Posted by: lepages | October 23, 2011

A Righteous & Just God

My notes from the last of my preaches in our recent series in the Psalms. If you’d like to listen to the preach as I delivered it, you can do so from the church website here

A Righteous & Just God
Psalm 11

Introduction
Have you ever noticed how changeable we can be as human beings?
One minute we can be full of the joys of spring….
the next minute we can be feeling desperate and cranky.
Maybe its a product of British weather!!
This week, one day seeming cold, dull and miserable…..
The next day, getting up in the morning and it feels cold – wrap up well to go out, and then by lunchtime its a beautiful, warm summers day and you really wish you didn’t have that jumper or jacket with you.
Our emotions can be like that can’t they?
As changeable as the British weather!

The fascinating thing is how the psalms mirror that.
Psalms that lie side by side with quite different perspectives on life.

Last week, we looked at Psalm 10, which focused in on the awfulness of human nature… which was fitting as we responded to the circumstances of the rioting and looting on the streets of our cities.

Psalm 11 is a fascinating follow on, because its primary focus is not on us as human beings, its on our wonderful God.

If you haven’t got your Bible open at it, perhaps you might like to turn to Psalm 11. I’ve headed it this morning A Righteous & Just God, because it is primarily about God.

READ Psalm 11

I’ve got a 6 point sermon this morning.
Each point begins with the same 2 words…… The LORD

and then picks up on who he is to us, an aspect of his nature and of how he works and his relationship with us.

My prayer is that as we reflect on our God, he will give us fresh revelation and understanding about him and his nature and his relationship to us, as human beings.

So, King David, the writer of the psalm starts off by saying:-
The LORD is a refuge

He says, ‘In the LORD I take refuge.’

Do you know that The LORD is a refuge?
Do you flee to him for safety?
Do you cling to him in times of fear?

Many commentators believe this psalm was written before David became King of Israel, written whilst he served the previous king, King Saul, playing music for him to soothe his troubled spirit, and working in the armed forces for him. The trouble was David was a better warrior than Saul was
– don’t you just hate it when you pride yourself in something and then find someone else can do it much better than you??!! This so riled Saul that he set out to kill David – he threw a spear at him when he was in the courts of the palace. And so, they say, David’s friends, encouraged him to flee like a bird to the mountains. Maybe this is the origin, maybe it isn’t.

The truth is, whatever the situation, sometimes we face tough times in life and the call on our lives by others is to escape, to get out, by whatever means, to give up ‘what can the righteous do?’ There’s no point.

But David says, ‘No, in the LORD I take refuge.’

Many of the psalms abound to the testimony of different folk to the LORD being their rock, their place of security, their refuge.

What about you?
Is the LORD your refuge?
The One you run to, seek protection in, in times of trouble?
Or do you like some of David’s friends suggested, go and try and hide elsewhere?

Faithful One, so unchanging, Ageless One, you’re my rock of peace. Lord of all, I depend on you, I cry out to you, again and again. You are my Rock in times of trouble. My hope is in you alone.

Is that our experience?
Is that what we are doing?
Trusting in the LORD as our refuge?

David goes on to explain why the LORD he has taken refuge in is worth taking refuge in.
He points out that:-
The LORD rules from his throne

v4 The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD is on his heavenly throne.

As David wrote this, he might have thought of the LORD ruling from the heavens; he might have thought of how the LORD had come and presenced himself in the Tabernacle, the Tent of Meeting, in the past. He might have looked forward to the day when a Temple might be built in which God would come and presence himself.

Today, we know that the LORD is seated on his throne in the heavens, ruling from there… and in the book of Revelation we have some wonderful imagery of the throne room scene in heaven.

But, where is heaven?
Where is the LORD’s throne?

Graham Kendrick has a lesser known song than some of his famous hymns and songs, which has the oft repeated line ‘O heaven is in my heart.’

Jesus himself said ‘the Kingdom of God is within you’ or ‘in the midst of you’ (Luke 17:21)
And both are true!
When you become a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, you receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and he comes to live in your life, to make his throne in your life, to reign from within your life. But the Kingdom is also amongst us, in the midst of us, because Jesus chooses to come and meet with us as his people, and Jesus is here now, walking amongst us as we meet in his name today.

The LORD rules from his throne in heaven, but he also rules from his throne in our hearts if we are Christian believers. And he rules amongst us. Sometimes we sing (I seem to be quoting from a lot of hymns and songs this morning!!)
‘Jesus, we enthrone you, we proclaim you our King.
Standing here in the midst of us, we raise you up with our praise.
And as we worship, build a throne: Come Lord Jesus, and take your place.’

The LORD rules from the throne of heaven, from the throne of our hearts and from the throne of our worship.

From there:-
The LORD examines people

He observes the sons of men; his eyes examine them. The LORD examines the righteous.

I love the progression here. Its one thing to ‘observe’ something…it’s quite another to examine it!
You could observe a nice passing car and think ‘That’s nice.’ It’s quite another thing to come to the next service station and find it parked there and take the time to go and examine it.

The interesting thing is that the Lord examines all people – the righteous and the wicked.

He examines your life. He examines my life.
What do you think he feels, what do you think he finds, as he examines your life?

We’ll come back to what he finds in a few minutes.
But what about what he feels?

I think sometimes we struggle with the idea that God has emotions… but he does!
And we do, because we are made in his image, in his likeness.
The LORD examines the people and it provokes a strong emotion:-
The LORD hates the wicked
‘The LORD examines the righteous, but the wicked and those who love violence his soul hates.’

Did you know that God has a soul?
A central core to his being that goes beyond any physical or spiritual form.
At the centre of his being, at his soul, is this huge emotion – it’s an emotion which some of us can identify with – the emotion of hatred – he hates the wicked!

When you hear accounts of horrendous crimes committed against other human beings, crimes of rape, abuse, murder, war crimes where people’s lives are destroyed on a massive scale, don’t you just feel the same at times, hatred for people who would do stuff like that….

If you do, then know you’re not alone in that… God is the same.

How do you feel about God hating people?
Sometimes evangelical preachers have said ‘God hates sin but he loves the sinner.’
Actually, I’m not 100% sure that statement is entirely true.
I’m not sure its the sinner God loves.
Maybe what he loves is the person that he created in his image, which has now been destroyed by the effects of sin, so that when he finds those now as he examines them, that actually love their wicked ways, that love violence, he hates them, he hates them with an abhorrence, because of what they do to others who are made in his image.

In Genesis 6 we have an account of God examining people:-
Genesis 6:5-7
The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. So the LORD said “I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth – men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air – for I am grieved that I have made them.”’

Does God still hate people today?
Has God changed?
I guess if he hated people then who loved violence, he still hates people today who love violence.

And so:-
The LORD judges
v6 On the wicked he will rain fiery coals and burning sulphur; a scorching wind will be their lot

At the time of Noah, he sent a flood.
At the end of time as we know it, he will send a fire to destroy the wicked.
Revelation 20 paints a stark picture of the LORD the judge, seated on his throne.
Turn with me, if you would, to Revelation 20:11
READ Revelation 20:11-15

The LORD is seated on his throne, he examines all the people, and all the things recorded of them, his hatred against evil and the wicked comes to fullness and the wicked are thrown into the lake of fire – described as ‘the second death’. Some would say a place of eternal torment, some a place where evil people are burned up.

But, something has changed… because:-
The LORD is righteous
v7For the LORD is righteous, he loves justice; upright men will see his face.

The LORD does not bring his judgement just because he hates wicked people.
He brings judgement because he is a God who loves justice, because he is a God who is righteous and who desires for human beings to live in relationship with him.

At the time of Noah, Noah found favour in God’s eyes, and he and his family were preserved from God’s judgement. But they fell away from God again. And over centuries God kept trying to call his people into a right relationship with himself, but they kept failing him and rebelling against him. He allowed all that so that we could see that there is no hope for us to earn God’s favour. We can’t do enough in and of ourselves to truly be classed as righteous and upright.
We saw last week that we all fall short of God’s standards.

And so God, because he loves justice, and he desires friendship with the crown of his creation, us human beings, took it on himself to seek out justice and bring the judgement for our sin and wickedness on his Son, as we will remember as we share in communion later in the service.

The result of that is that if we have turned from our sin to God, we have repented of our sin and asked God’s forgiveness, we have put our faith and trust in Jesus and his sacrifice on the cross, we will not only have received the gift of a new life and his Holy Spirit, but we will also have been clothed with the righteousness of Christ – so when God examines our lives as Christian believers, what does he see? He sees the righteousness of Christ; he sees us as pure and holy in his sight; fit to be in his presence; he finds that our names are written in the Lamb’s book of life, and we do not come under judgement, but rather come into life in all its fullness.

Conclusion
The LORD is righteous, he does judge, he does hate the wicked, he does examine us, he does rule from his throne and so we should run to him as our refuge. He has done everything for us in Christ to make it possible for us to do that.
If you’re not sure that your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life and you want it to be, so that when the LORD examines your life, what he will see is the righteousness of Christ and not the wickedness which inhabits your life, then the LORD is calling you to himself.
If that applies to you, then please speak with me after the service and we can make sure your name is written in the book.
Let’s pray and then Maria & Margaret will lead us on in our worship.

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