At least one of you has gotten all jazzed up about Psalm 91. A friend of mine has forwarded 3 different YouTube videos on it. They are very inspiring. I encourage you to really dig into this Psalm. I recommend “Psalm 91, Real-Life Stories of God’s Shield of Protection” by Peggy Joyce Ruth and Angelina Ruth Shum. This was a Focus on the Family recommendation. It contains many inspiring stories of people who have laid claim to this Psalm and the promises it offers. Check it out!
Ok, I’m going to throw some stuff out and see what happens. I don’t know about you, but Jesus says some stuff that is so different than what I’ve always been taught of him. In fact, much of what he says is down-right shocking. Let me give you my example from last night.
Matthew 13:10-17 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says, “’You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. Truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.
How many times did Jesus say, “He who has ears, let him hear.”? I don’t care who you are, this type of stuff just doesn’t fit the traditional “mold” we have for Jesus. What in the world does he mean by all that? Or, how about this one?
Matthew 10:12-15 As you enter the house, greet it. And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable of the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.
What does that have to say about how our nation welcomes Jesus at Christmas? Seriously, folks, these passages are troublesome. I guess I’ve been a believer long enough and read my bible plenty to know he says these and plenty of other things that will enrage many people. Imagine what people would say if they understood that Jesus deliberately spoke in a way that most would not understand. Yet, he is crystal clear that this is exactly what he had intended. In fact, at one point, his whole ministry turned. “All these things Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without a parable.” (Matthew 13:34).
Somehow, we are supposed to incorporate this into our lives so that we abide in Christ. Jesus does as the Father does, so we are to do as Jesus does. What are we to make of all this? How should we use these examples when dealing with an unbelieving world? Let me share with you some insight from John MacArthur on this.
“Jesus’ veiling the truth from unbelievers this way was both an act of judgment and an act of mercy. It was “judgment” because it kept them in the darkness that they loved (cf. John 3:19), but it was “mercy” because they had already rejected the light, so any exposure to more truth would only increase their condemnation.”
I can get the reference for that quote if you are interested. All this is very interesting. Certainly, it is also quite confusing. I find it unexplainable outside of the context given in Romans 9. In a nutshell:
Romans 9:14-16 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.
Don’t throw rocks at me. I just talk about it like the bible presents it. There is no way around it. Our human condition is hopeless apart from the divine, direct intervention of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Our repentance is merely a response to saving grace. If we think we have even one little thing to do with our salvation other than to respond to his direct, individual, and personal call, then we cannot make sense of these difficult passages.
Tough stuff, folks, but it makes sense in the long pull.
Father, thank you for these difficult passages. Put us through mental and spiritual exercises so that we may understand our position and your will. Let us use all of this to show the world that you are both just and merciful. Amen.
Copyright © 2017 Scott Powers