I said, "but we had car trouble and we never made it." He said, "You can thank your lucky stars you had car trouble." He stole them from some government place and felony and so forth. And when he told me the story, I said, "Well, I'm not going to thank my lucky stars, I'm going to thank my angel." And suddenly I got the picture of that angel holding the coils and getting a shock stopping that stupid car, you know. Then popping the tires as he left just to make sure we wouldn't go anywhere.
I'm convinced. You can't you can't convince me otherwise; I'm convinced the angel of the Lord was watching over me. Interesting thing, when I got back in the house at home, my mom was out in the living room praying. She said, "Oh, son, I'm so glad to see you came home tonight." She said, "I was really worried about the trip. I just didn't feel right about it and I've just been praying for you." Of course, I didn't know at that time. I said, "Well, thanks, Mom," but I didn't know at that time the full story. But oh, I'm certain that there... when we get to heaven, we're going to learn a lot of things that we were spared from. And maybe at the time we looked at it as bad luck or misfortune or, "Oh, man," you know. And yet, God was watching over. God was keeping us. "He shall give His angels charge over thee. To bear thee up in their hands, lest you dash your foot against a stone."
For thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet (Psa 91:13).
Now we have a change of voice in verse 14. In the change of voice, we have God's response now. The psalmist has been declaring the advantages and the blessings of living in a certain place. In the secret place of the Most High. Making God your dwelling place. Now God responds to that whole idea. And God says,
Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation (Psa 91:14-16).
God's glorious response to that person who is dwelling in the secret place of the Most High. Because you've set your love upon God, God said, "This is what I'm going to do for you: deliver you, set you on high. I will answer you. I will be with you in trouble. I will deliver and honor you." Praise the Lord.
Psalm 92 is a psalm for the Sabbath day.
It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O Most High: To show forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night (Psa 92:1-2),
It's just a good thing to praise the Lord in song, to just show forth the lovingkindness of God. Every morning, start the day with a song. Every evening, end the day with a song. For the faithfulness of God. Lord, You've watched over me. You've kept me all through the day.
Upon an instrument of ten strings, upon the psaltery; upon the harp with a solemn sound. For thou, LORD, hast made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands. O LORD, how great are thy works! and thy thoughts are very deep. A brutish man does not know; neither doth a fool understand this. But when the wicked spring as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish; it is that they shall be destroyed for ever (Psa 92:3-7):
My father for years was a sales engineer for the southern county's gas company when we were growing up in Ventura. And life in the home of a salesman during the Depression years was feast or famine. If Dad had a lot of sales, good commissions, we had... we feasted. When the sales weren't so good, then it was tight around the house. But fortunately, my dad was a super salesman and the Lord really blessed him in his sales. And he was a super salesman for the gas company, but also for the Lord. He was a super witness for Jesus Christ. Always witnessing wherever he'd go to sell a refrigerator, stove, or whatever; he'd always leave a witness for the Lord.
He was coming towards the end of the month and he hadn't had any sales that month. He'd been up in Ojai trying to close a deal and it didn't close. And he was riding home in the car and not knowing really what to do. Because, where are we going to get the money for the month's bills? and so forth. Because there will be no commission, just the salary this month, and he couldn't live on the salary. And my father was a very emotional type person. He was capable of great highs and great lows. And he was very low at this point, very depressed. And he was looking out in the field and he saw the cows out there just eating the grass. And he said, "They look so contented like they didn't have a worry in the world." They must have been Carnation cows. But he said to the Lord, "Lord, it isn't fair. Here I am, your child, I'm your servant. And I'm so worried and so upset because I don't know how I'm going to be paying my bills, and look at those dumb cows out there. So peaceful, so contented eating the grass and the whole field is full of green grass. They've got all that they could ever want and yet here I am; I don't know how I'm going to pay my bills. Lord, it isn't fair that I should have to worry when I'm Your child and those cows can have it so good. They don't have a worry in the world." And the Lord spoke to him and said, "Yes, but they don't have any future. And you have a future with Me."
The psalmist here declares, "The brutish man doesn't know, nor does a fool consider or understand this. But when the wicked spring forth as the grass, when those workers of iniquity flourish, they're going to be destroyed forever." Don't be envious of them. Foolish to be envious of them, because they're going to get wiped out. And so it is great folly to envy the wicked. So many times we, I think, are guilty of that. We look at the wicked and we think, "Lord, they seem to have everything they want, and here I am trying to serve You and I've got all these problems and all." We don't take into consideration the end results, what the future holds. "But they shall be destroyed forever."
But thou, LORD, art most high for evermore. For, lo, your enemies, O LORD, for, lo, thine enemies shall perish; all the workers of iniquity shall be scattered. But my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of unicorn: and be anointed with fresh oil (Psa 92:8-10).
The enemies of the Lord, they're going to perish. The workers of iniquity, they'll be scattered. But Lord, You'll exalt me.
My eye shall see my desire upon my enemies, and my ears shall hear my desire of the wicked that rise up against me. The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon (Psa 92:11-12).
When my dad got back to the office in Ventura, there were some people there looking at a stove. He went up to them and he said, you know, began to point out the features they said, "We want it." He signed them up for the stove. Pretty soon some people came in, bought a refrigerator, and before the day was over, he had enough sales to provide great commissions for that month, and God just really took care of us in a very beautiful way. My father won the award several years running of the most outstanding salesman in the United States for the Servel Corporation. Won many awards for that. In fact, he had a very interesting experience. He was out in the Miners Oak area, had just signed up a customer for a new stove, refrigerator, furnace, and then started witnessing to the guy. And the guy was real antagonistic to the Christian witness and got so mad he began to curse my dad. He said, "Let me have the contract back," and he ripped up the contract. And he said, "I don't know how the gas company can afford to hire fools, men that talk to people about Jesus Christ and all," and just really berated him.
And so my dad came home and was discouraged coming home, because you don't like... it's hard to suffer reproach for Christ. When my dad got home, there was a letter there. He opened it up and it was, "Congratulations, you've won first place in the United States again for Servel for the fifth year in a row, and this year we're going to send you to San Diego to the World's Fair in San Diego, and all expenses." And there is a check in there and everything else. In fact, there was a picture and it was a hundred-dollar bill. "Let me be the first to congratulate you for what you've done." All these prizes.
Well, there was a football game going that night and my dad said, "Come on, son, let's go to the football game." So we headed for the football game and we were playing that night against a team and the stadium was just packed. We got there a little late. And way up towards the top there were a couple of seats, so Dad and I made our way up there and we sat down. But as we were getting in, Dad looked, and right behind us was the guy that that afternoon had just cursed him and said, "I don't know how the gas company can afford to hire fools," and all. Dad had the letter still in his pocket, and so he just handed the letter back to the guy. And the guy let out a few oh's, and says, "Come on back tomorrow, Mr. Smith, I really do need that refrigerator and stove."
Oh, "my eye shall see my desire upon my enemies, my ears shall hear my desire the wicked that rise up against me. The righteous shall flourish."
Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age (Psa 92:13-14);
So some encouragement here. The next part I don't know though.
they shall be fat (Psa 92:14)
Just fulfilling the Word, how can you help it, you know?
fat and flourishing; To show that the LORD is upright: he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him (Psa 92:14-15).
The LORD reigneth, he is clothed with majesty; the LORD is clothed with strength, wherewith he hath girded himself: the world also is stablished, that it cannot be moved. Thy throne is established of old: thou art from everlasting (Psa 93:1-2).
From everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God. Here, "Thou art from everlasting." The prophecy of Micah concerning the birth of Jesus, and Bethlehem the birthplace, "And thou, Bethlehem, though thou be little among the provinces of Judea, yet out of thee shall come he who is to rule my people Israel; whose going forth is from everlasting" (Micah 5:2). Lord, Thou art from the vanishing point.
The floods have lifted up, O LORD, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their waves. The LORD on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea. Thy testimonies are very sure: holiness becometh thine house, O LORD, for ever (Psa 93:3-5).
O LORD God, to whom vengeance belongeth (Psa 94:1);
Now, it's hard for us to remember that. "Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord" (Romans 12:19). So often we try to take vengeance ourselves against the evil that is done to us. So often we say or hear said, "I'll get even with him," as though it is our place to take vengeance.
But LORD God, vengeance belongeth to thee (Psa 94:1),
But he said now,
show yourself (Psa 94:1).
And take vengeance, Lord.
Lift up thyself, thou judge of the earth: render a reward to the proud. LORD, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked triumph? How long shall they utter and speak hard things? and all of the workers of iniquity boast themselves? They break in pieces thy people, O LORD, they afflict your heritage. They slay the widow and the stranger, and murder the fatherless. Yet they say, The LORD shall not see, neither shall the God of Jacob regard it (Psa 94:2-7).
Somehow there is that kind of feeling with those who are guilty of unrighteousness that God doesn't see. No fear of the Lord in them. They do not realize that though they may get by with it here, someday they are going to answer for those things that they have done. Vengeance belongs to God and God is going to come in judgment to bring vengeance upon the workers of iniquity. But what fools they are thinking that God doesn't see or that God doesn't regard what they are doing.
Understand, you brutish among the people: you fools, when will ye be wise? (Psa 94:8)
When you going to wise up?
He that has created the ear, do you think he can't hear? the one that created your eye, you think he can't see? He that chastens the heathen, shall he not correct? he that teaches man knowledge, you think he doesn't know? The LORD knows the thoughts of man, that they are emptiness. Blessed is the man whom you chasten, O LORD, and teach him out of your law; That you may give him rest from the days of adversity, until the pit be digged for the wicked. For the LORD will not cast off his people, neither will he forsake his inheritance. But judgment shall return unto the righteous: and the upright in heart shall follow it. Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity? Unless the LORD had been my help, my soul had almost dwelt in silence (Psa 94:9-17).
I would have been wiped out.
When I said, My foot slippeth; thy mercy, O LORD, held me up. In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul. Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with thee, which frames mischief by the law? They gather themselves together against the soul of the righteous, and condemn the innocent blood. But the LORD is my defense; and my God is the rock of my refuge. And he shall bring upon them their own iniquity, and shall cut them off in their own wickedness; yea, the LORD our God shall cut them off (Psa 94:18-23).
So the psalm is out of a troubled heart because of the oppression of the wicked, but the acknowledgment that God is the God of vengeance and God will avenge, and God will uphold the righteous. But those that have been guilty of wickedness shall be brought in judgment one day.
O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. For the LORD is a great God, a great King above all gods. In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also. The sea is his, he made it: his hands formed the dry land. O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker. For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand (Psa 95:1-7).
So the beautiful psalm encouraging us of singing unto the Lord, making a joyful noise of praise unto Him, coming into His presence with thanksgiving. It's a beautiful psalm, really, of thanksgiving and making a joyful noise with praise for the greatness of God.
Now there is the warning. "For he is our God; we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand."
Now to-day if you will hear his voice, harden not your heart, as in the provocation, as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work. Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways: Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest (Psa 95:7-11).
Here we are warned not to harden our heart against God or the work of God. The example that is given to us is the children of Israel in the wilderness. They had come to the border of the land that God had promised to them. They had come to Kadesh Barnea. They're on the border of entering in to the land that God had promised to give to them. Now God had made some marvelous promises. He said, "I'll drive out the enemy from before you. I will go before thee and drive out your enemies. And every place you put your foot, I've given it to you for your inheritance." All these glorious promises.
Moses said, "Well, let's send spies in that they might spy out the land, that we might know what kind of a land we're coming into." And so they picked from each tribe a man to go in and to spy out the territory. And when they returned, ten of the spies brought a discouraging report. "The cities are big, the walls are high, the people who dwell in them are like giants. We were like grasshoppers before them. They'll eat us up."
Joshua and Caleb brought back an encouraging report. They said, "Ah, sure they're giants, but they're bread for us. Let's go in and eat them up. Their defenses have departed from them. Let's go in right now and take it." But the people were discouraged by the ten fellows who brought the evil report, and they began to murmur against the Lord and against Moses, and they said, "Let's choose a leader that will take us back to Egypt. We were fools to follow Moses out here."
And the anger of the Lord was kindled against them because of their unbelief. Failing to believe God that He would bring them into this land of rest and promise that He had promised to give them. And because of their unbelief, they did not enter into the rest, but they wandered for forty years there in the wilderness and perished in the wilderness experience.
Now these things all happened, Paul tells us, to them as an example for us. The whole history of Israel's deliverance out of Egypt and coming into the Land of Promise is known as typical history. That is, there are spiritual analogies to be drawn from it. And in the spiritual analogy, the land of Egypt represents the old life of bondage that we experienced in our life of sin. The Promised Land, coming into this Promised Land spiritually represents that glorious life in the Spirit that God wants you to know. That life of rest, resting in God.
Now between my conversion and entering into the fullness of the life in the Spirit, there is a wilderness that I must pass through. And there is a legitimate wilderness experience. As I am growing, as I am learning about God, as God is revealing His power to me, as I come to the bitter waters of Mara, and yet I see how God can turn the bitter waters sweet and I realize how God can take the bitter experiences of my life and bring sweetness out of them. As I'm learning to follow God with the pillar of fire and with the cloud, and I'm learning to just commit my life and trust God to lead me and guide me, coming into this new relationship with God, into this new life and experience.
But there is an illegitimate wilderness experience, too. God doesn't expect you to spend your whole life in a spiritual yo-yo. God wants to bring you into a full, rich, abundant life of the Spirit. God wants to bring you into His rest. That glorious rest that God has for His people where you're not always worried, not always upset, not always fretting, not filled with anxieties. But where you have that neat confidence and beautiful rest, "The Lord's going to take care of it, you know. So the place is burning down, God's got another place, you know." And that beautiful neat rest that you just know it's in the Lord's hands. You know the Lord is taking care of it. He's proven Himself to you. You're confident that God's got the whole thing under control. And hey, that is a glorious place to live.
Where you just learn that even in tragedies, apparent tragedies, God's hand is working and God's going to bring out His perfect purpose and will. And it's going to be for the best. So the children of Israel perished in the wilderness, never entering into the Promised Land.
Now, in Hebrews this psalm is quoted, even as the scriptures say it, "Today, if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts as in the day of provocation." Don't harden your heart against God for in Hebrews it says, "Lest, a promise having been given to us of entering into his rest, we should fail to come in to it" (Hebrews 4:1).
There are many people today who are failing still through unbelief to enter into that rest that God has for you. Your Christian experience is still like a wilderness experience. You haven't really entered in to that full rest in the Lord. But God wants you to enter into that rest. So let us beware, lest the promise having been given to us of a place of rest that we would fail to enter into it. What a tragic thing when there is rest for us that we are so filled with turmoil and worry and anxiety when God has promised rest to you. So harden not your heart, believe and trust God.
O sing unto the LORD a new song: sing unto the LORD, all the earth. Sing unto the LORD, and bless his name; show forth his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the heathen, and his wonders among all people. For the LORD is great, and greatly to be praised: he is to be reverenced above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the LORD made the heavens. Honor and majesty are before him: strength and beauty are in his sanctuary. Give unto the LORD, O ye families of the people, give unto the LORD glory and strength. Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come into his courts. O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: reverence him, all the earth. Say among the heathen that the LORD reigneth: the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved: he shall judge the people righteously. Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof. Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice before the LORD: for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth (Psa 96:1-13).
Glorious psalm, Psalm 96, encouraging us to the praising of the Lord. Singing the praises unto Him. Declaring the glories of God and the wonders of His work. Because of the greatness of God, He is to be greatly praised. He is above all of the gods of the nations, the other gods that people follow after. So give unto Him the glory due His name. Worship Him. And then the anticipation of His coming, "For the Lord cometh."
We are looking now to that day when the Lord is going to come and He's going to come to judge the earth. As you get into the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew, the disciples said, "Lord, what will be the sign of Your coming? And the end of the age? And Jesus began to tell them the things to watch for. And then as we get into chapter 25, as He is referring to His coming, "Then shall the kingdom of heaven," or, "Then shall He when He comes again gather together the nations of the earth to judge them: and He shall separate them as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goat" (Matthew 25:32). And so the Lord's day of judgment that is coming, referred to here and also at the end of Psalm 98.
In fact, Psalm 96 and Psalm 98 are parallel ideas in these psalms.
The LORD reigneth (Psa 97:1);
In the previous psalm, it said, "The Lord reigneth. Say among the heathen, 'The Lord reigneth.'" I think that this is something that we often forget in the adverse circumstances of life, that God reigns.
We used to have a dear saint of God in Huntington Beach, that whenever I would get discouraged, she'd say, "Well, Charles, the Lord is still on the throne." I'd say, "Thanks, I needed that." You know, sometimes I would forget that God was on the throne. I'd look at the things that were happening in the world around me and I'd see all the disasters and see how things were going so bad and all, and I'd start to get upset. She'd say, "But Charles, the Lord is still on the throne." Oh, the Lord reigneth. How we need to remember that.
God is reigning. Things are not out of control. You know, you read of the new weapons that Russia has. Man, the Lord reigneth. It's not out of control. He knows exactly what's going on, the Lord reigneth. That's really the only hope for the world today that God is reigning. He's on the throne. He's allowing it to go so far, but God has set the limits. He said, "That's it. That's all the further you're going." He's reigning.
Now men think that they are reigning sometimes. Russia thinks that they are reigning. Russia's going to move down into Israel thinking that no one can stop her, but the Lord reigneth. God says, "Hey, you're going to come so far and then blotto!" The Lord reigneth.
let the earth rejoice; and the multitude of the isles be glad. Clouds and darkness are round about him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne. A fire goes before him, and burns up his enemies round about. His lightnings enlightened the world: the earth saw, and trembled. The hills melted like wax at the presence of the LORD, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth (Psa 97:1-5).
This is reference to Mount Sinai, the giving of the law.
The heavens declare his righteousness, and all the people see his glory. Confounded be all they that serve the graven images, which boast themselves of idols: worship him, all ye gods. Zion heard, and was glad; and the daughters of Judah rejoiced because of thy judgments, O LORD. For thou, LORD, art high above all the earth: thou art exalted far above all gods. Ye that love the LORD, hate evil (Psa 97:6-10):
Underline that and put emphatic marks around it. If you really love God, hate evil. Unfortunately, because of the iniquity of the earth today, we have developed sort of a toleration towards evil. And in some quarters, even an acceptance of evil, because evil is desiring to be accepted. It wants to make itself acceptable. But if you really love the Lord, then hate evil. Have no toleration for it. Certainly no place in your life. "Ye that love the Lord, hate evil."
for he preserveth the souls of his saints; and delivers them out of the hand of the wicked. Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. Rejoice in the LORD, ye righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness (Psa 97:10-12).
Now Psalm 98, as I said, parallels Psalm 96 in many things. Notice Psalm 96, "O sing unto the Lord a new song." Psalm 98:
Sing unto the LORD a new song; for he hath done marvellous things: his right hand, his holy arm, have gotten him the victory. The LORD hath made known his salvation: his righteousness hath he openly showed in the sight of the heathen. He hath remembered his mercy and his truth toward the house of Israel: all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise. Sing unto the LORD with the harp; with the harp, and the voice of a psalm. With trumpets, the sound of the cornet make a joyful noise before the LORD, the King. Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. Let the floods clap their hands: let the hills be joyful together. Before the LORD; for he cometh to judge the earth: with righteousness shall he judge the world, and the people with equity (Psa 98:1-9).
Now notice in Psalm 96 it begins, "O sing unto the Lord," and the encouragement to praise God and to offer the offerings and so forth unto Him. And then calling the heavens to rejoice and the earth and the sea roaring, and the fullness thereof. And so in verse 7, "Let the sea roar, the fullness thereof." And then the thirteenth verse of ninety-six compared with the ninth verse, they are pretty much the same, "The Lord cometh to judge the earth with righteousness shall He judge."
Now there are people who are constantly worried about, "How can a God of love do this or that or the other?" God, when He judges, will judge righteously. I do not believe that we have in our court systems today really righteous judgment. I long to see righteous judgment. I think that it's a shame, a travesty and all that the Supreme Court should rule concerning the Ten Commandments put up in the classrooms. They don't mind and they don't do anything to stop the pictures of the development from an anthropoid to a man in the classrooms. That's pawned off as science. And yet it's a religious system; it takes more faith to believe in that than it does to believe that God created things. And yet, the schools in Kentucky where they had the Ten Commandments placed in each of the classrooms, the Supreme Court has ordered that that is a violation of the separation of church and state, etc. State not imposing any religion. Of course, they didn't... "The Lord will judge the earth, with righteousness shall He judge the world." And I long for righteous judgment.
The LORD reigneth (Psa 99:1);
Starts out as did Psalm 97. "The Lord reigneth."
let the people tremble: he sits between the cherubims; let the earth be moved (Psa 99:1).
Now the cherubims are an angelic class. They are described in Revelation, chapter 4 and in Ezekiel, chapter 1 and chapter 10. In the descriptions that are given in Ezekiel, the flying saucer, just say that that's exactly what flying saucers look like and their movement as are described in Ezekiel. And so they're saying that Ezekiel actually saw UFO's and was describing the UFO's that he saw. And they oftentimes point to Ezekiel as a proof that UFO's have been visiting the earth from the time that man has been upon the planet Earth. Which points out something very interesting to me.
It is true indeed that Ezekiel saw a UFO and he describes how it flew and the fires and the lights and so forth and he describes the movement, how it moved rather in straight lines rather than in a curved base and so forth. But Ezekiel tells us that these "wheels within the wheels" were the lights; and the movements were actually cherubim, spirit beings. Now Satan was a fallen cherubim. Satan was a cherub before his fall. He is called in Ezekiel "the anointed cherub that covereth" (Ezekiel 28:14). Because the flying saucer gets so much into the occultist kind of things, I do believe that if there are genuine sightings, as some of these people relate, that actually it is possible that they are seeing spirit beings, fallen spirit beings, satanic spirit beings, because there's a whole cult around this whole thing. And thus, I do not always question that these people... You know, you say, "Ah, they're a bunch of weird ducks, you know, thinking that they see UFOs." No, it is very possible that there is something to this; that you're delving into a spirit realm and that they are actually observing fallen cherubim.
Now God dwells between the cherubim. They surround the throne of God. God placed cherubim at the Garden of Eden to protect it. They are the cherubim about the throne of God who "cease not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty" (Revelation 4:8).
When God had Moses build the model of heaven, for the tabernacle was nothing but a model of what the heavenly scene is like, the mercy seat, the throne of God, and within the holy of holies was the model of the throne of God, with the cherubim that were carved upon it. And so coming into the little cubicle, the golden cubicle of the holy of holies, the priest was coming into the model of coming into the presence of God in heaven with the cherubim that were there. So "the Lord reigneth, let the people tremble: He sits between the cherubims; let the earth be moved."
The LORD is great in Zion; he is high above all the people. Let them praise thy great and awesome name; for it is holy. The king's strength also loves judgment; and thou dost establish equity, thou executest judgment and righteousness in Jacob. Exalt ye the LORD our God, and worship at his footstool; for he is holy. Moses and Aaron among his priests, Samuel among those that call upon his name; they called upon the LORD, and he answered them. He spake unto them in the cloudy pillar: and they kept his testimonies, and the ordinance that he gave them. You answered them, O LORD our God: and you were a God that forgave them, though you took vengeance of their inventions (Psa 99:2-8).
The golden calf and so forth. God took vengeance against them, and yet God forgave them. Oh, the goodness of God.
Exalt the LORD our God, and worship at his holy hill; for the LORD our God is holy (Psa 99:9).
Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness (Psa 100:1-2):
Now if you can't serve the Lord with gladness, it's better that you not serve Him. It is a shame and a disgrace that people gripe about what they've done for the Lord or their service for God. But that's usually the result of people being pushed into something that God hasn't led them into. And the church, unfortunately, has been very guilty of pushing people into jobs or into things that the people's heart really isn't in it. People are oftentimes pushed to support a new building program or pushed to support a new budget or something for the church. And everytime the month comes around and you get your little notice that your pledge is due, you get upset, you know, and you write out your pledge and mail it in, but you're angry about it. You've been pressured into it. They caught you at a weak moment.
"Serve the Lord with gladness." If you can't give joyfully to the Lord, you're much better off not to give, because if you give grudgingly, that's going to go against you. That's not going to count. That will count against you. So you're much better off not to give at all. If you can be happy about not giving at all, you're much better off doing that rather than giving grudgingly to God. And that's giving of your time and serving the Lord or giving of your finances or whatever. If you can't give unto the Lord with a joyful heart, if you cannot serve the Lord with gladness, then it's best you not serve Him at all. God doesn't want any kind of grudging in your gifts to Him. God doesn't want your giving ever to be out of pressure, out of constraint, out of someone pushing you. And if ever any of the pastors around here are trying to push you to do something, you come to me and we'll see that it's taken care of.
People come up and say, "You know, we've been coming here for a long time and we really like to teach a Sunday school class, but how do you go about teaching a Sunday school class here?" I said, "You just found out. You got to ask." We won't come around and nail you for anything. You want to do something for the Lord, you're going to have to ask. If you desire to give anything, you're going to have to ask how to do it. We're not going to ask you. You call us. We will not come to people to support God or God's work. That's ridiculous. If you don't, out of your own heart of love and thanksgiving, want to serve the Lord with gladness, then don't serve Him at all.
come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD (Psa 100:2-3)
Now, here's... Make a joyful noise. Serve the Lord. Come before His presence. Why? Because the Lord,
he is God (Psa 100:3):
God has rights. We talk about human rights; there are also divine rights. And His rights to our service, His rights to our praise, because He is God. Because He is God He is worthy of our praise. Because He is God He is deserving of our service unto Him.
it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves (Psa 100:3);
The self-made man. What a tragedy. "It is He that hath made us." When Belshazzar was feasting with his lords at the time of the siege of the Medo-Persian army, and in order to add a new dimension to the feasting, Belshazzar called that they bring the gold and silver cups that his grandfather Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple of Jerusalem and pour their wine in these golden cups that have been sanctified for use in the temple of God. And as they were drinking their wine out of the golden cups and praising the gods of gold and silver, suddenly they had a very sobering experience, because over on the plaster of the wall there appeared a hand and the writing was on the wall, and it began to burn there on the wall and stayed there. Words that they could not understand. "Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin." And this king, it says, his joints were loose and his bones began to smite against each other.
And they called for the wise men to come in. They said, "We don't know what it means." Finally the queen said, "There was a man unto your grandfather's reign named Nebuchadnezzar of the children of Israel. God gave to him understanding and visions and dreams and so forth. And they called Daniel in. And he said, "Can you interpret that?" And Daniel says, "Yes, I can, but first of all I want to talk to you, King. Your grandfather was a great king over all the earth and God gave him dominion over the world. And yet, his heart was lifted up with pride. And so God allowed your grandfather to go insane and for seven seasons, he ate with the oxen out in the field. He lived like a madman until he knew that the Lord in heaven reigned over the earth and put on the thrones those whom He would".
And he said, "The very God in whose hand your breath is, you have not glorified." I mean, he really laid the message on the king. "You failed to glorify God. Look, your life depends on Him. You are dependent. He is the One that has made you. Your very breath is dependent upon Him. The very God, in whose hand your breath is, you have not glorified. Therefore, the writing came on the wall and its interpretation is, 'Thou art weighed in the balances and found wanting.' And your kingdom will be taken from you tonight. Divided and given to the Medes and the Persians."
But the idea that God in whose hand your breath is. How dependent we are upon God. "It is He that hath made us." And yet that very breath that we receive from God we use many times to blaspheme God. The very breath that God has given to us, we use to utter filthy epitaphs or stories or whatever. What a shame! The very God in whose hand your breath is. And at that time, that king's breath was foul with the smell of the wine. Drunk. And though he was drunk and the breath permeated with the smell of the wine, yet it was the breath that God had given to him. The very God in whose hand your breath is. "He has made us, not we ourselves."
for we are his people, the sheep of his pasture (Psa 100:3).
You are living in God's earth. You are using and abusing God's earth. "The earth is the Lord's, the fullness thereof; and all they that dwell therein" (Psalm 24:1). You're breathing God's air. You're drinking God's water. You're eating God's food. You're burning God's oil. You're heating your home with God's gas. You're eating God's cattle, God's fish. "The earth is the Lord's." We are actually just grazing in His field. Everything that we have, everything that we see, everything that we're surrounded with belongs to God. And yet, how we abuse it and try to use it just for ourselves. "The sheep of his pasture." Therefore,
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good (Psa 100:4-5);
He lets you sponge off of Him all the time.
his mercy is everlasting (Psa 100:5);
Again, look how long He's put up with you.
and his truth endureth to all generations (Psa 100:5).
So praise the Lord. For what? For His goodness. For His mercy. And for His truth. May God just cause your week to be filled with thanksgiving and praise all week long unto Him. Don't wait 'til Thursday. Get a head start on thanksgiving.
Shall we pray.
Father, we are so grateful that Your truth endureth to all generations. And that we can study Thy truth and learn of Thee. Now Lord, let us put into practice those things which we have learned. May we not be hearers of the Word only, deceiving ourselves. But Lord, let us be doers of the Word. Let us, O God, truly give thanks and praise unto Thee. Honor and glory unto our King. Help us, Lord, to hate evil. Help us, O Lord, to walk with Thee in the beauty of holiness. O Lord, minister to Your people tonight that we might dwell in the secret place of the Most High, abiding under the shadow of the Almighty. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.